Comprehension and retention are important issues in children’s ministry. Sometimes, however, we may have so much to say that our words can get in the way of what we really want kids to take away. One technique that can help your kids remember the key concepts in your lesson is to communicate the key takeaway in more than one way.
The principle of repetition for emphasis is biblical. Words, phrases, concepts, and accounts are regularly repeated all through Scripture to add emphasis. Repetition of words or concepts was a way of adding emphasis; not unlike underlining, italicizing or adding bold to a word today. Repetition still works. Think of it this way: If something is included in the Bible one time, we know it must important. If it is repeated multiple times, we need to make certain to take notice.
We would do well to apply this principle of repetition to our kids ministries. You cover a lot of ground in an hour of kids ministry programing. In addition to your Bible story/study, you may sing worship songs, play games, and create a craft. Often all of these activities align to support the primary teaching point of the day. Its up to you, however, to make sure that the point comes through in everything that you do.
The more times—and ways—you can repeat your takeaway of the day, the greater your kids’ retention. If possible, repeat your main takeaway three times, and reinforce it in three different ways. This may include a live teacher/storyteller, an application video, a group activity for recapping the story, small group discussion, even a Kid-led drama reenactment. The more ways you can connect your kids to the main point that you’d like them to remember, the more likely they will be to grab hold of the concept. So, don’t just build a session that lands on a key takeaway that you communicate one time at the end of your session. Repeat your key concept in several ways to add emphasis and increase retention.
Chuck Peters is Director of Operations for Lifeway Kids. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck has served vocationally & voluntarily in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years.