Mar 4, 2015

10 Reasons Why Your Lessons Are Boring Kids to Death

Ever heard a kid say your lesson was boring?  If so, it was probably due to one or more of these reasons.  

A lecture-based teaching style.  I remember sitting in a "Sunday School" class as a kid.  We had two teachers.  They took turns teaching the lesson.  When one was teaching, the other one would fall asleep.  As kids, we had too much energy to fall asleep.  Instead, we were forced to sit there for an hour and endure what seemed like an eternity of torture.  I'm not blaming the teachers.  I am thankful for their hearts to minister to us.  They simply didn't know that lecturing is not the best way to teach kids.  In this article, I share a more effective way to teach kids

Making them sit still.  When we tell kids to "sit still and be quiet" we are really saying "sit still and be bored to death."  Kids were made to move.  In fact, the more kids move...the more they learn.  If you want to engage kids with your lesson, use participatory, hands-on, active learning.  In this article, you can read more about how to get kids moving.

Not honoring their attention span.  Kids have an attention span of 1 minute for every year of their age - maxing out at 5 minutes.  When you violate this, they will get bored.  If you want to keep their attention, reset their internal clock every five minutes by switching to another activity, song, game, object lesson, etc. 

Not using visual communication.  This generation hears with their eyes.  Words will bore them.  Words accompanied by images will engage them.

Only using one learning style.  When you limit your lesson to just one or two learning styles, the kids who learn differently will get bored.  Be intentional about using all the learning styles when you are teaching and you'll engage all the kids.

Not letting them talk.  "Sssssshhhhhh" kids and they will get bored.  And if all the talking is being done up will lose them.  Give them opportunities to discuss deeper learning questions.  Read this article for the latest findings regarding this.

Putting them in space designed for adults.  Stick them in a room with beige walls and brown metal folding chairs and it will contribute to boredom.  Can you engage kids even if the room is not kid-friendly?  Yes, but you'll have to work harder to compensate for the dull environment.  Kids are drawn to bright, fun colors.  Kid-friendly environments do make a difference.  Ever seen a kid bored at Disney World?

Not knowing their culture.  Ever tried to talk with someone who doesn't speak your language?  Hard to connect, isn't it?  If you're talking cassettes to digital download kids, you'll lose them.  In a recent training, I shared about how to connect with today's kids.  You can read it here. 

Talking down to them.  Baby talk leads to boredom.  When you're in a room with kids of multiple ages, always talk to the oldest kid in the room.  Cool rolls down hill.

Not telling stories.  A story is the greatest boredom buster of all times.  Want to see kids lock their attention on what your saying?  Tell a story.  Great story tellers are great teachers.  Jesus, the greatest teacher of all times, used stories as one of His primary means of capturing people's attention.

The floor is yours.  What are some other reasons kids get bored during a lesson?  What do you do to keep kids engaged when you're teaching?  Share with us in the comment section below. 


I'm not a kid but I'm in an adult Special-needs Sunday school class and we are TREATED like CHILDREN! Our teacher talks down to us and treats us like stupid kinder gardeners just because we're "labeled" special-needs! The WHOLE CLASS except for TWO kids are all high-functioning special-needs, meaning we all function at a high-school level, but we have "hidden" disabilities. Meaning disabilities that you can't physically see and don't realize we have until you meet us.

My special needs class has eleven students and out of those eleven only TWO are low-functioning, yet, she treats us ALL like we're low-functioning! She talks to us like you would talk to a first grader!

And that's not the only problem! The MAIN problem I have with our special-needs Sunday school class, is that she literally treats the class like SCHOOL! Yes! All we do is sit at desks and waste the WHOLE HOUR filling-out stupid work-sheets and doing boring, babyish, bible-verse memorization!

Every Sunday it's the same boring lessons over and over and over again!

