Walk into many preschool Bible classes twenty minutes into the Bible class hour and often you will see the students engaged in free play. While preschoolers need movement, allowing 10-40 minutes of class to be 100% secular and unguided, is an unfortunate waste of valuable learning time.
Fortunately, you don’t have to make three year olds sit still why you lecture them on the Bible. There are a lot of ways to keep them appropriately engaged, while still learning.
Sound difficult? These tips can get you started.
- Change activities frequently. The pace doesn’t need to be frenzied, but changing activities every 5-15 minutes (depending upon the age of the students) can keep them from getting bored.
- Include movement in your lesson or activity. Sing Bible verse songs that require them to make movements. Have different areas for the Bible story and the activity so they need to move from one area to another. If the lesson was about marching around the walls of Jericho, have your students march just like the Israelites did.
- Make sure activities are developmentally appropriate. Expecting a two year old to cut out the pieces of a craft and glue them together, is unrealistic. Frustration can lead to acting out – especially for preschoolers.
- Make sure you have enough adults in the room. Preschoolers are still learning appropriate classroom behaviors, many still need help with toileting (and if in the midst of potty training may need to go during class) – it’s virtually impossible to have a smooth class unless you have enough help to manage all of those things that can happen.
- Remember, hands-on, experiential, meaningful activities will be so much fun they will feel like play to your students. While children can learn from play, studies show the most helpful play is guided and involves interacting with adults or older children. Free play accomplishes very little in the Bible class atmosphere.
- Relationships aren’t built from free play – especially if your students are mainly involved in side by side play. There are ways to develop relationships between students, but free play during class isn’t required to accomplish that goal.
It will take some planning on your part, but with a few changes, you can use every minute in your Bible class productively. It’s the best way to help your Bible students begin to build strong spiritual foundations.