How are We Keeping Kids Engaged?

How are We Keeping Kids Engaged?

Keeping kids engaged can be a difficult thing to do.  This is especially true when you have a bunch of different personalities to cater to. So what are some of the best ways to keep them engaged?  Getting to know your kids on a deeper level and learning what makes them tick is the key to keeping them engaged on their level.

A History and Comparison

Every child is different.  I have eight children, and only two of them, both daughters, 10 years apart, had virtually the same personality.  They liked the same things, hated the same things, reacted the same way, exhibited the same body language.  Almost everything was the same.  But then, as they got older (one is now 28 and the other is 18), their personalities became more their own.  They are still very similar in some aspects, but now world apart in others.

The other six kids are drastically different, both from them and from each other.

Keeping Kids Engaged

Seeing the similarities and differences in my children has been one of my favorite things about having so many of them.  I remembered with each pregnancy wondering what that child would be like. There really wasn't any curiosity as to what they would look like. My kids are all carbon copies of each other!  What would their mannerisms be like?  Or what would they love about life?  What would their struggles look like?  These were the questions I had about each of them as I patiently waited their arrival.

As it turned out, our life at home, especially in our home school setting, looked a lot like the Sunday School classes and kids' clubs that I taught at church, as well as the regular schools that I taught part-time in.

The Challenge

In all of the different settings, I was working with large groups of kids. And those kids had vastly different ideas and interests.  So, the question is, how is a teacher supposed to keep all of those differences satisfied?  How do we keep all of those kids engaged and wanting to come back next week?  In a regular school setting, they are coming back daily regardless of their desire.  But in the kids clubs and classes at school, if they didn't like the program, they didn't have to return.

The Answer to Keeping Kids Engaged

My answer for this dilemma became a matter of finding something during the time I had with them that specifically interested each one of them.

In our current kids' club at church, I have two hours on Sunday evenings to engage with these kids.  The primary objective is to give these kids something to take away from the evening that they can translate into their lives at home, in their community, in their school, and in their future.  That is most likely not what the majority of the students are looking forward to every week. But we do work very hard on talking openly about these things during their lesson/application time and the responses from all of them are phenomenal.

But even though it isn't primarily what they are coming to club for, it can be something that will affect them for the rest of their lives. And generally, none of them even realize the importance of it at the time.  And that is where the next component of keeping kids engaged comes in.

If sitting down to learn their lessons and apply them to life is not the primary reason that they are going to want to show up every week, then what do we do to get them excited and engaged?

And since learning is the primary reason they are there, how do I make those things tie into their education? Random entertainment might make them come back every week. But what is it doing to drive home the message that we want them to learn?

Because They're Worth It!

My answer to that quickly became theming in many different types of activities.  During the two hours I have with the kids I have a snack time, game time, lesson, discussion, worksheet, and craft time.  These are all opportunities to drive home the point of the lesson.  And these widely varying activities use all of their senses. They also manage to hit on everybody's preferences somewhere in the evening.  And usually that happens for each of them on multiple activities!

For some of the kids, every part of the evening is magical.  For others, there is one particular thing that they are looking forward to even if they don't love the rest of the activities.  And that is okay.

You can't be everything to everybody.  But it is important that they know there is something there that night that you have planned knowing that they would enjoy it and that you were thinking about them. They will show their appreciation to you in spades because they realize you are LISTENING to them.

Once they realize that everything in the evening fits into the theme, they start to come back every week.  They will be running in the door to see what the food is, what the prepared craft looks like, and then they start yelling over each other to find out what the game is so that they can figure out the theme of the lesson is for that day.  And then you know that you have their attention.

Conclusion

So this is what keeping kids engaged looks like in my classes.  But what does it look like in yours?  I would guess that in whatever way you are doing it, the underlying message is that you are listening to them with more than your ears.

Please feel free to share how you are keeping the kids in your life engaged.  They can be your own kids, the neighborhood kids, kids in organizations you are working with, or students in your classes!  Many of us are engaging with kids on some level in our daily lives even if we aren't teachers.

