Tips for the First-Time Sunday School Teacher – Part 15
Like many other Sunday school teachers, I enjoy giving away prizes, stickers, toys, and every other known dollar-store knickknack under the sun. I don’t know how to explain it, but the day seems to get better when a child is given some trinket he or she hadn’t had a moment ago. Sometimes, no one even minds when the kite flies no higher than the top of a Honda Civic or if the toy gliders disassemble mid-flight—but by then, I’m long gone. All kidding aside, however, there are a few things to perhaps consider if or when prizes are given away in Sunday school.
(On a side note, some teachers prefer not to have prizes or rewards while others could not imagine conducting class without them. Those older and much wiser than us could expound on the benefits and detriments of either argument. But for those of you like me, who are still learning through continual trial and I-hope-no-one-remembers-that error, below are some suggestions.)
- Candy, gum, mints with really loud wrapping, and other sweets is generally not a good idea for any number of reasons. Some parents do not give their children candy at all, gum will get stuck everywhere, some candies cause children to become more excitable, several hard candies are choking hazards, etc.
- Stay away from really pointy prizes or toys that shoot or anything else that could physically harm a child. Safety first.
- Forget the poppers. One Sunday, I thought it would be nice to celebrate a ministry-wide event with those popper things, the ones that you pull and confetti flies out. The children had a blast with them—all over the church property.
- Pass on pets as prizes. Years ago, I purchased a very, very large number of live goldfish. To make a long story short, the only type of goldfish I handle now are the ones you can get for $4 a bag in the snack aisle.
- Beware of huge discounts. I was at the store and saw these noisemakers on clearance. I bought them all, thinking that I had garnered the deal of the century. But that Sunday, when the children began to play with them, I heard for the first time what the sound of bitter disappointment makes. Have you heard it? It’s not very loud at all—kind of like air being let out of a tire. Noisemakers on clearance make the same sound.
- Remember the greenhouse effect. One time, I brought ice cream sandwich bars for a Wednesday evening children’s class and, since it was a chilly night, figured I would leave them in my car until it was snack time. Trust me when I say that no one believes that there are such things as ice cream sandwich smoothies.
- Make sure you have enough.
- Give girl prizes to girls and boy prizes to boys, if applicable.
- Don’t give away anything questionable.
I hope these suggestions can be a help. For the most part, just exercise caution, as you do in all other areas. If you are unsure about the prizes you have or want to give away, ask your Sunday School Director or pastor.