What is it you do, Ken? I have online Kindergarten students. What does it mean? I teach English to Chinese Kindergarten students as young as 3 years old right in front of a computer.
I found myself answering questions from a friend and I sensed right off that our conversation had turned into a job interview. He was unable to contain his curiosity and went on asking a couple more. I jokingly said it’s classified under the present circumstances and saw his eyebrows tilted to the ceiling.
So, I told him about my closely-guarded secrets: The class size is as small as 8 kids to as big as 30. And here’s the thing. My job is to make sure each student learns. What’s interesting is I am given 25 minutes to get it done.
Eyes On Me
Like seriously? I’m not kidding. You see, the challenge is real when you teach kids this young and many in real-time and face-to-face via Internet-enabled technology devices. You spend each working day with a room full of little, energetic, and unpredictable kids. We are talking about children aged between 3 and 6, children who possess very short attention span, children who cry at the drop of a hat.
But wait. Don’t worry yet. You are not on your own. Your class comes with a Chinese support teacher. Assistant teachers play an important role in establishing order in the Chinese classroom. Without them, teaching Kindergarten students online would be a complete chaos.
How To Be Interesting
Again, your job is to ensure kids learn the lesson’s objective. The Chinese teachers come to your aid by making sure every pupil pays attention and follows instructions. It’s important that you and the offline teachers must work hand in hand to keep the kids’ excitement and energy in check.
With this in mind, you should now be keeping your focus on getting the kids interested in you and what you do. But how?
1. Make Them Laugh.
I can’t emphasize it enough. Children learn faster when they are happy. So, be comical. Be silly. Be funny. Do something crazy. Make it entertaining. It is as simple as making a funny face. Perhaps, make it look like being disfigured. When I do warm ups, I often inject craziness into them. I would run then trip all suddenly or run then hit the wall. I would fly and fall then fly again. After introducing a ball (pick the smaller one), I would have it bounced on the wall and make sure it hits me. The kids would erupt in laughter when they see me wobble after the ball lands on my head.
Now, you got to be smart enough to distinguish between what is formal and professional and informal and unprofessional. Always be guided with the company’s teaching protocols and standards. But do not forget to have fun!
2. Break The Routine.
Never do the same thing over and over again. Boring the kids to death would be your biggest and unforgivable mistake. You are going to have regular classes with the same audience for months. So, eliminate what you think is already ordinary. Understandably, your online Kindergarten students want to see something new and a different you every time you appear on the TV screen. Vary the props, realias, and execution of your presentation. Play attention-boosting games. Vary the tone of your voice. Scream! Hush. Roar like a lion. Cry like a baby. Move slow. Move fast.
3. Shower Them With Rewards.
I always split my students up into two groups. Team 1: Boys, against Team 2: Girls. I prepare paper cut-outs of stars, ribbons, candies, cupcakes, lollipops, and hamburgers. I have never seen anything like my students go crazy and competitive for the glory of winning. Each team would like to be at least one step ahead of the other. They want more cupcakes, more candies, more wins. When I hold up a flashcard out of nowhere fast, my students would scream their answers out to get me to figure out which team answers first!
Just a heads up. Most kindergarten students have no real sense of time yet. So, what I do is offer them the reward right away to confirm their good behavior and encourage them to do it again.
4. Make It Dramatic.
When I give them rewards I would do it in a suspenseful, thrilling, heart-pounding fashion. And the winner is, is, is (turning around and around holding the ribbon or candy up high)…the boys, the girls!!! Sometimes to make the presentation hilarious, I would turn around then reappear with the ribbon sticking on my forehead.
I don’t give them the same type of reward, either. Kids, always keep in mind, get bored easily. I always make it a point that there is a better reward to go after. For me, there’s like an understandable order of importance that starts from giving them candies, lollipops then suddenly colorful ribbons and which part of the board to stick them to. And yes, you should always appear as if you have something more for them up your sleeve.
5. Keep Them Moving.
Kids do move a lot. And this holds true to your online Kindergarten students. It’s not mindless hyperactivity, in my opinion. They feel the need to move constantly because that is who they are. Most of their energy is spent on kinesthetic learning. That is, they naturally learn by doing, acting out or verbalizing their thoughts.
That’s why it is important to associate words with movements when you teach your online Kindergarten students. Always involve TPR’s in each word you want them learned. Be inventive with your gestures. Let them chant. Let them sing. Let them dance. They will love it.
But there will always be kids who have trouble paying attention to lessons that don’t spark their interests. So, be vigilant at the slightest sign of boredom. Make sure to choose the right sort of movement that will hold their interest and allow you to redirect a student whose attention drifts.
If you haven’t noticed, kids by nature, have so much energy. So you need to have enough to keep up. For sure, you’ll be exhausted at the end of the day. But if you are a passionate teacher, what you do is nothing more than just a fun-filled workout.
Top Online Kindergarten Students
Do not confuse movement with progress. You must evaluate how much your online Kindergarten students have learned before you bid goodbye. Want to really get those key language skills drilled into your students’ brains? The above steps are surefire tricks you may want to try.
To few, keeping all the kids engaged might seem like mission impossible. A number of learning and attention issues can interfere with a child’s ability to focus. But then again, there are steps you can take to help your online Kindergarten students pay attention better. They definitely can do a lot to help as many kids concentrate.
We Love Teacher Ken
One day while in the middle of warming up with my lovely students, I realized something meaningful and memorable. I was in the act of flying, then I suddenly stopped flapping my arms. I marveled at how they savored the joy of moving, flying, falling. I didn’t know impersonating a bird could be this entertaining…
You know, the one that students fondly remember after years have gone by.