Communicating with Kids / by John Hailes

There is little use in talking to kids if what your communicating isn’t being heard. Communicating with large quantities of kids is an art, not a science, and there are many ways to do it…BUT there are tips to help you improve!

1.    Always hold something

 Whether it’s a bible or an object that relates to your message, make sure you keep something in your hands. Kids have a natural curiosity but if there is nothing to draw them to you then their eye will wonder to other places!

2.    Use Objects and analogies

Kids don’t always get points or concepts straight away. It takes them time to understand. Use objects and analogies to explain your points and also to get kids attention. Once I used liquid nitrogen, which freezes objects upon contact. It perfectly illustrated that things can be lifeless but look full of life. The kids LOVED seeing the different frozen items crumble or fall apart. It supported the teaching, but also grabbed their attention.

3.    Use your whole body

Communicating with kids takes more work than adults. You have to put your whole self into it. You can’t just stand still, talk and expect kids to listen to every word you say….even adults don’t respond to that. You need to put energy into your communicating. When your excited about something, act excited. If you want great examples of people who are perfect communicators with this element watch videos of Robin Williams or Jim Carey…especially on chat shows. In order to use your whole body…you must let go of your inhibitions.

4.    Engage all their senses

Not every child learns best through hearing alone. When possible make sure you engage the other senses; for those who learn through alternate ways. When preparing your message think about each of the senses and how you could engage them; hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, tasting.  When we talk to kids about missions and specific countries from around the world for missions Sunday, we will get kids to touch clothing and objects from that country, taste food from that nation, listen to their language and see pictures.

5.    Vary your Voice

Don’t just speak in one tone and one voice. Use your voice to hold the attention of the kids. Come out of your shell and get creative. Change your pitch, tone and even speed based on what your saying. If you’re telling stories use different voices for different characters. Again think of Robin Williams and how he rarely speaks in a monotone voice. Instead he throws in different accents and sometimes he shouts or squeals. It doesn’t have to be too crazy but the more you venture into this the better you will be.

6.    Master Storytelling

Kids LOVE stories. A great story, told in a captivating way will always hold a child’s attention…that’s all Disney does. Master storytelling by becoming more descriptive, helping the kids engage to your story and watching other storytellers. Your aim is to get kids to be able to picture and place themselves in the story.

7.    Share your experiences

Kids will best identify with you and your message through hearing how it worked out in your own life. The more kids know about you, the more they will buy into you and consequently the message you share. They will listen to you if they have relationship with you, so share about times you have struggled, made mistakes, silly/funny things you have done. Link these stories to the message. It will bring an authenticity to what you share. Just be careful about how open you are and be sure to be age appropriate.

You only improve through PRACTICE. Be sure to go over your talk before the day you give it and make sure that you are checking these points!

What are some tips that really work for you?