When I am planning a curriculum, unit of work or a lesson, I always like to think of myself as a disaffected 6 year old who doesn’t see the point of coming to school. I am sure that in your career you will have come across at least one of those children.
Why do I do this? Because if you can engage them, then you’re pretty much guaranteed to engage all the rest.
One simple way to engage your children is to find out what makes them tick. What we are after here are those things, ways of being, or experiences, that make their eyes light up and bring them joy. Ask them what they love doing, or how they like to be when they are not at school, and then just sit back and listen. Talk to parents and ask them what makes their child tick – it’s a lovely thing to be asked as a parent, and a great way to increase parental involvement.
If you wanted to find out what makes me tick, whatever we did would have to be fun, creative, have some outdoor element and involve big bits of paper and felt tip pens!
Children I’ve listened to talked about Stars Wars, Lego, reading, dancing, words, climbing trees, sport, animals, crafts, pets, cycling, cooking and music, amongst many others, as the things which make them tick.
Once you’ve taken the time to find out what makes your class tick, you can use this information in lots of ways:
- Building rapport
- Guided reading texts
- Basing your lessons around what interests your children
- Simply adding to displays or worksheets to grab their attention
- Doing science investigations that are interesting to them e.g. can you free Elsa/Darth Vader from the ice? (So much more exciting than watching an ice cube melt!)
- Class novels/story books
- Curriculum hooks and outcomes
I was once working with a group of Y3 boys who were really not keen on writing, and whose attainment was low. I listened to what made them tick, and learned they liked being outside, climbing trees, being with their friends, sport, wrestling and superheroes. Their topic was Ancient Greeks and the teacher wanted them to write Greek myths. After some discussion, the school bought in the services of an outdoor practitioner who designed an Greek Hero Day with lots of physical and mental challenges for the class. I went back a few weeks later to see the boys in question, and was astounded to hear them retelling Greek myths with great excitement, precision and clarity, and also to read their writing which they were now motivated and able to do after they had a real-life experience to refer to. Amazing!
Finding out what makes your children tick is such a simple thing that can make a huge difference. Try it, because I am pretty sure that no child ever feels joy when they have to ‘sit on the carpet!’