So, every Thursday possible our pastor allowed me to teach the children (ages 4-12) for an hour and fifteen minutes. For anyone who has studied age-groups or worked with kids with such a wide variety of ages, this task does not look easy. But, I’m not posting to brag about the “great feats” that I attempted this summer. I’m simply describing what we did.
First, we did games. Children of all ages love active games (duh!); with such a large group of varied ages, I could pick three or four games a night and target them to either the younger or older kids. The little kids loved simple racing games. The older kids loved games that required either brains or brawn… or both. Game-time lasted about a half-hour, after which we all went to get a well-deserved drink.
Second, we had a prayer time. This, while not being as exciting, is essential; it lets the kids know I care about them, and it brings them closer to God. Hopefully, they are more comfortable telling God about their troubles (and thanking Him for all the good things He gives them).
Third, we sang songs. While I think children should know the longer, older hymns, I think fun teaching songs are also essential. We want them to think well of singing. “Father Abraham” was a favorite, as was “I’ve Got Good News,” “I’m in the Lord’s Army,” “I’m Inright, Outright, Upright, Downright Happy All the Time,” and “Read Your Bible, Pray Every Day.” We are usually pretty tired after singing…
…so, Fourth, we had a little puppet skit. My puppet, Jerry, is rather obnoxious, and he claims to never listen to the teacher or hear any of the Bible lesson. Furthermore, he is rude, illogical, and wild. The kids love him. Since Jerry never listened to the previous week’s lesson (getting him a stern reprimand from the teacher), we always had to review it for him. What a sneaky head-fake, but it worked!
Fifth, after more singing and teaching a Bible verse, I would teach. At my school, Bob Jones University, the ministerial teachers have a saying that goes something like “It is a sin for a teacher or preacher to be boring.” This is said tongue-in-cheek, of course, since the Bible doesn’t condemn any particular style of teaching (but rather the message itself), but I think a good principle of politeness does come into play. It is very unloving to be a boring teacher, not to mention selfish and rude, since the children are forced to not only come and listen but also sit still!
I don’t know whether I way boring or not, but the kids seemed to love the lessons. The reason? I dressed up each night, role-playing a different character. On the different nights, I was a brash buccaneer (Captain Wetworth), a super spy (Dr. Marlow), an adventurous Australian (Dr. Downunder), a clichÃ©d cosmonaut (Captain Nebulae), and a dashing swordsman (SeÃ±or Cutter). Each character had his own accent, accessories, and personality; some of the kids seemed to not even know it was me!
All in all, the Thursday-night teaching was a success, though not by my own doing. God has a wonderful way of taking my poor efforts and making them brilliant. I will miss my kids and try to take the lessons I’ve learned from teaching them to school with me… to begin teaching the other group of children at school.