As teachers, we have an agenda. We have a lesson plan we are trying to teach, a game we are trying to lead, a craft we are trying to complete, or some other activity that we prayed about, planned, prepared and now are trying to pull off.
But often our children have other ideas about how the time in the classroom is going to be spent. There is an old children’s ministry saying that goes,
“If you don’t have a plan for the kids, they’ll have a plan for you!”
What do you do when you are trying to lead young children in one direction and they are moving in an entirely different direction?
We usually tell them to stop what they are doing and to do what we tell them to do. Does this work? Not usually.
Someone once defined insanity as taking something that doesn’t work and working harder at it. When children don’t respond well to our request to stop and obey, we have a conflict. In the classroom we are dealing with other peoples’ children, so we lack the authority and leverage we’d normally have over our own children, so we feel rather powerless.
We try gentle pleas with soft tones, and other kind encouragements – and sensing our lack of any real power over their behavior, they may resist even more. We are doomed.
A better approach avoids conflict as it doesn’t provide the children an opportunity for direct disobedience.
Instead of asking them to stop – we stop! Yes, we STOP what we are doing, DROP our agenda for a moment and engage the child relationally in what they are doing.
We may need to walk to where they are, kneel, or even play with them, even if for only a few seconds, and then ROLL into the activity we need them to be involved in without a direct command.
They will not even realize they have been directed and therefore miss the opportunity to disobey or rebel. It’s a beautiful thing. We need to recognize that even the sweetest child has a sin nature just waiting to pop up, but we can avoid those moments, at times, by never granting the opportunity in the first place with a direct request.
By simply using the STOP, DROP, and ROLL method of guiding children through activities, we can move from activity to activity and avoid unnecessary conflicts.