Recently a Denver teacher wanted to get to know her students better, so she asked kids to complete the sentence, “I wish my teacher knew…” Teacher Kyle Schwartz was touched at what she read—so touched that she began posting the letters (without kids’ names) on Twitter with the hashtag: #IWishMyTeacherKnew.
“I wish my teacher knew I don’t have pencils at home to do my homework.”
“I wish my teacher knew sometimes my reading log is not signed because my mom is not around a lot.”
“I wish my teacher knew that I want to go to college.”
Like so many people who love kids, these notes moved me…and reminded me of the critical importance of face-to-face discussions with kids. This teacher—who spends nearly 8 hours a day with kids in her class—felt like she didn’t know her students well!
Wow. If a third-grade teacher doesn’t feel like she knows her students, after spending months with them, how well are you getting to know the kids at your VBS (and in your community) during a few hours of VBS?
Don’t Skimp on the Small Group Discussions
In Group’s VBS, we build in conversations with open-ended questions like, “Tell me about something that scares you,” “When have you needed courage?” or “Who makes you smile?” Because we field-test every aspect and every question with kids, we get to watch astounding transformation within crews, as kids and leaders huddle together to talk about things like this. Those conversations aren’t filler. They’re not fluff. They’re not “Bible-light.” They give caring Christian leaders insight into a kid’s world. Into a child’s heart. As you reach kids with VBS this summer, don’t skimp on the small group discussions. In an effort to pack in more games, a craft, or a goofy skit…don’t forget the importance of face-to-face, someone-really-cares conversation. Ask the questions…then listen.
I’d love to hear how you’re getting to know the kids in your ministry. What are some of your success stories, insights, and “ah-ha” moments? Let us know in the comment section below!
Great Post! As I read this post I began thinking about the programs we have here at Mars Hill. Most of them are filled with videos, crafts, coloring sheets, and teaching, very little is left for discussion and really building relationships with kids. What if…. we dropped the lesson for just one Sunday and focused on getting to know our kids?
Back in my days of teaching 4 and 5 year olds in Sunday school, I often found that these open-ended questions could be hard to navigate, as some children will jump at the opportunity to tell the group (at length) about whatever is on their mind – be it actually related to the question or not. Do you have any tips for dialing the question back in to the Bible instead of say, the awesome Spiderman action figure the child just got for their birthday? Is there a polite, loving way to interrupt stories like this without making the child feel unappreciated?