In preparing a teaching for a Bible class of mentally challenged adults, one of the most rewarding things you can do is to allow discussion and questions. In fact, a good portion of the class time should be left for participation by your members. I like to leave half of the class time for the members to give their input.
If left on their own, a class of mentally challenged people will react the same way any other group will act. There will be one or two people who will monopolize the conversation, not allowing anyone else to answer. To avoid that, there must be guidelines that you follow and insist that the class follows.
1. Be sure that you ask them pointed questions that need a direct answer. For example, you can ask, “What is one way that you can show love to your parents?”
2. Answers should be direct answers to the question. “Love them” is not an answer. “Buy them lunch one day this week” is an answer. “Do the dishes after supper” is a direct answer.
3. I find that writing the answers on a board or a large sheet of paper that everyone can see validates the answers and give their words importance.
4. On occasion I invite everyone to make a commitment (to be more loving or pray each day) by writing their names on the board. I will write, I WILL PRAY EACH DAY. Then the class is invited to come to the board and write their name to make a commitment to do this. The members of the class have learned to love this time of commitment. I only do this about once or twice a year. In this way, the commitments are important to them.
5. Keep the questions related to the Bible lesson and a daily application.
6. At times, I will ask someone to read the memory verse and we will go over it to memorize the verse. i have one member who does not want to read the Bible verse but she wants to have it read each week.
7. When the class was much smaller, I would have the members play games that reinforce a Bible verse or truth. An example is tossing a penny to a line. Before each person could toss their penny, they would have to say the Bible verse. I would help those who needed help. The person who got the closest to the line may or may not get a prize. The prize was often allowing them to lead the class in saying the Bible verse again.
8. Prayer requests may also be a part of the application portion of our lesson. Be sure to allow time to pray for each request.
To reinforce the Bible lesson, I retell the Bible story they heard during the devotions two times. Then I have the class retell the story but they must tell it backward. I ask questions regarding the story and they answer them. I find that the members who have been in my classes for a couple of years are able to retell the story. However, even after hearing the Bible lesson three times, those who have not been trained to listen or who are new in the class are not able to answer even the most simple questions.
Teaching a Bible study class for people who are mentally challenged is one of the most rewarding things a person can do. What are some of the things you do that you find to be effective in teaching your class?