Guaranteed: Better Attention, Increased Motivation, Improved Memory

26 09 2012

Want your child to pay attention without being told? Sound too good to be true?

When I taught second graders, I found alternate ways of getting them quiet. Rather than telling them to settle down, I’d whisper to one student. Or I’d tip my rain stick. Sometimes, I’d present a concealed object hidden in a box or bag.

One day each year, I’d begin a math lesson by writing on the board, “Welcome to your first silent lesson. No one talks starting now.” Then I’d write a math problem coupling it with gestures. I’d point to the two numbers in the ones column and shrug. The students would quickly catch on. Everyone would join in by sharing silent signals. Tiny fingers would fly in the air sharing their answers.

Usually, we require students to memorize events, demand they pay attention, and hope they are motivated to learn. But, changing the way we introduce or review information can engage students more naturally…more in tune with how their brains work.

For example, novelty, curiosity, and emotions can be used to your advantage when teaching children.

Ever whisper to another adult while kids are in the room? What do the children do? They stop talking and strain to listen. They can’t resist the temptation to eavesdrop. Changing your volume got their attention. Without you having to demand it. Without you even wanting it. The unusual speaking volume didn’t go unnoticed.

All people, big and little, love to guess what’s in a gift-wrapped box. We shake it and even smell it. Why? It’s fun to predict.

Most of us remember the Chilean miners who were trapped for 68 days back in 2010. People were glued to their TVs watching the events unfold. Why? The drama resonated with us. We could imagine the horror of the miners and their loved ones. The miraculous rescue of every man erupted in celebrations around the world. The joy on their faces inflated our hearts. Almost as if we could feel their relief. Certainly, we could imagine it. We’ll never forget. Emotional experiences are memorable.

Many educators are implementing strategies recommended by brain researches. Specific methods improve student academic performance, increase motivation, minimize behavior problems, and elevate attention.

They plan activities which are: novel, interactive, structured to encourage deeper thinking, or multisensory.

In addition, they design activities which involve: physical movement, music, art, or drama.

Other beneficial lessons simulate real life, engage students’ emotions, spark healthy competition, challenge students’ perceptions, include storytelling and anecdotes, provide opportunities for students to make choices, or give time for reflection of new concepts.

Click on the link belowfor your list of those strategies. Pick one category each week and plan an activity.

Brain research for parents