From time to time, I’m asked, “How do you get kids to praise during song time?” Here’s what I tell them.
Get Excited: Children won’t be excited about praise and worship time unless you are. Don’t just sing the songs, participate in praising God.
Song Choice: Song choice make a big difference. For more about how to choose songs for Praise and Worship, read my blog post Choosing Songs for Praise and Worship.
Motions: Children need to know how to express their praise using more than words. Teaching them motions is a great way to do that. Here’s some ideas for having motions with songs.
Make up your own: Some songs have natural motions that flow out of the words for the songs. Either way, try to think of motions you could do. You’ll be surprised how easy it is.
Use sign language. Another way to do motions is to use sign language. Only sign the important words or it will be too much for the children to learn easily. Here’s a couple of resources.
Buy music with motions: Some children’s music DVDs have the motions included or have instructions on how to do the motions.
Order of Songs: If your songs are chopping or don’t flow together, children will become distracted instead of being led into the presence of God. Do your song line-up in this order.
Activity Songs: Start with fast moving songs full of motions.
Praise Songs: These songs usually have a faster tempo but not always. The are an expression of approval or commendation of God. They are songs that tell us about God. They require physical action to express our praise in order to really be praise.
Worship: These songs usually have a slower tempo. They are our response to being in God’s presence. The words will be about worship God or about surrendering our will as a response to God’s love for us. At this point, you may want to tell children they don’t have to do the motions. They may want to close their eyes, raise their hands, or kneel. All of these actions are a correct response when worshipping God.
Motive: Teach children why they should worship and praise. Psalty the Songbook used to have a phrase he said on everything that came out from that ministry. “You can sing Christian songs til your blue in the face, but if it’s not from the heart, it’s not praise.” We need to teach our students that.
Here’s a great resource for object lessons that teach about praise. Their call Praise and Worship Primers.
Discipline and Attitude: This step is vital. Don’t allow any child to opt out of praise and worship. Have all the children stand and participate. Also don’t allow any comments like “I don’t like this song” or “This is dumb”. A bad attitude will ruin praise time.