Jan 26, 2012

How to Make Your Lessons Easy to Remember and Hard to Forget

Our lessons should be easy for kids to remember and hard for them to forget.  This means moving our teaching from their short term memory into their long term memory.  Here are some keys...

Repetition.  You remember what you repeat.  Instead of teaching one truth a week, teach one truth a month and have the kids repeat it over and over and over throughout the month.  Studies show that we forget the majority of what we hear if it is not repeated.  When it is repeated 6 times the retention rate goes up 90%. 

Simplicity.  Great teachers have the ability to take complex truths and explain them in simple, easy-to-understand terms.  Teach kids the truths of the Bible in short, easy-to-repeat phrases.  An example would be "The Bible is God's Word and I can trust it completely."  

Evoke Emotion.  Emotion is very closely tied to long term memory.  People remember what they feel.  Use activities and experiences that evoke emotion.  One of the greatest examples I have seen of this was actually in an adult service.  The Pastor gave everyone a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie on the way into the service.  He had them hold it the entire service while he taught on resisting temptation. Needless to say, a lot of emotion was felt that day as the room was filled with the aroma of freshly baked cookies.  The people who attended that day will never forget it.  

Link the truth to an everyday object.  Link the truth you are teaching to objects that kids come in contact with on a regular basis.  This will remind them of the truth each time they see the object.  An example would be using a skateboard to illustrate what it means to repent.  Repentance is like doing a 180 on a skateboard.  Each time the child rides a skateboard after that, he will be reminded of what repentance means.  Jesus did this often when He taught.  He used birds, fish, coins, sheep, gates. etc.

Participatory.  When kids get involved in the lesson, they remember the lesson.  Kids are growing up in a world that is quickly moving away from lecture style learning.  In a recent article in The Edge, Don Tapscott wrote, “I argued that is a widening gap between the model of learning offered by many big universities and the natural way that young people who have grown up digital best learn.  The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still common. It’s part of a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in the learning process.  Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed road map.  They want an animated conversation, not a lecture.  They want an interactive education. Students are making new demands of universities, and if the universities are to remain relevant, they will have to change.  Professors will have to abandon the traditional lecture, and start listening and conversing with the students — shifting from a broadcast style and adopting an interactive one."

Applicable.  It's hard to forget something you are living out during the week.  Spend as much time teaching application as you do information.  Give children specific ways they can live out what you have taught them.  Then check back the next week to see how they did.  When kids become "doers" of the Word and not just "hearers" of the Word, you will see life change. 

Use a story to illustrate truth.  People remember stories.  Illustrate what you are teaching with stories.  Jesus did this with parables.  The prodigal son is a great example.  It reminds us of the Father's love and forgiveness for those who have gone astray.

What other tips do you have for making lessons easy to remember and hard to forget?  Would enjoy seeing your thoughts in the comment section below.

Posted by Dale Hudson


Nice Dale. I incorporate the kids into the stories we tell as well as making them a little more user friendly in terminology. We have the classic battle of the Phillies versus the Izzies.

The other big take away thing we do is sound small group time with the kids. It gives us a chance to really drive the point home and give them an opportunity to start expressing what they have learned and understood. This helps us know what to refresh or make more clear and it gives them a chance to ask questions or draw conclusions.

Thanks for the boost.

Great word, PJ. I agree that small groups are so important in the learning process. I heard someone say recently that relationships are key to discipleship. One of the primary places kids can learn through relationships is in small groups. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

This helps us all "Connect" Jesus with the kidos in their world, not "church-world". Here are a couple more that I thought if:
1. Memorable, non-traditional, even wacky titles. It's amazing how announcing a cool, unexpected title before your messages (or week before), really sparks interest. Using titles like: God's Word is Powerful, although true, seems a little "been there heard that.."
2. Wacky - Using examples that are off center, creative make learning fun. "That's like eating a peanut butter and pickle pizza..."
3. Acronyms - age ole' technique,and yes, you can overdo it, but still be creative.
4. Make up words by taking two or three words and combining them in creative ways. Exp: Spaghetti is "awesom-licious" The song was "jam-acious maximous to the tenth power". Anyway, the more FUN you have, the more FUN the kids will have learning and experiencing a fun Jesus!

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