One of the wonders that came with turning eighteen was that I was finally able to teach Sunday school at church. No more “Leader In Training” or being a “Helper,” I could finally call the shots… And ask other people to take the kids to the bathroom while I told the story.
I think it’s the writer in me. I love telling the story. I teach kindergarten and sometimes first through third grade, and to see their expressions as I tell them how Elijah “was swooped up in a chariot of fire,” while I proceed to run circles around the room with my arms stretched out, “WHOOOOSH!” is priceless.
Or how their eyes get all big and they start to gasp sporadically when I tell them how “bad men were waiting.” GASP! “To steal his backpack and lunch.” GASP-GASP! “And beat him up!” NO! During the story of The Good Samaritan.
I love it.
I feel like a lot of people are scared of Kindergartners. A throng of small, screechy people who can burst into chaos at the drop of a hat. But that’s the fun of it.
It’s a mind game.
When I led my devision in the US Naval Sea Cadets (more on that in a future post), I had to find the balance between “shipmate” and “you need to follow my orders.” It’s the same thing in kindergarten.
Wow. A hard core military program taught me how to teach kindergarten at church.. who knew?
I’ve found that it’s just organization. There’s a verse in the bible that talks about kindergarten classes. How everything should be done decently and in good order?
And have the light switches handy if you ever need to grasp their attention again.
Instead of teaching Sunday morning, I teach Wednesday night. It has it’s advantages, like the kids aren’t in church clothes that they can’t play in.
My go-to is have them run around in some way, shape, or form, burn energy, then sit down and tell me about their week, get their chatter out, then lesson, then coloring, then snack, and sometimes music if there’s extra time. PS, if any teachers out there have tips, I’m open to them.
I’ve noticed that the crazy and silly are what stick with them the longest. Like wetting tissue paper and wearing it on my face through a whole story because I’m Namaan the leper. Or bowing down to my big stuffed blue lion “The Idol.” For easter, I took a toilet paper roll, stuffed a wad of paper in the center, and on one side, filled it with small torn white pieces of paper and sealed it. The other side I left open, and gave all the kids a black piece of paper called “sin,” all their bad. The kids took turns putting their sin in the toilet paper roll. I sealed it, shook it up, and said how Jesus died to wipe all their sins away. I opened up the other side of the roll and shook out all the white pieces and they gasped. “Magic!”
The kids have gotten so comfortable around me that they’ll come out of no where when I’m at church and either say hi or show me their lost tooth or a craft they made. They love asking questions too.
One of the first questions was, “how old are you??”
“Why are you nineteen?”
“… uhhh… Well how old are you, wise guy?”
“Why are you five?”
“Because I’m awesome.”
At least he had an answer.
Or the girls. . . “I saw you hug him, are you guys getting marriieeed?”
The giggling begins. “Why aren’t you marriiieeed?”
If I didn’t have tough skin, I’d probably cry every Wednesday when I’m reminded how alone I am.
The kids even asked me why I always wear my red Toms as if they were sick of seeing them. Critical little guys, I’m telling you. The military program worked to prepare me for this, they can be rough.
Anyways, I love it. I love the challenge of it. And it’s so satisfying to teach them something knew, or share a whole new experience with them through a story.
It’s starting to dawn on me that soon they’re all going to move to first grade. I’ll be like a mom left behind.
I just won’t think about that right now.