Whether you work in a classroom or home educate you’ll know that there are many different ways kids learn, from the more traditional teaching methods to using some of the innovative resources that can be sourced from Hope Education. However, you’ll also know that bad behaviour can tarnish a lesson and distract those wanting to engage and participate fully, so what’s the best way to deal with disruptions when you’re trying to teach several children as we do? Here are some tips that we find work for us – although some are easier to implement than others!
Speak in a low voice
Believe it or not, lowering your voice can be much more effective that shouting when dealing with several children at once (and yes, we’re still trying to perfect this one!). Competing with noise will only make children more excitable, so try talking quietly and calmly in a bid to make people listen. It will soon become clear who has missed instructions and needs their poor behaviour dealing with.
A lot of psychology goes on and a battle of wills can often commence. The children need to know you’re in charge, so always move around and don’t let them get distracted. Take an interest in what each child is doing and don’t be afraid to ask them about a task they’re undertaking. You could even say something like, “I want to see two similar ideas when I come back,” to keep them focussed. We find that they’ll usually rise to a challenge or a bit of competition!
Beware of negative energy
If a child is angry, frustrated or upset before your lesson even begins, there’s a good chance they’ll be disruptive throughout. We find encouraging those who are hyper or looking for trouble to calm down before settling down to study works wonders. This might be a quick run up and down the stairs or five minutes on the cross trainer, but anything to help them burn off a little energy often calms things down enough to shut out negative energy and promote a more relaxed working environment.
Make sure bright students are challenged
Children are often disruptive if they don’t feel challenged or stimulated enough. Therefore, adapting materials for mixed ability classes is important to keep everyone focussed and engaged. We try and compromise when it comes to the lessons they aren’t that keen on and strike a deal that if they complete x, y and z of maths they will have time to do coding/cooking/sewing whatever interest takes their fancy later. Of course, lessons don’t always go to plan but if you’ve thought of possible problems in advance you should be able to deal with most situations. And if your lessons don’t go to plan don’t worry too much. Tomorrow is another day.
Have 1-to-1 time
Similarly, children can be naughty if they don’t understand the work they have to do and feel completely overwhelmed. To limit disruptions, talk to each member of the family individually and help those who are a little lost or confused.
Shake things up a little
We usually sit around the kitchen table to learn but sometimes it helps to shake things up a bit. If the weather is fine why not take things outside, or just practice reading or research while relaxing more comfortably on the sofa? While some children like to push the boundaries and try their hand at misbehaving wherever they are, others will keep quiet if they’re sitting closer to you – so it might just be a case of trial and error and seeing what works best for your family.
Keep calm and carry on
No matter how frustrated you feel, always maintain your manners and treat the children with respect. This should hopefully make them feel welcome and encourage good behaviour in return. Sure, kids aren’t always easy to figure out but they do learn by example and handling them evenly and fairly is a sensible strategy. It’s fair to say we don’t always manage to maintain our cool as much as we should!
Don’t overreact to low-level disruption
While violent or threatening behaviour requires immediate action, try not to react too extremely to low-level disruption. If children know they’re winding you up, they’ll probably want to do it more and more, so keep kids focussed by mentioning their names in an explanation, giving them a sharp stare (‘the look’), or simply changing the activity you’re working on.
Have a routine
Kids can feel uneasy if they don’t know what’s going on throughout the day, so we found introducing some kind of a routine helped a great deal – especially when we have so many ages and stages to consider. Starting work at a set time, for instance, and explaining what they can expect during that day or lesson. Knowing what is expected of them and giving them a goal to work towards helps to give them a focus to work towards. If something changes, tell them why or they might start acting up.
Share your expectations
While you might find pen tapping, shouting, talking loudly, throwing rubbish and other behaviours rude and unacceptable, the kids might not know they’re doing anything wrong. These things could possibly be allowed in their family home, so share your expectations and set strict classroom rules. Okay, so you’re not actually in a classroom but the sometimes the same rules and expectations would apply regardless of the learning environment. If behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated in a classroom, a workplace or anywhere else it certainly won’t be tolerated at home!
Kids will always be kids and disruptions are common, but the above ten tips should help you deal with them more effectively.