Stories from CEF
Five Tips for Engaging Energetic Children
Most children’s workers have worked with boisterous children at one point or another. They don’t usually make up the majority of the class. However, they are often the most distracting because they’re either moving around or talking to the children around them. Working with these types of children can be challenging!
There are many reasons some children are more active than others—sitting all day in school, personalities, ADHD, or hyperactive conditions. Children who are extremely extroverted will also be more active and distracting because being with people gives them energy. While there are many reasons why some children are very active, there are also effective ways to keep their attention longer.
- Know your materials. If you are not prepared to teach, the children will run all over you. They will begin to lose interest in what you are trying to teach them and regaining their attention will be difficult.
- Include activity. Play active games with them before having them sit down. This will get some of their extra energy out. If children are sitting for a long period, such as for the Bible lesson, keep them involved throughout that time by using drama, puppets, interactive questions, and movement. These tools will help keep their attention longer. If you have a lot of active children, you may want to change the schedule slightly, so there are more activities spread throughout the club or class.
- Involve them. Because boisterous children have so much energy, they are usually the first to volunteer when helpers are needed. Allowing them to help you is a great way to keep them engaged. Make sure you don’t ignore the more compliant children, though. Doing group activities encourages all of them to participate.
- Provide sensory items. Stress balls, a small quiet toy or stuffed animal can help children focus energy and keep them from distracting others. According to Occupational Therapy for Children, “Fidget toys are often used to provide sensory input in a less distracting way. They can help improve concentration and attention to tasks by allowing the brain to filter out the extrasensory information (g., listening to a lesson in the classroom, paying attention to a book during circle time). By having a fidget toy, a child may be able to better ‘filter out’ excess sensory information in their surroundings and their own body, which is causing distraction….” Visit their blog for further information about choosing and using good “fidget toys” and many other helpful articles for working with easily distracted children.
- Teach with a heart of patience and love. One of the best ways for working with hyperactive children is simply being patient with them. The temptation is to be frustrated that you are not presenting your material as you had hoped, but “covering material” is not the number one goal. When you express love in your attitude as you teach, you are reflecting Christ to each child. You are truly teaching.
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