4 November 2020
Read time: 4 minutes
Do you sometimes feel that your classroom is getting boring? Do you want to spice things up a bit so that students find your class fun?
Keeping children focused in class is a tough task. Generally, there are only a handful of students who pay attention in the classroom. Some students simply lose their way as the class goes on. Some students are already doing their favorite things back home in their minds.
How do you ensure that students pay attention in class? How do you ensure that their intellectual development takes place?
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There are many methods you can use to increase their attention span and focus. Classroom activities are one such tool that makes the class exciting as well as play a good part in ensuring students’ intellectual development.
This article goes through some of the proven classroom activities that will ensure the focus and growth of students. But, first, let us go through the inspiring story of Chitra which tells us the importance of intellectual development.
How do you ensure Intellectual growth despite all odds?
Chitra (name changed) was sitting in the center of the vast living room among scattered leafy vegetables, plucking the leaves one by one and dropping them into a vessel kept close to her.
Her gentle touch of the leaves had a particular soft rhythm which was worth appreciating.
She would pick up one strand and de-leaf so meticulously and entirely that the strand would appear like a tree sans leaves. Such was her focus on the job for an hour and a half every day.
She was contributing to the larger goal of selling leafy vegetables with minimum wastage in the nearby market.
A thought may cross your mind that if you were to do the same job you would probably rip off the leaves from the strand in one go and also leave half the leaves on the strand itself. But this generally ends up with more wastage.
When the mind is trained to focus on the job at hand diligently, you can achieve better results.
You might ask, “What has plucking leaves got to do with intellectual growth?”
Here we are referring to Chitra (name changed) who is an adult with special needs, (doctors say she has Autism Spectrum Disorder). Her upbringing was challenging for her parents and teachers.
Now at the age of 26, she has made a beginning, striving to raise her potential. I am sure eventually she would be able to maximize her potential with the support of her mentors.
It may appear to be a very simple job for you, but training her intelligence to separate the leaves from the stem and dropping them in the vessel had been a herculean task for her teachers and caretakers. She had to be kept happy to contribute her mite to the task.
Her teachers said that she had to be disengaged from the task for some time to enable her to come back fresh and engage herself more effectively in the classroom.
7 Classroom activities to promote the intellectual growth of students
Dancing and singing together
Singing and dancing together are easy ways to instantly make the class interesting. Ask children to hold hands together with other children and move around.
Sing their favorite kid songs and encourage them to sing with you. Singing activity helps promote memory and word identification. Dancing improves children’s flexibility and physical strength.
This activity effectively empowers them to initiate the process of rapport building quickly. The same reason why most of us like singing and dancing.
Conduct communication and social skills class
Communication and social skills are good to teach at an early age as most of these skills are needed throughout life. You can do this in a fun way.
For example, teaching new simple words like mat, cat, rat, sat, bat, fat for very young children and enacting each one of them as you say them. You can even show some pictures related to those words to make it more interesting.
For social skills, teach them to smile, maintain eye contact, and say a greeting (it hardly takes around three seconds to do these three things for anyone).
Throwing down a challenge
When children are thrown a challenge, they most certainly try to complete it. Tell them that they can never do this particular work or plead them not to do a particular work. (Play way/ Using negative psychology).
In most cases, students would end up doing exactly that and as a result, the primary task gets completed. This could also have an adverse effect, at times. However, teachers must strategize this their own way. When one does not work, quickly switch to “What is next ?”
Simply tell students to relax by keeping their eyes closed. Ask them to open their eyes as soon as you stop counting. Tell them that the one who opens his/her eyes before counting will lose.
Start counting backward from 10 to 1, 20 to 1, 30 to 1 or reach 100 to 1. This results in an increase in concentration and also a bit of relaxation for students in their busy class schedule.
Creating a competitive atmosphere
Try inculcating team games to enable students to give their best. When children compete with their own friends, the game becomes a lot of fun.
For example; Divide students into two teams. Give rubber bands to one team (one packet) and newspapers (about 15) to the other. Keep a one-liter water bottle in the center of the room and give the teams 10 minutes to lift the bottle from the ground using the given props. The focus is on the teams functioning together to succeed.
Grouping participants according to their birth months and encouraging them to share an important event that has happened in that particular month or the favorite present that they received.
You can even ask them to talk about a great personality born in the same month as them. Even you can share your fun moments with them to encourage them to share more.
This would give the required break from routine work and imparts a good feeling to the children.
Asking open-ended questions.
This would rekindle their thinking. Use the seven means of intelligence – What, Why, How, Where, Which, Who, Whom. The aim is to enable them to ask open-ended questions to develop their intellect. E.g:- Who is your favorite star, where did you go on the last vacation? Who is your favorite superhero etc?
We need to continually notice what works and what does not and accordingly change strategies to improve the learning curve.
It is important to celebrate the winners and also train the children who could not win to handle their emotions. Students should learn to celebrate their friend’s success as their own success.
We need to be prudent as to what works for whom and shuffle the activities so that there is holistic learning.
Likewise, we need to disengage our students from the primary activity for them to come back and continue learning for their intellectual growth willingly. We need to be creative in choosing activities that children enjoy so that there is a fun element to learning as well.
They say “simplicity is the highest form of sophistication.” Hence classroom activities should be kept simple and engaging so that students willfully show interest in developing their intellect.
How do you find these activities? Try them and share your experiences with us. Also, If you have any more fun activities that we may have missed, let us know on Twitter.
Cuemath, a student-friendly mathematics and coding platform, conducts regular Online Live Classes for academics and skill-development and their Mental Math App, on both iOS and Android, is a one-stop solution for kids to develop multiple skills.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is Intellectual growth?
Cognitive or intellectual development means the growth of a child's ability to think and reason.
2. What is Intellectual growth disorder?
Intellectual development disorder (IDD) is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by deficits in general intellectual functioning such as reasoning, planning, judgment, abstract thinking, academic learning and experiential learning.
3. What is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.