How to Get Children's Attention

Capturing and keeping children's attention is often a hard thing to do, especially with today's fast-paced media.  But if we are to be effective Sunday school teachers, we must get their attention if we are to do any good at all.  It's of no use to tell children things which go no deeper than the surface of their minds, and which will be swept away to make room for the first distraction that comes by.

If children are really to be the better for what we teach, if the truths which we love so well are really to go deep into their consciences, and become the guiding principles of their lives, then their half-hearted, lazy attention cannot serve the purpose.

We are not dealing with facts which will be received and then forgotten; but with truths, which have eternal significance.  If they are to have any practical value to a child at all, these precepts must:

1.  be understood by the child.
2.  be lodged securely in his/her  memory.
3.  start transforming his/her character for this world and the next.

How Not to Secure a Child's Attention

You will not get a child's attention by:
  • claiming it.
  • demanding it as a right.
  • asking for it as a favor.
  • by telling your students how important it is.
  • reminding them that they are in church or that it is Sunday.
  • the importance of the truths you are going to teach.
I have to admit I've tried all of those!  They all may be very valid arguments to us, but not to a child.

The Secret of Attention is Interest

Nothing, in the long run can keep a child's attention focused except a sense of real interest in what you are saying.  The child must feel that the subject claims attention for itself, not that you are claiming attention for the subject.

Attention gotten by threats, by authority, or even by promises - by any external means whatever - is not a genuine or effective thing.  The true attention, such as alone can serve the purpose of a Sunday school teacher, must always be founded on the fact that you have something to say which is worth a child's hearing, and that you can say it in such a manner that he feels it to be worth his hearing.

Adapted from "The Art of Teaching," by Joshua G. Fitch by Jessica Gerald