If Possible Use Small Groups
If 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.