All groups of kids are different! In your group you may have kids that love to talk…and talk and talk! You may have kids who prefer to keep quiet or are really shy. You may have kids who seem to only want to talk with their best friend. There will be all kinds of kids in your small group/class. Do your best to involve all of them during application time.
Set up an environment that makes kids comfortable and is a place where they can share. If you can, have application time in a different place from the lesson. That can mean simply moving from the table to a circle on the floor. Let your group know from the beginning that during application time you want them to talk!
It’s important to have ground rules for application time. For example, we don’t interrupt when someone is talking; we don’t make fun of people; we show respect for everyone in the group.
Try not to let certain kids dominate the conversation. Let your talkative kids talk, but remind them that everyone gets a chance to share during application time. If necessary, have a word with them privately. Ask them to help you by sharing and then letting other kids share as well. Ask if they would help keep the conversation going by saying after they have shared, “What do you think?” to another person in the group.
Encourage quiet or shy kids to contribute. In one Sunday School class I taught I had a student who was excessively shy. She could go for an entire class without saying anything. But she was engaged and interested and wanted to be more involved. So we worked out a system. She would usually sit by me and if she had something she wanted to share, she would whisper in my ear. Then I would ask if I could share it with the rest of the group. If she said yes, then I would. If not, then I would just thank her for sharing and move on.
If you have kids in your group that are more interested in talking to each other than participating in the group discussion, there are couple of options. Talk with them privately. Remind them of the importance of application time and let them know that you want them to participate. Tell them that if what they are talking about with their friend can’t be shared with the entire group then it is something they will need to save to talk about until after Sunday School. Also, let them know what will happen if they persist in talking only to each other during application time. The best option is probably to just separate them. Tell them that it will be for one Sunday. The next Sunday is a new day and they have a new chance to participate in the group discussion. Another way to tell with this without focusing on certain kids is to assign places for application time.This way you can choose ahead of time where kids will sit. You can separate best friends or put kids you want to keep an eye on close to you.
Application time is such an important part of Sunday School. We want our kids to respond to the truth taught in the lesson. We pray for the Holy Spirit to work change and transformation in the lives of our students. This is why it is so important to involve all your students in the application time discussion.