Communicating with Kids
Vacation Bible School weeks are upon us!
It is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It is also a time we are blessed with working with and large groups of children. How do we best communicate with a crowd of kids! If there is a stage involved or a large space in front of the room as a presentation location you are in luck! "Wait, what?", you may be saying to yourself that is exactly what makes me nervous about speaking to these kids! They outnumber the speaker!
Instead of repeatedly asking for their attention, horns & whistles, making empty threats, getting visually frustrated or promising rewards for the quietest group, you need to grab their attention with this information the minute you get in front of them. You will have the extraverts using their every power to control themselves and your introverts doing anything to get their extrovert friend on the stage instead of them!
- "Hello I am your VBS leader _____ and I am so excited to share God's good news with you, but I can't do it alone! I know you know how to listen when someone in front of you is talking on the mic, but I need you to know we are called to do ministry together. So every time I am at on the stage with a microphone, I will need you to pay close attention. I will be calling up helpers. The helpers will be sharing important info you will need to know!" (Notice how the expectations are slid into the conversation without them being a rule?)
- "I will know that you are willing to help when you give me eye-contact, your mouth is quiet and your hand is raised high. I will know you want your friend up here to help when you are quiet and a finger points to your friend." (Notice I am modeling the expectations I need for them to communicate how they want to help.)
- Once you have done step one and two, immediately follow through with what you said and invite one or two on stage with you. Then give them a microphone, ask them questions, have them act out a lesson and better yet if you are prepared ahead of time have what you want them to say written on poster board for them to read like a news anchor. (Note that you can get more kids involved by having more kids hold the script poster board.)
Why does this work when managing and presenting to a large group of children?
Because you are making it about them! You are putting the focus on them and their peers are there to watch every move. Cycle as many kids through any "stage" time that you can and don't plan ahead who is going up. Part of the "prize" or what you want them to do is getting their bodies in check to listen and participate. The reward for that is getting themselves or their friend on the stage. The extroverts get their voice heard and feel a part of what is being shared. The introverts find great joy in watching their peers and listen intently to what is being said.
Once and a while you may have to remind the group that they, "Certainly don't want to miss what their friend has to teach them and you just know they know how to show respect!" This circumstance is usually when large amounts of laughter has broken out in the group! In most cases this is good and they simple need to be reminded.