What I wish I knew when I started teaching Religious Ed

Whether you are teaching your 1st or  20th year of Religious Education or Sunday School

hopefully you’ll take away something from the following list

These first two are important

-kids are eager to learn

   *are you eager to teach? do you greet each new year with an open attude of genuine excitement in being able to share the gospel with a group of fresh faces

-all kids learn differently

     *What worked in last years class of mostly girls will not neccessarily work in this years class of all boys

     *what worked in a class full of children who were talkative and willing to share in conversation, likely will not work(at least not right away in a class of shy children)

-what worked in one year will bomb in another  

     *At the end of my first year of teaching religious ed I was so glad I made it through and the children really seemed to have learned something and not just something but an awful lot about the bible and the faith they are growing up in…but several years later when those same assignments that worked like a charm in year one were being faced with glazed eyes I realized I really needed to clue in early on as to what worked with the current class.

-stay flexible

*sometimes there is just something in the air (the holy spirit perhaps) that this way of doing this lesson is just not going to work with this group today.…last week it would have but maybe today they had no outdoor recess  or maybe half the class is sniffling with colds.  be flexible always come with backup plans even if it something that stays tabled or the rest of the year it is better to be prepared than to stand in front of a class not knowing what to do,

~I always keep some prayer books, where I can lead the class in a prayerful meditation(yes even first graders can close their eyes, and imagine they are meeting Jesus at the well with the woman getting water and they can imagine they are sharing the thing that bother them with Jesus)

~I always have some coloring pages available to the children

>a specific one they each get to work on while waiting for the rest of the class to arrive

>an assortment so if they finish an activity early they know where they can get a sheet to work on ….(these include coloring pages and easy word puzzles)

~I have many bible story books in the classroom as well for those who finish early but don’t like worksheet stuff

-set expectations on day 1   

*in my classroom I have 2 rules

                      1. Be kind

                      2.  Be Safe

and on the first day we go through the basics…..is running safe?  is pushing someone kind? is it safe? what about sharing markers?…etc….


Don’t just communicate these rules to the children  I send frequent letters home to parents at least twice a month and part of that letter is asking that they remind their children of appropriate behavior in the classroom and in the church(we have prayer services) if your class is doing well tell your parents that and thank the for continuing to remind their children of appropriate behavior …

In the city I live in nearly every school follows the same guidelines and language for appropriate behavior, contact your local schools and find out if they have universal guidelines in your district…this helps to incorporate this into your Religious Education Classroom as you are not trying to get them to learn a new set of words/rules but to continue enforcing what they are already learning.

Finally, just like most classrooms start each day with a short list on a board in front of classroom

no more than 5 steps…..here is a sample of what mine may contain:

1. Welcome back, please put your name card on the board

2.  Take a coloring sheet and find a table to sit down at(some years I have assigned seating this year it has not been necessary yet)

3.  Get to work, thankyou.


Other times depending on the class composition I have a specific list up of what we will be doing.

first 3 steps the same as above but then it may go like this

-Blue carpet gathering time

-Prayer time

-Lesson of the day


-Closing Song/Reminders

-Get coats on and wait for parents to pickup

Above all if you only scanned down to this point of this post

Stay Flexible, Stay Positive

Go out and be disciples


About ellasurreau

I am a first grade religious education catechist I have been teaching for 20 years I have a BA in Religious Studies I have continued taking classes in religious studies since graduating. I grew up Methodist, and became catholic after marrying.
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