Teachers’ tips to get children’s attention in class

When you e a child does not give you their full attention, it is obvious that they will miss out on what is being communicated. Sometimes they are distracted by petty stuff, like a friend’s new pair shoes, or hair styles, or they might be tired and bored. This is how you can grab their attention;

Reach out. Move towards a child who is absentminded, remind them that they are in class and they should listen to you. Do it in a humble and friendly way.

Establish eye contact. Try your best to look at children while teaching. Ask them questions of what you have taught, addressing them by their names. They will be forced to stop what they are doing and listen to you.

Be playful. You don’t have to be too serious while dealing with kids, greet them with a smile. Sing a song and let them sing along. Allow them to clap or dance as well; this is a dose that will capture their attention. Have intervals and play any game. Do not teach them continuously for one hour without a break. They will get bored.

Be welcoming. Engage children with your facial expressions, such as smiling and making eye contact. Use your body language to convey warmth and acceptance. Talk to them with a smile and be willing to listen to what they have to say.

Describe what you see. Get children’s attention by labelling objects or activities, and pointing out similarities and differences. Ask them questions to get them to look at the item and focus on the activity. Ask them challenging questions that need logical thinking. For instance, why does the sun disappear at night? Allow their answers and later give a right answer. Thank them for their contribution.

Be clear and specific. While addressing kids, be brief and straight to the point. If you are to ask a question that needs a response, let it be short and easy to understand. Repeat if they have not understood or heard. Keep directions short and simple.

Be aware of character. Some children can be easily distracted. When this is the case, speak calmly, use one-step directions. Other children are more reflective and may need a five-minute warning before they can attend to the next plan. Know each child’s behaviour.

Keep groups small. If it is hard capturing children’s attention, try working with a small group or one-on-one. Giving children undivided attention lets them know you care and that what they are saying is important.

Be clear about what you expect and offer rewards. Give instructions that you need kids to follow. If it’s time to sit, play, eat, let them follow that. When a child makes perfect work, or something nice, appreciate and reward them with small gifts, like sweets.

Give short assignments. Assign kids tasks and advise them to be done in a given period of time. For example, you can ask them to draw and shade any picture of their own or compose a song. They will be able to focus on their tasks. Remember that you are testing their creativity.

Make learning active. Allow kids to interrupt. Let them ask as many question as possible. They should be given a chance to read aloud. Let them tell a story about anything that interests them either at home or school.

Teach them how to get organised. Train kids to set reasonable goals, break them into manageable steps and keep them motivated to the end. Also, help them learn to use calendars, agenda books, to-do lists, clocks and alarms and keep a tidy and organised place.

Help them have a healthy lifestyle. Anxiety, lack of nutrient-rich foods and little sleep can quickly squeeze attention. For proper attention, children need adequate sleep, good nutrition and exercise.

Believe in them. Children need to know that they are important and their views matter. Allow their expression, and advise accordingly.

Gives class rules and regulations. Kids should know that if they are not attentive in class, they will be punished. They ought to know that when the teacher is teaching, they should be quite and listening, but not playing or talking with their neighbours. Don’t let kids who are friends sit next to each other; they might be carried away in conversation.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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