*This post is the result of a rather unusual Five Minute Friday prompt to tell the group something you are knowledgeable about or good at. We discovered how hard it is to just honestly talk about something we think we're good at!
One of the things I told them was, "I know quite a bit about handling young children and am pretty good at keeping a class of 10-12 kiddos quiet, orderly and interested." Then I got to thinking it might be fun to come up with ten tips.
These come from years of teaching VBS and Sunday School as a youth and I'm feeling quite shy about sharing them but here goes:
#1. Expect them to behave. A lot of people expect little children to be a naughty, unmanageable handful. Guess what? They get exactly what they expect! Children live up to what is expected of them.
#2. Be firm; don't make empty threats. Children will test your boundaries. They figure out very quickly whether you are going to keep your word. I was once a young, VBS teacher to a little boy who simply wouldn't listen. I told him if he talked again he would need to sit with the superintendent. He talked. It took all my gumption to carry out my threat but that little boy was as good as gold the rest of the two weeks of VBS. Guess what else? He told me he liked me!
#3. Choose your battles carefully. Children are little people; they are not going to act like adults. Don't pick a battle about everything but stick with the battles you choose.
#4. Come to class fully prepared. It's easy to think you don't need to study much for a class of little children. The better you know your material and the more organized you are with your plan, the better your class time will go. Children recognize a lack of confidence and will take every advantage of it.
#5. Be as creative as possible. The more visual aids you can come up with, the better. Children love interactive lessons. Never read the story to them, tell it with great expression! Bring a Bible story tape if you have one; help them act the story out; find an object lesson to pique their interest.
#6. Make learning fun. Whisper the verse three times; say it with your eyes closed; make up motions to go with it. There's no reason for learning to be boring.
#7. Take an interest in their stories. Little children love to talk. Try to give them an opportunity to tell their stories; listen, and ask questions. They are little people who love to be heard.
#8. Reward good behaviour. This doesn't have to mean candy or stickers, although those are sometimes good incentives too. Let the person who isn't clamouring to go first be first in line. Ignore the person who yelled the answer and choose the one who raised their hand. Ask the quiet child to pass out the books.
#9. Have fun together. Sometimes we're trying so hard to be in charge that we forget to have fun. I remember a particular class when a child wanted my sticky tack, so I showed him how far it could be stretched and we ended up taking turns stretching it across the room and laughing.
#10. Keep it orderly. Children can be orderly but they aren't naturally that way. Have them line up at the door and pretend to be a train when they are dismissed; a sleeping train. If you need to walk together somewhere, take a rope or string and have everyone take hold and march. If it's getting loud, have everyone whisper for a bit or have them all be quiet enough to hear a pin drop on the table.
I enjoy little children and the challenge of the naughty ones usually makes them the most endearing to me ☺
Now, go think of something you're knowledgeable about or good at and give your Creator some praise!