Eleven Proven Ways to Prevent Boredom in the Classroom, Part 2

Eleven Proven Ways to Prevent Boredom in the Classroom, Part 2

In my last article, I covered the first 5 of 11 proven ways to prevent boredom in the classroom.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, just click here.  In this article, I will cover the last 6 items.

I would like to mention that whether you are in the classroom or at home, most of these concepts work really well.  Bored kids are bored kids, regardless of where they are at.  So for anyone reading that has a bored child problem at home or elsewhere, hopefully you will find some good inspiration here!

For the sake of review, here is the whole list of ways to prevent boredom in the classroom:

  1. Keep things moving.
  2. Ask your students questions regarding things outside of class.
  3. Be careful to be aware of when students are attempting to engage you.
  4. Reward their good behavior frequently.
  5. Give the students paper to take notes or draw for the times that they have to sit and listen.
  6. Make sure your directions are specific and engaging.
  7. Watch their body language for cues as to how they are feeling.
  8. Keep things new.
  9. Make sure the conversation goes two ways.
  10. Keep things simple so they don’t get bogged down in the details, especially for new concepts.
  11. Change up the routine. (especially when least expecting it!!!)

So now let’s go ahead and look at the last 6 ways to prevent boredom in the classroom.

6.  Make Sure Your Directions are Specific and Engaging

There isn’t much that will get kids discouraged about their schoolwork than unclear directions that leave them unable to do their work.  And sometimes as teachers we get so wrapped up in getting things done that we don’t realize the directions that we understand perfectly don’t even seem like English to them.

When kids get discouraged about their work, they quickly become bored.  They are no longer motivated to do their work.  So then they need something else to fix their minds on.  And in a matter of moments you have lost their attention.

It is pretty easy to combat this problem in the classroom.  First, gauge the students’ expressions as you are explaining to them.  If they are tracking with you, they will show it on their faces.  If they are not, it will be pretty easy to see either confusion or zoned out looks coming right back at you.

Second, encourage questions at all times.  I know this can be hard sometimes.  But in the long run, if your students know they can ask you anything they are struggling with, they will be so much more eager to put themselves out there for the sake of learning.

Third, engage them to make sure they do understand what you are saying.  You will want to especially make sure you are reaching those students that are generally unsure of what they are doing in that subject.  But be careful that they don’t perceive you are being condescending.

Finally, take a stroll around the classroom as they are doing the work.  Just give a cursory check to make sure everyone has it down.  Encourage as necessary.

7.  Watch Their Body Language for Cues as to How They are Feeling

Another great way to prevent boredom in the classroom is to watch your students’ body language.  I touched on this just a little bit in point number 6.  But you can use it in all of your communication with your students–alone or in groups, and in any subject or type of communication that you are imparting to them.

What the Studies Say

While I was not successful in finding definitive studies on verbal vs. nonverbal communication, I did see several articles that said only 7% of communication is verbal, while 93% is nonverbal, or body language.

Science of People has an article that describes all of the different forms of body language.  Then it gives you a quiz to complete to see how adept you are at deciphering body language.  I took it myself and got just one wrong.  Go ahead and take it and tell me how you did in the comments!

What Does This Look Like in Your Classroom?

What this means for you in your classroom (or with your kids at home, wink) is that you see and take to heart the expressions on their face when they are saying one thing and their body is saying another.  Or in the case where they are not saying anything and you need to rely on their body language alone.

It means noticing how their body is moving and what those significant movements mean in connection to what they are thinking.  And it also means looking at the things they wear, bring to school with them, and surround themselves with and seeing how it reflects their personality and things that they hold dear in their lives.  Or on the flip side, look at how those things tell you about what they don’t like.

These things are hard to pick up when you are starting fresh with a new class in a new school year. But it won’t take very long to figure these things out once you start to get to know your students.  And as you get to know your students, and show them that you care enough to know how they think and feel, you will find them becoming much more verbal with you.

They are building trust in you because they see how much you are willing to invest in them to provide them with a safe place at school.

