It is the rare Bible class for children or teens that has students all operating at the same level. Bible Curriculum is often written for the ”average” child. Resources are becoming more available to make Bible classes inclusive for students with special needs. The child or teen who is either intellectually gifted or an advanced Bible student, however, often has his or her spiritual needs ignored.
Many assume the gifted or advanced child or teen will ”survive” a Bible class way below his or her actual potential, but it is not true. Unchallenged intellectually or spiritually, these students generally react in one of two ways. They either tune out – day dreaming when they could and should be learning something new about God, scripture or living the Christian life or they become behavior problems.
The bored Bible student can begin believing Bible class is boring and after several years of boredom, the conclusion is drawn that Christianity and God are boring. The church then loses some of the bright lights who could have provided some of the solutions the church needs to correct the mistakes of the last few decades which have led to the decline of most congregations or they may have had needed solutions for ways Christians can effectively serve others while sharing their faith. Of course, the greatest tragedy is if these children grow up to reject God and Christianity entirely, putting their souls in jeopardy.
Thankfully, there are some things any Bible class teacher can do to challenge these gifted students in the Bible class environment. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Ask higher level questions. Use our guide to asking better questions in Bible classes to include higher level questions from Bloom’s Taxonomy during your classes. Encourage them to attempt answers even if they aren’t correct. The attempt will challenge these students if you encourage the attempt instead of only correct answers.
- Try project based learning. Project based learning is great for all students, but projects give gifted students an opportunity to dive deeply into areas that are of interest to them. Just be sure to allow these students to work individually or pair them with other gifted students. You can search past posts for more information on project based learning in Bible classes.
- Encourage independent research and mini lessons. The effectiveness of this will vary based on the personality of your gifted students. Giving a gifted student who loves to cook the assignment to find and cook authentic recipes from Bible times, then share what was learned (and cooked) for a few minutes in class, could be great. Avoid pressuring students to learn about and share topics that bore them or force extremely shy students to speak in front of large groups (unless they want that challenge).
- Encourage apprenticeships. Some teens who have a lot of Bible knowledge and the gift of teaching may grow more from an apprenticeship with a teacher of younger children than they will in a class with peers. Once again, this should be based on interests and gifts. Care should be taken that those in apprenticeships still have plenty of interactions with their peers in other settings.
- Encourage service learning. Challenge gifted students to plan and execute with their peers a large scale service learning opportunity. Our website has tons of free tools to get them started. These opportunities are great for challenging them spiritually and tapping into their creativity if they are structured properly.
- Provide materials for independent learning and schedule private or small group opportunities to explore what is being learned. Often gifted learners are reading adult books as early as late elementary school. In addition to books in the Bible, look for books that have a lot of very practical information on living the Christian life that is age appropriate.
Help gifted learners find what they need to be intellectually, spiritually and creatively challenged in their Bible classes. They need these opportunities to learn and grow as much as anyone else. Don’t accept boredom as a standard for any student in any Bible class.