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Keeping children engaged towards the end of term

Pupils are distracted, you're stressed, and everyone needs a break. Busy Things' Rachel Hall knows how to keep everyone focused until school's out

Posted by Julian Owen | March 13, 2019 | School life

Just as children are often a lot less alert on a Friday afternoon, they can also lose concentration and become difficult to manage towards the end of term time. Excitement for the impending holidays can make it tough for students to focus, making them more likely to be disruptive during class and less engaged with their work. And that’s far from ideal when you’ve still got a lot of material left to cover before school is out — especially when you’re in sore need of a break yourself.

To help you out, I’ve put together four fun learning ideas and tips that will help to break the monotony of classroom learning and keep your students focused until the last day of term.

Put on a play

If you’re looking for something that will get your students collaborating and working together, then putting on a class play is the ideal group project. Performing in a play builds confidence, teaches public speaking skills, encourages children to use their imaginations, and helps students to work as a team. Inviting parents to a school play is also a great way to celebrate the end of term and to demonstrate the skills they’ve been learning throughout the year.

If you need some inspiration, Lazy Bee Scripts has a great selection of plays for children aged 5–12, covering a variety of educational topics. Or, if you want your play to tie in with your classroom work, create an original script based on a book or topic you’re currently studying in history or English lessons.

By introducing a few fun learning activities and switching up things in the classroom, you should have no problem keeping your children focused and productive 

Switch up the seating arrangements and encourage social working

Changing your seating plan can help to shake up typical classroom learning, especially if you think your old seating arrangement is starting to get a bit stale. Clustering desks together in small groups of four or five is a great idea, as it allows for better collaboration between pupils on group work. Many educators favour a mixed ability seating arrangement at primary level, as it’s thought that more advanced pupils can help to encourage and support those of a lower ability. If you plan to do lots of discussions or exercises together as a whole class, then arranging desks into a U-shape might work better. This also leaves the space in the centre free, ideal for seated circle time or physical games and group exercises.

If your students are spending more time chatting than working at their desks by the end of term, get them out of their seats and pair them with someone they don’t sit with for a quick-fire exercise. Or, if you’re children aren’t engaging with you and you think they really need waking up, have them come into the centre and make the game physical, perhaps by incorporating a tennis ball or by asking them to stand on one leg when it’s their turn to speak.

Bring subjects to life with interactive games

The children of today are digital natives, and often feel more at home in front of a screen or a tablet than with a pencil and paper. As educators, we spend a lot of time trying to get kids to engage with the world around them through more traditional forms of classroom learning; at this time of year, when children are easily distracted, it may make more sense to indulge their craving for fun and games on the computer. There are plenty of educational online games and activities you can use, so your students won’t even realise just how much they’re learning.

If you’re looking for something that will get your students collaborating and working together, then putting on a class play is the ideal group project

Encourage creativity with arts and crafts

Children are energetic towards the end of term, so why not channel their excitement for the holidays into some creative exercises? If you can make your activities seasonal, even better. It could be autumn leaves crafts, Christmas cards, Easter bonnets, or anything else which celebrates the season. During the warmer months, you could take the class outside and work on life drawings and landscape art, or give your pupils some pavement chalk and encourage them to create artworks on the playground. 

Remember, your students will be quick to pick up on your attitude. If you’re enthusiastic and excited about your arts and crafts, then your students will be too. So, even if you’re feeling worn out - and let’s face it, who isn’t tired at the end of term? - don’t let it show.

Trying to keep excitable students focused on their studies towards the end of term can be a real struggle, especially when you’re exhausted. But, by introducing a few fun learning activities and switching up things in the classroom, you should have no problem keeping your children focused and productive as you cover the rest of the curriculum.

Rachel Hall, is managing director of online educational resource provider Busy Things 

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