Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seven Simple Truths I Learned Teaching Sunday School

I help teach our Kindergarten class on Sunday mornings. Our current class averages about 15-23 kids. This is my third class at this church, and they've taught me a lot.

  1. Thank God for everything... In one class we let the kids say a prayer for what they were thankful for and one little boy was thankful for food. "Thank you God for all our food, our ice cream, and our carrots." I don't know that I've ever thanked God for carrots or ice cream, but perhaps I should.
  2. The Bible is an unbelievable story... It's never the same story, but there's always a point in which one  kid will let out a good, "no way!" I think it's important to remember the awe that these stories inspired in us the first time we heard them. 
  3. Praise twice as often as you punish... I've studied parenting and education through out both degrees, but the one thing that could never be stressed enough is that children thrive on praise and perish when overly punished. Yes, kids need to be disciplined in order to learn proper behavior, but I've noticed that we get much better behavior when focused on positive reinforcement of good behavior than discipline of negative behavior. We recently started giving stickers out for exceptional behavior, and I'm making a point of thanking kids for sharing, helping, and listening, and I have seen a huge change in their behavior.
  4. Childlike faith may be simple, but it is real... God is so real to these kids. They don't even think to question if it's just a story or why other people don't believe the same way. God is real and He lives in heaven. Jesus is His son and died on the cross and rose again. And when you pray, God listens. The simple belief of these kids is amazing and wonderful.
  5. The kids are watching you... I've seen little kids (five and six) say and act like 40 year olds, and there's only one place they're learning that: from what they see. This can be both good and bad. One little girl was the spitting image of her grandmother and she sat next to a crying child and patted his shoulder. Another group of little girls emulated their fashionista mommas as they stood in a circle and discussed how another little girl's shoes were "ugly" and "not cool." Good or bad, your children will follow in your footsteps.
  6. They learn what to expect... Most of the class knows to get their name tag now. They know when it's about time to clean up, and they know what the bell means. They also know whether to show Mom and Dad their picture because they will be excited, or just hand it to them because they won't say anything. (I don't mean to rag on parents. Many of our parents are great, but it breaks my heart when kids are so excited to show their parents their balloon sheep, but then Mom's too busy to notice.)
  7. Simple truths are best... Our recent lessons on baptism have been kind of hit or miss. Our lessons are written out for us and we do our best with them, but the baptism lessons were a bit above their level. Cleaning on the inside versus the outside is a bit hard for a Kindergartener, but Jesus is the Lamb of God went amazingly well. People call Jesus "the Lamb of God". Kids can get that. They get that John the Baptist was weird and ate bugs. False prophets and spiritual purity are a bit tougher.
I love teaching my Kindergarteners. It's so amazing to see that little seed of faith grow just a little bit bigger each week. I've even found some amazing role models in the parents whom I can see are making active efforts towards growing their children's faith. 

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