8.  Keep Things New

This sounds fun and exciting, and I think just about every teacher plans for their class to be like this.  It certainly seems like it would prevent boredom in the classroom if you were to always have new items on the agenda.  But as the year starts to get on, it gets harder to keep things fresh and new.  Time becomes an issue.  And it’s hard to find new ideas when you have to start from scratch.  Taking time to research an idea, then finding the resources needed to implement that idea can take way more time than you have in an evening or weekend.

It definitely helps to have a couple of go-to resources to help you pick up some quick new ideas based on what you are working on with your students.

You could make a list of the best two or three resources you have for each subject you are teaching.  Then you can find those new ideas in a fraction of the time that it would take if you were starting from scratch.

You may also want to keep a list of stores or websites that carry the majority of the supplies or resources that you generally buy.  Streamlining these processes will help save you so much more time!

For the amount of time that it does take you, though, I promise that your students will be so grateful.  And they will actually enjoy coming to school to see what you have in store for them for the day, knowing that you planned the school day with them in mind.

9.  Make Sure the Conversation Goes Two Ways

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You are in a conversation and the person talking doesn’t stop long enough to let you say a single word. Before long, you are just zoned out because you realize you aren’t even part of the conversation. You are just there to hear whatever they want to tell you.

Opportunities to Relate

Now let’s apply that to the classroom. As a teacher, you really do have something that you need to tell the students. And the majority of the time it is something that they don’t already know. But that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to the conversation or you can’t involve them.
In fact, using the knowledge that they already do have is a perfect way to get them involved in the conversation. Every subject in the world is related to some other part of life. And every living person has experience in life that can reflect back to what you are trying to teach.
Using these points of relationship allows the student to understand the train of thought you are trying to communicate. And it gives them a tangible reinforcement to the lesson.
If they can tie the lesson you are teaching to a particular experience they have had or some fact that they already know, you are giving them a great way to help remember those new facts.
They will retain information much better when they have something in their world to tie it to. And boredom is immediately eliminated because they will immediately be interested in what you have to say when they realize that it hits them where they live.

And as an extra bonus, they will also love that you involved them in the learning conversation.  They will appreciate the fact that you care enough to get to know them on more than just a “student-in-the-classroom” level.

10.  Teach Incrementally so the Students Don’t Get Bogged Down in the Details

I realize I am probably stating the obvious here, but it does need at least a little bit of attention.  I know it is a good reminder for me.  Sometimes it is so easy to have a one-track mind when trying to teach a certain concept.  I can get so driven to get a whole lot done in that day and I don’t realize I should have stopped 3 points ago.

The Biggest Successes are the Small Ones

So I guess the theme of this point would be to quit while I am ahead.  Rather than trying to drive home more points because they grasped the first few so well, I learned that it is far better to reward them with a job well done (or a lesson well learned).

So maybe instead of trying to forge ahead for the rest of the lesson, we will play a quick game that is related to the material.  (I keep a little index card box of quick game suggestions just for these types of moments.)  Or just break out in a classroom discussion on life as it relates to the theme of the day.

The kids will enjoy the mental breaktime.  And they will love once again that routine was broken just enough to let life into the classroom.  The monotony is gone as well as the boredom!  And because the game is somehow related to the lesson, you also reinforced what the students learned!

Bonus Idea:  Game Idea Box

Let me get back to the index card box I just referenced.  This little classroom treasure allows me to switch things up on the spur of the moment.  I just grab the box and quickly pick something that seems pertinent to the lesson in some way.  Sometimes it can be a stretch, but the kids love those little “stretches” almost as much as perfect theming.

Anyway, after the students see you get that box out a couple of times, they will come to know exactly what is coming up and always show excitement for what is about to happen.

And something I found made them even more excited is to select two or three cards and let them vote on the game/activity to play.  Once again, their opinion matters which earns you more points on the trust/relatability scale!

Oh, and for the non-teacher types who are reading this or teachers that go home to their own kids at night:  this box works just as well in the home as it does in the classroom!

