Student engagement: Strategies for involving growing children in their learning

Student engagement: Strategies for involving growing children in their learning

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Student engagement

Student engagement is a constantly present concern in classrooms worldwide. Teachers often face challenges such as low attention levels and lack of student interest. This is crucial because a healthy classroom environment motivates students to learn, grow academically, and personally.

Student engagement refers to the level of attention, curiosity, interest, and enthusiasm that students display while learning. It has three dimensions: cognitive engagement, behavioral engagement, and emotional engagement. 

An effective student engagement strategy can reduce dropouts and disruptions, increase attendance, nurture students’ communication skills, and boost creativity.

The following strategies can help educators engage students in their learning.

1. Teaching students self-monitoring skills 

An effective way to involve students in their learning is by teaching them self-regulation skills. Often, students are unaware of their disruptive behavior and lack of attention, causing them to be less engaged in the classroom.

By teaching students how to regulate their behavior, it increases their engagement in the classroom. Students can monitor their behavior and performance in two ways: monitoring attention and monitoring performance.

Self-reflection questions, monitoring trackers, and activities can help students keep track of their behavior and academic performance. This raises their awareness of their learning and keeps them engaged.

2. Starting with an interesting fact

The brain loses interest when it believes it already knows something. When introduced to interesting and new facts, it ignites curiosity in students, leading to higher engagement in learning a specific topic.

Educators can begin their lessons with intriguing or fun facts related to the topic to hold students’ attention. For example, “Did you know that baby camels are born without humps?” or “Hawaii’s Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano in the world.” Additionally, educators can use students’ interests as motivation to engage them in learning. For instance, while teaching language, teachers can allow students to incorporate their favorite characters into reading sessions, using puppet characters they love.

Also Read: 5 Mental Health Tips For School Leaders

3. Encouraging connections that are meaningful and relevan

It is always a good start when students are motivated by the topic they are learning, but this is not always the case. Educators need to connect the concepts to the real world and make them meaningful for children.

Instead of just teaching, educators should emphasize the application of concepts in the outside world and allow students to share their stories and build values from them. This student-centric approach can make learning more meaningful for children, as they become more involved in crafting their learning experience and develop a deeper understanding of the lesson’s goal.

Teachers can encourage connections by asking open-ended questions and providing opportunities for self-knowledge through additional courses and the integration of social media. Showing students documentaries, encouraging them to read research papers related to their topic, and listening to podcasts can also foster meaningful connections.

4. Addressing different learning styles and multiple intelligences

Every student is unique, with their own preferred learning style and strengths and weaknesses. Teachers should design activities that cater to the different learning styles of their students. For example, auditory learners benefit from stories, discussions, and brief lectures, while visual learners benefit from reading activities and the use of charts, graphics, videos, and pictures. 

Kinesthetic learners benefit from hands-on activities and role-plays, while musical learners benefit from writing and singing their songs. Interpersonal learners benefit from group projects, while intrapersonal learners benefit from individual assignments and projects. Logical learners benefit from puzzles and experiments. This approach to teaching ensures effective student engagement.

5. Offering choices

Students feel more connected and involved in their learning when they have choices. Giving students control over aspects of their education makes them more attentive and intentional in their learning decisions.

For example, allowing students to choose the topic they want to learn and how they want to learn it, instead of giving the same activities to everyone, can increase student engagement. Teachers can also try implementing a homework menu, where students can choose their assignments based on the same topic. This sense of ownership can make students more responsible and invested in their learning. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that too many choices or too often may limit their engagement.

6. Energizing fun activities

Students, especially younger children, have limited attention spans, and it’s essential to give them breaks to relax and recharge. Short breaks with energizing and fun activities can enhance student engagement.

For instance, activities such as singing songs, reciting favorite poems, or participating in physical activities like crab walks, back walks, or jumping jacks can make students laugh, connect with their peers, and improve the overall classroom atmosphere. Allowing students to take charge and decide on fun activities for the next session during short breaks can refresh their minds and make them more engaged when they return to learning.

In conclusion, when teachers make an effort to engage students in their learning, students are more likely to remain focused, display positive behaviors, and retain information effectively. This, in turn, leads to positive outcomes for both students and teachers.

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