Toddlers and Preschool-aged children have a very short attention span. At their age, they are curious and eager to explore. They would shift from one activity to another activity when they get bored. One moment they are so engaged with lego blocks and the next moment, they would just go roam around the classroom and find another toy to play with. This is because learn best through hands-on activities and concrete manipulatives as they cannot yet grasp abstract concepts. Teaching this age group is not easy as the engagement should be the top-priority. If they aren’t even looking at you or not even participating, then you better look for ways that will keep the kids interested. Teachers must think carefully. How do you put all these facts into play when planning your lessons and implementing them in the classroom?
Here are ways you can do to increase engagement of toddlers and pre-school aged children:
Always set a routine.
Pre-school aged children learn best through repetition. Setting a routine will help them retain what they have learned. From going in the room, putting their bags down to washing hands until they go home. Establishing a structure is the first thing needed to do during the first month of classes. This is one of the toughest phase because school in an unfamiliar setting, which means everything is out of their comfort zone. It takes time and a lot repetition before a child can settle in.
The first month is always the crucial part and it is important to not change your schedule. You cannot change any routine or the students will get confused. One way to help the children understand a routine is through a visual schedule. Print a photo of the different activities you will be doing for a day. This will not only help them see what is expected for the day, it also help for smoother transition.
Some children can settle in fast but some may not cope even a month has passed. But that’s okay. When you set a routine, you have to be patient as this is essential in holding these children’s attention all throughout the class. Once the routine is learned, everything else will follow smoothly. However, it is a must to remind them from time to time.
Plan ahead and limit the time
Given that pre-schooler’s attention span is very short, teachers must always be prepared with series of activities for a day. On average, each activity must be limited to 10-15 minutes. It is already a big achievement if you can engage pre-schoolers for 20 minutes or more. From going in and having the kids explore and have free play to structured activities, everything should be planned. This is because when pre-schoolers get bored, they might start to wander around and we don’t want that to happen.
Teachers must also take note, when doing an activity like arts and crafts, some children may finish faster than others. Therefore, there must always be back up activities for these children so they’ll still be pre-occupied with something while waiting for others.
As you progress and you notice improvement in your pre-schoolers’ engagement and attention span, you can stretch the time limit accordingly, too. You know your students more than anyone else. So, you know how to prepare and plan for each learning day
Smooth Transition is important!
Transition is the process of shifting from one activity to another. And for the record, this is another crucial matter for pre-schoolers. If you are not able to have a proper transition, you may lose the interest of your children. If you ask your children to sit down, don’t expect them to sit down right away. If you ask them to clean up, there is no chance they will follow once asked to clean up. Having an interesting transition is a effective way. Sing a “clean up” song, have a sitting down actions, you can also use music and hand movements when doing a transition. This will help them understand that when they hear the clean up song, they would realize that “hey! It’s the clean-up song, I better keep the toys” rather than plainly asking them to clean up. Be creative! There are many ways for transition but, this should be consistent.This is proven effective! Plus, it’s actually quite fun!