Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.
Kids do not naturally have long attention spans. I was at a movie with a toddler over Christmas vacation, and this point was drive home for me in a very real way. Even Alvin and the Chipmunks couldn’t keep that child engaged. After about twenty minutes, she was all over that theater until her mother finally had to take her out into the lobby. If you’ve ever been seated behind a four year old on a cross-country flight, then you’ve likely experience this truth with all five of your senses.
The culture we live in has exasperated this problem by catering to the short attention spans of kids through the entertainment and games it offers to kids. These influences have had the collective effective of reducing attention spans even more (as an aside, this problem isn’t limited to kids). One of my mantras when it comes to working with kids is that we must make sure not to underestimate them. That said, it is still a good idea to break up your lesson into smaller components to keep the kids’ attention. Put your musical worship segment right in the middle of the lesson to give kids a chance to get up on their feet and worship God. Tell your story and then show a video to reinforce the point. Use announcements to give the kids a short break from the teaching. Have the kids come up and act out the story to get them moving around. Play a little game in the middle of your lesson to reinforce the main point. Whatever you can think of, break the lesson into clear and distinct segments so that the kids don’t feel like they are sitting through one long teaching. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the lesson more that way too!