At a recent children’s ministry workshop, a volunteer asked me who inspired me to work in kids’ ministry. My answer was two-fold, Jesus Christ and Willy Wonka. Not two role models that usually go together but it’s true! If I had my choice, I’d totally focus on finding creative ways to reach kids for Jesus; however, by not having a good classroom management plan, chaos can ensue. I’ve discovered the hard way that focusing solely on fun without an actual plan for classroom management not only frustrates me, it frustrates kids too. If you’re just starting in ministry, remember these tips when developing a plan.
Always come prepared for extra. Extra kids, extra snacks, extra time. If you average 10 kids in your classroom, prepare a few extras. It’s better to have too much than not enough. Preparation for the next lesson should start well in advance of the day you plan to minister. Preparing for Sunday kids’ church on Saturday is too close.
Have an action plan. Here’s what I do when I’m faced with a child who wants to disrupt the class.
- Issue a verbal warning.
- Take the child aside and correct him privately.
- Remove the child from the group for a short time.
- Call in reinforcements, like the children’s director or the head usher.
Remember to keep your hands to yourself and besides the first, brief reminder/warning, don’t correct a child in front of his peers.
Bring in a parent. Besides the “kid of the week” (that’s a reward program for kids who follow the rules), start a program like the “parent of the week.” The parent of the week comes to greet the class as a “special guest.” The special guest can pray with the class, demonstrate an object lesson or read a Bible story. Having parents in the classroom really helps with classroom management.
Focus on positive reinforcement. It’s easy to focus on “discipline problems” but really, your heart should be on positively reinforcing the good behaviors. Kids desperately want your attention and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it. Provide positive reinforcement to children to get the results you want.
There are no cookie cutter answers to classroom management. You’ll have to design a plan specific to your group but these basic tips will get you started. Provide all kids with a safe and nurturing environment with a good discipline plan.
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.