Look for the Look Aways!

Yesterday during one of our kidmin services, I sat in the back and simply watched. I was looking for "look aways." Normally when a child is looking away, it means you have lost their attention or you're not connecting with them. The "look away" means you've probably lost them. At that point, for them, anything is more interesting in the room than what's happening up front.

Every time I saw kids starting to look away, I made a note. These were parts of the service where we were losing their attention. And so we will go back and brainstorm, tweak, and adjust so we can lessen the "look aways."

Do you know why Blues Clues, in it's prime, was the most highly acclaimed children's program? Because they worked so hard at eliminating the look aways. In fact, before any episode made it on TV, they would bring in a group of children for a prescreening. They watched carefully and when the kids started looking away, they made adjustments and tweaked that part of the show to capture the kid's attention.

Here are some simple ways to help prevent the "look aways."
  • Honor their attention spans. 1 minute per year. Maxed out at 5 minutes. If you will change to a new segment every 5 minutes, you will reset their internal clock every 5 minutes and lessen the "look aways."
  • Don't be a talking head. Nothing causes more look aways than someone standing up and rattling on and on without any props or visual help. Which takes me to my next point....
  • Use visual props. Always have something in your hand or on the board or on the screen. This generation hears with their eyes.
  • Be willing to change what is causing the "look aways."  Even if it's Grandma Whitely, who teaches like it is the 1950s, be willing to make changes that will help eliminate the "look aways."
  • Another biggie...crowd interaction and participation. Get the kids involved in the lesson somehow. Maybe it's them blowing like the wind every time you say the word "Wind", etc. Maybe it's acting out the story as you tell it.
  • Learn how to become a great storyteller. Ever notice when you are telling a story, that you have the kid's undivided attention and very few look aways? Then when the story ends, you loose them again. Kids love stories. Follow Jesus' example and become a master storyteller. 
Try it next week and see if you have certain parts of your service where you are getting "look aways." Then go back and tweak those parts of the service. There's too much at stake not to grab kid's attention so you can communicate what it means to follow Christ.

Posted by Dale Hudson