Yair Ariel • June-6-2016
Child care at church can be a place for children to learn and develop skills that will be needed when they begin their educational journey, whether secular or religious. Engaging children at child care at church can be a real challenge in a world where screen time has replaced the usual schoolyard play. When children drift off, they’re unable to connect with the other lessons you’re trying to teach them.
In a religious setting, parents are expecting you to impart the basics of the religion. Young children don’t have the patience for a standard service, so religious teachers have come up with a variety of ways to impart religious lessons in a way that engages children. If you’re a new teacher, that’s easier said than done.
Child care in churches is more than just babysitting. It’s religious instruction, and that means you have to nurture character traits while watching out for boredom. Here are some ways you can keep the children under your care engaged.
1. Keep It Fast And Fun
While at child care at church, engaging small children in any activity requires that you keep their interest. For a child’s mind, that means a lot of fast movement and fun activities. They need to see that it’s okay to let off some steam and have fun by watching you do the activity with them. A bit of running around the room or singing a song with motions can hold them long enough to grasp the lessons you want to teach that week.
For older children, running around the room may not be enough to keep them engaged. If your children are older, you’ll need to engage them quickly on a mental level. Encourage them to ask questions about the religion and about the issues they’re facing in life. And if they feel like playing something physical like a game of basketball, let them! They’ll be more open to your lessons if you meet them halfway.
2. Plan Activities That Challenge And Have A Purpose
Constructive play during child care at church is excellent at achieving this goal. Children can build towers or buildings with blocks, play in sand, or construct contraptions on a work bench. This kind of play allows children to experiment and find combinations that work and those that don’t. This also serves the important function of giving the children a sense of accomplishment and empowers them with control of their environment.
One way this can be done with a BEAM virtual game system. It’s a projection system that throws an image of a game onto a flat surface. Cameras in the device can track up to 16 people for a variety of different games. Many of the games involve kicking, stomping, and running around the field. It’s a great way to engage their need for screen time with some healthy activity. Best of all, it can be done indoors when it’s raining, and there’s no cleanup.
3. Use Games that Have Rules
Teaching children that life has rules (laws) is an important lesson that children must learn. It helps children to progress from an egocentric view to a cooperative view. Playing games like Simon Says, Red Rover, and Follow the Leader help to develop these important concepts. There are several team games for BEAM virtual game system that can also develop this sense of teamwork. Through playing and the issues that happen while the kids learn how to play together, you will experience several teachable moments where you can impart the lessons for the day.
4. Variety, Variety, Variety
Most religious schools have a curriculum, so there’s always something new every week for the lesson. But the games and activities also need to have variety to keep children interested. Not every child is interested in the same games. The more variety you can have, the happier the children will be and the more engaged they will be. Most children love to wonder about what’s going to happen next.
It doesn’t have to be all physical activities either. Any child that is a bit introverted and doesn’t want to run around will appreciate having something to do like read a book. Having a variety of quiet activities is another great idea. If you have a free reading session, variety is essential to prevent children from getting bored over time. You can also ask the kids what sort of things they want to do. Of course, screen time is out, but they might come up with some great surprises.
5. Engage in All Kinds of Play for your Age Groups
By engaging in differing kinds of play, you help to alleviate boredom and help your children’s overall development. Try to engage the following:
- Physical (or motor) play helps children to develop motor skills and develops fine and gross muscle strength and overall integration of muscles. It also promotes the integration of muscle, nerve, and brain functions.
- Social play helps children learn important social rules like give-and-take, cooperation, and sharing. Participating in social situations helps to prepare children to function effectively in the adult world.
- Fantasy play allows children to abstract and attempt new roles and situations. This encourages them to develop flexible thinking and learn to create beyond the here and now.
If you can incorporate these kinds of play into your religious lessons, so much the better. One of the challenges of Sunday School is finding play activities that can engage children of all the age groups you have in your classes. Small churches have a difficult time because teens can be mingling with toddlers. Ask the older children in your classes about the sorts of activities they want to do and what they’d like to do with young children. In this way, you can become a sort of play facilitator, and teach teens valuable skills about how to with young kids.
These are some general suggestions to engage children of all ages in child care at church setting. Keeping things fun and simple are keys to being engaging, no matter the curriculum. Encourage a broad variety of play activities to keep them stimulated and to prime them for the religious lesson you’ve got planned that week.
BEAM virtual game system is an award-winning interactive projection game system that instantly enhances the customer experience at your business with endless fun, excitement, entertainment and engagement. For more information about the BEAM system and how it can help your child care at church and give children the exercise they need, contact the BEAM Team today!