Lessons with pre-schoolers cannot be too long because attention spans vary depending on age of the children. 2-3 year olds can usually effectively manage a 20 minute class, 3-6 year olds can focus for up to 30 minutes, while 6+ will work well up to 45 minutes.
Our lessons are always led in the target language, although we make exceptions for safety reasons or in special circumstances where a child is not feeling well and their parents not present etc., but we always speak in simple sentences using familiar words.
Having a lesson plan and STRUCTURE in your class helps students to focus, so it pays to always follow a routine.
1. Circle Time
Duration: about 5 mins
I usually start with circle time as it lets students know we are starting our lesson and that they need to focus and calm down. I greet them all by their name (please ALWAYS learn your students’ names, even if you have large groups as it helps when you ask them questions, want to gain their attention or discipline them etc.) You can have a greeting song or poem. I love this one:
Bread and butter,
Marmalade and jam.
Let’s say “Hello” as SLOW as you can! heeeeellooooooo…
As slow as you can…
As happy as you can, etc.
The more faces you pull, the more the kids will get involved :). You can ask them during the game what “hello” comes next. Be prepared for “crazy”, “smelly” etc!
Older kids can benefit from a round of “How are you today?” or “ How old are you?” or “Are you a boy or a girl?”, or “What’s the weather like today?”. I change the question from time to time to revise certain range of vocabulary but also to make it more interesting.
2. Introduce the Subject
Duration: about 10 mins
I introduce the subject of the lesson during circle time – I sing/show a song, take props out, use flashcards, etc. This is the time when you will get most of kids’ attention. Use it well 🙂
3. Get Moving
Duration: about 10 mins
After 15 minutes most young learners begin to fidget. You will see kids change position, look around, talk to their friends, etc. It’s time to GET MOVING! Everybody stands up and you do a game or a song, It must involve movement AND language. Any games using flashcards, songs involving dancing/singing/actions are great.
Get them moving but do set boundaries beforehand. Say this:
“We only run on the brown carpet.”
“We show AND sing. I will be looking at every mouth.”
If kids get too excited it will be hard to get them ready for the next stage of the lesson.
After the active part of the class bring them back down to a circle. You can sing a song: I use:
Everybody sit down, sit down, sit down.
Everybody sit down just like me.
If some kids are still running around you can call them by name:
Mark please sit down, sit down, sit down.
Mark please sit down just like me 🙂
Next revise the vocabulary you introduced earlier on the flashcards or props.
Now use the last few minutes to say thank you, well done. Give your students a “high-five”, clap your hands, give them a reward such as stamps or stickers. Sing a bye-bye song. And SMILE!
Let us know in the comments below how this works for you or if you have had success with any other method.