Our special-needs Sunday school "routine" goes like this. Come in. Sit down. Pray. Spend five minutes "visiting" with our TEACHER NOT EACH OTHER! Watch a boring lesson video. Do the work-sheets. Read and fill-in the blanks. Read and fill-in the blanks. Do boring bible-verse memorization. Erase a word. Say the bible verse. Erase another word. Say the bible verse AGAIN. The verse MUST be RECITED TOGETHER as a GROUP agonizingly S-L-O-W! Pray. Leave. Come back next week. Repeat. This boring cycle is repeated in our class week after week, month after month, year after year! It NEVER ENDS!

We get no time to socialize or make friends, the whole "persona" of the class is that it's nothing but "school" and as a result, we have a huge drop-out rate. We never have new students who come in and stay longer than a week.

I don't mean this to be mean, but our teacher IS the main problem. For example, I've flat-out told her that what she's doing is boring and stale to us and I've suggested new ideas and new methods of teaching that would be more interesting to US but she rejects everything I come up with because SHE doesn't like them or they weren't HER idea!

Everything we do has to be what she likes and what she likes only! Music has to be music that SHE likes. Boring hyms and gospel music only. No fun, upbeat, Contemporary Christian rock music allowed! All because SHE doesn't like that kind of music!

Books have to be books that SHE likes. Boring, slow-paced, non-fiction books about dead missionaries are okay to read to her snoozing, mind-wandering class, because SHE likes them. But fun, fast-paced fantasy novels like Ted Dekker or Donita K Paul are FORBIDDEN because SHE doesn't like fantasy!

Boring word-searches, and "games" that require sitting at a desk, reading and writing are okay, because they're "school related" and she LOVES that! But games that we like, meaning fun, high-energy games that require movement and socializing with each other are forbidden because she says "we don't have room" for those games and she REFUSES to move into a bigger classroom because there're no desks or tables for us to do our "bookwork" and we HAVE to do our bookwork!

Honestly, if you want your special needs ministry to grow PLEASE DON'T TREAT IT LIKE SCHOOL! Treat it like you would a normal Jr. High or High school youth ministry! Don't talk down to your students. Avoid anything school related. Play lots of high-energy, youth group style games. Play contemporary rock music.

Treat your special needs group like a normal youth group and you will see LESS drop-outs! Good luck and god bless!

Thanks for sharing. I pray with you that you will be able to share some of these things with the teacher so she can do better at teaching you on a level that you learn best. Blessings.

Thanks for the prayers! I appreciate it!

Yes. Blessings. Prayer makes the difference.

Yes, it dose. I have been praying that we could start another special-needs group that would be more like our old youth groups were, but so far no luck. My brother has said that he and I could team up and start a special needs group that would be run more like our old youth groups, which would be great, except that he has to work every single Sunday. So that would never work.

My provider teaches a special-needs Sunday school class at Flatirons Community church and he treats it like a youth ministry, where he spends like five minutes on a lesson, where all he dose is talk to them and they just sit and listen and then they spend the rest of the time playing high-energy, youth group style games and play rock music, so it's pretty much all social time, like my old youth groups were. As a result of this, Flatirons has a large, well-rounded special-needs ministry that garners a lot of praise on their website. If you get on their website, everyone raves about how great their special-needs ministry is! Because he knows what will attract and keep special-needs people coming and what will drive them away!

But my church is exactly the opposite! At my church it's the youth ministries that get all the praise! The special-needs class never gets mentioned. Why? Because everything spreads through word of mouth and if people like the group/class, they'll spread the word to their friends that they should come try the group/class out.

But if the class is lame and people come away with a bad impression of it, like my class, people aren't going to say a word about it or they'll discourage other people from going there and as a result, the class/group will never grow.

When ever new people come into our class, (which isn't often,) right off the bat, they're given a half-hearted welcome and given a set of work-sheets and a pencil.

There's no time to visit with each other and make friends because we have to waste the whole hour filling-out stupid work-sheets! So the first impression that new students get when they come to our class is, "This is nothing but school, I don't want to do this", or "This is boring," or "I'm never gonna make friends in this class, she won't give us any time to visit with each other! I'm out of here!"

And they'll drop-out after a single Sunday, never to be seen or heard from again. So really, all she's doing is boring new people right out of the class! Then she wonders why we never get new people and why we aren't growing, unlike the youth ministries!