If you would like more information on differentiating your class to engage with your students, check out my article here.

This Post Has 82 Comments

  1. Amber Myers

    I know my kids get distracted easily. But when there are hands on things in school, that helps a ton. My daughter loves when they can do crafts of experiences.

    1. Marie

      Yes, Amber, this is actually true with the vast majority of kids. It helps them to keep focus when activities require more than just sitting and listening. And the theme helps to reinforce the original lesson!

  2. amberleshae

    I’m a stay at home mom so keeping my kids engaged takes ALOT!

    1. Marie

      Yes, it does, Amber! Your children will appreciate all this effort you make when they are older!!!

  3. Nyxinked

    I can’t imagine how difficult it is to entertain kids, but from experience getting crafty always helps. Especially at home and it’s a rainy day.

    1. Marie

      Getting crafty has almost always worked for me, and adding games that match the theme. Between the two, I have been able to tame nearly every class, especially when spontaneous! And I agree about the rainy day point. It is hard, especially when rainy days make me want to sleep!

  4. flawlessfooduk

    Wow, your doing a great job with 8 kids. We have 4 and it is not easy! Like you say they are all different, so hard to find things that keeps them all happy!

  5. Cristina Pop

    I am learning so much from your blog posts! I don’t have kids yet, but until I have, I gather a lot of amazing advice from you!

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Cristina! You will make an awesome mom!

  6. Ewuzie Kingsley

    Very informative post. Although i don’t have kids yet but am saddled with the responsibility of taking care of by brother kids and they can be a handful. Sometime to keep them engaged especially when am busy with other things and its not yet their screen time. i give them assignment do do or puzzle to work on or force them to go take a nap. But if am not busy, we play card, read to them or play football their favorite thing to do with me.

  7. I love how your posts don’t just help other teachers. I know these will help me be a better aunt too. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Krysten!

  8. rachel

    As a mom of three young kids, I can tell you that I certainly struggle with this. Unplugging and going old-school with toys and games has been a game-changer for my family .AND slowing down.

    1. Marie

      Yes, Rachel! When I took the time to be more intentional, it really paid off. And then I wished I had done it sooner.

  9. enrilemoine

    I love this post as it helps all audiences. From a teacher, to a mom, to an auntie, this post will help a lot of people struggling with keeping their child engaged.

    1. Marie

      You are right! Anybody who spends time with kids can do these things!

  10. Cindy Ingalls

    Keeping kids engaged is hard. I like to do crafts with kids or story time.

  11. CA

    The study of one’s personality is something that I’ve always been fascinated with. Though most of the time, I ask people for their zodiac signs to undestand them better. This kind of helps me how to approach and deal with each one. Not very sure if it will apply to kids as well. Never tried.

    1. Marie

      I would be interested to see if that bears out for children as well. And I am the same as you–all of these apply to me except the auditory one. It has to be more than auditory or I will never get it. Thanks for sharing with me!

  12. bmcharnley

    oh man. my daughter is hit or miss with the engagement! i’ve been trying to find activities she likes – screen free!!

    1. Marie

      That is so hard on all of us!

  13. Aisiah

    Funny jokes and stories. Relate it to what they’re doing for the day… It keeps them awake and waiting for more. Sometimes they would hardly remember the lesson but the funny jokes and stories you relate it to will remind them.

    1. Marie

      You are absolutely right, Aisiah. That has been my exact experience with my classes. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  14. crisshex88

    Here’s how even funny jokes and stories can become a way to interact and create involvement. Thanks as always for the inspiration!

    1. Marie

      Very true, Cristina! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  15. This is such an inspiration and so helpful for parents during this time. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

  16. My son is on years old and I kind of just let him do his own thing in order to stay ENGAGED on things. I know if I tell him NO a bunch, a scene will be had and things will become stressful. Letting him do what he wants (safely) has been working well.

    1. Marie

      It will also help him to further develop his creativity! Good job, MOM!

  17. Jessica Collazo

    Well I have a toddler and the way I get her to engaged is by showing her bright colors and blocks. She loves to see bright color pictures she loves to play with her blocks and she loves music.

