Surprisingly, one of the hardest and most frustrating things about being a teacher is when children in your class don't concentrate. Whether it's because they are fidgeting, looking out the window or drifting into space, it's not always easy to get children to sit up and listen. Inversely, a room full of rapt, engaged children is one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching. So if you need a few pointers in getting them to concentrate, read on for our top four hacks.
1. Go for a run
Children of all ages, but particularly younger children, have more energy than they know what to do with. Whether it's the energy of a four-year-old boy who simply can't sit still, or the nervous energy of a Year 10 pupil, worried about friendship clashes or GCSEs, this additional energy can cause problems in the classroom and make children fidget, which in turn reduces concentration. Before you start your morning lesson, take your class for a run around the playground. This doesn't necessarily have to be free play time, but an actual jog, say two laps on Monday, working up to 10 laps on a Friday, the day pupils are most likely to be extra fidgety.
2. Make your lessons more visual
Use visual aids to give children something to look at and change them frequently. Whether it's on a projector, LCD screen or just what you put on the board, talking for long periods of time without providing visual stimulation is highly likely to reduce concentration.
3. Split learning into smaller blocks
If you have a particularity bad class when it comes to concentration, think about splitting blocks of learning into smaller chunks. Rather than an hour of phonics, make it 30 minutes and do 30 minutes in the afternoon. This approach to teaching takes a lot of organisation and depends on having good teaching assistants, ready to help move swiftly to the next block of learning, but it does stop pupils drifting off into space.
4. Reward concentration
Reward good concentration rather than punish poor concentration. This tried and tested model of behaviour management works for everything and there's no reason it won't work for this either. At the end of each session give a sticker to the child who you think has listened most intently, or simply one who has improved their listening and made a good effort.
These simple hacks represent small changes that have big effects on the classroom. Not only will better concentration improve the learning experience of the individual, but of the class as a whole.