According to research, the average attention span of a child is just two to three minutes per year of their age. As an educator, that can be challenging to manage, especially when your pupils have varied ages. Admittedly, some children may face various issues, including depression, which can affect their attention. Fortunately, adopting the right strategies can create an engaging learning environment and foster an effective and enjoyable learning experience. Here are a few you can consider.
1. Stimulate curiosity
Children are naturally curious beings; therefore, you can find it easy to tap into their innately inquisitive minds. That is a great way to keep them engaged for the period you want them to. Depending on the age distribution in the class, it would be best to start lessons with thought-provoking questions or fascinating anecdotes. Even with children as young as five or six years, the intriguing facts you present at the beginning of a lesson can spark their interest. For example, when teaching a young class about marine life, an intriguing fact about turtles will make them give you their full attention. Begin the lesson by including that turtles don’t have teeth to eat; instead, they have serrated ridges inside their mouths to tear or pick up food. With such an intriguing fact, the class will likely want to hear more about the lesson on marine life. In this case, it is your responsibility to research much more to keep the class excited and engaged for longer.
2. Make learning interactive
An interactive lesson is crucial for maintaining attention. If you are using the curiosity strategy, as discussed earlier, you need to find something else to maintain the class’s focus. Interactive learning means you find ways and means to get the class to actively participate in the lessons being delivered. That includes incorporating hands-on activities, group discussions, and interactive games into the lessons. These methods encourage children to engage with the subject matter and make it more practical. It promotes deeper understanding and makes learning more enjoyable. Remember that your interactive strategies will vary depending on the ages of the children in the class. That is also when it’s advisable to group them according to their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and so on. As an experienced educator, you must focus on creating these divisions without the children feeling discriminated against. They may be too young to know about discrimination, but they can sense any unconscious bias around them. Some children are vocal about their emotions and may communicate how some class decisions make them feel. In such cases, lend a listening ear so you know how you can help them through that.
3. Incorporate visuals into lessons
Visual aids often work wonders in capturing children’s attention. Colorful charts, diagrams, pictures, or videos complementing your teaching can make your job easier. Visuals make the content more appealing while reinforcing key concepts that enhance comprehension. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. However, it shouldn’t be still images alone because motion pictures have proven their prowess in education.
Also known as moving images, many preschools to higher classes incorporate this strategy into lesson delivery. The trick is to keep the educational videos short – preferably five to ten minutes for each. Any longer than that and the children in class might get bored. Moreover, research in the education sector has also revealed that shorter videos are more effective and tolerated among kids.
4. Use varied teaching techniques
The secret to varying teaching techniques is preventing monotony and sustaining interest. Children get bored easily, and with a formal classroom setting, the chances of losing their interest are even higher. Experienced teachers say varying your technique can make children see you as exciting and fun. If you’ve ever wondered why children have their favorite teachers, this is one of the reasons. The question now is, why do children get bored easily? Studies say it is due to their limited attention span and the need to experience something different in short intervals. So, you can alternate between lecturing, storytelling, role-playing, and multimedia presentations in the classroom. Even as an adult, these techniques keep you on your toes and stop you from getting bored. In effect, different learning styles help accommodate the diverse needs of your students, keeping them involved in the learning process.
5. Establish clear goals and expectations in the classroom
Children are more likely to stay focused when they understand the purpose of a lesson and what you expect of them. Communicating clearly and breaking down weekly learning objectives and the desired outcomes is important. It would help if you did this at the beginning of each lesson. Even in a classroom of preschoolers, this can be done if you express yourself as simply as possible. First, break the tasks into manageable steps and provide a roadmap that guides them towards achieving the set goals. The clearer the message, the higher the positive outcomes, so feel free to consider this. As the classroom leader, these goals and expectations align with the lessons’ quality. Therefore, always make a conscious effort to stay on top of your game. That is where your teachers lesson plans can prove helpful, being an effective guide to facilitate your lessons.
6. Inject fun elements often
Learning can be an exciting and joyful experience, and injecting fun elements into your lessons can significantly boost classroom engagement. Incorporate games, challenges, and reward systems that encourage friendly competition, collaboration, and active participation. Celebrating individual and group achievements in the classroom creates a positive and supportive classroom environment. In this space, children will feel motivated and excited to be in school to learn. As a tutor or educator, you are responsible for creating a memorable classroom experience. Your role goes beyond imparting formal knowledge, and you must incorporate different emotional, psychological, social, and physical elements to make the classroom worth coming to.
7. Use real-world connections in your lessons
One effective way to capture children’s attention is by showing them how these learning concepts apply to the real world and how they live. Connect the subject to practical examples, events, or personal experiences. Even young children can relate to some real-world connections you make in class. You will be amazed to learn that even their playground activities hold little lessons that can resonate with them in your attempt to explain a concept. For example, when explaining the concept of teamwork, you can use their playground activities with friends to make the subject relatable. Undoubtedly, this type of content automatically ignites children’s curiosity and provides relatable situations to enhance learning. It will also make it easier for these lessons to stick in their minds. One way to succeed is to factor real-world connections into your teachers’ lesson plans. That way, you will constantly be reminded to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
8. Create a positive and supportive classroom culture
A positive and supportive classroom culture can go a long way in keeping your students engaged and sustaining their attention. Remember that some children already feel apprehensive about the formal classroom setting. Such feelings may trigger anxiety and other negative attachments to school. Therefore, you must create an encouraging classroom culture that fosters inclusivity and respect. Moreover, children who no longer feel apprehensive about the classroom will feel less stressed to engage with you and their peers in the classroom. Many of these children will feel safe expressing their thoughts and ideas without fear of ridicule. Additionally, children from problematic households will start to see school as a haven.
The question now is, how do you create a supportive and positive classroom culture? You can start by promoting collaboration and active listening in class. Remember to teach children about empathy and tolerance. These elements help children feel valued and supported, so feel free to consider this.
9. Provide opportunities for choice and autonomy
Every child deserves to enjoy some degree of autonomy over their learning. In other words, your students want to have a sense of control over their school activities. That is where choice comes into the picture. This step does not necessarily mean you are giving them full control over everything regarding their studies. On the contrary, it is an excellent strategy to engage children in school and make them feel responsible and more involved. Allow your students to select from different assignments or projects that interest them. Doing this will require a great deal of lesson flexibility. Indirectly, you will learn about their passions, strengths and weaknesses, which are details you will need to plan lessons to suit individual student needs. The exciting part about this is that students feel motivated to do better when given a chance to take ownership of their learning journeys.
Last, but not least, you can rely on technology to engage children’s attention in school. Educational apps, interactive websites, and virtual simulations are a few examples of how to succeed with this. Technology is dynamic, so keeping up with the times is important.