Laughter and Learning

6 tips

by Mark Entzminger/ January 4, 2016

Education is considerably different today than it was in the past. My boys are utilizing a variety of learning methodologies in their school, and comprehending things at their young age that I didn’t learn until I was an adult.

If you think back to the one-room schoolhouse scenarios portrayed in classic television shows, you will often find a strict teacher who governed the learning environment with a switch.

Age-appropriate behavior, attention spans, and learning styles were foreign concepts at that time.

Laugher would not be tolerated. It was a sign of mischief and a lack of respect.

But, when laughter and learning are combined, something powerful happens in a child…

A growing body of research suggests that, when used effectively, classroom comedy can improve student performance by reducing anxiety, boosting participation, and increasing students’ motivation to focus on the material. Moreover, the benefits might not be limited to learning content. Research suggests that students rate professors who make learning fun significantly higher than others.

Six tips to combining laughter and learning:

  1. Learn first. Simply starting your service or devotion with a joke isn’t what this is all about. Although you might get people laughing, start first with the content from God’s Word that needs to be taught.
  2. Understand the rhythm. Your service should still have Jesus in the center of the conversation. If your time with children looks more like a stand-up comedy routine, you’ve gone too far.
  3. Not everything is funny. There are some topics that should be off limits. Bathroom humor is never appropriate in a children’s service. Parents will not appreciate the joke they re-tell in the car on the way home.
  4. Be a role model. Kids will think the characters are funny, but always be sure to balance it out with godly role models as well. Are they routinely seeing adult males as immature goof-offs? Or do they also see adult males leading in prayer, sharing God’s word, etc.
  5. Make the environment fun. Jokes are not the only way to lighten the mood. The use of sounds, colors, scents, games and activity help kids remember better.
  6. Leaders need to laugh. Instruct your leaders to set the example by laughing at the appropriate times as well. If your leaders roll their eyes, the kids will too.

Laughter is not the only answer for creating amazing learning environments. However, in too many instances we have squeezed out the fun in preference for order and compliance.

This week consider the amount of humor and laughter you use to help kids learn God’s Word.