Kids have a short attention span. The minute they drift off, though, they lose valuable learning time. It’s hard enough to get your students to pay attention at the beginning of the class. But sitting through lessons all day takes its toll. At some point, their attention will wane. You’ll want to find ways to increase student engagement and participation in your classes. Here are some helpful ways to get your students to focus on the task and pay attention.
Start with a Warm-Up
Diving straight into the lesson isn’t going to get your students interested, not for long. What you can do is start the class with an activity. That will get them moving and grab their interest. By using an action to generate excitement, you engage them right from the start. Developing that level of excitement also means they’ll likely stay engaged throughout the rest of the class. That’s a common tactic that teachers at excellent international schools in Tokyo use.
Ask the kids to perform simple exercises. Get them to do a couple of jumping jacks to improve circulation. That will prevent them from feeling lethargic, especially if your sessions happen in the afternoon after they’ve already sat through a couple of classes. A light exercise before you ask them to open their learning materials will kill time and help the kids focus.
One other way to get the kids to stay engaged is to encourage them to work together. Isolation is an ever-present challenge in many of the virtual classrooms these days. As the pandemic continues, kids are adapting to online classes. But many of them feel isolated from the group. That lack of connection compromises engagement. By getting students to work together, you make it possible for them to reach out to each other. You can make your students feel less alone. That’s one way to get them to start paying attention in class. When they start caring for their classmates, when they start caring for what happens, that’s when you know you’ve succeeded.
Be Clear with Instructions
When you give out instructions, make sure you’re clear and specific. Sometimes kids don’t follow because they don’t understand, not because they’re unruly or don’t want to. That’s why you must explain everything. When you’re sure that you and your students are on the same page, then that’s when you hold them accountable for their actions.
Run a Tight Ship
If you’re going to give out instructions, having a system or method helps. Inform the class that they need to pay attention to. They need to be quiet. And they need to listen. Once you’re done with the instructions, allow them to ask questions for clarifications. Then over the next few weeks, remind them what you expect of them. Running a tight ship also helps you keep your students engaged.
Mix It Up
Using the same style, the same type of warm-ups or activities can get boring fast. Always find a way to mix them up or try out new activities that your students might love.