One of the most challenging things about teaching a class of 3-year-olds is holding their attention. Incorporating exercise into the lesson can help burn off wiggly energy.
Here are some tips to help:
Break your lesson into 10 minute increments and allow movement between activities. Our hour-long classes always follow a predictable schedule: coloring time sitting at the tables, prayer circle on the floor, art back at the tables, standing during music, free play (if time), closing prayer standing in a circle. Having an optional slot for free play gives you flexibility if you run over on time during one of the other activities.
Allow for creative movement. During the Welcome Song, we invite each child to get up and dance (or not) when we call their name. For music, we often march through the classroom or roar as animals for songs like “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
Ask for helpers. Wiggly kids often make the best assistants. Let them wipe down the board or put away the crayons. Giving them a special job raises their self-esteem and helps to keep them focused and engaged.
Get silly. Don’t be afraid to crack animated jokes. One of my favorites? Hold your hands in prayer and then turn them sideways, wiggle them, and ask, “Do we use our prayer hands to swim like a fish?”. The kids always answer with a resounding “No!”
Hold hands. We stand in a circle and hold hands during closing prayer. This is often a tricky time – the kids have been with us for an hour and they are tired and restless. Holding hands connects us as a group. Catechists and helpers can stand between rowdy children or take the hands of any weepy ones.
Remember that the kingdom belongs to little ones like these. Enjoy your class and have fun!