May I Have Your Attention Please?

Kids don't automatically give you their attention these days.  Even when you ask for it, it is not a guarantee that they will hand it to you.

In this day of modern entertainment and technology, kids have literally hundreds of companies and individuals vying for their attention.

And consider the fact that today's kids often split their attention between multiple triggers.

Recent research from eMarketer, reveals that kids are splitting their attention between internet and television at the same time.  71% of people surf the internet while watching television simultaneously.

Add that to the fact that the attention you are asking kids for, is very limited.  5 minutes tops.  And it's a challenge to hold their attention span for even 5 minutes.

It's not kids' fault their attention span is so short.  They are living in a culture that programs their attention span to be very, very short.  The end result is kids who skim the info. coming their way and decide who or what they are going to direct their attention toward.

The days of walking into a classroom and declaring that you are the teacher, doesn't mean kids will automatically give you their attention.

The good news is - there are some strategic steps you can take, so that when you ask for their attention, they will temporarily focus on what you are saying and quickly decide if what you are offering is worth turning their attention to.

Kids give their attention to people that they know love and care for them.  When they know you care about them and want the best for them, they will tune in to what you are saying. We've heard the saying "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

That statement is so true, isn't it?  If you want kids to listen to your lesson during the service, then spend time hanging out with them before the lesson begins.

Don't ask them to give you more than 5 minutes at a time.  The attention span you are asking them for is very, very brief.  So, what can you do if your lesson has you talking more than 5 minutes at a time? 

All you have to do is split your lesson into 5 minute segments.  Here's an example.
  • Opening song (5 minutes)
  • Ice breaker (5 minutes)
  • Song (5 minutes)
  • Game (5 minutes)
  • Song (5 minutes)
  • Lesson (5 minutes)
  • Activity or discussion of lesson point (5 minutes)
  • Lesson continues (5 minutes)
  • Activity or discussion of lesson point (5 minutes) 
  • Lesson continues (5 minutes)
  • Prayer time (5 minutes)
  • Hands on activity (5 minutes)
  • Review game (5 minutes)
  • Dismissal 
If you are asking for kids' attention, then you must look at your lesson, not as a 60-70 minute lesson, but rather as 12-15 five minute asks for their attention.

When asking kids for their attention, be sure you are offering something worthy of their attention.  If you offer them a half-baked, last minute prep, leftover kind of lesson, they will tune you out.  Kids know when we are prepared and when we are not.

Use teaching methods that actually hold their attention for 5 minutes.  Hands on.  Interactive.  Conversational.  Learner based.  Active learning.

If you ask kids to sit still and be quiet while you lecture, you'll have a tough go of it, even for 5 minutes,

Get kids involved in your teaching time.  Have them help act out the Bible story.  Example - If you are talking about the wind blowing - ask all the kids to make a sound effect of the wind blowing.

Tell stories.  One of the best ways to grab a kids' attention and hold it is by telling stories.  If you look at the way the Master Teacher (Jesus) taught, you will see that He always brought stories into the mix. 

If you are looking for a curriculum that will result in kids giving you their attention, check out Connect 12 curriculum.  Each lesson is set up with 5 minute segments that help you honor kids' attention span, while giving them solid Bible lessons written to honor today's attention spans.  

The curriculum takes kids on a one year journey, where they dive deep into the Word and find a solid faith foundation that will prepare them to follow Jesus for a lifetime. 

You can see samples at this link.

Kids, may I have your attention please?

Maybe, if you have something worth sharing and will use relevant methods that I can connect with.

Your turn.  How do you capture and hold the attention of today's kids?  Share your thoughts, insights and strategy in the comment section below.