Younger ages demand primarily physically active types of methodology. By the time children get to grade school, their vocabulary and reasoning abilities have greatly expanded. Their attention spans have lengthened a bit as well. They are ready to tackle some mental activity blended in with the physical.
Methodology Good to Use with Grade School Children:
Choose methods that provide opportunity for grade school students to both physically and mentally engage in the learning process. Some of the methods can lean one way or the other depending on how you structure their use.
Also consider using methods that include some basic discussion types of methodology. While you shouldn’t build your lessons for this age level solely around discussion, especially for the younger grade school ages, you can use some.
This article is included as a handout in the Reaching All Age Levels Resource with a list of some of the methods that fit the above criteria for grade school students. The resource also includes other articles for all the age groups and PowerPoint slides to use for a group teacher training session.
As we look at each of the four broad age levels, we will see that the same three tips relate to all. Yet, as this post for Bible teachers of grade school students will show, the application of the tips varies as we zero in on their age characteristics and needs.
1) Have the right focus.
As students move into their grade school years they are able to better comprehend what is being taught. Now they need to buy into it in terms of their own personal belief system. It’s not about brainwashing them but helping them personally accept God’s truth. Consequently, Bible teachers of grade school students should focus on building a biblical worldview that can stand up to scrutiny.
2) Be prepared for challenges.
While all ages need to be actively involved in the acquisition of a biblical worldview, this is a particularly industrious age. Grade school Bible teachers must learn to work at actively and meaningfully engaging their students in the learning process from start to finish. Even transitional times between activities must be purposefully designed. Idle minds and hands, even for a short period of time, can spell trouble as they will quickly find inappropriate ways to keep active.
3) Foster an environment conducive to learning.
Grade school students not only need to participate in the learning process but it also needs to be fun, or at least interesting. That means teachers must keep students active with more than mere busywork. They need an environment that is exciting and fulfilling.
Do you want your grade school students to want to learn the Bible? Then you need to get them actively involved in the process.
If gradeschoolers are expected to merely sit and listen, they will not be motivated to learn. Bored or frustrated children tend to find their own means of activity which usually leads to discipline issues and no learning.
This article is included as a handout in the Reaching All Age Levels Resource with some brief suggestions on how to motivate grade school children based on this need. The resource also includes similar articles for the other age groups. It provides you with a teacher training group session in which you gather teachers of all age groups for a PowerPoint presentation followed by breakout sessions to personalize it according to age levels.
We can give children tools to help them remember how to read and study God’s Word, but that will only take them so far. They need to see it modeled. Personal reading and study of God’s Word needs to be reinforced by their Bible teachers. Even how a teacher speaks of and uses God’s Word in the classroom can make a difference.
In a previous post you were given a tool you can use with children to help them read and study God’s Word. If you did not read that post, let me encourage you to do so before reading this one to help you better understand the significance of the words in the Bible acrostic I will be referring to below.
If you want children to believe the importance of the Bible, they need to see their Bible teachers using it when teaching, not just referring to the curriculum lesson book. If they don’t see you using it in church, why should they use it at home? Also, Bible teachers need to make sure they are emphasizing the right things about the Bible, that it isn’t merely a book of rules or nice stories but a way to get to know and love our great God and to hear from Him.
Teach children how to discover truth on their own by practicing it in the classroom. Don’t just tell them what the Bible says but rather ask questions and use methods that require them to dig deeper. By doing this, you will increase their understanding of how to study the Bible on their own.
Get beyond merely teaching what the Bible says, head knowledge, to helping students see how it relates to them. Use questions and discussion methodology to help them think through the implications of the lesson’s truth to their lives. If children aren’t used to thinking through the benefits of Scripture in the classroom, they might have a more difficult time doing so on their own.
Go far enough in your teaching. Helping children see the implications of truth to their lives is good but giving them opportunity to practice the application of those truths is even better. Role playing is one method you might use. Also, seek commitments from them for steps they will take. If they see the difference it can make in their lives when they obey, or put into practice, God’s Word, it could spur them on to go that far in their own reading and studying of the Bible.
Children will be more likely to believe, value, appreciate, and apply God’s Word when they share what they have learned with others. Help children understand that reading and studying God’s Word isn’t just for the effect it has on them but also so they can encourage others with it. Model this step by ending class with at least a few students being able to share one thing they learned that day. Or, have them make crafts representing what they have learned for them to pass on to someone else. Or, perhaps you can make a take home paper for them, if not provided by the curriculum, for them to use as a tool to tell parents or friends what they learned.