Our churches are becoming more diverse. For some children in our ministries, English isn’t their first or only language. We have an opportunity to reach them and their families while they are in our classes. Use the following tips as you teach children.
- Build relationships with the child and parents. Make an effort to regularly contact him or her. Share your story of how God called you to teach. Ask questions to get to know the child and his family. By building the connection with the child and family, you develop trust. Your actions communicate care for the child and that you enjoy the child being in your class.
- Create and develop a visual schedule. Children need and enjoy a schedule or routine. The visual schedule will help them know what to expect during the day and the activity that will happen next. If the child is a preschooler, find or take pictures of items to represent the activities during the class time. For a child able to read, consider using words with pictures or words only. It may be helpful to make the visuals in English and the child’s first language.
- Learn the most helpful way to communicate with the child. As you build a relationship with the child and parents, ask questions and most importantly, listen. Listen for clues for how the child learns best. Learn some common phrases in the child’s first language. Consider using a church member who speaks the child’s same language as a resource.
- Alter activities as needed. Use the curriculum as a guide. As activities are selected for each teaching session, you may need to alter them to help all children have the best learning experience. It can be something as simple as including the child’s first language along with English on cards, games, or other visuals.
These tips are beneficial for all children, regardless of what language they speak. We know all children have the same basic needs. However, each child is unique, the way God created him or her. Our task as teachers is to consistently teach boys and girls the Bible in a way they can learn and understand.