The youth ministries in my church are HUGE with hundreds of kids! But I can guarantee you, if they treated a youth ministry the way our special-needs class is treated, the whole youth ministry would drop out and the group would fail and close as a result!

People know better than to treat a youth ministry like that, so why dose special-needs ministry get the stick?

School stuff the WORST way to recruit students into your group and hope they'll STAY in the group. If you want new students to come to and stay in your special-needs group then PLEASE avoid treating it like school and treat it like a normal youth group!

Also, another important thing to remember about stating a special needs ministry, is it's very important, if you can, to split the low-functioning and high-functioning special needs students up into seperate groups.

One group for low-functioning special-needs people, where they're taught at a kinder garden level and one for high-functioning special-needs students where the group is more like a normal youth group, where everything's taught on a Jr. High or high school level. If you split the group up between high and low-functioning special-needs people it will help prevent lots of drop-outs.

God bless!

Also, another suggestion about starting and recruiting people into your high-functioning special-needs group is don't call it "special needs Sunday school." School represents everything a special-needs person hates, especially if they've been out of school for years.

Instead, call it "special needs ministry" or "special-needs group." Similar to what people call "youth groups," or "youth ministry," but instead you tac "special needs" in front of group or ministry. Don't forget to give your group a cool name!

Here are some name suggestions. "Torch," "Swords Of Fire," "Lightning Swords," "Rock Pile," "Flip Side," "Lions," "Glow," "Flash," "Rooted," "SOUL FIRE," "Wildfire," "Woven," "Wild Side," "Flash Point," "Fiery Phoenix," and "Wonderer," are some suggestions. God bless!

Thanks for sharing. Great stuff. Appreciate your heart for people.

Of course! Part of the reason I'm doing this is to try to help people that might be thinking about starting a special needs ministry at their church, from making the same mistakes that our teacher is making.

Yes, there are sites that tell people "how" to start and run a special-needs ministry, but the people who write those articles are only focusing on the low-functioning people that could be in the class/group. They completely forget about or don't know about the high-functioning special needs people that might be in the group and how they might be effected by being in a group geared only toward low-functioning special needs people.

As a high-functioning special-needs person who has been bored to death in a low-functioning special-needs Sunday school class for years, I feel it is my responsibility to educate people in the church that might be thinking about starting a special needs ministry, about the high-functioning special needs people and how we learn at a higher level than the average special-needs person. We need more than just the normal "special needs Sunday school curriculums" that churches provide for the average special-needs ministry.

If we function at a Jr. High or High school level we need a special needs group that's more like a youth group. As high functioning special needs people we function better in a youth group style environment rather than a kinder garden/ first grade class environment, which is what most special needs church groups are unfortunately geared towards.

A kinder garden/first grade-level special needs class/group is good for low-functioning special needs people but the high functioning special needs people need our own separate, high-functioning, youth-group-style special needs group.

If high-functioning special needs people are in their own special needs church group, from the low functioning people, we will blossom more, because then we feel like people are treating us more like normal people rather than kinder gardeners. God Bless.

Another suggestion that will help attract high functioning special needs people is the way the room is set up. Remove all the desks/tables and hard chairs that may be in your room and replace them with coffee shop like furniture. Couches, big soft chairs, and giant bean bags are more welcoming and appealing than a room full of the latter. When special needs people see a class room full of desks and hard chairs, the first thing that crosses our minds is, "Oh, great, we're gonna be doing school-style lessons. I'm really looking forward to this."

They'll most likely turn tail and run the other direction as soon as they see a room full of desks. But a room full of soft couches and soft chairs is a more inviting and welcoming sight. And it also dose away with the "school" feeling, which is something you want get rid of.

Play rock music as your students come into the room and have a count down on the screen if you have one that shows how much time you have before group starts so everyone has time to visit with each other before group. This gives the groups the "fun-factor-feeling," and gets rid of the "school" feeling. Hope this gives people some inspiration! God Bless!

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