Sunday, August 17, 2008

Say My Name, Say My Name

In my last post, I wrote about the value of having kids sit in a tight circle to increase involvement and focus. Another extremely helpful tactic for keeping kids engaged during small group time is to call each child by name several times during your time with them.

For example, a couple weeks ago, we did an activity that illustrated honor. I called on two kids by name and asked them to sit in the middle of the circle. While they were sitting there, we all said our memory verse together. “Love one another deeply. Honor others more than yourselves” Romans 12:10. Then, after we had all said the verse, I offered each child in the center of the circle a small treat by saying something like, “Rebekah, thank you for sitting in our seat of honor. You may have a cookie.” Each child felt honored and each child sat patiently while we honored his or her peers.

Two weeks ago, I invited each child to take an object from the center of the circle. I called on them individually by name so they each took a turn getting their object. A few children wanted to rush ahead of their turn, but it was very easy to say, “It’s Sarah’s turn now. I’ll call on you when it’s your turn.” They responded very well to this.

Since I’ve been making a concerted effort to call on every child by name several times during our small group, I’ve noticed a few changes in the kids.
  1. Kids stay focused, eagerly waiting for their name to be called.
  2. Kids are more patient because they know they will each get a chance to participate.
  3. Kids are more respectful of each other because they see that everyone has equal value in the group.
  4. The quieter kids have started participating more, offering their ideas at other times as well.
There’s power in a name. I encourage you to tap into that power by calling all your kids by name during small group time. Have a great small group this week!


Vivian said...

It depends upon how you say the name! I just went to a conference on having ADHD (and other disorders) kids in church classes. The advice was not to use the kids' names so much (ie, Johnny. Johnny! Johnny!!!)because they tune it out. But I suspect a calm voice calling their name in a positive way might be heard.

Eyes Wide Open said...

So true, Vivian! Depending on your tone of voice when you say a child's name, you can either endear the child to you or distance the child from you.