Apr 29, 2015

Stop Trying to Maintain Control of Your Classroom

Do you find yourself constantly telling kids to "sit still and be quiet?"

Do you feel like you're always on the verge of losing control of your classroom?

Is "ssshhhhh" your go-to -sound while you're teaching? 

If the answer is "yes" then don't worry, you're not a bad teacher.  You're simply asking kids to do something that they're not wired to do.

What do kids really need to get God's Word embedded in their hearts?  What do kids really need to move truth from their short term memory to their long term memory?

The standard answer would be to put them in chairs, keep them as organized as possible and try to keep a lid on their natural enthusiasm.  Basically a riot-controlled situation.  Welcome to a kids' class in the average church.

But a group of child education leaders in Japan had a different idea.  They realized that kids get anxious when they feel walled-in or constrained.  They realized that kids thrive in environments where there is a lot of noise.  They realized that kids learn best when they are allowed to move and explore. 

Based on this thought, they created the most radical learning environment I've ever seen.  It's the total opposite of "sit still and be quiet."  And the results have been outstanding.  Want to know what they did?  Watch the video below and prepare to be amazed.  It's worth every second of the 9:52.  Below the video are some of my initial thoughts about how this could translate into children's ministry.

My thoughts...
  • We are forcing kids to sit still which is the opposite of their natural wiring.  This causes them to disengage and get bored.  Then we accuse them of "misbehaving."  It's not their fault...it's ours.
  • Boxing kids in hinders their learning.  What if children's ministries swapped out their chairs for wide open rooms with lots of learning options for kids to choose from?
  • Quiet classrooms are not effective classrooms.  Just because a child is sitting quietly doesn't mean he or she is learning.  In fact, the opposite is usually happening.
  • We've made learning too safe.  Kids want challenge and exploration that takes them out of their comfort zone.
  • Video certainly has it's place in learning, but nothing is a substitute for hands on learning.   Curriculum that is predominately video based is missing a vital part of learning.
Bottom line.  When we start creating church learning environments that allow kids to move and explore, we'll see them begin really grasping what we're teaching.
The floor is yours.  What are your thoughts? 


We must read the same things and run in the same social media circles. I saw this also. When I created DC4K 12 years ago people thought I was crazy especially church leaders. "What not have the kids all go to the same station at the same time? Stations? What are they? What? You're not making every kid do the workbook pages together? You actually allow kids to chose where they want to go? Don't things get out of control really fast?" On and on the comments came.

I incorporated so many different learning techniques. Would have included outside stuff if I could have gotten away with it. Now research is out there to back me up. But I knew what worked because of running a therapeutic childcare for years. For school age kids we had gardens, animals, land, snack bar, jobs to do for pay, country store. committees such as the children's landscape committee that landscaped our front yard. I could go on and on, The majority of our kids were either diagnosed behavior disorders, emotionally wounded, neglected, etc. We learned we typical learning techniques and discipline didn't work so did things differently. And you know what - it worked.

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