Meet Chuck- Saving KidMin, One Less Distraction at a Time
“Didn’t you hear that?”
Those were the first words out of my mentor teacher’s mouth when I finished teaching my first solo lesson in her fifth grade English classroom.
Caught off-guard, I asked, “What are you talking about?”
“Marissa! She was tapping her pencil inside her desk nearly the whole block and it was driving me nuts. Didn’t you hear it?”
Nope. Not at all.
I wouldn’t label myself as undistractabe, but I think it’s safe to say that obnoxious noises, movement, and behavior by and large don’t bother me when I’m teaching. So, the all-too-familiar pockets full of Lego figurines, colorful bags brimming with stuffed kittens, and notebooks filled with doodles that appear in our children’s church space every week are far from problematic in my book.
Except when they distract the kids from Jesus.
Several months ago, at a local children’s ministry leaders networking meeting, a friend of my shared a strategy from her ministry that I have found to be a stroke of brilliance. It has been far and away one of the best solutions to distractions for us in children’s church. His name is Chuck.
Here’s the concept: I bought a colorful box at the dollar store, stuck some eyeballs on the box, and introduced him to the kids on a Sunday morning as Chuck. I tell them straight up that they are allowed to keep their toys, phones, or anything else with them, as long as it won’t distract them. But, if they think they need some help staying focused, they can “chuck” their stuff into Chuck and then get it back at the end of children’s church. There have been times where I’ve had to ask a kid to put something in Chuck, but for the most part they respect the personal responsibility and freedom I give them and make the choice that works for them.
Not convinced? Here’s what sold me: I have an elementary-aged boy in our group who has a smartphone that is practically an extra appendage. His parents can hardly get him off of the phone and convincing him to stop gaming is nearly impossible, even in church. It was a weekly battle to get him to put his phone away. But, much to my surprise, this kid loves Chuck. Now, as soon as our countdown clock ends and it’s time to get started, he walks right up to me and puts his phone in Chuck. No questions asked, no complaining. In fact, if I forget to put Chuck out, this kid reminds me because he doesn’t want his phone to distract him. Miracles do happen! J
What do you do to help kids to stay focused?