To begin with I have always found speaking loud, shouting, screaming etc generally makes the children or even adults to follow the tone. Keeping a check on the tone is very essential. One can be audible and yet be clear when in the classroom. For e.g., to bring back a child’s attention to the classroom establishing eye contact and a simple nod without being verbal is sufficient to establish attention in the classroom. Teachers too should come in after doing some breathing exercise themselves.
Listen to your breathing. I can hear my breath, can you? Demonstrate to children by closing your eyes how when you breathe your chest goes up and down. Wow!! I could listen to my breath and I am feeling good. The teacher will have to go up to kids who require help or understand what is listening to the sound inside. Deep breathing can be done (inhaling & exhaling) four times.
Some children may not wish to close their eyes. Gently check if they are fine keeping their eyes closed. The teacher will have to goes up to the child and ensure speaks in a low voice. Not to force any kid to keep their eyes closed but reassure them it is fine as they are – reason is children feel insecure when asked to close their eyes.
Here are few attention exercises which will help children remain focused.
The children can be either standing or sitting. As a source of sound we use an old-fashioned clock, a small bell, or simply the sound of our voices. With their eyes closed, the children have to find out where the sound comes from and move their bodies to turn their faces towards it. We then move the source of sound around and the children turn to face it. We do this so that the children are trained to keep their attention on the sound.
When we do the exercise with the children sitting with their eyes closed, we ask them to point to where the sound comes from with one finger, without turning to face the sound. Because the exercise requires a dissociation between the attention and the eyes (even though they are closed), at the beginning there are children who are not able to point to where the sound comes from without facing it. When all the children are able to dissociate, we ask them to raise or lower an arm to indicate when the sound is far away or near them.
Moving attention: children love doing this.
The teacher goes to one wall of the room, the students to the opposite wall. The teacher asks the children to run towards him and then to run back, noticing how they do this. After repeating this a few times the children sit on the floor along the wall, close their eyes and the teacher says: “Now come with your mind to the place where I am. When you reach me signal by putting your band up. “When everyone has arrived we continue, “Now bring your hand down and go back to your body; when you reach it signal again by bringing your hand up once more.” After the exercise we ask for feedback from the children about what they did, how they did it and what they experienced. Now, the children realize very clearly that attention can be moved and that when the attention moves there is a physical sensation of something moving in oneself. For instance, a seven year old told us: I really felt something going away from e and then coming back on top of me. Another child of the same age said "A light was going away from me, I know it touched the other wall and I made a sign; I made a sing again when the light came back to me."
The above exercise can be done with children visiting their favourite food shop like pizza hut, KFC, Burger King etc…The teacher starts building up a story of a visit to the food shop. The children are asked to keep their eyes closed and asked to visualize the visit. They use all their five senses to use while visualizing. The aroma, the flavours, listening to the order when placed, waiting for the food to come, feeling the food through touch, tasting the food, looking around and at the food while waiting.
The children can be encouraged to visualize the classroom and the teacher in order to recollect what the teacher said during the class which the child has missed.
Make 10 different sounds like the sound of a chime, coins in the box, tapping and many other similar sounds, just once, for about 7 – 8 minutes. Then go around checking how many sounds the child was able to pick up. 6 is a good number.
Play a story on the multimedia screen. Once the screening is over check with the children if they enjoyed the story. Check for the response and say lets tell it to each other. The teacher begins the story and passes the game to next kid who will say one more line about the story. The chain continues until the story is over and all the children have said atleast one line.