Expert Tips: How to Keep Kids Engaged and Learning

Do you have a difficult time keeping kids' attention when you are teaching or leading?

With today's kids, it can definitely be a challenge. I used to say they have a 5 minute attention span, but I'm not sure that is accurate now.  

Today's kids have so much information coming at them that they skim through the information and quickly choose what they want to engage with and listen to.

And then...maybe have 5 minutes to hold their attention.  

Here are some tips that will help you get your message past other competing messages and into their mind.

Be okay with a noisy classroom Many children's ministry leaders believe they must have a "sit still and be quiet" agenda. The problem?  Kids don't want to sit still and be quiet.  The majority of them are not wired that way.  Blame it on technology, short attention spans or classroom control...but today's kids want to move it, move it, move it, and move it. 

Am I saying there are no times when kids should be made to sit still and be quiet?  I'm not saying that. But what I am saying is it should be short, few, and far between.

The noise should come from kids and volunteers discussing questions you have given them. 

The noise should come from kids laughing and cheering during a review game.

The noise should come from activities.  

The noise should come from the responsive saying of key truths.

Reset the clock.  

Every few minutes switch and do something different.  Instead of trying to lecture for 10 minutes...lecture for 2 minutes and then move to some discussion questions.  Do the discussion questions for a few minutes and then jump back into teaching for a few more minutes.  Continue to do this your entire class time and you will keep kids engaged and learning. 

Think like Sesame Street.  Short segments.  

Go visual.  

Kids love when you "push play."  There is something about good video content that keeps them engaged and learning.  

This doesn't mean the whole lesson should be on video.  I believe live teaching is the best way to connect with kids when it is done creatively and relevant.  

But there is great value in using video clips to enhance or illustrate your teaching.  Watch what happens when the video comes on.  They will engage.

Here is an example of a video that I created to share the Gospel with kids. Notice the length and relevance.


You can get it here.

Follow the Learning Pyramid when planning your lesson.

Why the 'learning pyramid' is wrong - The Washington Post

This learning graphic makes it very clear.  If you are simply lecturing, the kids are only getting about 10% of what you are sharing.  Use this when you are planning your lessons.  It will definitely help you keep kids engaged and learning.

Will it potentially push you out of your comfort zone? Maybe. But remember...a comfort zone is where dreams go to die.  Don't get stuck in past ways of teaching that make little or no impact with kids.

Your lessons are too important for kids to not get it or remember it.