1.  Pray for each Sabbath School member, teacher and leader

Prayer is the richest resource in controlling your class but it may be the least used.  In Col. 1:3, Paul said "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you."

Try praying for each member by name using Paul's guide in Colossians:
2.  Pray before you plan

Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you plan your Sabbath School program.
d. In Col. 1:3 Paul said '''durage them to come back to Sabbath School on a regular basis. using.nd know what yo
3.  Keep to a theme

Choose songs, finger plays, stories or object lessons so that they suit your theme.

4.  Consider the ages and abilities of your children

If the program is geared for an older age group, young children will show they are bored by walking around and other bad behaviour.
5.  Choose songs with a message worth singing

Read through carefully the words of each song you plan to use and think about its meaning - is it worth singing?  Keep the message of your songs in line with your theme.  Make sure they are age appropriate.

6.  Spend minimum of time in ceremonial songs

Songs such as Bell songs, welcome and good morning songs, preparation for prayer songs, offering songs, visitor welcome songs etc.  It is much better to have more songs about Jesus.

7. Use the same songs all year for:

This saves time for the important theme and lesson time.
8.  Carefully prepare your program

Children will quickly notice if you are unprepared or uninterested in the program or lesson.  Prayerfully and carefully study what you will be teaching the children.  When you are enthusiastic about the subject the children will catch you enthusiasm and learn the lessons you are trying to teach.

When preparing the program or lesson plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do I know? And, what do the children know already?
  2. What are the facts?
  3. How does it apply to their lives?
  4. Where does it lead?

We all learn by:  

  1. Hearing – verbal
  2. Seeing
  3. Doing   

We need to combine all the methods of learning in our Sabbath Schools.

I (Beverley) use 2" x 3" cards on a ring.  Use one thought, song or activity per card.  I also colour code them, eg.  In blue ink is a summary of what I want to say.  Black is what aids I will hold up the front or what my assistant will do.  Green is the activity the children will do and red is the words of the song or finger play.  I always write out the words of the song in full - then if you have a mental block up front you only have to glance at the card to know what it is.

Another way is print your program out on A4 sheets to give to each teacher and assistant so that they can follow along and know what you are up too.

Or you can place small notes on the top of the song sheets to remind you of what aids you are using.

For Beginner/Kindy children, use finger loops, stuffed animals, felt cut-outs, plastic fruit/flowers etc for the child to hold or bring out the front to the felt board or basket.

For Primary use some of the visual songs that are available from the A.B.C. or Christian Book shops.  Show visual songs.

 In the Beginners and Kindergarten Divisions parents can help read and sing, in the Primary and Junior Divisions the children can read themselves; it means a visitor can join in right away.  Keep printing as large as possible so that parents at the back can see to read it.

9. Have everything ready and in the order of use

Have everything ready before you go to bed on Friday night.  You will sleep better and therefore be more rested on Sabbath morning and there will be no rush as far as Sabbath School aids are concerned on Sabbath morning.

10. Have your room ready

If at all possible have your room ready to go by Friday night.  Make sure all rubbish, papers, etc are picked up.  Place the chairs in correct order – putting smaller chairs in the front row as you need to make sure that all the children can see what you are doing up the front of Sabbath School.  Check the top of the piano and any cupboards as well as corners as junk tends to gather there.

Get down to the child's level and see just what he really sees - it can be very eye opening.

When this is done you can walk in and start immediately on Sabbath morning.  This helps to get Sabbath School off to reverent start.


11.  Be there early

If you are rushing around trying to setup, it upsets the children and results in a lack of reverence throughout the Sabbath School.  

If you are early you have time to visit with the children and learn about their week before the program starts so there is less chance for disruption during the program.

12.  Be positive

Dwell on positive behaviour rather than negative behaviour.

If you have children who are constantly getting up and running around the room, talking or disrupting other children are your comments to them positive or negative?  When they sitting or quiet, praise them; this reinforces the good behaviour in a positive way and gives them  positive attention rather than negative attention.

13.  Don't lose your temper

Shouting or yelling shows that you are not in control.  When you are not in control of yourself you will be unable to control your Sabbath School.  Ask the Holy Spirit to control you so that you may set an example to those in your Sabbath School.  Prov. 15:18 says, ''A hot-tempered man stirs up strife: but the slow to anger pacifies contention''

1 Cor 13:1 "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."  Ask God to help you be a loveable Spirit Controlled leader or teacher so you can draw the children to Christ.

14.  Keep your word

Keeping your word leads to good discipline in any situation; but you might not be doing it without even realising.  You say to the child, "If you do again you will not have a turn."  But because this also happened last week the child knows that they will get a turn and the request has no effect.  As the leader or teacher you have not kept your word.

Don't make open-ended threats such as, "You do that again and see what happens."  The child cannot resist the temptation to do it again, just to see if you will follow through.  Think carefully about what you are going to say and follow through with what you say.

Pick your battles.  Ignore Johnny's fidgeting for now while you concentrate on teaching him to stay in his seat.

Follow through to the end.  If you tell a child to do something, watch them to make sure that they do.  If you threaten to do something "next time", do it.

Some examples of disciplinary measures you could carry out are:

  1. Have an adult sit beside or behind the child.  An adult sitting between two trouble making children, can prevent problems.
  2. Seat child in back of the group or next to an adult.
  3. Deny him an activity
  4. Speak to his parents about his behaviour problems
15.  Evaluate your program


16.  Keep your classes small

Six children to one teacher is about the ideal maximum.  This will encourage participation by all the children in the class and enables the teacher to encourage the shy child to participate.

