Tricks to Sustain Attention-Span in Classes

Dr. Purushothaman
October 2, 2013

Children often have low attention span as they are easily distracted. Sustaining their attention is a challenge for them as well as for their teachers. One needs to understand the dynamics of communication which takes place between the sender and the recipient of the message. The essence of what the teacher is explaining has to be something which children or students can relate to otherwise the mind naturally wavers and even if efforts are made by students to pay complete attention to the teacher, they fail. Explaining complex concepts in simple terms is what the teacher needs to master. It is important not to assume that a particular subject is easy. Let us say that a teacher assumes that addition is easy because it is a simple operation. Children do not find it easy because they do not have the benefit of the learning experience that the teacher has had. This means that a teacher cannot be on a higher plane than a student. This is taken for granted as a teacher is expected to know what he/she is teaching. What is important is transferring that learning experience to the audience of learners.

There are ways of sustaining the attention span of students. Give breaks from time to time for students to take a breather. Crack pleasant jokes as humor is very refreshing and it prevents a class from appearing pedantic. Ensure that these breaks do not affect the rhythm of the class. Never assume that some topics are easy and can be completed quickly. You are then not on a level playing field with your students. Give examples from everyday life so that students can relate to what you are teaching through your correlations. Play some memory games just to refresh the mind. Students struggle to pay attention and on many occasions, it is due to their fear of ‘forgetting’. Belief in one’s memory comes with playing memory games. Once students develop faith in their memory then a heavy burden is taken off their shoulders.

If you are using slides to teach then do not have too many words in the slides especially when your audience comprises of children. There are enough studies to show that visuals help in sustaining attention. Apply some mind and body integration where students can actually touch what they are learning. They may then not be aware of the fact that they are paying attention as it is a natural outcome of stimuli rather than effort. Online tutors have the benefit of technology where they can use visuals to command attention without demanding it.

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