How to engage the passive children in your classroom

Posted: 20 May, 2016

By: Annabella Sequeira

Section: Education


It is an average school day and Little Johnny is merrily going along his way until suddenly he hears his teacher telling him to put his towel down and jump into the pool. Johnny looks around and realises that all his classmates including himself are dressed in their swimming costumes and waiting their turn to jump into the pool. Johnny is confused as he has no recollection of putting his costume on or how he got from his classroom to the swimming pool.

Have you ever been preoccupied with your thoughts and driven home in “auto-pilot” mode with no recollection of how you got there?  This is similar to the experience little Johnny has just been through and one can imagine how little learning he is doing if this happens often while at school.

Johnny is the type of child who does not pick up on everything that is going on around him and needs different kinds of input and stimulation before he becomes aware of his environment.

As a teacher, you may notice that children like Johnny:

  • Have difficulty paying attention
  • Often seem to be in their own world
  • May not notice what is going on around them
  • Seem overly tired
  • Find it difficult to recall what happened during their day
  • Do not react to other children bumping them
  • Are slow to respond to requests

Children like Johnny respond well to variety in their day to keep them alert and able to take more note of their environment. To enable the passive children like Johnny to get more out of their learning experience teachers can:

  • Have the child move frequently
  • Vary the sound of your voice and include music into the classroom or use headphones for specific children.
  • Vary the position in which the child works- e.g. sitting on a ball or standing.
  • Give the child a break from their activities and encourage them to go on errands or help with cleaning the board.
  • Vary the learning materials used and try to incorporate a variety of textures or smells.

Understanding the unique ways in which the children in your class respond to their environment is an invaluable tool that will allow teachers to tailor their teaching approach accordingly to optimise learning in students.


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