Helping Teachers Help Children
Most teachers in our churches are volunteers. We can help them provide positive experiences in our churches by equipping them with the skills they need. One topic that always comes up is “behavior.” Encourage your teachers to practice classroom management pro-actively, through prevention.
Tips for practicing preventive discipline with preschool and early elementary-age children:
- Adapt the session to the learning needs and learning styles of your group members.
- Include activities that appeal to every kind of learner.
- Fnd extra helping hands. Helpers don’t have to be grown-ups: older children and teenagers can lead a craft project, play with a child bursting with energy or listen to a child feeling sad.
- Allow children to freely choose many of their activities. When you gather for group activities, if a child decides to continue playing alone, you may have more success if you don’t press the child to join the group. That sends a clear message that you are issuing invitations instead of orders.
- Review expectations and behavioral limits well ahead of time, rather than in response to “negative behavior.”
- Offer plenty of “choices you can live with” for children as they may be busy practicing mastery and control. Use choice questions like, “Would you like to clean up now, or in 2 minutes? Would you like to sit on my left, or on my right for story time?” “Would you like to help pass out the snack, or help me pour the juice?”
- Make time for plenty of free play for each child.
- Be aware of what you are communicating “non-verbally.” If you say “It’s time to get ready for prayer time” but you really are thinking “Nobody is listening to me, I’ve completely lost control,” children will hear the difference, and respond to the latter message. Attend to your own needs in order to insure that your words match your nonverbal message.
- Encourage children to “use their words” for conflict resolution instead of hitting.
- Model for children the behaviors you want to see and “catching them doing something right.”
Living the Good News is a lectionary-based curriculum from Morehouse Education Resources. This article is from “From How to Lead Nursery Groups.”