Imagine being asked to focus on a task. Also imagine your energy level is high but you are confined to a desk while having to filter off-task stimuli coming from the 30 people around you as well as from the noises and distractions outside. All of a sudden a person starts talking giving you important clues about the task at hand. Your frustration starts growing as you struggle to hear the person while unsuccessfully trying to block the distractions. This is what children have to fight off in the classroom. Therefore it comes as no surprise when learning becomes a daunting task for them.
Helping students develop good attention is the foundation of successful learning. Fortunately there are a few effective tricks teachers can use in the classroom to alleviate their pupils’ lack of attention.
1. Introduce short breaks
The breaks can be used effectively by introducing physical exercises. Research shows that exercise can boost the students’ ability to concentrate. It does so by spiking the heart rate which increases the amount of blood flowing to the brain. This in turn will strengthen their focus and counteract the lack of attention. Children are so fidgety because they feel the need to move more often than adults. One more reason the exercise is so useful is because it helps release the pent-up energy and allows them to be more focused on mental activities.
2. Break up the activities into small tasks
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. We know this from our experience as adults. We get intimidated by big tasks and we either get distracted and lose interest or postpone them indefinitely. It is always easier to break activities into small pieces which helps the brain gain momentum as we complete them. The same strategy works for children too. A smaller task is an easier task. There is nothing like easy wins to keep a child interested and paying attention. Using small tasks also means that you can add in the short breaks mentioned above. These two tricks really work best when they’re used hand in hand.
3. Minimise the number of visual distractions in the classroom
Visual stimulation is a true balancing act. Visual aids such as posters, maps and charts benefit the students only when actively used in the teaching process. Otherwise they can distract by grabbing students’ attention away from the task at hand. Consider removing them when they are not part of the lesson. Keeping children faced away from windows can also help reduce distractions. When a child’s attention level is so low anything can have an impact on their ability to concentrate. Take a look in your classroom and start by challenging the presence of each visual aid. Does it help or does it hinder the teaching process?
4. Allow the use of headphones as distraction-blockers
Unfortunately most classrooms suffer from poor acoustics due to high-traffic, noise coming from hallways, not to mention the classroom noise created by students themselves. Noise-cancelling headphones can be used to block out noise and to allow children to focus on the task on hand. Background music can also be used to drown some of these sounds.
5. Increase the volume of your voice through the use of microphones and classroom amplifiers
Low levels of attentiveness are the signs of a poor listening environment. Did you know that children under the age of 13 haven’t yet developed the brain structures that allow them to listen effectively in an environment with background noise and poor seating arrangement? It is almost unbelievable that most comprehension problems can be solved with just good classroom amplification. Using a wireless lapel or headband microphone and an amplifier will make your voice stand out loud and clear so that you won’t have to compete with background noise anymore. Have a look at our portable amplifier for classroom. Your classroom without amplification is similar to having the volume all the way down to mute. You need to crank it up a notch and let your students surprise you!
Learning and understanding are based on a good listening environment which allows pupils to focus on the tasks at hand. Start using these tricks in you classroom and let us know what improvements you notice. Do you use anything else to help with attention in your classroom?