Take time to let God speak to you as you prepare Bible Explorations and Bible Memory times. You’ll communicate with the kids much more efficiently when what you’re saying has already made a difference in your life. Make a list of your club kids and pray for one each day in your devotional time. You could take individual photos at the beginning of the year and use them as prayer reminders. (You may need to get parental permission via a photo release form to take the pictures.)
Be Prepared for Meetings
The issue of discipline involves everyone who works with children. So don’t be caught without a plan. Probably 80% of success in running a well-managed club depends on preventing problems by being prepared.
- Be organized and ready when the first club member arrives.
- Have supplies organized and ready to use so that you can begin each activity quickly and smoothly.
- Know the plan for the meeting so you don’t have to stop and consult your leader planbook.
- Decide ahead of time what kids who finish early should do – so they don’t end up dashing around the room.
- If you’re always on the go, keep your Bible, planbook and handbook in the car and plan during times when you’re waiting at school, the doctor’s office and so on.
- “Meet” with coleaders via phone or text a few days before club to go over details.
- After each meeting, stay at church and meet with co-leaders to plan the next one.
- Meet monthly and divide up responsibilities for a whole unit at a time.
Smooth Transition Times
Children’s attention spans are short—and hard to recapture when their minds stray. Here are some ideas to help you move from the initial gathering to the beginning of your educational time.
- Give a clear sign at that it’s time to begin and making it interesting—hit a gong, give a trumpet blast, let one of the kids bang a drum.
- Move to an activity that all kids can participate in, such as standing to say a verse or to sing.
- Ask a question that engages their imagination. Have them silently think of their answers. Select a few to share their answers with the group.
- Use humor. Have a joke of the week or let the kids do a skit with you to announce something.
- Don’t forget the role of positive affirmation. Thank the kids for cooperating. Let them see how much you enjoy times when all are working together.
Keep a Good Ratio
Problem behaviors such as disrespect, not listening to teachers or defiance are signs that a child is testing limits and seeking attention. It’s as though the child is saying, “Okay, you’ve told me what to do. What are you doing to do about it when I don’t?”
One solution that can tip the scales in your favor when working with children is to make sure your ratio of adults to children is reasonable. A good rule of thumb is one adult for every four to five children in second grade or younger. A ratio of one adult for every eight children is acceptable for grades 3 and up. Consider asking parents to help on a rotating basis so you always have an extra set of hands available.
With reasonable teacher-to-child ratios, children are more likely to receive the individual attention needed to ward off attention-seeking behavior problems. Sometimes, just a few minutes of one-on-one attention will make all the difference in a classroom.