Imagine a room full of wide-eyed kids, amazed by the stories of Scripture; activity, variety, and discovery choreographed seamlessly into a lesson that captures the imagination and inspires! Consider these ideas for keeping your kids engaged and focused right from the start.
1. Get to Know Your Kids
Your sessions will be more meaningful if you know what’s going on in their lives so that you can help them see how the Bible speaks into those situations. Make it your day 1 priority to get to know the kids in your group, and to help them get to know you. Consider calling each child for a short interview before the start of Sunday school. Ask about their favorite snacks, their favorite thing to do on the weekends, or what kind of music they like to listen to. Let them know you’re looking forward to getting to know them this year! Or, bring in some art supplies and some old magazines and encourage the kids to make a collage of things that they like to share with the rest of the group. Spend time making one yourself, so you can share too. And don’t forget to pray for your kids—both at church and at home.
2. Become a Team
Enlist the help of your group to come up with a short list of expectations and consequences. When kids have a say, they feel invested. Talk with them about making your room the kind of place where everyone feels welcome, has a chance to talk, learns from each other, and where no one’s feelings are hurt. Make a list of ways that your group can work as a team to make that happen. Then narrow the list down to 3-5 key expectations, and decide on a way to display them in the room.
Spend a few more minutes brainstorming consequences. How will you let someone know that they are out of line? What if another kid in the group notices that someone is breaking one of the rules—how will they help that person get back on track? What will happen if the person doesn’t change their behavior, even after the teacher has spoken to him or her about it? Make sure everyone is clear about the steps that will be taken if someone is misbehaving. Then ask someone in your group to pray, asking God to make your class into a caring place where everyone feels welcome. Consider typing up the expectations in a short note to send home with the kids the next week, so that families will know what’s expected of their kids.
3. Have a Plan
The Boy Scouts are onto something with their motto, “Be Prepared.” Careful preparation allows you to focus on the kids and redirect them when you see trouble coming. The more prepared you are to lead; the easier it will be for your kids to stay engaged with the session.
What works at your church for keeping kids on track?