4 Things I Learned at Released Time
By Katlyn Carney
1. I love teaching children.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved teaching. I used to play school with my younger sister, complete with homemade lessons and tests, grades, stickers for her successes and, of course, going to the treasure box! As I got older, I was able to help out and teach in Children’s Church. I worked with ages from the babies in the nursery all the way to fifth grade. I’m not sure what my favorite ages would be, but my favorite attributes of children are their energy, vulnerability, and sense of humor. I also like that they are very honest because, if we are being honest with ourselves, we need that every once in a while. And they are very forgiving. If you mess up a word, a name, or just completely lose track of where you are going, they will probably laugh but they will forgive you. Teaching Released Time, I have found a much deeper love for teaching children. It’s not just getting up and teaching them but being able to share with them the gospel and what our Lord and Savior did for them. Every time I stand up and teach I have a responsibility to God to share the gospel with them and it’s not something I take lightly anymore. Through Released Time, I have been given so many opportunities to share the gospel with children through songs, Bible verses, Bible stories, and games.
2. Different children learn differently.
Released Time teaching was so great to me because we got to see so many different children. It isn’t like teaching a third grade class where you spend almost every school day hour with the same eighteen children. We were able to have children from every class come out, at some point during the week. Instead of just teaching eighteen kids, we taught 5-7 classes of twelve to eighteen kids, 4-5 days a week. Of course, some classes were smaller or larger than that, especially depending on the school, but, on average, that is how many we had. Because we had so many children, we also had many different learning styles. I quickly learned that the way you teach in one class may have to be modified for another class. Some students learn by listening and will be engaged just by sitting there; others learn hands-on and just sitting there, listening to a story, is very difficult for them. Getting to observe different teachers helped me learn how to engage children during a story time. Yes, we are telling them a story but, if we use different voices—soft and loud voices, great facial expressions, or props—the students will stay engaged for longer, even the ones who have trouble sitting still.
3. Teaching comes with preparing, studying, praying, meditating and, most importantly, relying on God.
Because of the responsibility I have to share the gospel, I need to be prepared. I shouldn’t just get up in front of the children without being prepared and tell them a Bible story. When I take the time to prepare the lesson, study the scriptures that I will be teaching, ask God to speak through me, and meditate on His word, I am able to focus so much more on the importance of what I am teaching rather than how I am presenting the lesson. When I relied on the Holy Spirit to speak through me, a twenty-minute lesson flew by and the children were so much more engaged. I also learned so much about the Lord and understood the passages better because of the time I took to study it, making it substantially easier to teach the children and answer their questions at the end.
4. Children long to be loved.
During my first ever Released Time, I went with Mrs. Barbara to pick up the class. I had never been to the school before and had never met any of the children. We lined the class up, brought them out of the classroom, and I stayed back to bring up the end of the line. Besides being in awe of the number of children who were ecstatic about going to learn about God’s Word, one other thing stuck out to me. There were many children who just wanted to hold my hand and give hugs every chance they got. And it wasn’t just in that class. School after school, class after class, there were at least two students in each one who longed for love. It was heart-breaking but also reassuring that, if they didn’t get love anywhere else, they were being taught about a loving God who sent His only Son to die for our sins, and it was being taught by loving teachers.
Katlyn is a part of the CBM Internship program, which exists to encourage young people to experience missions! To learn more about the CBM Internship program click [www.childrensbibleministries.net/internships].