There are lots of effective teaching tools you can use to reach kids, and there are good reasons to use all of them at one time or another. However, one stands out above the rest: GAMES.
- Engage kids. Games turn spectators into participants. When a kid is playing a game, they are completely engaged in what they are doing. There is no VG (video glaze) effect where the kid zones out. Kids become active instead of passive. Games engage kids like nothing else.
- Illustrate Bible principles. Example: If you are playing a game where kids jump rope while wearing flippers, kids are likely to fall down. That’s good. It allows you to illustrate the point that we often fall down (make mistakes or have troubles) in life, but the key is to trust God to help us get back up and keep going. This game, for instance, is a lot like life. When you fall down you get back up and deep going. The game focuses on one of life’s most important principles while creating a memory that kids will understand. We say it like this… “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I will understand.”
- Teach them how to win…and how to lose. In the real world, sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. If you want to prepare kids for life on this planet as we know it, then you have to let them experience winning and losing. They need to learn to be gracious in victory and how to keep from being devastated when they lose. That is a critical life lesson.
- Promote teamwork. This one is the most obvious, but it is still true. Games teach kids how to work together for a common purpose.
- Provide a natural way for kids to interact and connect with adult teachers. The teacher explains the game to the kids. The kids listen because they instinctively know they need to understand the game in order to play it. This cultivates a rapport between the kids and the teacher. That can become an effective step toward opening communication lines with the child. The connection that happens during the explanation of the game is sometimes more meaningful than the game itself.
- Games reach boys like nothing else will. Boys are wired for competition. One of the reasons we are losing the boys in our culture is because we have traded the motivation that comes from competition in our educational systems. The book “Boys Adrift,” by Dr. Leonard Sax talks about this destructive trend. They boys who are not athletic enough to compete in sports still need an outlet for their competitive side. Parents with boys will tell you that their boys turn everything into competition! Example: ”Who can get into the car first?”
- Allow a kid to be a kid. Our coarse world forces kids to grow up too quickly. It is healthy for a kid to be able to have fun playing. They need a few minutes to forget pressures from home and school. Play is like oxygen in a kid’s world. Scripture indicates that kids who die and go to heaven get to grow up there…playing. Wow! How cool to grow up in a place where you can play in the streets without getting into trouble…where a kid can be a kid! Some of the adults probably go into shock when they first get to heaven and see what the kids are doing.
“The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls PLAYING in its streets.” (Zechariah 8:5, NKJV)