In a previous post titled Speak as a Child, I shared about my journey to discover how best to teach or talk to kids. I have taught adults for years, including multiple years as the lead teacher for a Sunday School class of 200 senior adults. Now I find myself leading a class of fourth and fifth graders as well as serving as a pastor for CentriKid Camps. Talk about a learning curve!
I Corinthians 13:11 is a great reminder that kids and adults not only speak and understand differently, but should do so. The problem is, many adults expect kids to give up childish things – including age-appropriate understanding – before they reach adulthood. Communicating to kids doesn’t require acting like a kid but it definitely requires thinking like a kid thinks.
A major challenge of communication – to people of any age – is clearly communicating the main point of the lesson. With kids, this challenge is made even more complicated by none other than our own language: words with multiple meanings, expressions that are regional or generational, and illustrations that are abstract and difficult for concrete thinkers.
Here are a few lessons I have heard about communicating the point of a lesson.
1. Write out the point or goal of the lesson in your own words. Look for words or phrases that might cause confusion or need defining.
2. Get the kid’s attention before attempting to make the point.
3. Avoid cliches, illustrations, or phrases that may make sense for adults but are too abstract for kids.
3. Use appropriate illustration from your own life. Be real. Be transparent. But be filtered.
4. Make it a one-point message and drive it home. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
5. Help kids understand what the point means to them personally and how it applies to their lives.
6. Judge understanding by asking kids to share the main point of the lesson in their own words.
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