Words are powerful! God revealed the power of words when He created the universe. Have you considered what you are creating with your words?
Encouraging, complimentary, affirming words do good things for your soul. Cutting, angry words are scarring – their effect lingering long after the words fade.
And the way you use your words in the classroom – that makes a big difference!
Here are three mistakes I see teachers make:
1. Unclear Expectations
People are more comfortable when they know what you want them to do – especially kids! Make time at the beginning of your time together to introduce yourself and share your expectations. If you wish, allow the children to share a short something as well. This gets your time together off on a happy note!
Just for the record… my favorite classroom rules: “Be kind to each other. Treat God’s house like a special place.” These are simple guidelines that are easy for even young children to remember and just about any behavior challenge can be tied back to them.
Sharing clear expectations is something you will want to continue to do throughout your time together, especially as you transition from one activity to another. A five minute warning makes a big difference for certain personality types! The clearer your expectations are, the smoother the classroom experience will be! Now that’s something you can get excited about!
2. Talking TOO Much!
Teaching Biblical truths is very important and you want children to fully grasp the concepts. However, when you talk for too long children will tune you out and miss what you are trying to convey!
Remember kids have short attention spans unless they are plugged into some kind of electronic something! Realistically, children are able to focus on what you have to say for about their age. If they are 6, you have six minutes!
The remedy: Think of yourself as a facilitator rather than a lecturer. Share in brief spurts with lots of open ended questions sprinkled throughout. Let the kids re-tell parts of the story. Get their imaginations going… what would it be like to be there? How would they feel? How does this relate to us today? Questions like that will keep the kids pondering your lesson for the rest of the day!
3. Talking Over the Kid’s Heads
Foreign languages are not my forte even though I took three years of French in high school – a long time ago! When people speak French to me now I might catch a word or two if I am lucky! Even with effort I miss most of what they are saying to me.
It is easy to use “Christianese,” or just plain old big words that mean nothing to children, when speaking to them. It feels like you are speaking another language. The beauty of God and the Good News is that while complex and over all of our heads, it is also simple enough that even a child can grasp it.
I challenge you to ponder how you can share Bible stories using words that are easy for children to understand. How can you connect the story to things they are well acquainted with? How can you convey the main point of the story so that it is relevant to their lives? Making this a regular part of your preparation process will make a significant difference in your ability to communicate effectively with the children. You might even be surprised at how this process deepens your own understanding of the lesson!
We all have moments when we just don’t communicate well. Make a priority over the next few weeks to concentrate on being more intentional about the words you speak. In the end it will increase your effectiveness as a teacher and make it more likely that the children will understand more about God and His remarkable love for them! That’s what it is all about!
What would you like to be different when it comes to your words?