Think Before You Teach
Preparing a lesson plan for children takes some forethought. Going into the classroom without a lesson plan is like going into battle without any ammo. Children will become bored and inattentive when you don't have a good lesson plan prepared.
Short 10-15 Minute Segments
The attention span of most children is short. This means you should never spend more than 10-15 minutes on any one activity. This includes your Bible story times. Sometimes, you can get by with longer periods of time. If you see that your children are really into the activity, you might want to carry it a little longer. However, if you see the children are getting bored with something, you will want to move on as quickly as possible. However, you don't want move on at the expense of the lesson being taught.
Tell — Don't Lecture
Children enjoy hearing stories, and the Bible is full of great stories for children to enjoy. Make your point about the lesson to learn from the story and be done with it. Don't pound it into the children. You can use games and other methods for reinforcing the lesson, you don't have to lecture them.
Sometimes They Won't Get It
You might as well just face it, sometimes, they just won't get it. Different children of the same age are not always on the same level of understanding, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. If they don't get it, don't get discouraged. Just do your best, and maybe, they might come around. Plan another session on a similar subject sometime later.
Don't Use Big Church Words
In other words, tell it in a manner that the children will understand. Use words that they know. If you introduce a word they might not know, explain it. If you cannot explain it in simple words that a child can understand, you might want to question if you really understand the material yourself. Always study your lesson well beyond what you plan to teach the children. You should understand the depth of a subject beyond what you plan to teach.
Different Children Learn Through Different Methods
Some kids are visual, some are physical, and some are auditory. In other words, they learn best through different methods. John might learn best by hearing something, but Sue learns better by doing something. Get to know your kids, and test different methods on them, and see which ones work best for them.
Children Are Active
All kids like to play games. Use that to your advantage. Every lesson should contain at least one game that pertains to the lesson plan. I find that game where they have to find something always works really well. Children like finding things hidden, and discovering things they didn't know.
This list is by no means the end-all of planning, but it is a start. Next month, I will present you with a sample lesson plan, and we will implement some of these principles.