Tips for Leading Application Time #8

Teenagers Sitting And ConversingPrevent distracting chatter

You want the kids in your small group to build relationships with you and with each other. The downside of this is that you have friends sitting together who sometimes can’t resist the urge to have their own conversation right in the middle of application time! Or kids want to tell you stories about what is going in with them.

Both of these are examples of distracting chatter. Application time is a time for talking, but it’s focused group discussion. So, you need to do your best to prevent distracting chatter.

There are a number of ways to do this:

  • Set up ground rules
  • Let kids know what you expect
  • Be prepared with good questions
  • Know what the lesson’s key theme is, the key Bible passage, and the aim of application time
  • Think out ahead of time how you will deal with distracting chatter when it does happen

You may need to move certain kids away from each other. If a child shares something that is totally off track, tell them that you will talk about that later, and move right back into the conversation.

During application time you are guiding kids to a response. It’s important to focus. Distracting chatter causes loss of focus. Do your best to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Tips for Leading Application Time #7

Childen's Ministry Sunday School BehaviorInvolve all the kids

All groups of kids are different! In your group you may have kids that love to talk…and talk and talk! You may have kids who prefer to keep quiet or are really shy. You may have kids who seem to only want to talk with their best friend. There will be all kinds of kids in your small group/class. Do your best to involve all of them during application time.

Set up an environment that makes kids comfortable and is a place where they can share. If you can, have application time in a different place from the lesson. That can mean simply moving from the table to a circle on the floor. Let your group know from the beginning that during application time you want them to talk!

It’s important to have ground rules for application time. For example, we don’t interrupt when someone is talking; we don’t make fun of people; we show respect for everyone in the group.

Try not to let certain kids dominate the conversation. Let your talkative kids talk, but remind them that everyone gets a chance to share during application time. If necessary, have a word with them privately. Ask them to help you by sharing and then letting other kids share as well. Ask if they would help keep the conversation going by saying after they have shared, “What do you think?” to another person in the group.

Encourage quiet or shy kids to contribute. In one Sunday School class I taught I had a student who was excessively shy. She could go for an entire class without saying anything. But she was engaged and interested and wanted to be more involved. So we worked out a system. She would usually sit by me and if she had something she wanted to share, she would whisper in my ear. Then I would ask if I could share it with the rest of the group. If she said yes, then I would. If not, then I would just thank her for sharing and move on.

If you have kids in your group that are more interested in talking to each other than participating in the group discussion, there are couple of options. Talk with them privately. Remind them of the importance of application time and let them know that you want them to participate. Tell them that if what they are talking about with their friend can’t be shared with the entire group then it is something they will need to save to talk about until after Sunday School. Also, let them know what will happen if they persist in talking only to each other during application time. The best option is probably to just separate them. Tell them that it will be for one Sunday. The next Sunday is a new day and they have a new chance to participate in the group discussion. Another way to tell with this without focusing on certain kids is to assign places for application time.This way you can choose ahead of time where kids will sit. You can separate best friends or put kids you want to keep an eye on close to you.

Application time is such an important part of Sunday School. We want our kids to respond to the truth taught in the lesson. We pray for the Holy Spirit to work change and transformation in the lives of our students. This is why it is so important to involve all your students in the application time discussion.

Tips for Leading Application Time #6

job search - womanKeep it focused on the lesson

During application time you want the kids to be actively involved. You want them to talk; to answer questions and think deeply and choose to respond biblically to the truth in the lesson.

It will be your job to keep application time focused on the lesson. It can be easy for a discussion to stray off course. Kids want to share stories and talk about life; you need to do your best to keep the discussion from straying into tangents.

Keep it focused with good questions and by guiding the discussion. I’ve talked about preparing and asking good questions in a previous post.

You want the kids to be involved in the discussion. How do you keep them focused? Have a stash of good questions ready to go. Also, be prepared to help guide the conversation. Be ready to ask follow up questions. Be ready to allow for and encourage silence as kids think about a question asked or the topic being discussed.

