July 18

Special Needs and Children’s Ministry – Response

Nancy Wilson

The fifth smooth stone has to do with helping children respond to the truth of Jesus’s teachings. Jesus wants children to respond to the truth of his teachings by putting into practice what they have learned.

This response should be in their everyday living. Jesus encouraged people to respond in love and obedience according to what He taught.

How, then, do we help children with disabilities understand and respond to what they have learned?

The first thing we need to do is to try to understand these children’s everyday lives and how they navigate their world.

Simply stated, we cannot help children respond to God in their everyday lives if we do not have an idea about what their life is like.

For special needs children this can vary greatly. If we don’t try to do this, we will have difficulty helping them respond to God and His word. It is important that we try to help children integrate the teachings of Jesus and follow Him daily, according to their real-life setting.

Many children with disabilities often have difficulty remembering what they have been taught in Sunday school and how they can respond to the lesson.

A good response activity should include putting into practice what they have already learned which will help these children respond to God in real life. Each child has a different personality and giftedness from God.

You may want to offer the child with a disability several different ways for them to respond to the lesson.

Most children (and adults) tend to remember pictures more easily than words. Showing a visual aid or picture while teaching a lesson helps to illustrate and cement that lesson for the child.

Other strategies that may help students with learning disabilities include such things as sequencing the lesson slowly so they can comprehend the lesson more easily; speaking clearly and turning your head toward them so that they can see your face; allowing time for students to process what they have heard and allowing them to ask questions; and modeling for children what you want them to do.

It is important to enroll the parents to work with their children at home so each child can tell their friends what they did during the week to respond to God’s calling on their lives.

Encourage the parents to practice with their child during the week so those children will be prepared to talk about what they have learned and lived out.

If the child has difficulty speaking, the parents can have their child write or color a picture during the week to illustrate their response to the Bible lesson.

If a child has difficulty with speaking or has social challenges, the parent should be prepared to offer a variety of questions that will allow all children to participate.

By demonstrating flexibility and understanding, we can meet the needs of all children in our Sunday school class. In that way, we can help children feel welcomed and accepted.

Finally, the response of a child depends on the nature of the disability. This varies with every child and while we can offer ways for them to respond that work is ultimately in the hands of God.

We can only assure that each child feels loved and valued in the family of God.

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