Getting and holding a child’s attention can be no mean feat, but the wonderful thing is, most children actually love the same things. When you tap into what kids love, educating them can become a fun activity and one they’ll remember. First up though, listen to your own delivery and make sure everything you have to say is in a warm and enthusiastic voice.
As long as your activity allows them to move and explore you’re half way there.
Young children see the wonderment in everything; it’s all fresh and new and exciting. It’s us grown-ups that have become older and take things for granted. If you’re prepared to play the fool, pull faces and run around with children they’ll love you for it, and they’ll joyfully copy you. Follow the leader, using music and movement to tell a story.
Everything can become a game and if there are no right or wrong ways to play, but opportunities to explore you will watch some novel approaches to discovery. Most activities can be turned into a game to see just how well they can do something. Make it an individual challenge with a little fun twist. It’s best if they are not competing with others, just with themselves. For example, you could measure a hop and see how many hops it takes to cover a certain distance. The twist is they have to choose and hold a silly face for the whole distance. Making sure it’s a friendly competition with no real losers, or there will be tears and even tantrums.
Children learn best of all by doing and doing it repetitively. They love to be involved in what’s going on including having you read a favourite book. If they’re joining in with the noises and actions, they will be engaged in the story. They respond well to trying things for themselves so if you’re potting plants or planting seeds, give them some of their own to try.
So much of children’s playtime has been absorbed by computer games and your interaction with them is a chance to take them out of the virtual world and into real life experiences. They especially love to taste, touch and smell things. If it’s possible to introduce them to live animals, real bush, live (but safe) creepy crawlies you will get so much more enthrallment than from reading a book about it or seeing a video clip. Edible gardens, milking a cow, cracking nut shells; it’s all part of human experience. Crafts and science experiments, growing things and role-playing with dress-ups, it’s all part of the engagement we seek.
Do it all in vibrant colour, and you will delight them even more as kids love bright colours and are naturally drawn to them.
Children love a well-told story, and the best teachers are good storytellers. Neuro-marketing research has proved our brains remember stories better than anything else, as you are working their imaginations. If the story is telling a valuable life lesson or even explaining something about science or history, storytelling is the most entertaining and memorable way to deliver it.