How to keep children focused in Sunday School

Jena asks: I am a Sunday school teacher and handle younger age ranges 7 to 8 yrs. I am just so curious what can I do to calm their very active moods during discussion! Hope you can help me.

Hi Jena –


There are a lot of books and videos for schoolteachers about how to keep kids focused, and if you look at my recent answer to ethan23’s question about concentration, I explain a lot about that.


But you’re facing yet a different issue.  You are a Sunday school teacher!  And when most kids think of weekends, they think of running around and having fun and not having to sit in a classroom at all.  So you have a very difficult road to hoe there!


But you also have one great advantage over regular schoolteachers, which is that you don’t have to teach an academic curriculum.  You just want to teach the kids some good lessons about their religion.  And you can do that in all kinds of ways.


I would suggest thinking about your Sunday School as a sort of a camp.  What activities would be fun for these kids?  7 and 8-year-olds are so bright and energetic and excited – have fun with them.  They’ll have lots of opportunities to sit in a chapel and be lectured to about Scripture.  You get to do the other stuff – painting, clay, felt, games, songs.  Should they be happy about the lessons you’re teaching them?  If so, get them to jump up and down and cheer about them!  Are you teaching them that their Creator is wise and good?  Then bring in things to prove it (puppies are always good of course, but guinea pigs, birds’ nests, beautiful rocks, maybe even someone’s baby brother!  Or how about having the kids bring in something that speaks to them of the beauty of creation!  And whatever it is, they’re right!).


Of course some kids will be ‘different’ from others in their abilities to concentrate.  But isn’t that another great “teachable moment” for you?  Can’t you teach the beauty of how all of them have different gifts, so some are calm and focused while others are energetic and spirited – and maybe have them make up stories about how those gifts can work together to do good?  You could even point out stories from your scripture of people with those strengths and how they used them.


And when it does come down to the particular things you’re supposed to teach in your class, the spiritual and moral and historical lessons your students really need to learn – again, is there a way to use their energy and spirit?  Can you have the kids act out stories, or even make up new ones, to express the lessons of the day?


Here’s what I’m really saying, Jena:  Can you make Sunday School the best part of those kids’ week?!  Because if you can, that will teach the core of whatever religion you’re teaching better than anything else possibly could!


Thanks so much for asking, and please let me know how it goes!




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mishy - September 1, 2011 Reply


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