How To Get Teens to Participate in the
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2000
We should always help teens to feel comfortable in the class.
- The teens should be encouraged to state what things they need to
feel safe in sharing their thoughts, feelings, and testimonies with
- Write these down on a piece of poster board. These become the
class rules and are posted each week.
- When someone breaks these rules refer to the poster board with
the class rules and state that we don’t do that here, because we
value each others comments. It is important that we all feel safe
Impromptu Performance – A Teen Anxiety
Teens have great anxiety over being on stage and will go to great
lengths not to have to do so. Some teen’s overcome this anxiety by skip
class or acting out in class.
One of these dreads is reading the scriptures aloud to class members.
There are ways to get around this problem.
- The scriptures used in the lesson could be prerecorded on tape
in the order they will occur in the lesson.
- Have the class silently read along in their scriptures with the
- To keep the teen on tract, ask a question about the scripture
before it is read so they know that they are to look for a scripture
a head of time.
- Ask how this scripture makes them feel and how it applies to
their lives today!
Never allow class members to engage in put-downs nor engage in them
yourselves, even in a joking manner.
- Show respect for every honest comment that is made.
- If the comment is not what you are looking for. Find a way to
make it acceptable to take the teen off the hook. Use comments
similar to these…
- That’s a good answer, but not what I’m looking for. I’m
sorry! I didn’t make myself very clear. What I meant was.
- Your getting close, try again. (Give a hint)
Other types of assignments that can involve your teens and should be
set up in advance of the lesson are…
- A report on the lesson topic
- Bearing their testimony
- Telling of an experience
- Sharing their feelings
Challenging Your Youth
Teens love a challenge, especially when there are rewards for meeting
the challenge. Rewards are no good unless the teen recognizes them as a
reward. Some teen rewards are food, candy, parties, and recognition.
You can challenge your teens to read their weekly reading assignment
for the next week so they can discuss it in the next lesson. Those who
can do so, could be rewarded with a jelly beans, gummy bears or worms,
wrapped chocolate mint paddies, or one miniature candy bar that are sold
in large bags during Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and Easter.
Do not spoon-feeding the scriptures to teens
Tell them that you expect them to come prepared to class to discuss
their insights, favorite passages during the first part of class each
- Follow this discussion with questions that prompt deeper
thinking on the principles discussed.
- Ask questions that help the learners to apply those gospel
- Use follow-up questions that cause the learners to delve even
deeper into the subject being discussed.
- Assign some of them in advance of the class to give reports on
portions of the lesson dealing with the reading assignment.
- Assign them to read the assignment to find out the answer to a
particular question to be discussed by the class the beginning of
class next week.
In short, help the learners…
- understand that they need to read and ponder the scriptures for
personal testimony growth, understanding gospel more deeply, and
being able to have a personal relationship with the Lord.
- to understand how to take advantage of the time they have to be
able to read their class assignments.
- to have opportunities which force them to take responsibility to
read their scriptures each week.
Be Sure To…
- Make sure to praise those who do the assignment and share their
knowledge with the class.
- Challenge those who didn’t share their comments to do so next
week, by saying something like…”I’m looking forward to hearing from
the rest of you next week! The reading assignment is….”
- Drop them a personal reminder of the class assignment by post
card, or e-mail during the week.
- Help your learners be excited about studying and understanding
the scriptures and their assigned lessons.
- Put the learners into action. Start in the classroom. Do not
think, “What will I do in class today?” Instead think, “What will my
learners do in class today?” Your job is not to lecture or show how
much you know, but to…
- Pull from the learners what they know about the principle.
- Fill in the holes.
- Show how the principles apply to their lives.
- Help them to set goals to put the principle in action in their
- Be enthusiastic about your own scripture study. Share your
enthusiasm with your learners. Make it contagious.
- Always use the scriptures in your lessons.
- Have the learners use the scriptures to answer questions in
- Show learners how to use study helps to understand the
- Compare the scripture characters and their problems to problems
we have today. Help the learners understand the feelings of the
characters and see them as real people.
- Show the learners how to use the scriptures to find answers to
their daily problems.
- Bear testimony of the importance of the scriptures and the
teaching of Christ and of His gospel.
We Need to Teach With Variety
Many times our teens are with us in body but not in mind. We need to
make sure this is not because of our teaching methods.
The manual, Teaching No Greater Call, has almost thirty pages
packed with interesting ways to share the lesson material with our
learners (p. 159-184). It is your job to vary your presentation to keep
the interest of your learners and to pray to find out which way will
best reach them with each type of material to be presented. Don’t get
caught doing the same thing over and over again!
The following table list just some of the methods of presentation,
but the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
Methods of Teaching
Scriptures, Marking & Writing Margin Notes
Scripture Reading (Aloud)
Scripture Study Helps
Music with Narratives
Stations to Visit
Paper Stan-Up Figures