Tips for Teaching the Cradle Roll

Teaching ideas:

  • Don't stop singing ever. Even when you have to pick one up to calm him, keep going with class for all the rest. The singing even helps calm the one you pick up.
  • Touch often. Reach their hands and sometimes even their feet. Stay in contact.
  • For those that can touch and hold objects, be sure they have something rotating in and out of their hands very frequently. Give them something to hold but move it often before it becomes a chew toy. And for those that aren't holding yet, still put the object on the table in front of them and watch them progress from week to week as they start reaching.
  • You can even teach a sleeping baby. Just let him sleep while you or a helper holds him or just let him sleep in a jumper seat or car seat. They are hearing the songs, too!
  • Never use instrumental music in class. It is unauthorized in worship. Why start the little ones out hearing something wrong? Consider the adults who are in the room!
  • Change volume and tempo to maintain interest or to help regain a baby’s attention.
  • Be sure to keep bright visuals in front of them at all times and moving to keep their attention especially for the little ones that can't "hold on to an object" yet. Be sure to move them close enough so they can see. Their eyes don't focus as well at a distance. Move visuals in front of each student to catch the attention. Have a visual in both hands if you have more students so you can show more at a time.
  • Praise them often for "sharing" or for "being a helper" when they can put the toy back in the container you pass around for them to help. You will have to help them sweetly to let go of the object and then thank them—for that is how they learn.
  • As they learn to make noises in their way of talking, teach them words. Use single, focused words in your conversation, like "Bible" Ex. Sing Books Books and at the end where they hold up their Bible and say Bible, repeat "Bible" several times with lots of expression and if they try to make sounds, tell them "YAY... you said Bible!!!! " and keep going. (By the way, help them hold up their Bibles until they get to where they can and will do it for themselves.)
  • Know that some days, even the best child will be stubborn and not do or say or sing with you. Just keep going and don't wait for them. Don't ever let them "stall" your Bible class. If they are being ugly, don't show items to them or let them hold things. Just act like they aren't there and keep going.
  • Routine is extremely important. Sing the same songs at the same place in the lesson. As the babies get older, you can take one song out and add another one (ex. use giraffe instead of horse). As they get even older, slowly reduce the creation lesson—always keeping enough to maintain the routine—and add more Jesus songs or Noah songs. In other words, expand the content but keep enough of the familiar that the babies are comfortable.
    • Use lots of variety in the kinds of visuals - flat pictures, felts, plastic fruits, puppet animals, plastic animals, things hanging from ceiling, wind up objects, Little Bibles, small babies wrapped tightly in cloth, Fisher Price family set, etc. Think variety!!!
    • You may have a wide variety of ages in one nursery class. Be aware of the developmental differences; there is a big difference in a 2-month old and an 18-month old!
    • Maintain an upbeat attitude and keep smiling! Babies will pick up on your emotional state. If you are "down in the dumps,” or angry or impatient, the babies will pick up on that and class time will be a disaster.


    Helper ideas:

    • This is a Bible class, not a visiting hour. Do not visit with other adults in the room.
    • Learn to sing the songs with the teacher.
    • Don’t try to "help” too much or take over teacher’s class. Always give the teacher the right to settle the baby first and then ask your help if needed.
    • If a child simply WILL NOT settle or there is an obvious health issue developing, take the baby to the mother. She needs to know she can trust you to do this. Be aware that with a trained teacher and/or efficient helper, this is rarely necessary.
    • IF you change diapers before giving babies back to Mom for worship; promote modesty.
    • Be sure to dispose of soiled diapers properly to keep lingering odors from developing.
    • Wear tunic or apron to protect your clothing.
    • Don’t allow a baby with a fever or obvious illness to come to class.


    Practical matters:

    • Strap the babies in to the seats or use old men’s ties to tie them into a chair. If a mother objects, explain that it is for their safety just like strapping them into a car seat.
    • Cleanliness cannot be over-emphasized. When class is over, EVERYTHING that the babies touched must be wiped with Clorox wipes. Don’t forget the surface of the table and the chairs as well.
    • Teachers and helpers should wash hands before holding babies and use sanitizer as needed.
    • Be cautious in the choice of objects for babies to hold. Be aware of sharp edges, choking hazards (loose pieces, etc.), lead paint, etc.
    • When it comes to feeding a baby in class, each situation has to be evaluated individually. Babies aren't machines (i.e., perfectly regulated) so you have to be sensitive to their real needs. Sometimes, a mother will start to make a practice of needing to feed her baby in class. Try to re-train that mom by helping her understand that you are conducting a Bible class and if she will feed baby before coming, you will be better able to do so.
    • Stretch out an anxious child as long as possible. Don't automatically think that fidgety requires feeding. Don't reward tears with food. Do everything you can to keep him happy and, if not possible, get mom to take baby out to feed.
    • Never under any circumstances should you give the baby anything other than what his mother brought for him. Especially avoid honey or anything with nut oils.