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Encouraging Discussion with Pre-Teens

Each time we meet with our kids, one of the goals is to engage them in meaningful discussions. Why? Because intelligent discussion will help each of us grow as we internally process the information being discussed. Good discussion can foster retention of what is being taught and can lead to action steps. With this goal in mind, here are a couple of excellent ways to encourage class discussion:

  1. Relevance – If a topic has little or no relevance to a child’s life, it is unlikely they will be interested in discussing it further. Know your kids, know their needs and be relevant. While all Scripture is true, it may not be particularly relevant to our kids at that time in their lives.
  2. Experience – Use your life experience to develop illustrations. When we share stories about ourselves, they develop much greater interest in our students. Be vulnerable and approachable—we should not make ourselves out to be the hero in every story. Our failures can be even better teachable moments when they are shared in the proper context.
  3. Visually Stimulating – Seeing is believing, seeing is interesting, seeing is a key to great discussion. Look for things that will help to convey the message visually. Remember, we almost immediately forget 90 percent of what we hear, but we retain upto 40 percent of what we see.
  4. Special Guests – Bring in a specialist. Invite an author, a playwright, a TV anchor, an athlete, etc. Kids are drawn to new faces and experiences—use that doorway to improve communication and stimulate active discussion. Be sure to allow time for Q&A as this may be the most beneficial time of the discussion.

Discussion is a wonderful tool when it is used creatively. We can’t  be lazy and fall back on “a discussion” to get out of being prepared to teach. I have found really great discussions can often take more preparation than preparing a teaching outline. What ideas would you add to the list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.  

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ktusing@churchleaders.com'
Keith Tusing is a Family Ministries Pastor with 20+ years of experience serving churches in Texas and Arizona. His passion is to see Children’s and Family Ministries that encourage leaders to partner with parents in developing the next generation. He has been married to his amazing wife, Julie, for 30 years and is the father of six incredible kids.