Effective teaching depends on a variety of factors, including a teacher’s comfort level with being in charge of and talking to a group of children, and being familiar the Word of God.
Most Sunday school teachers are not professional teachers. However there is a tremendous value in teaching children. It helps teachers learn, it is a duty for parents, and it sends an important and powerful symbolic message to our children. We should not expect to be great teachers overnight, but can find ways in which to do a bit better.
Comfort level with managing children
Our comfort level with managing a group of children cannot be changed overnight! It grows with time, practice, and trust that what we are doing is worthwhile. Our conviction about the importance of what we are doing helps.
- Consider praying before you teach, while you prepare, or before you walk into the class. This can help bring a greater sense of purpose and conviction, and even an inner calm.
- Explore teaching different age groups. You may find a greater comfort level with one age level than with another. If you are a parent, try working with children the age of your own children. You may have a greater sense of what “works” at that age level, and grow more comfortable with other age levels as your children grow.
- Think about what you love to do—discuss ideas, direct drama or use craft supplies. Activities that bring you delight may make teaching children who love the same things easier—and what children love to do varies depending on their ages.
Confidence with the Word of God
Our general comfort level with the Word—and with teaching it to children—can grow. Some people have more background than others. But don’t let your past hold you back! The best way to learn is by teaching and reading today.
- Our comfort level with the particular subject matter of each lesson can be improved by talking to others to get ideas and to deepen our own understanding.
- Solicit help in generating ideas for your lesson.
- Give someone a call—your pastor or Sunday school coordinator. (It’s best not to wait until Saturday night or Sunday morning, though!)
Resources for preparing lessons
There are many good resources to use when preparing lessons from the Word. These include Dole’s excellent 6-volume Bible Study Notes (available for purchase at newchurchbooks.com) and Worcester’s The Sower (available at swedenborgdigitallibrary.org). Newchurchvineyard.org provides background for teachers for all lessons available on the website.
If you have more time to prepare, discover what the New Church teaches by researching online. An array of study tools and books are available at newchristianbiblestudy.org, swedenborgstudy.com, kemptonproject.org, and swedenborgdigitallibrary.org.