We had a great response to our blog and infographic about Sticky Teaching, so I read a book where some of those ideas originated from called, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina.  I was curious about which things would also apply to our church and ministry worlds.
It turned out there was quite a lot—and I couldn’t put it down! I’ve outlined some of the main ideas and how I see them playing out in what we provide with 252 Basics below.
Basic Research: There are 2 powerful features of the Brain.

  1. It can function as a Database
  2. It can Improvise and apply what it knows to real life.

So the 252 Strategy is:

  1. Share one key Bible Story and one Monthly Memory Verse
  2. Clarify the weekly Bottom Line and connect it to a specific life application

Sticky Teaching Rule #1- Repetition is very important, because most learning doesn’t happen instantly but over time, even years!

  • Repeat the same thing intentionally, but space it out over a period of time.
  • Strategically cycle through key information, coming back to it over the years.

So the 252 Strategy is:

  • Leverage Large Group presentations and Small Group experiences to:
    Tell each week’s Bible story in the most compelling way we can imagine. Connect that story to the monthly Memory Verse.
    And bring it home by clarifying a weekly Bottom Line and Life Application.
  • Offer strategic Parent Cues, to give parents resources that will help them repeat the same message at home during the week.
  • Periodically review previous week’s or even a whole month’s worth of Bible stories and Bottom Lines to increase the chances of remembering.
  • Focus on the most appropriate Bible stories and life applications for elementary age kids to learn and place them in a 3 year scope and cycle that builds, leveraging key times of the year for specific learning (ex. Christmas, Easter, start of a new year, summer)

Sticky Teaching Rule #2: Our brain is designed to learn in a constantly changing and interactive environment.

  • Research shows that we need the opposite of what most schools, churches and workplaces provide in order to really learn and grow.
  • More than 50% of our brain focuses on Visual cues. Accessing more than one of their senses always leads to more retention.
  • The things in our environment that catch and hold our attention have a better chance at being remembered.

So the 252 Strategy is:

  • All Kids don’t learn the same way, so we design materials for 2 different types of integrated, multi-sensory environments each week (Large and Small Group) that intentionally alternate between more active and quieter activities.
  • We change the environment regularly to surprise and delight the kids by providing a new monthly theme and practical ideas on how to create an amazing Large Group set and Visuals for your walls or screens.  We also include a free song and tech sheet to help you transition kids in and out.
  • Maximize the beginning of both your Large and Small Group times—ask kids relational questions as they arrive, do a teaser activity leading up to today’s Bible Story and use your Host to engage them in a fun way, even sharing a personal example, so they’re interested and care about what comes next.

Sticky Teaching Rule #3—If you want others to learn something, how it’s shared matters a lot.

  • Plan in 10 minute modules, focusing on 1 core concept that you can communicate in less than 1 minute, then spend the next 9 minutes unpacking the main idea further.
  • Our ability to learn something is related to how safe we feel, which is often directly related to our relationship with our teacher and to our emotions.
  • The best teachers get to know each child and how they learn best, so that eventually they know what motivates the child and they can recognize if the child really understands.

So the 252 Strategy is:

  • Break everything in the Large and Small Group materials into smaller segments that can be re-arranged and customized. Maintain focus on the same weekly Bible Story, and connect it to the concrete Bottom Line. Then always close with real life applications for greater impact.
  • Encourage churches to provide predictable routines that will help a child feel a level of security in your environments. Recruit consistent “second voices” in the life of each kid.
  • Commit to placing every kid in a small group, with the same leader and similar aged kids each week, so they know they belong and are more willing to share.  When you do this, leaders are much more likely to know when a kid is confused, has a problem or questions, so they can make time to follow up.

I can’t wait to hear what you think—comment below with anything this made you think of from your own experience working with kids.
If we really believe that we get a chance to tell the Greatest Story Ever Told each week and introduce kids to a really big God that loves them more than anything, then let’s make the most of it and continue to learn and get better.
I always love the opportunity to learn more about how kids learn, and I can’t wait to continue applying things like this in 252 Groups materials.