I don't usually think of chairs as a distraction, but at my church they are. My group meets in two rooms connected by a door. One of the rooms has a table and chairs in the middle and a few extra chairs pushed up against the walls. The table takes up most of the room, so it's helpful that the other room is empty except for the chairs lining the walls. We use that space for singing and for activities that require us to move around a little more.
Everything sounds okay so far, right? But the chairs that occupy these rooms are not all the same. Some are the standard church chairs — grey fabric with a metal frame. Others are sturdy plastic with no frills. But the third variety is the favorite and there is only a handful scattered between the two rooms. These upholstered giants have cushy padded seats and arm rests. They are mounded on wheels — and if that isn't exciting enough, they spin!
These huge rolling, spinning chairs are irresistible to the kids in my group. But sitting on the giants simply isn't an option. No matter how exciting the story or engaging the activity the temptation to bounce, spin, and roll around the room is overwhelming. We've tried to outlawing their use, but like magnets, they always seem to pull the kids back at some point in the session. We've tried reserving them for leaders, but it seemed cruel to sit in comfort as the kid's stare mournfully at our seats. We've tried wheeling them into the sanctuary (just outside our door), but it takes too much time to put them back in place before the service begins ... Next Sunday I'm bringing a sheet to drape over all the coveted chairs.
All of this effort for chairs? Yes, for chairs. Sometimes it's the small things that cause chaos in a classroom. The window that faces a playground. The leader that's still setting up as kids arrive. The too high or too cold temperature of the room. It's worth taking the time to eliminate these obstacles so we can connect with God and each other without interruption. I want my kid's best moments of Sunday school to be about sharing the stories of Scripture, not spinning in their seats.
What about you, what distractions to do you face in your Sunday school room? What solutions have you found?