17. Sit the children in class groups with their teacher

The child will soon build a relationship with the teacher and as they get to know each other this will cut out a lot of the discipline problems.  It also means that the teachers won't be talking together throughout the program.  

If you have not had the children sitting in the class groups before you will find it takes about a month for the children to settle in to it, then it will run smoothly.

If you just have Beginner children, you can sit the parents behind their child.  I (Beverley) use Kindy or Primary size chairs for the parents for three reasons.  1.  It brings the parents down to the child's level.  2.  Smaller chairs do not take up so much space in the room and  3.  If a toddler climbs on the chairs they do not have so far to fall.  (OH&S reasons)

18.  Have the teachers deal with any discipline problems

If the teacher deals with any discipline problems when they are small, it will not disrupt the program and upset the other children so much.  If the leader has to do it, she will have lost the other children by the time she has dealt with the initial problem and will now have a bigger problem.

19.  Bring aids out the front in class groups

If the children are bringing some aid out the front, have them do it in class groups; this saves a stampede at the front.

20.  Give each teacher a box containing their aids

 I (Beverley) give each teacher a "Shoe box" with the necessary song aids – finger loops etc. that they need for their class.  The teacher hands out the aids to the class members and in the case of finger loops collects them at the end of the song.  This saves wastage of time handing out aids from the front – especially in a large Sabbath School.

I (Delwyn) finally bought a set of large plastic drawers so that each week I could just pull out the drawer containing a set of supplies and hand it to the teacher.

 For Beginners only, each child has their own basket with the programs aids in it.

 When filling the baskets or boxes, place the items in reverse order of what they will be used, that way the child, parent or teacher handing out the items can start at the top of the basket and work their way down through the contents to the bottom of the basket.

21.  Have a host/hostess

Have someone at the door to greet the children as they come into Sabbath School.  This will especially help the shy child and the visitors feel welcome.  

To help the children know which class they are in, I (Beverley) use animal name tags eg. pussy class, dog class, lamb class etc.  I have them on a separate felt board by the door.  

For visitors I have another animal tag and using Luekopor (available at any chemist) and a black felt pen I write the child's first name.  This helps the leader to know visitors names, making it easier, especially for shy children.

The host/hostess greets the children and, if using name tags, pins the name tag on (use a small gold safety pin), then helps the child to his seat.

At the end of Sabbath School, have the teacher take off the name tags, including the visitors ones so they can be reused as needed.

22. Overcome the destruction of comparison

God says we are not to compare one person with another.  2 Cor. 10:12 says "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise."  This applies not just to us as Leaders/teachers but also how we compare the children in our Sabbath School.  God made each child and each adult different, there is no one else quite like me or you; we are each unique.  We need to keep this in mind when we are dealing with the children in our Sabbath School, especially the difficult child.

It is nearly impossible to handle a difficult child if you know very little about him. Try this test: Think of a problem child in your Sabbath School, put his name in each of the blanks and see how many questions you can answer.

READ 2 Corinthians 10:12

  1. What are three things __________ likes to do?
  2. How many children are in ___________ family?
  3. When did ____________ trust Christ as Saviour?
  4. Does ____________ have a difficult time in school?
  5. What is ________________'s home like?
  6. What have I done to help _______________ learn he is special to God and special to me?
  7. What did I say in class this week to build up ________________ in front of his peers?
  8. When did I last tell ____________ I'm praying for him?

How did you rate?  Do you really know your students?  Your ministry to your Sabbath School must be more than just the hour you spend together once a week.

Ask God to help you meet the needs of those in your Sabbath School and not just be a presenter of the program and lesson.

23.  Lead the Children to Jesus

The leader MUST have a balanced program.  Have a Christ centred theme and stick to it.  Our aim in Sabbath School should be to lead the children to have a growing closer relationship with Jesus.

Children accept religion and faith based on feelings.  If they feel safe, happy, and accepted then Sabbath School and learning of Jesus becomes something they want to do more of.

24.  Don't give up

Jesus didn't give up even though some of His followers left Him, His disciples didn't understand His mission and one of them even betrayed Him.  Matt. 19:16-30; John 6:66; Mark 14.  Some teenagers may leave, some`children may continue to have behavioural issues; this does not mean that you are a failure or that you should give up.  When you look at Jesus' life, He had to rebuke His disciples many times for their wrong attitudes, so why should it be any different for us?  God made us with the power of choice and it is up to each individual to decide how to use that power.  Be patient and keep doing all you can to encourage your children to get to know Jesus.

Remember that sometimes children have bad days.  They might be tired from a late night or interupted sleep, they might be unwell or hungry or upset by something that happened during the week.  Or they might just be having a bad day for no known reason.

Follow up missing children with a visit, a letter or card, or by taking them a lesson pamphlet.  You may invite groups of children or their families for a meal or a picnic.  Keep in contact and let them know you have missed them; by doing this, you may well encourage them to come back to Sabbath School on a regular basis.

Take as your very own the words of Moses spoken to Joshua in Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."  Use the prayer guides you are writing for your students to pray for yourself.

God has promised us in Jer. 33:3 that we are not alone.  He says, "call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."

Some of this information is adapted from articles by Barth & Sally Middleton in the July and Sept 1983? issues of "Evangelising Today’s Child" by Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc.