The word “listen” appears in the Bible 278 times. Perhaps one of the best known listening scriptures is found in James 1:19. “…be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” Yet in a world struggling to be heard, your young Bible students may have very poor listening skills. Listening skills they will need to effectively serve others and share their faith.
You don’t have to eliminate Bible lessons to teach your students better listening skills. Instead, incorporate listening skills training into your lessons and activities. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Use sounds to introduce a Bible story or lesson. It’s easy to find sound clips for free online. Does the Bible lesson take place in a marketplace or the Temple courtyards? Is someone speaking Hebrew or Greek? Are there sheep or camels nearby? Is there a storm raging? Play the sound clip and ask students to raise their hands if they know what it is. Or give them four options and take a secret vote on which is the correct answer.
- Ask questions that test listening skills as well as knowledge. Slip some little bit of information into your lesson that your students probably wouldn’t know. If you ask about it close to presenting the information, you are testing listening skills more than memory.
- Choose activities that require following lots of one step directions. Doing a lesson on listening to God or obeying His commands exactly as given? Start the lesson with something like origami. Don’t tell the students what they are trying to make. Using only words (not demonstrations), tell students how to fold their paper one step at a time. Whose finished product looks like the intended origami item?
- Ask a discussion question. Have students pair up and discuss it. Then have students come back together and share what their partner said accurately.
- Practice our conflict resolution model Give students a scenario in which they are in disagreement. Part of the model is to repeat back to the other person their position accurately.
- Do sticky note take always at the end of every class. Give each student a sticky note. Have them write down one thing they learned from the lesson or one thing they believe God wants them to do because of the lesson. A quick reading of the sticky notes will give you an overview of how well students are listening.
Be creative. have fun with it, but also teach your young Bible students why listening to God and others is so important. Encouraging better listening will make it easier for your students to live the Christian life.