One Sunday, (not so long ago) I stood in the front of the kids’ church, totally ignored by my kids, despite the fact that lights flashed around me and I held a microphone in my hands. It had been quite a week. I had felt under-the-weather all week and by the time Sunday rolled around, I was ill-prepared for teaching. It was totally my fault. This (shameful) experience caused me to review what actually grabs kids’ attention. Obviously it wasn’t flashing lights and hopping music – the answer involved a few factors.
Be a prepared teacher. Want to capture and keep a kid’s attention? Be prepared. Standing in front of the room like Ben Stein (Bueller, Bueller) with sketchy knowledge of the verse or Bible story, no props and a bored audience won’t help anyone. I suggest knowing that verse or story backwards and forward!
Walk in authority. You’ve got to command authority if you want to get kids’ attention. I don’t mean run your church like Darth Vader ruling over Stormtroopers. I do mean speaking with a firm voice, establishing rules and refusing to relinquish your authority to unruly children. They need authority figures — be one!
Set boundaries. Do the unpopular but the necessary, set some boundaries. You have to have rules and kids have to know them. Kids can’t talk over you. They can’t walk around. Don’t try to be everyone’s friend, be a mentor.
Present the gospel with dramatic effect. The Bible deserves your best presentation. Employ props, puppets, skits and visual aids. Lower and raise your voice, use your hands, feet and face to convey meaning. You can capture kids’ attention with object lessons too.
Manage your time effectively. Here’s an exercise that will help you stretch or shorten your program, create a time schedule for your kids’ church. Allow a certain amount of time for praise and worship, lessons, games, crafts etc. If you want to keep kids’ attention (and respect) don’t have dead air time. Running out of material before you run out of time will undermine your authority. I know some folks do have “free time” and it works fine for them but it never works for me. I like it when parents pick up kids and catch us still learning or singing.
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Encouragement for Christians.