Reaching and teaching adults with special needs

Shirley Dechaine in the USA uses FreeBibleimages and writes, ‘My listeners are adult special needs students in a Sunday School class. Most of them gave their full attention to the Bible story and the colored images brought it to life for them.’ We are thrilled Shirley is willing to share these great tips on building good relationships and helping adults with developmental difficulties to learn:

1. Enter the classroom early with a happy heart.
2. Be prayerfully and fully prepared.
3. As students enter, distribute hugs freely – being sure each student is warmly welcomed.
4. Touch is generally welcomed but be sensitive to each student’s needs. Some prefer a handshake to a hug.
5. Know that it is impossible for you to fail. Your giving heart has already passed the test.
6. Mistakes are allowed.  Let students know that you, too, make mistakes.
7. Take time to listen to their stories, even if spoken in faltering, slow speech.
8. Be compassionate but not overly-sympathetic.
9. Keep class time fun!
10. Teach only one Bible truth and repeat this truth in a variety of ways (role play, puppets, games, music, crafts, guests).
11. Follow your prepared lesson plan unless classroom dynamics require change.  Be flexible.
12. Keep lessons and crafts simple. Don’t get bogged down in too many details. (They won’t remember them anyway.)
13. Use as many visual images as possible. You have visual learners.
14. Involve students as much as possible.
15. Recognise individual capabilities in students. Make use of their strengths.
16. Use appropriate vocabulary. Use “students” or “friends” instead of “children”.  Such references are offensive to special needs adults.
17. Pray with students during class to meet individual heart needs. Encourage personal prayer.

More about this caring Christian ministry to those with special needs can be found at Open hearts extended.

Who learns most from a Bible story?

Widow and Judge

Models of the Judge and Persistent Widow

We were sent some photos by Maureen Chivers of two large figures made by her class after being taught the parable of the Persistent Widow using FreeBibleimages. Having made these figures, the children then retold and reenacted the story using the models.

Maureen knows the value of reinforcing the events of a Bible story by asking learners to creatively express what they have learned. This can be done in many ways –  drama, creative writing, movement and song to list a few.

Who learns most from a story? That’s obvious really. The story teller will read it, perform it, think about it and apply it. The story teller will never forget it! So if the story teller can find ways for listeners to express the story in their words and think through its meaning, it becomes a memorable event for them too.