Keeping discipline in the classroom can be a weekly struggle for Sunday school teachers new and old. There are some simple rule you can follow that will help keep the chaos to a minimum.
Be Prepared! If you don’t have a plan for the time in class the students will take control of the time. Nothing contributes to disorder in the Sunday school more then the downtime that occurs between activities. For this reason it is best to have a schedule ahead of time. If you are constantly looking for something “to do next” your focus will not be on the students and they will quickly lose interest in the class and descend into chaos. Try to have everything you need, such as craft supplies and materials, set up ahead of time. The goal is to make quick and smooth transitions from one activity to the next.
Keep them moving! Children have short attention spans. Never spend to much time on activity. A 30 minute lesson likely isn’t going to work. Keep your lesson around 15 minutes. Move to a craft that goes along with the lesson. You can continue to drive home points from the lesson as the children work on the craft. Spend 15 – 25 minutes on the craft then move on. Next it might be game time for 20 minutes.
The point here is to keep things moving; in turn that keeps up interest and lowers the risk for problems.
Keep them aware! Have a short list of class rules on the wall. If a child is breaking a rule, ask him or her to read aloud the rule being broken. If the child can not read ask the class which rule is being broken. A combination of psychology and pear pressure can be very effective in keeping order. Some children will respond to this method, some won’t. Never use it on visitors (they’re usually quiet anyway). It is the teachers responsibility to understand her students and what kind of discipline will work with each.
Use a visual method of discipline. Hang three blue and three pink balloons from the ceiling. Tell the students if a boy gets to loud you will pop one blue balloon; you will do the same with a pink balloon if a girl is to loud. At the end of class if either still has a balloon left allow that group to get three pieces of candy out of a bag. Never warn the students that you are going to pop a balloon. If you do so, they will be quiet long enough for you to not pop it. They will learn quickly that they can do what they like until you warn them. So, don’t warn, just pop. The student will be much more attentive that way.
Build good and open relationships with the parents. Communicate concerns to them. Your goal is not to get the student in trouble, it is to work with the parents for the benefit of the child.
Don’t make promises you won’t keep. If you tell the class that they’ve lost game time because they cant get quiet, don’t change your mind. Empty threats send the message that they can do what they want without consequences. Always follow through with what you will say you do.
Never take a child out of class to talk to alone. If you need to take a child out of class for any reason make sure you have another adult worker with you.