It’s back. That dreaded time of year when our kids hang their heads and have to accept the harsh reality that summer break is officially over. It’s easy for us grown-ups to dismiss this unwelcomed transition, reasoning that the kids need to get over their state of shock because hey, let’s face it, they don’t know what real problems are until they have to walk five miles to school in the snow, right? The truth is, however, as much as we’d hate to admit it to our pastors and children’s ministry directors, the beginning of the school year holds unique challenges for us as teachers as well. The good news is that we can overcome the “beginning-of-the-year-blues” and go on to have a successful Sunday School year.
Please understand this: the first week of school can leave even the most motivated students feeling tired and lethargic. As such, it’s important to avoid starting the year off with a less-than-exciting lesson. After a summer of fun in the sun, learning can be likened to Lazarus in the tomb. As teachers, we have a responsibility to command Lazarus to come forth! This is the time of year that you don’t hold anything back. Those awesome object lessons you always wanted to do, go for it! Those wacky games that you just knew the kids would love, have at it! Those amazing crafts that you just never got around to doing, get ‘em started! Our students need to know that learning, particularly about Jesus, can be a fun and rewarding experience.
The start of the school year can be especially overwhelming to the church Bible teacher. After a summer of teaching classes with a scarcity of children due to summer vacations and other getaways, our classrooms become flooded with students once again. The very thought of it can cause even Faithful Francis or Sanctified Susie to grow a bit anxious. This is why preparation is key.
If at all possible, try to minimize any undue stress by giving yourself ample time to look over your lesson plan before Sunday morning. The more time you give yourself, the more time you’ll be able to master the content and research fun additions to your lesson. You’ll also have time to get any questions you have answered, compile resources, and recruit the support you’ll need to pull off an amazing lesson. By the end of the lesson, you and your students will be glad you took the extra time.
Keep Special Needs In Mind
This is also the time of year to rally up your patience and compassion for behavior issues as well. Children’s Bible teachers and youth ministers should keep in mind that during the “back to school” season children are dealing with a new level of stress from which they have been able to take a break during the summer. In most cases kids are trying to get accustomed to a new schedule with earlier wake up times and could be dealing with sleep deprivation issues.
If kids have been separated from friends due to changing class setups this can also bring on stress and agitation. In addition to the obvious back to school stress, some children may be readjusting to “back to school” medicine routines as well. During the summer break many parents choose to give their children a break from full doses of their medications to treat ADD/ADHD or other learning disabilities. The start of the school year means going back on full doses of these medicines. This can cause a transitional time which can be difficult.
Stay Focused on Jesus
As the beginning of a new school year is upon us, even seasoned teachers are not exempt from the fluttering butterflies that seem to invade the stomach prior to the start of a new church year. Though the challenges we face may vary widely depending on the particular ministry we’re a part of, there is one constant that will never change. Jesus Christ, the original, New Testament Bible teacher is with us always. He continues to make good on His promise to never leave us and never forsake us. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the challenges that come with the start of a new school year, remember to give it over to Him and take His yoke upon yourself. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
We invite you to see a list of all of Madalyn’s blog posts on Sunday School Zone.