Classroom Discipline – Sometimes the Right Thing is the Opposite

behavior managementIt is very important to have established rules and expectations of behavior in Sunday School. But sometimes the right way to respond to inappropriate behavior is to do the opposite of what is expected.

In one preschool class I taught there was a 5 year old boy. He came from a single parent home. His mother had no interest in church at all. His grandparents brought him and his brother whenever they could. This boy was the epitome of getting attention with bad behavior. He broke all the rules and delighted in making his teachers angry.

I am a firm believer in awarding good behavior and ignoring bad behavior (especially as regards acting out to get attention.) One Sunday morning, this boy was acting out and it had been going on for a while. My initial reaction was to ignore the behavior. I didn’t want to reward him with attention for that kind of behavior.

But, then God gave me a better idea. Instead of ignoring him, I caught him and held on. I sat with him and talked to him. Initially he didn’t want me to talk to him or to touch him. But I spoke gently telling him that I was really glad he was in my class and that Jesus loved him. And I kept my hand on his shoulder. I wanted him to know that he had my attention – I liked him, I liked talking to him and more importantly Jesus loved him.

Eventually I could sense an ease in the tension and he began to open up a little about his home life. I spent about 10 minutes one-on-one with him that morning. His behavior is still not perfect and he still acts out sometimes, but I believe that he now understands that I’m on his side and he doesn’t need to misbehave to get my attention. It was a wonderful opportunity to let that little one know that Jesus loves Him and that Sunday School is a safe place where children are accepted and loved.

Sometimes the right thing to do is the opposite of what you were taught or expected to do in behavioral situations. Be open to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

Teach 1 Thing

Teach 1 ThingWhen preparing your Sunday School lesson, it can be very tempting to cram as much as possible into the time you have. After all, you want the kids to learn everything!

The problem is that the kids will end up leaving your class discouraged and overwhelmed. When asked, “What did you learn in Sunday School today?” they will not be able to give a good answer.

One of the most important truths a Sunday School teacher can master is to teach 1 thing.

Here’s how to decide what 1 thing to focus on:


Ask God to show you the 1 truth He wants you to focus on.

Read through the lesson

Read everything: all the suggested scripture, the entire lesson, the application, any additional material.

Look at the themes

Most curriculums will list one or more key themes at the beginning of the lesson. These may be called key themes, themes, aims, objectives, goals, truths, etc. You may be able to take your “1 thing” directly from here or use one listed as a base to build on.

Decide on 1 central theme

Once you have prayed and read through everything, you now have to decide what the 1 thing is you want to teach in this lesson. Don’t worry about getting it wrong. Different teachers will choose different themes and you may even choose something different the next time you teach this lesson. The Bible has so much to teach us – so choose 1 thing. Once you have decided, write it out in a single sentence.

Go back through the lesson

This is the time to be ruthless. Get rid of everything that isn’t about your 1 thing. It may be the truth, it may be Biblical and God-centered, it may be something you want the children to learn, but if it isn’t about the 1 central theme then it shouldn’t be in this lesson.

Insert your 1 thing throughout the lesson

Your 1 thing should be repeated often throughout the lesson, but that won’t happen unless you put it in.

Focus the application

You may need to change the application a lot depending on what you have chosen for your 1 thing. The 1 thing as stated will be a truth – about God, us, the Bible. During application, your job is to take that 1 truth and move it from head knowledge to heart transformation. There is a lot to say about this, so watch for it in an upcoming post.

When you focus your lesson on 1 central theme, your kids will be able to follow you, remain focused, and walk away having learned that 1 thing really well.

4 Tips on How to Handle Questions During a Story

Handling Questions During Story Time

Handling Questions During Story TimeYou are in the middle of the Bible story and you suddenly hear, “Did you know that it’s my birthday tomorrow?” All of a sudden, little voices are vying for your attention, “My birthday is in February.” “My Mom says that I can have my birthday party at McDonald’s Playland.” “Why can’t I have my birthday tomorrow?”

It only takes a second for our kids’ minds to change direction and suddenly the focus is off of your story and on to something else. Knowing how to deal with these kinds of disruptions can help to turn you into a great storyteller… and can keep the kids’ minds focused on the real reason for Sunday School.

Here are 4 tips on how to handle questions during a story:

Tip #1: Make it a rule that children must raise their hand if they have a question.

This behavior needs to be taught to young children. Explain the rule carefully and let them practice. Tell the children that if they have a question, they need to raise their hand and then wait for you to acknowledge them. Practice this a few times before story time. Depending where are you in your story, you may choose not to acknowledge a child whose hand is raised.

Tip #2: Work with another teaching partner to split the questions.

If you have a teaching partner or helper, make sure they are part of story time. You can acknowledge and answer questions related to the story but let your partner handle unrelated questions (i.e. bathroom requests or managing unrelated questions) so that you can focus on the story.

(If you don’t have a teaching partner, keep reading because Tip #4 will help).

Tip #3: Know your story really well and be comfortable with visuals.

Be familiar enough with the story so that you can continue smoothly after a disruption. You may need to practice telling the story at home. Familiarity with your story will not only help you handle questions during the story but it will also make you a better storyteller. (It’s much easier to get back on track after a distraction if you know the story compared to reading the story).

And, if you practice the story at home, practice with your visuals so you can be comfortable with them and have them ready to go before your story starts. This will keep you from creating your own distractions during story time!

Tip #4. Discern which questions to address.

Some questions during story enhance the story and the theme you are teaching. Some questions do not.

  • If the question asked is related to the theme of the lesson or the Bible story you are telling, then answer it simply and continue the story.
  • If the question is a Bible related question, but unrelated to the story you are telling then tell the child you’ll talk about it after story time.
  • If the question is completely unrelated, encourage the child to tell to you about it after story.

Ask God for discernment. Sometimes His Holy Spirit will direct the class in a completely new direction and you need to follow it.

It’s all about focus!
Children learn best when they can remain focused on a single topic… and what topic is more important than learning about Jesus? Part of becoming a great storyteller means handling distractions that can easily take the children’s focus away from the most important thing.

Welcome to!

Hi! For my first blog post, I wanted to quickly introduce myself and tell you what I do… and why I’m doing it.
Welcome to!


I grew up as a pastor’s kid on the prairies. My Mom and Dad love God and have dedicated their lives to serving Him. My parents taught me a lot about loving God and loving people. At 7, I gave my life to Jesus and grew up with a desire to serve God.

After graduating high school, I attended Canadian Bible College (now Ambrose University) where God continued to clarify His call on my life. I graduated with a Bachelor of Religious Education majoring in Christian Education so I could work with kids in a church setting. I met my husband while at Bible College and we’ve embarked on many adventures together!

We live in Winnipeg Manitoba.


I have served in large churches and small churches, in a volunteer capacity and in a professional (paid) capacity. I’ve worked in churches with hundreds of children and even taught Sunday School with only a couple of kids in the seats!

Along the way, I’ve served in the nursery, taught Sunday School to all ages, volunteered in and directed VBS’s, volunteered in community children’s programs, designed and served in mid-week club programs and summer day camps, and developed missions programs and projects.

I am passionate about Jesus and kids and the people who work with kids in the church. I want to help empower children’s ministry volunteers – especially those who work in small and rural churches. You give so much of your time and love to this important work and I want to help you become more effective.

I’d love it if you would join me on your journey as a children’s ministry volunteer. Bookmark this blog and come back to it often: I’m going to provide free resources and ideas for you and your fellow children’s ministry volunteers!

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