4 Strategies for Teaching Your First Elementary Sunday School Class

Serving by example is the best way to teach children and youth to think of others and serve. One of the best places to serve is in your local church. You might even see if a teenager from your family or church can serve with you (even if only occasionally). Nathan from BetterBibleTeachers shares 4 Strategies for Teaching Your First Elementary Sunday School Class:
Congratulations! You’ve just been recruited to teach young minds the Word of God! What a privilege. Now, it’s time to freak out! Just kidding, no need to panic. You can do this while being exactly who God made you to be. Hi, I’m Nathan and I’ve been teaching Sunday School at a church in San Diego, California for more than a decade. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way and I want to share the best of them with you here. So here are four strategies you can use immediately to absolutely nail your first lesson!

1. Pray

I know, I know, I know. This list is beginning in an uber-predictable way. You have already scanned the next three strategies to see if they are just as “obvious” as this one. But hear me out…we all talk about praying all the time but how many of us ACTUALLY DO IT. Before you step into that big meeting, do you bow your head and seek God’s wisdom? Before you discipline your child do you stop and ask your Heavenly FATHER what He would have you do? Days before you ever walk in the classroom to teach begin to pray. Pray for your preparation that it would be fruitful. Pray for your words, that they will be understandable. Pray for tender hearts ready to hear the good news. God is able to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Why not ask Him for His help when you teach?

2. Bring your energy

The single biggest mistake I see new teachers make is they fail to bring their energy to the classroom and the lesson. When you walk onto the stage, or step in front of your class, you must deliver what you are saying with energy. Just this past Sunday I watched a teacher talk to the class about being excited to be at church, while…not seeming to actually be that excited himself. Energy doesn’t mean you are bouncing off the walls and being someone you are not. What it does mean, however, is that everything you say should be delivered with 5x the energy and enthusiasm you would normally have used if you were simply talking to a friend in the hallway. Teaching or presenting in any form requires you to exude additional energy just to seem interesting to the listeners. People who don’t “step up” their enthusiasm when they present just seem really, really, really boring. To engage your class you must bring energy. The classroom feeds off the teacher, not the other way around. It’s up to you to interest and engage them with your delivery. Never forget that.

3. Prepare to teach kids…not adults.

Assuming you spend time preparing (you ARE doing that, right?)….make sure you are planning to teach KIDS in the process. The first time I taught a group of 1st-3rd graders I had my lesson stacked with information and spiritual insights about what Jesus was doing. The problem is, I hadn’t prepared my lesson correctly. When you teach make sure to incorporate a few things into your lesson that make it ‘kid-friendly’ Three things come to mind: First, get their attention early. Right off the bat tell a joke or a funny story. Play a game or have a competition. If you start by getting everyone’s attention you have a much better chance of keeping it. Secondly, vary your volume. Whisper during the intense moments of the story. Use volume when there are crowds of people, or a character is trying to get someone’s attention. Think about the volume of your voice while you teach. By simply mixing up the decibel level you will dramatically increase the interest level of your students. Third, plan for a break. Half way through most stories your kids need a break. Early elementary kids especially can’t focus for a 15 minute story. (Particularly when it’s a Bible story they’ve heard before) So plan a funny comment or weird observation about half way through your lesson. Relate the story to something that happens on a current kids’ TV show or movie. Do something to break the rhythm of your teaching and snap everyone’s attention back to you.

4. Use the word “LIKE”

This one word will make your story WAY more interesting. Let me use the story of Jonah to illustrate what I mean. Pretend you said something like… “God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people there that they are sinners that need a Savior. However Jonah decides to go to Tarshish, a city in the opposite direction. Jonah disobeyed God by doing exactly what God told Him not to do.” That’s all well good, but if you were to use the word LIKE it would make your story 436% better. It might sound something like this: “God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people there that they are sinners that need a Savior. However Jonah decides to go to Tarshish, a city in the opposite direction. That would be LIKE your mom asking you to clean your room because she is having some guests over for dinner. So you walk over to your room and begin THROWING every single item you have in your room anywhere but where it actually goes. How do you think that would go over?” Do you see what I mean by the word “LIKE”? If you relate your story to something that is LIKE it in a kid’s world the concepts and ideas became so much more real (and interesting) to them. I hope these simple ideas give you some confidence that you CAN (and should) teach kids God’s Word. I know the first time I taught I was nervous and when I got done I was utterly exhausted from the experience…it’s a significant undertaking. But don’t let that stop you. Not only does teaching get easier, but the rewards from teaching are numerous. I’ve learned more about the Bible from teaching than from any sermon I have ever heard. It’s not because I’m a genius, but because the practice of preparation and teaching gets God’s Word into your head and heart in way few other things can. Teaching is a blessing that lasts a lifetime. You MUST do it!!

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