“1-2-3- all eyes on me…”
“I’m only going to say this ONE TIME…”
“I like how Joe and Cindy are paying attention…”
“Everyone who is seated and ready is getting a sticker…”
Whether we are teaching or parenting, we all want kids to pay attention! However, sometimes, their ability to focus is elusive. It’s important to recognize that improving kids’ attention to task often has more to do with our behavior than with theirs. As we interact with children and teens, we can improve the likelihood that they’ll absorb what we’re saying by offering a preview so they know what to expect.
Consider the title of this blog, for example. “Five Ways to Get Kids to Pay Attention.” Articles with numbered lists are ALL over the blogosphere these days…just scroll through twitter or Facebook and you’ll easily find several at first glance…from “10 Things Your Doctor Wishes You Knew” to “Four Steps to a Happy Family.” We like information to be organized for us, and when we see titles like these, we know that the information will likely be listed in an easy-to-read format.
When you read the title of this blog, for example, you likely anticipated a rather succinct article with five key strategies. You might have asked yourself, “I wonder if I use any of those strategies?” or thought, “I could use a few new tricks for helping kids…” You also had the number 5 in your mind…this gave you an idea of how long this article would be so you could gauge how much time you might need. Finally, you drew on your past experience, knowing that you would likely be able to remember a list of 5 things, and you could also relate new information to what you already know.
So…this article ISN’T really going to give you “5 Ways To Get Kids To Pay Attention.” It’s going to give you just one…when you are giving directions or teaching, considering using a number to get kids’ attention and help them anticipate instruction:
“Today we are going to learn about the THREE branches of government”
“You need TWO things for group work: your pencil and your workbook.”
“This morning, we’re going to learn FOUR ways to obey God.”
” TWO things: brush your teeth and put your laundry in the hamper.”
Wishing you infinite success in your teaching and parenting today!