First, speaking like a child and acting like a child are two different things. Second, to do the first doesn’t require doing the second. In fact, a sign of maturity is understanding and demonstrating the difference.
Several years ago I spent a day observing Bible study sessions at a kids camp. Most of the presentations were noisy, active, a little rambunctious, and led by highly engaging and energized leaders. Basically the sessions presented serious content in a kid-friendly way. Good stuff!
However, one session drastically stood out from the rest for one basic reason – transubstantiation. You’re familiar with that term, right?
While the leader demonstrated adequate knowledge and tremendous passion for his subject, there existed two glaring problems – transubstantiation was not the assigned topic, and the audience was a group of third graders!
The leader allowed his well-intentioned passion to take priority over both the prescribed content and the needs of the kids. He had put aside childish things and felt his audience should as well. He failed to realize his audience spoke, thought, and reasoned like children because they were children. (I Corinthians 13:11)
While I’m still a little fuzzy on the subject of transubstantiation, the session did start me on a journey to discover how best to teach kids. Here are a few things I have learned along the way:
1. Search the Scripture passage and lesson content for words and concepts that are difficult to understand and might need to be explained.
2. Use a variety of illustrations and visuals to refocus short attention spans.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be ready to both affirm and deflect unexpected and inappropriate answers.
4. Teach in bite-sized chunks. God didn’t create the world in a single day, so we shouldn’t try to teach everything we know about it in a single session.
5. Make your point clearly and repeatedly. Don’t shy away from repetition. That’s how we learn!
6. Willingly admit you personally do not understand everything.
Jerry Wooley is the VBS GUY! He serves as the Vacation Bible School Specialist for Lifeway. Don’t expect to talk with Jerry for too long without him asking you about VBS. Jerry loves the local church and serves as a 1st-3rd Grade Teacher at Creekside Fellowship in Castalian Springs, Tennessee.