Teaching Bible truths is a key part of special-needs ministry. Effective lessons require repetition and addressing learning and physical needs. Here are 6 ways to teach students.

Address special needs while teaching Bible truths

#1 - Use The Bible

God's Word is The Bible. Always use The Bible. This shows children that you are reading or speaking from the truth.

#2 - Supplement with kid-friendly resources

We have The Storybook Bible. I love the language and pictures in it. It's more appealing to children who like color and want to look at pictures. 

Wait, what? Didn't I just say to use The Bible? Yes - that's for you the adult. It's hard for many of our children to sit at the table with nothing. We give them things to look at.

Another resource we use is interactive books. The children can look at pictures and text. They also get to move the pictures to match the story. 
Use interactive books in ministry to help children learn Bible truths.

#3 - Repeat, repeat, repeat

It can take up to 10-50 (!) times to learn a new word. Repetition is important. With different child-friendly Bibles and story supplements, it's easier to get in repetition. 

The adult reads (or paraphrases) a verse or short set of verses from The Bible. Then, volunteers point out what the child-friendly Bibles and supplements say.

The NIV version of Ruth 2:17-18 from the picture above says: So Ruth gleaned into the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.

There is a LOT of vocabulary in those verses that my children are not going to understand or relate to. Gleaning, threshed, barley, and ephah? So I'm going to take those out.

While holding and referring to The Bible, I would simplify the language to: Ruth worked in the field until the sun went down. She took the wheat she gathered. She took the wheat to her mother-in-law Naomi. They had food to eat. God took care of Ruth and Naomi.

The changes don't change the meaning of the verses. The changes just mean that I am using language that the children can understand and relate to more.

Next, we'll look at the child-friendly Bibles and the interactive books. I'll describe the pictures and read the text in the interactive books. I'll repeat "God took care of Ruth and Naomi" with each child.

For those two verses, I've now gotten in the Bible verses and 2-8 repetitions. Yeah, I know that's not close to the 10-50 repetitions we need - that will be in the next blog post. It's a start.

TIP: If you have volunteers who are new, hesitant, or competitive, tell them what you're focusing on, in this case, "God takes care of Ruth and Naomi" or "God takes care of me." Give the volunteers a pen and paper. Tell the volunteers to make a tally mark every time they hear a volunteer say the Bible truth of the day. New and hesitant volunteers will be appreciative for something easy and useful to do. Competitive volunteers will start trying to get tally marks, which means tons more repetition for students!

#4 - Ask the children to repeat the Bible truth

After the story, I'll tell the children, "God took care of Ruth and Naomi. He gave them food to eat. What does God do?"

The children will say, "God takes care of me."

Got a child (or children) who won't say it? Yeah, me, too. 

For nonverbal children, say, "God takes care of YOU," while emphasizing the YOU and pointing to them.

For children who are limited verbally, have them complete the Bible truth. "God takes care of..." and wait for them to say, "me!" If they don't respond, finish it for them. It's Bible instruction. We want to make it fun, positive, and practical, not force children into doing things they don't want to yet.

It's easy to give up when a child doesn't participate like you think they should. Don't give up! Keep trying. Most will eventually get what you're expecting and respond. Even if the children don't respond, they're getting lots of repetition and understanding.

#5 - Allow fidgets

We let children have one fidget each. I mean, how hard is it for us as adults to pay attention without clicking our pens, changing our seating positions, or looking around?

Be sure to set expectations for the fidgets - one per child only, and eyes must be on the teacher or resource, not on the fidget. You'll want to have things like squishy balls and different textures of fabric that feel good but don't want to make the child look at them.

#6 - Look at seating

Our ministry is lucky to have a PT (physical therapist.) I'm always amazed with PT/OTs walk in and say, "That table is too high/low" or "He needs a bigger/smaller chair." We are able to adjust our seating for comfort, but our special-needs children are not always able to do that or tell us they are uncomfortable. 

It's amazing how much changing the table height and other small adjustments can make in student participation. Find someone who knows about motor skills and use their suggestions.

Whew! That's a lot! Here's the recap:
#1 - Use The Bible
#2 - Supplement with child-friendly resources
#3 - Repeat, repeat, repeat
#4 - Ask the children to repeat the Bible truth
#5 - Allow fidgets
#6 - Look at seating

If you want to come back to this post, just pin this image: 
Address learning and physical needs in special-needs ministry
Thanks for reading. Next time, we'll talk about activities that get in more repetitions with Bible truths.

Other blog posts in this series:

If you're interested in the interactive Bible books, you can click HERE. Disclaimer: I make and sell these books through a Teachers pay Teachers store, All Y'all Need

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