If the discussion does start to stray off track, interrupt and re-direct the conversation before it gets too far off track.

Say something like, “That sounds interesting, but we will have to talk about it later. Tell me what you think God wanted you to learn about Him today?” Or, “Oh, off-topic! Let’s get back to our Bible point. Tell me about a person in the Bible who has faced a similar situation?”

There are a couple of things you can do when the discussion gets off track.

Use a prearranged signal – talk with your small group about a signal to use that will help everyone to re-focus. It could be something like saying, “Off-topic!” or maybe using a pair of binoculars. When you hold them up, the groups knows it’s time to focus.

Refocus with the central Bible verse or key theme – When the discussion gets off track, help your group re-focus by highlighting the key theme of the lesson or reading again the central Bible verse from the lesson. Focus their attention and then continue the discussion.

* Note: There may be times when something happens that takes the discussion in a whole other direction. The Holy Spirit may be at work directing the conversation. Be sensitive to those possibilities and be ready to go with it. For example, you may unexpectedly have a child open up and share. If the Holy Spirit prompts you to drop the questions you have prepared and take the discussion in that new direction, then do it.

Teacher Training Video – Grabbing Your Students Attention

To be an effective teacher, your first job is to grab your class’s attention. You need to find a way to get everyone thinking about the theme.

What are some characteristics of a good attention-grabber?

  • It’s short – don’t take too long on your attention-grabber. It should be short; it should draw your students in, but it is not the main focus of the lesson. Keep it short.
  • It introduces – a concept, the 1 thing, a problem
  • It should never distract – this is really important. The attention-grabber should never distract your class from the Biblical truth you want them to discover. A good attention-grabber will lead directly to the Bible study.
    • Be careful that you don’t hook their attention on something trivial or you will lose them. Kids will focus on the wrong thing. So, be careful in your hook to grab their attention and focus it on the central truth.

Tips for Leading Application Time #5

If Possible Use Small Groups

Children's Ministry Small Group Application TimeIf you can, divide your class into smaller groups for application time. For large classes, a small group of 6-8 kids works. For small classes, a small group of 4-6 kids would work.

Some classes are already small and so breaking into smaller groups isn’t feasible. That’s okay! Your class is your small group! Some classrooms only have one teacher and therefore can’t break up into small groups. That’s okay too! Do something to indicate to the kids the transition to application time. Consider having it in a different part of your classroom. If you use tables for the lesson, move to a circle on the floor. It is helpful for the kids to have an obvious transition from lesson time to application time.

1. Teach children behavior expectations for small group application time.

Kids will not automatically know how to behave in this setting. Make sure you take the time to teach them.

Some behavior expectations will be the same as the rest of the class. So first let them know that the class rules apply during application time.

Next, get specific about small group expectations.

Their chance to talk – tell them that during application time, you want all of them to feel free to talk and to have the chance to talk. This is their time to share their thoughts, feelings, questions. This is the time to figure out together how to respond to the Biblical truth taught during the lesson.

Confidences – talk to your small group about keeping confidences. Hopefully the kids in your small group will share their thoughts and feeling and stories. Let your kids know that the things shared in small group are not to be talked about outside of small group.

Letting everybody talk – Tell your kids that application time is a chance for everyone to talk. Some kids are really talkative and some kids aren’t. Let your kids know that you will do your best to give everyone who wants to share a chance to talk.

Respecting others – Another important behavior expectation is to show respect to everyone in your small group. Tell your kids that you expect them respect each other. You expect them to speak kindly, to let others share if they want to, to not tease or belittle others in the group.

2. A small group may encourage kids to talk more freely.

Having a smaller group during application may make it easier for kids to open up and share.

I had a girl in one of my small groups who was excessively shy. It was easier for her when the group was smaller, but she still didn’t often want to share. She would whisper in my ear if she had something she wanted to share with the group. I don’t think she would have even done that if we were in a large group setting.

When the group for application time is smaller, you as the leader have a better opportunity to help individual kids get the most out of application time.

Remember, the goal is for kids to discover ways to respond that week to the truth taught in the lesson.

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