It's so important to have a chance to get ready to enter the story before the story is told.
In our church, the kids meet in the game room before going to their Sunday school classes. There they eat doughnuts and drink juice, play pool and air hockey, and chat with friends. They have a great time. Needless to say, when it's time for Sunday school, some of them are a little pumped up.
We've set the routine of giving them time to get their wiggles out before going into the classroom. We have a doorkeeper, one of the Sunday school teachers who sits at the door and greets each child.
He or she helps them find their name card and asks them if they're ready to go inside. Sometimes they're not ready and they realize it. (This is not a punitive thing at all; it's presented as very natural. If you're not ready, you wait until you are. No problem!)
Sometimes children enter the circle and then it becomes apparent that they weren't ready after all. The teacher might say, "I'm wondering if you're ready. Would you like to go back and take a minute to get ready?" Again, this is not said with a frustrated voice, just said as an observation. Most of the time the child will settle at this point or will go outside, wait a minute and come in again. They won't want to miss anything so it doesn't usually take long to get ready!
Some other classes choose to help their children get ready in other ways. Once the children sit down, they may guide the children through getting ready. "Are you toes ready and quiet and still? Your feet? Your legs? Are your sitting bones ready? Your breathing? Your arms? Your head? Your eyes, your mouth? Let's pray together before we enter the story."
When we sit down together, the teacher sits on the floor too. This helps everyone remember that we are all in this together, ready to learn together. Both children and teachers expect to learn something. We're all seeking, waiting, and watching.
Getting ready is so important to the success of the listening, the wondering-- the whole morning. It is time well spent!