Tips for Sunday School Teachers
How I Got Started
I had my first daughter over 16 years ago. When she was born I wanted her to go to Sunday School at the church we attended. But when I took her in, she clung to me and wouldn't let me go. I know, you are all saying, "that's normal". Most would advise to just leave, she'll be fine once you're gone. But in my case, my church leaders promoted me to Sunday School Teacher instead. That way I could be with my daughter and be useful at the same time!
The funny thing was, I had taken a course before I even had kids on teaching Sunday School, even though I hadn't considered it before. I guess God just knew what was going to happen! Anyway, that was 16 years ago and I'm still teaching. I've had the privilege of teaching all about God and Jesus to my 3 girls and many other children as well. Currently my 8 year old is in my class, and a foster child that I get on the weekends.
I've learned so much over the years. I think I've learned as much as I've taught! There has been so much diversity in the kids I've had. It varies from the pastor's children to kids who don't even know who God is. Children who live with Mom and Dad and their siblings who all have the same Mom and Dad to children in foster care, adopted kids, kids being raised by Grandma, you name it.
Currently my normal class has about 11 kids. Two are being raised by Grandma & Grandpa, two are adopted from foreign countries, one is in foster care, and one comes to church with the lunch lady. Many are from broken homes. At the end of the class I can't say "ok now go back and sit with your parents." Most are not there with their parents.
One thing for sure is I am very grateful for the opportunity I have each week to share my faith and to tell these children all of the stories of the Bible.
Use Your Resources
Over the many years that I've taught I've had to become very resourceful. We are a smaller rural church and resources are limited. Some years I had a Sunday School Curriculum but many years I've had to develop my own curriculum. One year the Pastor bought a curriculum for me but it was geared for a larger classroom setting. My assistant and I had to really modify the program to make it work. Another time we got a video series that was so laughable we literally couldn't stop laughing. Seriously. Both teachers and kids rolling on the floor at the ridiculousness of the video. It wasn't the content, it was the delivery.
Anyway, after all these years I've learned a lot about preparing for Sunday School. The key word there is preparing. It is so important that you prepare what you are going to teach.
There is so much out there available now to help Sunday School Teachers. You can obtain a lot of stuff free, and there is also a lot of programs to choose from. From experience though, I will advise you, make sure you know what you are ordering. It may sound good, but it can turn out to be very disappointing. You don't want to waste any church money on something you won't be able to use.
Many times I would google "Free Sunday School Lessons for Children" and find ideas and games. Of course you have to go by the age range of your class. Make sure the material is age appropriate. Being that we are a smaller church I have always had a wide age range in my class. So I've had to be creative to keep the attention of the older children while not going over the heads of my younger ones.
If you are fortunate enough to have a ciriculum, use it wisely. Look thru the material thoroughly to see what you have available. Many times it will come with website links and disks that have printouts.
Talk with other Sunday School Teachers to get ideas. The best place to get ideas is from others who are doing the same thing. Maybe you can even start up a group for your area where Sunday School Teachers can meet once a month to share ideas.
Unfortunately with all of the diversity, there are also problems. It is important that problems are handling quickly before they escalate. Children must feel like Sunday School is a 'safe' place. I don't mean just physically safe, but they must feel comfortable in sharing anything. Many times Sunday School is where kids will confess to things that are happening in their home, or at school. They will tell things in Sunday School that they are afraid to tell anywhere else.
We always encourage all children that if there is anything at all that upsets them, or that someone does, that they should tell us about it. We make them know that they can trust us. Not misusing that trust is crucial.
When there is a problem we deal with it quickly and appropriately and then many times will use the problem as a lesson. We never embarass anyone who did something wrong but we will discuss the behavior and maybe why it is wrong (depending on what the behavior was) and what the person could do differently. Again this is all depending on what the behavior was.
Teaching Can Be Very Rewarding
I can't state enough how truly Blessed I have been to be able to share with so many children. I definitely have learned way more than I've ever taught, both about God and Jesus, and about life. It has shown me that so many do not have the picture perfect life that we all strive for. It has humbled me and made me care more. I hope that God plans on using me for many more years!