Home Children's Ministry Leaders 5 Reasons Why Kids Aren’t Listening to Your Lessons

5 Reasons Why Kids Aren’t Listening to Your Lessons


Do you ever have trouble with getting kids to listen to your lessons?

If the answer is “yes,” then you are not alone. We’ve all had times where it seemed we couldn’t get the kids to engage with our lesson.

I have found that when I am having trouble with the kids listening, that it is often on me.

I am not doing one or more of the following five things.

They are not listening to the lesson because I am not honoring their attention span. Today’s kids have very, very, very, very, very short attention spans. They constantly have messages coming their way through smart phones, TV ads, radio ads, laptops, tablets, etc. In fact, they have so many messages coming their way that they will often just give the information a quick glance and if it doesn’t grab their attention, they are off to see or hear the next thing coming their way.

So what can we do? How can we get kids to listen to our lesson in the world of thousands of messages?

Here’s a simple secret that can help you capture (and keep) their attention.

Every 4-5 minutes, reset their internal clock. When you do this, you will be honoring their attention span and you will be able to keep their attention. Instead of looking at your lesson as a 60 minute stretch, look at it as 12 five-minute sections. Every 5 minutes, switch and do something else.

Here’s a practical example. Teach for five minutes and then switch and have them do some discussion questions for five minutes. Then go back to your teaching for five minutes.  Then stop and do an activity for five minutes. Then go back to teaching again.

Sesame Street is one of the most engaging children’s programs ever created. Their 52nd season premiered on HBO Max on November 11. Watch an episode and you will see this teaching philosophy in action. The show is divided into short segments that change every few minutes.

With this in mind, I created a curriculum that honors kids’ attention spans. Implement this philosophy and you will see the issue of kids not listening go away (including the 2nd grade boys – which is a miracle). You can see curriculum samples at this link.

They are not listening to the lesson because you are not telling stories. Take notice of this the next time you are teaching. When you start telling a story, you will notice that the kids engage with you. Once the story is done, you can see them physically disengage.  They will start looking around, talking, fidgeting, etc.

Did you know that Jesus, the greatest teacher of all times, used stories when He taught?  In fact, the Bible says He always told stories. Stories that captured the attention of those who had come to hear Him. Check out this verse.

Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. (Matthew 13:34)

Follow His teaching method and you will see kids begin listening to your lessons.

They are not listening to your lesson because you are not intentionally giving them opportunities to talk.

Kids learn best through dialogue instead of monologue. They are not listening to your lesson because you are saying…sssssshhhhhhhhhh…instead of asking them questions and getting them to talk about the subject you are sharing about.