    1. Marie

      That is perfect, Jessica. The more you use things she loves, the more memorable the lessons will be!

  18. Tessa

    This is great. The only kids I engage with on a regular basis are my friends kids and my nephews, but I know you’re right that it takes a lot of work. Your experience is priceless in this area, and your energy to come with with solutions is impressive!

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Tessa. Sometimes that energy is in short supply, though! It’s a matter of keeping my mind on it, the body will usually follow, as well as seeing the happiness of the kids.

  19. A R

    It is important to keep kids engaged. I love how you talk about not just your own kids, but any in your daily life. I do have my own kids but it always touches me heart when others engage my own children and I try to reciprocate when given the opportunity.

    1. Marie

      I totally agree with this!!! Kids respond well to anybody who is willing to show them that they care about them!!!

  20. World In Eyes

    The management of kids is an art and one MOM can do this job and other Pre-Nursery and Nursery class teacher can perform this job very well…. Your post is very mu useful for both of these actors for to keeping kids engaged….

    1. Marie

      You are right, Teerath. It works in any setting that there are people taking care of kids and educating them. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  21. This is such a great article! It is surprising how children need different approaches. It isn’t like when I was a child, or even before me! There is so much diversity in our society now, let alone different personality types, teachers are really stretched thin on how they engage individually with students. Parents, too, have to learn personality types as it isn’t “what dad and mom says goes” anymore.

  22. chad

    I don’t have kids so I am not speaking from experience but I think there is a lot of healthy ways to keep kids productively engaged! In my opinion, giving them iPads all the time is not healthy.

    1. Marie

      You are very right, Chad. 🙂

  23. The challenge is real! I teach a weekly music class on Thursday nights. The families pay for their children to attend, so if they aren’t interested, they aren’t coming… As you said, the best way to keep everyone’s attention from week to week is to find something that speaks to each of their individual personalities, interests and styles. It’s not easy, it’s far from easy, but it’s so worth it! I love working with my kids!

    1. Marie

      You are totally right about all of that, Britt! I had the same experience with my kids club classes. It was extracurricular and depended on the kids’ desire to attend as well as the parents’ desire to schlep them there. I always had great groups of kids and parents, and many times had huge class sizes and excited students and parents.

  24. Nyxinked

    I think my sister is struggling to keep her students engaged. She chats with them during online classes and they just don’t seem interested or can’t concentrate. There are a good few that come from broken homes so she has her work cut out.

    1. Marie

      I am sorry for the situation your sister is in. I think that it was unfair for the people in charge to force the parents, kids, and teachers to throw themselves into a system that wasn’t prepared and can’t replace normal school as it is currently in place. There is just too much going on to be very successful at this and it has put way more stress on everybody worldwide.

  25. littlemisadvencha

    You are an inspiration – doing a great job keeping all those kids engaged. Although I couldn’t relate yet, but you are inspiring me to become one like you. 🙂

    1. Marie

      Once you start working with kids and loving on them, they will start loving you back. And then you will be truly motivated when you can see the good that you can pour into their lives!

  26. Amanda

    My kids range in age from 21 down to 2 years old and I think these tips are great for any/all of them! Thanks for the post!

    1. Marie

      I have a 20 year age range in my kids–28 down to 8!

  27. Kristyn

    It can definitely be difficult to keep my daughter engaged, but for the most part she is doing well with the transition.

    1. Marie

      Kids are very resilient! Enjoy your extra time with her!

  28. Norma

    This was super fun to read especially because I need ideas since my kids are sitting on their butts all day long.

    1. Marie

      In spite of me knowing all of this, it is still sometimes a struggle to get my boys off their computers!

  29. solrazo.com

    Spending time with them actually makes them engaged, it’s a great motivation for them to be ‘in’ with what you’re doing or what you want them to do.

  30. Cindy nico

    It is very difficult to keep children of all ages engaged. We have to teach them about the new way of staying home and home schooling.

