4 Ways to Help Kids Pay Attention In Sunday School

By Jessica Wolstenholm

“Mark had a great day, but he’s been having trouble following directions and staying in his seat during class.”

We’ve all probably had to make a not-so-fun report like this to a parent picking up their child after Sunday school. As a Sunday school teacher, my top priority has always been to maximize the short forty-five minutes to an hour of instruction. I aim to really focus on teaching kids about Jesus in fun and interactive ways that make them feel seen, heard, and loved while they’re learning powerful spiritual truths, and building a strong foundation of faith. The job becomes a major challenge for teachers and ministry staff volunteers if they are constantly finding that their time and attention during a class has been mostly focused on redirecting a few highly active and distracted children, leaving the rest of the class bored and uninspired. 

Each child’s development is unfolding at its own pace. As a result, they are growing and changing at rapid speeds, making it difficult to manage their energy or keep their attention on track. As a ministry team of teachers, we have the honor of modeling appropriate behaviors, and setting the tone for the class. They will see and feel our frustration. Finding the right balance of active learning for our students requires a more proactive approach when it comes to children’s ministry ideas for teaching kids faith.

Here are four ways you can help your Sunday school students make the most of their time and keep them interested in the lesson.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Modify Your Lesson Plan

Your Sunday school curriculum may come with a set of activities that you can easily modify based on the needs of your students. If your students are a bit restless, antsy, or having a hard time paying attention, it might be time to modify the stationary activity from the lesson plan and have them create a miniature play based on the story. Let them create a quick script together, assign each student a role, and then encourage them to get up and act it out. This is a great way to teach Bible stories for kids.

  1. Break Up the Time

Even though our time in Sunday school seems short, spending the whole class on one topic can be very daunting for students. A four year old attention span will be vastly shorter than an eleven year old’s capacity to sit still, but both will greatly benefit from taking small breaks during class. Be bold and switch things up every few minutes by adding in a quick dance party to their favorite worship song, or get crafty and create a new artwork that the kids can take home with them after class. Offer a snack and drink break, or try playing a fun new game that’s related to the lesson topic.

  1. Set a Time Limit

Once you find a routine that works best for your class, try setting up a timer with an alarm. (I use one on my iPad that plays “Baby Shark” when the time is up. It’s funny, silly, and makes the kids smile.) Utilizing a timer can help kids feel less overwhelmed with the longform timeline of the class and easily displays how much time is left for each activity. When they hear the alarm go off, they’ll know it’s time to transition and move onto the next section of the class. It also keeps them aware that each activity has a definitive beginning and end.

  1. Utilize On-site Media

This is the age of the app and there are a few fantastic options for kids. The Bible App for Kids and the God for Kids: Family Bible are both great tools, while Minno offers ad-free streaming videos for Christian kids. Use Minno or other apps to incorporate beautiful and interactive animated stories, games, and activities into your lesson. Give your kids an opportunity to talk to you about what they’ve learned during their time using the app – and keep the conversation going.

As you continue to navigate your Sunday school ministry and all the amazing and diverse students who enter your classrooms, keep the conversation open and talk with your class about the schedule you’ve designed. Give them an opportunity to add their own ideas for how they would like to learn and what they think is exciting and fun. 

We want to create a safe and inspiring environment where children of all learning types can begin to build the foundation of their faith and develop a real relationship with Jesus. If we are able to keep our hearts focused on that, good things will follow!

About the Author

undefinedAshley Reale
currently lives and works in Nashville, TN with her family and rescue goldendoodle puppy.