Children who are doing something retain 75 to 90 percent of what they learn as compared to 5 to 10 percent of what they hear or 20 to 30 percent of what they see. Creative teaching methods enhance the benefits of activity learning.
Creative teaching methods
- Help children express their feelings in ways in which words do not.
- Encourage original and independent thinking.
- Encourage a child to invest himself in the learning.
Some creative teaching methods include drama, music, simulations, and learning games. All require active participation. Simulations is a teaching method you may want to try in your quest to find a better way to teach.
Simulations are pretend situations that enable a child to
- Discover a way he might respond.
- Probe emotions he might experience.
- Evaluate behavior from different points of view.
Children of any age can pretend to be in a school environment inviting other boys and girls to church. One child can pretend to invite another to church while the second child gives an excuse for why he cannot come. Others in the group can help the first child think of ways to deal with the excuse. Children can trade parts and decide how to deal with different excuses.
Other suggestions might be for children who already are Christians to practice telling others how to become a Christian or for children to practice resisting temptation while in a safe environment.
Simulations can help children understand biblical times. Recently, a first-grader hurried into our Sunday School room asking "Are we going anywhere today?" You might think we regularly take field trips, but the only trips we take are those in our imaginations. We have toured Solomon's temple, and, on a bus trip, scouted out the land where Jesus lived.
Plan simulations based on the ages and abilities of the children you teach. Children of different ages enjoy simulations on different levels. Younger children may be quite willing to simulate a bus trip with rows of chairs, while older boys and girls will want to be more realistic.
Preparing to teach
As always, start with prayer. Ask God to help you expand your teaching expertise and to guide you in the best use of teaching methods.
Think about the children you teach. What learning styles do they exhibit? Note which children seem to be verbal, visual, logical, physical, musical, natural, relational or reflective learners. Consider the needs of the children as you choose how to teach.
Try at least one new teaching method each quarter. Look at the curriculum for the focus age you teach. Circle an activity that uses a teaching method you have never or rarely used. Read it several times. Ask other teachers who have tried similar activities for their suggestions to help the activity flow smoothly. Set a time when you plan to use this method.
Enjoy teaching the activity and then evaluate the experience. Did children learn as you intended? What would you do differently if you were to do the activity again? Talking about these experiences with a group of children's leaders can help the entire group improve teaching.