  31. Christine Weis

    Keeping kids engaged is so important. I find that the best way to do this is by giving kids choices and have them do lots of hands-on activities that allow them to ask questions, explore, and take charge of their own learning. When they are interested about what they are learning, they are far more engaged. The way teachers deliver content is important too.

  32. Ben

    These are great suggestions. I was a terrible student. Not only did I just hate school, but I had the attention span of a gnat. It is HARD to keep kids engaged.

  33. Brianne

    I’m so glad I came across this! I’ll be doing homeschooling again this year with my kids, and my son tends to get super bored.

  34. TheHappyMommie

    I have a 3 year and a 1 year old so thankfully they keep each other busy most of the time, but sometimes I am lost, I can so relate to this post, thanks for sharing it 😊

    1. Marie

      I am glad it was helpful for you! Feel free to check other posts that will work well with your children!

  35. Lyosha

    Great tips! I don’t have kids yet but I do struggle with attention from my nieces when I babysit them

  36. Kathy Kenny Ngo

    I engage my son over dinner and after dinner when we bond over a TV show that we both love. It’s one way that I’m able to ensure there’s engagement between us and how he can stay on track with other things.

  37. Bright snow Loveland

    It’s very difficult to entertain kids, but getting crafty stuff always helps. Especially at home.

  38. Steven

    Aha, I would have totally just gone with video games but I can see clearly, really good insight here.

  39. Czardilyn Buyawe

    I have 2 girls at home and they are so active and also keeping them engaged is so important.

  40. Rose Ann Sales

    Nice topic! I would share this to my friends.

  41. Pearl

    This would really come in handy when the school starts. My two small daughters are already trying to do things on their own but for my eldest son, I’m having a hard time trying keeping him engaged in doing school work.

  42. tweenselmom

    Keeping children engaged is definitely important for them to be able to learn new things and develop new skills! I’ve been giving my kids some activities as well that could help them, thanks for sharing these tips with us!

  43. Heather

    I have a hard time keeping my own kids engaged, so I can’t imagine how much work it is to keep an entire classroom full of kids engaged.

  44. Kuntala Bhattacharya

    I love reading your articles, especially at these trying times when we are struggling to keep the kids engaged. Craft is a good activity, then drawing and maybe asking them to write something good and interesting. Your articles are beneficial for the teachers too.

  45. Heidi

    This is filled with great advice!

  46. Keeping them focused and engaged can be challenging. But the music makes my kids really happy. So, I include music everywhere where it’s possible.

  47. Chei

    I am a full time mom and a full time virtual assistant and i am lucky that my kids are very obedient and very smart.

  48. Fabulous Perks

    This was such a great read. I’m still trying to figure things out for the upcoming school year for my boys.

  49. Ambuj Saxena

    I have only one niece back home and she is quite disciplined. Instead, she takes care of the entire family and pays heed to everyone’s requirements! But yes she does need some constructive mode of distraction to stay that way!

  50. Melanie williams

    You are so right…they are worth it and we should invest in them as they are our future too x

  51. Kristy Bullard

    My kids tend to get distracted easily, but they focus better when we’re doing something that interests them. They also love hands-on activities.

  52. Emman Damian

    This is an inspirational posts for mothers and fathers that want their kids engaged. I think we should also know the kids’ interests so that we know how can they be engaged.

  53. Kiwi

    Wow you have eight kids???! So interesting how both of your daughters who were 10 yrs apart had identical personality traits but boys drastically different.

  54. Jasmine Martin

    It can be difficult to keep kids engaged in their studies, especially within the turn of parents moving towards homeschooling this year. By finding something they’re interested in, it’ll definitely make learning easier for them because they’ll feel connected as well as involved.

  55. Bree

    Having 3 kids I do find this post very inspiring. I try to listen to my kids and I notice they respond better when I do.

  56. Elizabeth O

    You are right, all kids have needs that are individualized and we need to meet them carefully. Blending activities and small group work that offers variety is very important.

  57. Ntensibe Edgar

    In my opinion, them playing around with their friends or me is very good. This is because they spend close to 14 weeks at school, very immersed in their classes without much play.

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