In my last article I wrote about the importance of the teaching loop. In this article, I want to discuss the details of each, specifically on how to get and maintain your child’s focus and attention to the lesson that he/she is learning.
1. Gaining Attention
In the first step of the teaching loop, you need to alert your child’s attention to what you’re about to teach her. Whatever method you use, it needs to be interesting and related to the lesson. Here are some things you could try:
- State an analogy or ask a question
- Read a book or a passage from a book
- Use manipulatives, models and mind maps
- Show a photograph or images
- Solve a problem or display a prop
- Quote someone famous or quote some amazing statistics
- Sing a nasheed
- Tell a story or read some interesting words from the topic
These are a few examples. You could use almost anything, just as long as you remember that it needs to be interesting to draw your child’s attention to the task.
2. Staying Focused
Once you have your child’s attention, you need to keep it, so you can teach him the lesson. It’s no use teaching when your child’s mind is not focused on you. So how do you keep your child’s attention from wandering away from having an extremely interesting lesson all the time?
- Rewarding attention is like catching your child when he’s done something good and praising him. So when you see that your child is paying attention, reward his behavior by giving him attention. Say something like, “Alhumdulillah, you’ve really paid attention to what I was saying!”
- Remove all distractions such as phones, electronics and disruptions from him or other children.
- Take short breaks often to re-energize and learn at a time when your child is not tired.
3. Continuing On-Task
To get your child to do her learning task, you will need to make the learning interactive and the learner active. This means that your child needs to be active in doing the learning and not passively receive the information. There are several ways you can make the learning active,
- Include project-based learning
- Role playing
- Experiential instructions (games, model building, field trips, field observations, conducting experiments, work experience and case study)
- Discussion questions
- Free writing
- The use of technology
- Movement activities
Another way to keep your child on-task is to take short 10 minute breaks after every 50 minutes (depending on age). When your child has a chance to rest her mind, she’ll come back refreshed and eager to learn again. Exercising during this time will also refresh a child’s mind as it increases oxygen to the brain.
4. Keeping On-Track
To let your child know that he is doing a great job attending and focusing,
- Give him positive feedback by highlighting his efforts as well as his abilities.
- For tasks that your child needs to improve upon, use interactive modelling to show your child how it should be done.
- Have your child practice that particular behaviour straight after you model it then give him immediate feedback on how he did.
The four steps to get your child to focus on learning, correspond with the teaching loop’s four step process. To get your child’s attention and focus, is very important for effective learning to take place. It’s very hard to learn anything if your child’s mind wanders. To read more on this topic go to the free Teaching Techniques Summary Sheet on my website, where I summarise all of the teaching techniques in each of these stages.