You begin each class with unlimited power—power to build up or tear down. With just a few words you can create a sense of well-being or discourage the hearts of the children you reach.
Throughout Scripture God makes it clear that the tongue is a powerful tool. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Paul challenges believers to “Encourage one another and build each other up.” So let’s talk about some practical ways to do that in your classroom.
Words of Direction
In order to establish control be sure to give clear directions. When children know what is expected of them they are eager to please those in authority. Determine what the rules will be before you come to class. Simply making a positive statement instead of a negative one will increase the children’s desire to please. For example, replace “No talking” with “Wait your turn to talk.” Keeping your list of rules short will also help the children be successful in following them.
Along with your expectations the children should be clear on what consequences will result if they choose not to obey. Setting boundaries and sticking to them creates security for children. Spelling out the consequences will simplify things for you and the children. You won’t have to struggle to think of appropriate consequences at the drop of a hat and your students won’t be able to accuse you of being unfair. The choice will be theirs.
Words of Correction
If a child chooses to ignore the established rules it will be your responsibility to use the power of words to correct his behavior. Sometimes just a gentle whisper in the ear of a child to remind her of your expectations will be enough to change her actions. Other times you will need to restate the broken rule and the consequences. By having the child repeat the rule you will reinforce it and the child will assume the responsibility for the consequences.
Words of Explanation
It doesn’t matter if your audience is 8, 18 or 80. God loves each one and teaching His Word should not be taken lightly. God desires each person to understand the Bible and to live his life under its guidance. But how can you obey something you don’t understand?
Speaking “childrenese” is something that requires preparation and practice. When you’re preparing a lesson consider how the truths can be put into words that fit your age group. Are there words that need to be better defined or replaced so the children will understand more easily? The longer you teach the easier it will be to think like children. Be open to letting them ask questions. Many misconceptions can be cleared up during review.
Words of Affirmation
Everyone enjoys being commended for a job well done. Praising the accomplishments of children gives them a feeling of significance that often lasts a lifetime.
Each child in your class has been handpicked by God to be a part of your sphere of influence. What a great opportunity for you to build into their lives and develop in them a sense of worth that comes from being created by God. Catch your students being good and reward them. When they complete a difficult assignment, celebrate. Compliment them on their positive character qualities and not just their new clothes.
At the same time, too much praising lessens its value. Be sincere when you praise. Children will know if you are not. Not all achievements deserve the same type of adulation. Being selective and sincere will increase the merit of your commendation.
You have a great deal of power through the words you use. Use them to give clear directions, correct behavior, explain God’s Word and praise your class. Use the verbal power God has given you to build up strong and godly children.
Ways to Encourage Your Students