Leading Young Discoverers

 

Leading a Discover 4 Yourself (D4Y) class was a new adventure for me. My first leadership experiences involved Middle and High Schoolers using the Precept Upon Precept materials or the 40 Minute Studies. When I opened the cover of my first D4Y workbook I really had no idea what to expect. I do strangely remember feeling more pressure in my initial preparation to lead, only because I wasn’t confident in the capabilities of the D4Y material. “Will the kids grasp the Inductive Study Method from their workbooks alone or will I have explain this?” I wondered. “How much will they be able to understand?”  I’m sure my initial questions are ones that Youth Leaders and parents may also share before leading a D4Y study, especially if they are unfamiliar or new to Inductive Bible Study.

Since the D4Y studies currently do not have leadership materials available, I was forced to complete the same homework my young students would be working through to prepare for class. Looking back, I am so thankful I didn’t have the detour of a “leader guide” and I went straight to the source, like a good Precept student! As I completed the homework, I realized what a powerful tool I held in my hands.

I have used and led almost every series we offer at Precept Ministries International. Each one will give you the skills and encouragement to discover Truth for yourself. But when it comes to motivating a very young generation to know and follow God through studying the Bible, these D4Y studies knock it out of the park. Each day of homework gives the student an opportunity to learn and participate in God’s Word using the Inductive Bible Study Method with plenty of simple breakdowns and explanations. Students are never left wondering, “Why am I doing this?” or “How do I do this?” And the Inductive Bible Study Method fits snug in the mission of each book by using creative illustrations like being a “detective” or “newspaper reporter” to get kids looking closer. I didn’t know the Inductive Method could be made so simple until I started using these materials.

Leading and Learning

There are several ways to lead these studies. One way is to simply open the workbook and start reading out loud to the kids. Read the instructions and ask the questions in the homework (or write them on a white board) and have your students answer from memory or by looking at their homework answers. Another way I lead or review is to have the kids open their Bibles or Observation Worksheets and I then begin going through the passages covered in the homework asking the 5Ws and an H. If they have done their homework these questions should be very familiar. I make lists on a whiteboard using the answers they give me. Janna Arndt, co-author of the D4Y studies, also has a CD available from a seminar she taught in 2004 filled with practical ideas using games, puzzles and more. This is an excellent resource for adults preparing to lead the D4Y materials.

One thing I love about leading kids using the D4Y studies is their confidence in discussing what they see. Inductive Study begins with good and thorough observation, and kids are marvelous observers. I remember participating in my very  first Precept discussion group as an older teenager. I thought every question was a “trick question” because the answers were so simple. Kids don’t have that problem. They don’t feel the pressure to “impress” me with some lofty, theological answer. They just look in their Bibles and tell me what I’m asking for. My little group of kids have taught me more about good observation than any well-written explanation on the subject.

 Take It From Me:

Be flexible. I can’t tell you how many times I have abandoned my original lesson plan because I felt like my group needed something else that day. If we are struggling to stay focused or sit still (we all have those days!), I bring out some fun and engaging games that are based on the Scripture we are studying. If we are thoughtful and inquisitive, I ask more application questions and wait longer for answers. Last week in my group, during the middle of our review of the book ofJonah I asked them if we could learn anything from Jonah’s example. The next five minutes were spent listening to their many conclusions. I was blown away with some of the things they were learning and could apply!

Keep their attention. If they aren’t paying attention at least some of the time, I am doing something wrong. Sometimes you need to begin class with something engaging to wake them up or get them focused on the study. I’ve had everyone stand up and stretch or I’ve thrown them a piece of candy in the middle of discussion because I lost their attention.

Get excited. Kids need to see your enthusiasm and passion for the Word. This will communicate volumes to them and show them how valuable God’s Word truly is. If you are bored or uninterested in what you are teaching, I guarantee you that they were bored an hour ago. Watch their faces light up when you tell them what God is showing YOU through the study. Excitement is contagious!

Be a good listener. Kids can be loud. But so can their teachers. I have to check myself often to make sure I am giving everyone a chance to talk. Some kids won’t have a problem answering questions or sharing an example. But some kids need silence to push their answers out. Pay attention to each student and try to encourage them to participate, even if it is one on one with you after class. Let the conversation drift off point for a few minutes if someone new is sharing a story. This lets them know you care about what they have to say. I’ve also noticed that stories are very important to kids. Obviously there is a balance, but let them share and listen well. You might be surprised at how relevant their voices are to the pages of Scripture.

 Kaysie Strickland is a Jesus follower. Her passion is to establish people in God’s Word, beginning with herself. She is married to her best friend and works at the best ministry (in her opinion), Precept Ministries International. You will most likely find her near a cup of tea. She loves simple wonders like handwritten letters, oak trees, and the gospel.

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