Welcome to a continuing series of tips on working with large groups of children. I hope that you will find these tips useful and be able to implement them in your dealings with large groups of kids. If you do, please leave a comment and let us know. For a complete list of posts in this series, please see the index page. So, without further introduction, here is today’s installment.
One effective way to regain a child’s attention when their mind starts to wonder during your teaching is to include an abrupt change in your presentation. This abrupt change can take many forms. If you’re teaching a very serious portion of your lesson, switch abruptly to something funny. If your lesson is fast pace, suddenly slow down your presentation speed. If you’re speaking loudly, drop your volume quickly to something just slightly louder than a whisper. The sharp contrast in your teaching style will have the effect of drawing the kids back into your lesson.
Along the same lines, another technique which can be very effective when used correctly is silence. Silence is a powerful thing. Most people do not care for silence and they drone on and on rather than allow a silent moment. However, in teaching a silent pause in the middle of your lesson can be very effective. It allows you to collect your thoughts. And, it allows the children some time to reflect on the lesson. In most situation silence generally means the end of what you have to say. If your silent pause is misperceived as the end of what you are going to say, the kids will be more likely to start listening again to see what comes next. Be careful though with the power of silence. If you allow your silent pause to continue on too long, you will start to lose the kids’ attention rather than gaining it.
I’m going to go practice silence right now. Until next time….