As a volunteer with kids, a teacher, or a kidmin…how do you create an atmosphere that consistently draws kids’ minds to your voice. Here are some tools that I use…in no particular order:
Holy Spirit: NEVER underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to capture kids’ attention. It’s THE thing I look for and notice in kids who are close to letting God be in charge of their lives. They start looking at me….before I use my Simon Says trick to get their attention…because their minds are starting to WANT to understand some things that are going on in their hearts.
Objects: It’s one thing to have a bag….with an object lesson….but it’s another thing to give the kids a container of playdoh and let them play with it. I have seen little boys who struggle with ADD/ADHD stop squirming in their chairs and start forming and shaping a ball of green goo. The amazing thing is that when I ask a question, their hands are the first ones to go up. No eye contact, but they respond….and concentrate. The balance between focus towards a simple task and hearing a simple lesson is comfortable for them. Being comfortable makes it easy to concentrate.
Texture: Now….playdoh can become clutter if it’s just used as playdoh. Give everyone a container….and adapt it into your lesson: “A long, long time ago, there was a man named Noah. He was told, by God to make a boat…out of gopher wood. I want you to make a gopher out of your playdoh as I finish telling you this amazing story.” It’s a great way to bring out details for older kids (gopher wood….cause they already know the basic story). It’s fun for the younger kids too….”Now, take your gopher and squish him or her into the biggest ball you can make….cause next we are going to make a boat!” (awesome for large mulit-age groups….which happen to be my favorite)
Roleplay: Don’t transform yourself into Abraham….unless that is your thing….and in that case….feel free. Sit in church….think like a kid. Watch kids….what are they doing? What are they using to do what they do? If you don’t notice in like ten seconds….then you are thinking too hard. They are doing exactly what the adults around them allow. So….we should be creative in what we allow our kids to do in the worship service. Let them sit on their knees and draw a picture of the pastor. Let them count how many people came to church. Let them write out the words to their favorite song sung that morning. Let them draw a picture of the worship leaders guitar….and dream about someday leading worship. It’s fun….and kids come back to fun. Don’t make them sit quietly until the day they understand what the pastor is actually saying. Chances are they will either not be sitting there when they are able to understand/concentrate on big words….or they will have grown accustom to zoning out.
Challenges: This one is simple. Pick something….and make it yours. There has not been one time where I have used the Simon Says trick and it not work. I can take 200 kids (and adults) from chatty chaos to eager anticipation of what Simon’s gonna ask next. (FBC people….don’t steal this….or they will figure it out….and i’ll have to think of a new trick! lol….jk). For a smaller, wigglier (made that word up) group….30 second dance party’s are great….or see who can stand on one foot the longest. You don’t even have to finish the game/challenge….just do it till you get everyone’s attention….then continue as planned. This is a great way to not single children out. Bring them together as a group…..it will be a nice little break even for the ones who seem to be paying attention.