The Formula for Keeping Kids’ Attention

The Formula for Keeping Kid's Attention

If you haven’t noticed, kids’ attention spans are continuing to shrink. Shrinking to the point where you may wonder if they have an attention span left.

I believe the best approach is to first ask HOW can I
capture kids’ attention, and then how can I hold their attention for more than 30 seconds once I’ve got it.

No worries. You’ve got this. I’m going to share with you the formula for keeping kids’ attention.

Switch to being a facilitator instead of a lecturer. Kids are not going to sit still very long if you are a lecturer. The old school approach of “sit still while I download information into your brain” no longer works. Make an adjustment and begin facilitating the strategies you see below.

Reset their attention span every five minutes or less. You have about five minutes to hold kids’ attention and even less the younger the kids are. You may be thinking, “If that is true, what am I going to do?” I have the kids for an hour. Here’s a key part of the formula. Every five minutes change and do something different. Resetting their attention span every five minutes works.

If you have a lecture part of your lesson, keep it to five minutes or less and then reset their attention span by having them do an activity or discussion. After they do that for a few minutes, go back to our verbal teaching.

The secret—instead of looking at your class as 60 minutes, look at it as 12 five-minute sessions. This one thing can be a game-changer for you.

Let them move, move, move and move. Kids are wired to move. Stop telling them to it still and be quiet. Instead get them involved in the lesson. Here’s an example. If you’re teaching a lesson about the Israelites marching around the walls of Jericho, have the kids get up and march around the classroom seven times.

Let them talk, talk, talk and talk. This formula encourages kids to get involved by talking throughout the class time. Be proactive about this and tell the kids when you want them to talk. Place plenty of discussion questions throughout the class time.  Yes, have some time when you have the kids not talking. Like during prayer time, worship, etc.  But instead of saying, “No talking right now,” instead say, “Lets listen to what ____________ has to say about this for a minute or so.

A noisy classroom is a good thing. Active, noisy learning > passive, quiet listening.

Visual communication. When it comes to keeping kids’ attention, a picture truly is worth a 1,000 words. Use lots of pictures during your time with the kids.

Let them play, play, play and play. Kids love games. And you can use games to help teach the lesson. Every game should have a purpose. Play a game that correlates with the lesson, then debrief with questions that tie back to the lesson and have application elements.

Make involvement your goal. Watch the kids. Make a note when you lose their attention. Go back and tweak that part of the lesson. Your goal should be to involve every child in the lesson. It might be making sound effects or cheering or holding up a sign. Every single child…taking an active part in class.

Tell stories. The final part of the formula is to teach like Jesus did. How did He teach? He told stories. Parables are stories. While you are verbally teaching, use lots of stories. You will notice that when you are telling a story, the kids will zoom in on you. And then once the story is over, they zone back out.

I am believing with you that 2019 is going to be your best year ever in children’s ministry. You have been appointed for such a time as this. You have been anointed for such a time as this. You have the Holy Spirit working in the hearts and lives of the kids while you lead the class.

You can get a year’s worth of curriculum that captures kids’ attention and holds it. The curriculum incorporates everything you are reading about in this article. Check it out at this link.

Your turn. What else do you use to keep kids’ attention? Share your thoughts, ideas and insights in the comment sections below. 

This article originally appeared here.

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Dale Hudson
Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 30 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)