How To Teach New Bible Words to Children with Special Needs
Kidmin leaders – I know you’re busy, and I know it feels like you are a master juggler with all the things you have to do and plan and teach. Our goal is that Kidmin Leaders can use these strategies to teach new Bible words to children.
Any child who has trouble understanding or sharing ideas and thoughts has a language disorder (ASHA). Do you have children who are usually off-topic, who miss main points, or who sound immature? Do you have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, Down Syndrome, ADHD, or hearing loss? Language disorders are often a characteristic of those disabilities. In this blog post, we will share 5 ways Kidmin Leaders can teach new words to children with special needs.
Recognize that some words are unfamiliar to children
Children with moderate-to-severe disabilities need multiple repetitions to learn. They are usually more successful if the words relate to what they want or their interests, and they usually understand words they hear during the day.
What about words in The Bible? Words that occur often may not be the same words that children hear every day. Disciples, baptism, and miracles are examples of words that children with special needs may not know.
Teach unfamiliar words
Say the words, show pictures of the words, and ask children to say the words. Children with language disorders need a variety of ways to learn new words and a lot of repetition to become familiar with new words. One way to teach new words while having fun is to use a playdough mat while staff/volunteers talk about the “miracles” of Jesus. In this activity, children can play with (or even smash) playdough. BONUS: You probably already have playdough on hand!
Here are the downloads for The Miracles of Jesus Playdough Mat
- The Miracles of Jesus Directions and Playdough Mat (PDF)
- Playdough Mat & Instructions, The Miracles of Jesus (Member Only Docx)
- All Playdough Mats (Member Only Docx)
Provide pictures or visuals
If a child with a language disorder is learning a new word without a picture, they may make their own mental image. Providing a picture of “baptism”, for example, helps ensure the child learns the right mental image.
It’s okay to simplify words in The Bible without changing the meaning. For example, for the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitudes, which concept gets the point across better – 1) Jesus fed the multitudes OR 2) Jesus fed many people. Just “miracle” by itself is a hard concept – simplifying the other words will help you teach more children more effectively.
Use names instead of pronouns
Children with language disorders often have difficulty with short-term memory, which means that knowing what pronouns like “he”, “she” and “they” refer to is hard. You probably naturally say or understand sentences like, “Jesus prayed over the bread and fish. Then, he fed many people.” Children with language disorders find more meaning in slightly changing it to, “Jesus prayed over the bread and fish. Then, Jesus fed many people.” Just that simple change can help build understanding!
Language disorders are often characteristics of disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, Down Syndrome, hearing loss, and more. Understanding new words is a building block of understanding Bible concepts. Use these 5 strategies to help effectively teach children with special needs.
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