Their Attention Span Is So Short!

Short attention span

One minute the preschooler is listening intently as you tell the mission story. The next minute she’s poking at the preschooler sitting next to her, no longer listening to you at all. Another preschooler makes only a few marks on a coffee filter in the Art area, and before you know it he is in the Nature area smelling the matching scents. Preschoolers have such short attention spans, and it sometimes catches us off guard. At this time of year when younger preschoolers may promote into your Mission Friends® class, you might especially notice their short attention span. This is evident in the activity time as well as during Group Time. These tips will help as you teach preschoolers in Mission Friends.

  • Remember that, generally, the younger the preschooler, the shorter her attention span.

  • Give choices of activities so preschoolers can move freely from one activity to another. Teaching through the interest areas allows the preschooler to move in and out of activities as his attention span dictates.

  • Provide activities in small groups instead of the whole group doing every activity at the same time. This allows for more individual attention to preschoolers.

  • Ask questions and direct conversation as preschoolers are involved in small group activities.

  • Provide for more than one teacher in the Mission Friends classroom. This is for safety and security reasons, and also has an impact on the quality of your Mission Friends. A lower child-to-teacher ratio allows teachers to better meet the needs of preschoolers.

  • Use activities that promote the use of listening skills. Use movement songs in which preschoolers listen for movement instructions, such as the “Follow Me Finger Play,” page 53, Sing to the Tune. Give preschoolers a word or phrase in the story to listen for in order to make a sound at that point. As preschoolers develop their listening skills, their attention span develops also.

  • Allow the preschooler to learn through his play rather than sitting in one place to “learn” what is dictated to her.

  • Plan activities that engage the preschooler in using his senses.

  • Remember to have patience and give grace to preschoolers. Remind yourself that God has patience with us all. Ask God to help you to be a loving example of our gracious God.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8 NIV1).


1Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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