The first few weeks of a new Sunday school year can seem overwhelming, but I found several things that have helped me over the years to be well prepared and have a smooth running Sunday morning.
At the Beginning of the Year
I read the curriculum introduction and found very practical suggestions. I checked out the appendices that provided even more help. And I printed out the scope and sequence of the curriculum so that I could see where the curriculum was heading.
As I prepared for my role as small group leader it was good to remember that my job was not to re-teach the lesson that the teacher teaches but to:
- Guide the children
- Help them discover answers
- Bring them to application truths they have been taught
- Make connections with previous lessons’ themes or chronology
- Work on Scripture memory
- Pray for concerns on their hearts
…all for the purpose of their growth in Christ-likeness and the glory of God.
During the Week
It helps tremendously to read the Scripture text on Sunday night so my mind can mull over the next week’s lesson and ask the Lord for personal application. Reading it multiple times prior to actually looking at the lesson enables my heart to be impacted with the truth we hope to communicate to the students. Then I read the teaching material and the application section to know the content and possible applications I can help the children apply to their own lives. Looking at the student workbook (or journal) helps me know what we will work on during our small group time and how it connects with the application questions. Writing out the specific questions I want to ask the children keeps me on task. Finally, an essential part of preparation is praying for the volunteer team, students and their parents. After all, only God can change hearts and empower the ministry.
May the Lord bless your preparations and interactions with the students He has placed in your sphere of influence, for His glory and their good (and yours as well)!
I make a habit of getting to the classroom early which makes a huge difference. A great way to start the morning is to spend time in prayer as a team. Then I could look at the classroom space and think about how I might:
- Minimize distractions to help the kids focus
- Make sure all needed materials were easily accessible (Student Workbooks or Journals, crayons/markers, pencils/pens, a notebook to record prayer requests…)
This allows me to focus on the kids as soon as they show up BECAUSE…Sunday school begins when the first child arrives! Greet the children with a smile and use their names—it truly makes a difference and they notice. Engage in conversation as soon as they come in. Sit with your small group during the worship and teaching time. Model the behavior you expect. Be alert for distracting or inappropriate behavior and support the teacher by intervening if necessary. Take notes on the lesson as it is taught so you can adjust questions you have planned to line up with what has been shared.
In Your Small Group
- Open in prayer.
- Introduce new children.
- State your expectations (especially at the beginning of the year and as a periodic reminder).
- Try to involve each child as you work through what you have prepared.
- Work on Workbook/Journal pages. This is key to applying what they have learned.
- Practice the memory verse and teach age appropriate Bible skills (i.e., Books of the Bible), as time permits.
- Take time to pray with your group at the end of your time together and encourage children to pray aloud.
- Make sure to record the prayer requests and follow up later on possible answers.
- Thank God for His help and ask Him to work in the students’ hearts.
- Have students help clean up your area and be sure to send home the GIFT page for parents to review.
As a small group leader I love connecting with “my” children on a regular basis. I get to know them, hear their thoughts and learn what is important to them. I pray for them and with them about their understanding of God and the concerns on their hearts. It is a privilege and joy to be used by the Lord in their lives. May your experience be so!