Do your students have trouble staying on task or focusing for the full session?? Then maybe its time to spice up your lessons. When we think ‘tutoring’ we typically think of table top activities, worksheets and computer programs. But there’s no reason your teaching must be confined to the chair (not unless the parents say so). Try some of these simple ideas to get your students back on track:
- Location! Location! Location! Something as simple as a change in location can wake a student up and make learning more exciting again. If the parents allow, try taking your sessions out into the sunshine on an outdoor table and chairs or sitting picnic style on the grass. Fresh air is a great stimulator for the brain and can help improve concentration.
- Get creative! Think of new and exciting ways to present the same old material. The harsh reality is that practice makes perfect, but that doesn’t stop some topics getting oldreally quickly. When trying to come up with new ways to present work, think of different materials you can use and no I don’t mean different types of worksheets. Try giving some of the following a go:
- Writing spelling words on the concrete in chalk, in a tray of shaving cream, out of playdough, with alphabet magnets or on the bathroom mirror in whiteboard marker.
- Print off your student’s favourite superhero or cartoon character and write a mathematical sum in every little section that they get to colour in once they answer that section correctly
- Hide print offs of your student’s sight words around the house and get the student to run around the house and find them. Reading them out as they discover them.
- Get the family involved. Nothing better to motivate a student to do their homework like a little friendly sibling competition. Get siblings to play a friendly game of timetable competition. You can even get mum and dad in on the fun too and play a game of 10 facts bingo or timetable bingo.
- Get Physical. Some kids are more wriggly then others and some kids have other underlying cognitive issues that make it hard for them to sit still for long periods. So why not use that energy constructively. Make them do jumping jacks to answer mathematical questions (Number of jacks equals their answer) or get them to do a sorting relay.
- Rewards. Much like most of us wouldn’t be going to work if there wasn’t an incentive of a pay check at the end of the week. Kids aren’t going to stay motivated if there’s no incentive for them. You can find cheap and exciting rewards at K-mart or your local reject shop like superhero stickers, and cool pencils for only a dollar or two. I like to give my young students a sticker for every task they stay focused or do well and they love the excitement of trying to cover their entire exercise book in stickers to show mum and dad over the weeks. However, a reward doesn’t always have to be a tangible item. Your reward could be to play a game for the last couple of minutes of the session (preferably an educational game).
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not by any means saying avoid the table. Table top activities are an integral part of a student’s development and ability to focus and stay on task in a classroom setting. Use a couple of these ideas per session. Perhaps towards the end of the session when the student’s attention span is wearing thin or in the middle of the session to break up the class. You could also use these tactics to help extend your students ability to sit still and focus. Start off with one table top activity followed by one ‘fun activity’, then increase to two table top activities and then one reward or fun activity. Keep increasing until you your student can get through an entire session doing table top work before a final fun activity or reward at the end of the class.
I hope these tips will help you spice up your sessions Remember to always run new ideas past the parents first. Most parents will be happy to do whatever gets results. So all that’s left is for you to go get creative!
For more great tutoring tips, free teaching resources and strategies for helping your students, see the Top of the Class Tutoring Sydney website or call the office on 1300 654 746.