I Can't Believe They Were Actually Listening

Have you ever led a kids' service or class where the kids seemed to be ignoring everything you are saying?

They were giggling.  They were talking out of turn.  They were bothering each other.  They were not looking at you as you tried to teach them. 

I had this experience last weekend when I was leading our pre-teen class.   I wondered if they were getting anything out of the lesson.  

I guess I shouldn't complain. I purposely encouraged the class to talk when it was their time to talk.  I let them play some noisy, funny games that were tied into the main point of the lesson. I had a fun ice-breaker that got them talking with each other. But I was okay with the noise and seemingly chaos at times.  It was actually part of my teaching strategy.

Have you seen a learning diagram?  Here's what it says when it comes to how kids learn and retain truth in a classroom setting. 

Lecturing - 5% effectiveness

Reading - 10% effectiveness

Audio Visual - 20% effectiveness

Demonstration - 30% effectiveness

Discussion groups - 50% effectiveness

Practice by doing - 75% effectiveness

Teaching others - 90% effectiveness

As you can see, the more kids talk and interact with each other the more they retain from the lesson. 

Now I know this seems contrary to how many of us were taught when we were kids. We were "sssshhhhhed" and told to be quiet and sit still.  I mean...that is how kids learn best, right?  Actually, it's the opposite if you look at the chart. 

At the end of the lesson this past weekend, I threw in some review questions.  I was surprised at how much the kids had retained.  Even down to some of the small details I mentioned just in passing. They walked out of class knowing the lesson and application.  

I was reminded that even when kids don't seem to be listening, they are listening...maybe just not in the way we would prefer.  But...that's probably a good thing.  Today's kids are growing up in a world that is far different from previous generations.  Today's kids learn best by doing.  

Is it going to be more noisy than we are used to?  Probably.  

But that's okay.  Today's kids can learn just fine by multi-tasking.  So let up a little.  Don't be so hard on them.  Give them room to talk and play and be kids during your lesson.  Even when things seem to be getting a little out of hand,  just stick with them.  Whether they are talking or if they are quiet, they are learning.  Test them at the end of the class time and you will see this to be true. 

Begin seeing yourself as a facilitator instead of a lecturer.  You are there to help the kids learn by facilitating active learning.  That's how they learn best.