If you have ever felt like that, this tip is for you. Perhaps the solution to your problem is simpler than you think. It could be that all you need to do is remove distractions from your small group area so kids are able to focus better.
Several weeks ago I introduced the concept of honor by giving each 2nd grader in my group an inflated balloon early in the small group time. I had the kids draw the face of someone they wanted to honor on the balloon. Then, I had them all toss their balloons in the air and try to keep them off the ground. This was designed to illustrate how honoring someone is like “lifting them up.”
After the kids had batted their balloons for about fifteen seconds, their energy increased. With each bat, they jumped up a bit more. I could tell that in about five more seconds, mayhem was going to break loose if I didn’t collect the balloons. If that happened, I’d never be able to recapture the kids attention.
My mind quickly shifted into problem-solving mode. I grabbed the black trash bag in which I had originally stored the inflated balloons. I quickly held it up and caught the first balloon I saw. Then, I captured a second and a third. Once I assured the kids that they could have their balloons back after our group was over, they were eager to bat the balloons toward the bag. I encouraged them to toss their balloons up and see if I could catch them. I made my capturing of the balloons a fun activity for them.
Once I had all the balloons stored securely in the bag, I was able to transition to the next activity without any distractions. Capturing the balloons was the most important thing I did that morning. Had I allowed the kids to keep their newly-created toys during the group, they wouldn’t have paid attention to the rest of the lesson.
There are certain distractions that have a way of showing up repeatedly during small groups. Here are a few and how to remove them.
Supplies (The #1 culprit)
- Wait until kids need supplies (including Bibles) before you distribute them.
- Collect supplies as soon as the kids are done with them.
- Kindly ask for them. Assure the children you’ll return their belongings after small group time.
- If you make it a practice to collect personal items at the beginning of small group time, kids will become used to that and may even stop bringing them.
- Close the door.
- Have the kids sit with their back to the door.
- Position yourself with your back to the wall (instead of to the center of the room.) This way kids won’t be visually distracted by other things that may be happening in the center of the room.
- Don't allow yourself to get distracted. If you do, the kids certainly will.
Have a great group this week!
(photo by Andre Maceira)