Today was our last day of teaching the 3-4 year old children at church. It was quite the adventure this year. I still can't quite believe how much they grow up in a year: we went from having 8 little 3-year-olds, most of whom could not stay in their chairs for an hour, wiggling all over the place, none of whom could make it through the full hour of class time without multiple snack breaks... to having 6 four-year-olds (two moved out) who are relatively well behaved, can (mostly) sit still throughout Primary and class time, and are able to wait patiently until the end of class to get some fruit snacks. I used to have at least one on my lap the entirety of Primary, and now they all can sit in their own seats, and they even mostly stay in the same seat the whole time too. They can take turns. They remembered most of the basics of what we learned this year when we reviewed last week. (Very basics. I didn't want to tax them too much. "Are you a child of God?" "Yes!" "Excellent. Moving on.") It's been challenging at times, but overall it's been a pretty amazing experience.
Some things I've learned:
- Consistency is crucial for young children.
- Don't bring frosted cupcakes unless you also bring full body bibs to protect their Sunday clothes from getting stained.
- Pick low sugar snacks OR don't give them the sugary snacks until the last two minutes of class.
- Always have a lot of short activities. Coloring, fishing, finding hidden objects around the room, and bean bag toss games are all very popular.
- Have a very flexible lesson plan because it's probably going to change as soon as they start losing interest.
- The lesson manual for Sunbeams is not that great. However, www.sugardoodle.net has a plethora of lesson helps and activity ideas and is vital to having a lesson that lasts the entire class time.
Next year we teach the 5-6 year old class. We will have five children (I think), one of whom is our niece. (Our nephew was in the Sunbeams this year. Gotta keep this tradition going I guess.) I am interested to see how much of what I learned with the Sunbeams transfers over to slightly older children. I'm guessing the constant hope for treats will at the very least.