Teaching a large group of children can be intimidating, but it is such an awesome opportunity. When preparing, here are seven things that you should NOT do when trying to engage a large group of kids.
Thou shalt not…
1. Hide behind book/paper. If you have a paper or book in between you and the audience, you are setting up an automatic barrier. It feels safer, sometimes, to have something to hide behind or to have something in your hands for just in case. However, your eyes are immediately taken away from the kids in front of you. They realize if you can’t see them and they will take full advantage!
2. Read from a script. Know your lesson! Be so-well prepared that you can teach the lesson from your memory and from your heart. No one wants to be read to.
3. Talk sing-songy. As my friend, Sam Luce, says, talk to kids like they are people, not babies. When you start a lesson with a high-pitched, Sesame Street voice and beginning with, “Good morning, boys and girls!”, kids are going to tune you out pretty quickly.
4. Start meekly. Getting started can be one of the most difficult parts of speaking. As a result we can fumble our way through the beginning. We can lose the kids before we can even get started. Plan exactly what you are going to say from the moment you walk in front of the group.
5. Stay in one spot. Move around to keep kids’ attention. Be animated! Move in ways that add to your presentation, but don’t distract from it.
6. Avoid eye contact. Work to catch the eyes of every child in the room while you teach. For some reason, it can become natural to teach to one side of the room. Looking into each face as you teach will help hold kids’ attention.
7. Distract yourself. Sometimes as we teach, our brain wanders or something else grabs our attention. We can become our own distraction! Fight to stay on track and fight against chasing distractions. If you get distracted, you can guarantee that the children will be distracted as well.
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