In our last post, we reimagined how Edutopia’s list of the top educational research studies of the year should impact congregational Bible classes for children and teens. We only covered what we learned from the first five studies, so here’s what we learned from the other five.
- Classroom decorations matter. The studies on this topic are usually a bit mixed, but the conclusion of this newer study agrees with what most educators have found. Classrooms should be decorated in such a way that they make children want to enter your classroom, but not so decorated that they distract students from learning. Bible classrooms often look very stale in their decorations. If you aren’t artistic, find someone who is and let them decorate your classroom for you. You can check our free ebook Effective Children’s Ministry for lots of details about effective classroom decor. Make sure it’s changed periodically so it’s fresh and appealing.
- Children learn through play. While we are not proponents of using valuable Bible class time for free play, encouraging students to explore things related to the lesson or using things like Godly Play lessons can incorporate elements of play in a traditional Bible class.
- Attach movements to learning. Okay, this study was technically about connecting movements to learning the alphabet, but the principle could possibly help young Bible students learn and remember important Bible lessons and scriptures. The study looked at whole body movements and attaching a specific body movement with a specific letter. If you can find a way to attach a body movement to an ASL sign for a concept or scripture, then it may just help them learn them better.
- Use videos carefully. This study was actual about the value of video lessons that allowed students to learn at their own pace and encouraging students to pause a lesson when they got to something they needed to think about before moving on. Our takeaways for Bible classes? Long videos typically used in Bible classes add little value. What can be helpful are short video clips illustrating something with which your Bible students may be unfamiliar – like making mud bricks. Another takeaway is that you may want to consider videotaping some lessons that students can watch at their leisure. Best bets would be on topics of interest to your particular group of students.
- Repeat recalling activities. We don’t have tests, but it’s critical young Bible students can easily remember what they have been taught in Bible lessons. That information can help them make more godly decisions in their daily lives. We say it a lot, because it’s that important. Regularly asking Bible students to recall information previously learned is key to helping them remember it for life. Make it fun for more willing participation by young Bible students. (Ministries should have a plan where key information is reviewed every year, while students are also learning new things from scripture.)
You don’t have to try all of these ideas at once if you are overwhelmed. Pick one and make needed adjustments. Once that is implemented, choose another to add. Soon you will be helping your Bible class students learn more than ever!