December is almost here.
Amidst the distractions of decorating, gift shopping and giving, parties – and maybe even helping mom bake goodies – there is still time for skills and techniques to be perfected.
But the distractions are so appealing! Glitter, snowflakes, bows and ribbons or gifts and powdered sugar on cookies! Who can resist?
For that precious time that you have them in class, how do you keep your students from allowing their focus to wane?
This “gap” between holidays could actually be valuable as a time to evaluate where a student is as they move into a new year. You can focus on individual student progress and setting goals for where that student should be before spring arrives.
Staying on track in doing this is important so that your students can come back after winter break with fresh excitement.
Nothing will be more frustrating for students than unclear instructions or goals. They’re on the verge of distraction when they enter your center, so don’t give them a reason for giving up on the promise of excitement that lured them in.
The types activities that you know lure them into engagement are the best to plan for between-the-holidays classes. Have a purpose for each class. Have one build onto another, if you’d like.
It’s also great if you use activities that excite you because your enthusiasm will transfer to them and keep them into the class instead of into which cookies they will sneak from the cooling racks when they arrive at home!
Don’t remind them.
If you don’t want them to focus on the fact that they are between breaks with holidays filled with distractions, do not put reminders in front of them. Never put a big calendar on the wall so you can draw big X’s on the dates as the days pass until they are set free to indulge in every distraction they meet. If you let them, they will get mesmerized by the dwindling of the days – and at that point – you’ve lost them.
Eyes on them.
Keep your observation skills at their keenest! If you feel the pulse of the class slow, make sure you have some re-energizing tricks up your sleeve to keep them focused. You need to keep their eyes on the prize, so to speak. Maybe it’s by setting goals to reach during the class or a friendly competition.
Watching and adjusting means that you also need to be flexible. If energy starts to seep out of your students, you may need to switch out one plan for another for the last part of the class. It will all work out for the best if your switch re-energizes your students!
Even if your students are working hard, make it fun. After all, if they’re given the chance, they can probably quickly name ten fun things they could be doing instead.
Taking on something new requires concentration and focus so that makes introducing newness perfect for keeping students engaged. This can also be a competition – or maybe even a game. It could include new music or a familiar favorite. It could even combine several of these! Be sure to recognize their success with new challenges! It makes your students feel good to be recognized for their hard work.
Music is a powerful tool. You can completely change the mood, energy level and attitude of a class by simply changing the music. You may even be able to make the changing music part of what keeps students engaged.
What’s the bottom line?
Students generally stay engaged if you’re fostering a wholesome environment in class, providing fresh and exciting lessons and activities and making each child feel appreciated.