I may try to write an article soon describing how I put the box together and the kinds of games and activities that worked well for me.  Then y’all can do your own and add your own tweaks without having to reinvent the wheel!

11.  Change up the Classroom Routine (Especially When They are Least Expecting It!)

So I realize that I tend to be a really spontaneous person.  It’s fun!  And that is kind of the exact point I am trying to make here.  When you can see the glazed look starting to appear on multiple faces staring back at you, you have already lost your chances of productivity.  Driving the lesson home at this point is kind of a moot point.  So what can you do?

Change up the routine!  I already spoke in the last point about my little game box.  But you can also implement this into your lesson planning.  Over time, it will be easy for you to foresee when things are going to get monotonous for the kids.  But you know you have to teach those concepts!

So one of the things I learned is to always have some change up in the routine immediately following those difficult class times.  And when I can plan it out beforehand because I can see it coming, I can plan even better things.

One example of this would be trying to get through a couple of really dry chapters of the reading book we are working on.  There may have been little in that material to apply to the students’ lives or knowledge base.  So I try to get through that material as fast as possible.  And then with the extra time I try to do something that brings them back to “where they live.”  One fun activity that we can do is the Six Degrees of Separation. (Here is some information about this on Wikipedia if you are not familiar with it already.) It shows them that the lesson I was trying to teach wasn’t really so far away from them after all.

Another fun way to change up the routine is to have a treasure hunt around your facility.  Use several items that you can tie back to that difficult lesson.  Then hide them in various places.  Try to do it outside of your classroom so that it will be even more of a change from routine.  This is something that you will need to plan ahead so that you can have the items and clue cards written ahead of time.  But when you surprise the students, it will be totally spontaneous and fun for them!

Conclusion

So this is my list of 11 ways to prevent boredom in the classroom.  But honestly, I could have come up with probably 100 or more!  And I know you all have ideas too.  Please feel free to share them so we can all make our classrooms a better place.

And while I wrote this with a classroom in mind, it works perfectly well in a homeschool setting (maybe even better because of more freedoms to get around places and schedules!).  It also works well in a regular home setting when kids are not cooperating with the normal home routine.

Let me know how these things have worked for you!

To go back to part one of this article, click here.

If you would like to read more about encouragement in the classroom, you can check out my article here.

And if you would like more information on differentiation in the classroom, you can check out my article on that here.

This Post Has 62 Comments

  1. Nyxinked

    You’ve given us more great examples of keeping bordem at bay in the classroom. I can’t imagine working with kids, I would just lose my mind but some people just have an excellent way with them.

  2. Amber

    I bet my kids wish their public schools tried these methods. They say they get bored in classrooms a ton!

    1. Marie

      Too bad there isn’t a way to slip some of these materials to their teachers without making them feel like you are judging them instead of inspiring them. There are teachers in the public school system that do a lot of this. But I think that a lot of teachers are under so much pressure that it is hard for them to see the big picture.

  3. Cristina Pop

    These are some great ideas. I know that kids can get bored pretty quickly if things aren’t interesting for them.

  4. Wow these are some great ideas and I feel like they can be used in the home by parents too. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

    1. Marie

      Yes, definitely, Krysten! Most of my posts translate well into any environment where adults are working/living with kids.

  5. So interesting to read yet again one of your excellent blog posts. I am sure teachers in many countries will learn so much by reading it.

  6. CANDACE HAMPTON

    Great post! Keeping kids attention can be challenging. Thanks for the tips. They all sound good.

  7. leah

    I love these suggestions. even for moms at home with their kiddos, body language is huge!

  8. Silvia

    As I was reading your article I couldn’t stop thinking about my kids and their classes. One of my kids was complaining about a class that was boring. I wonder if his teacher would try something like this.

    1. Marie

      It would be awesome if he/she did!

  9. Kez

    Keeping kids engaged in the classroom can certainly be a battle at times, especially with huge class sizes, like the ones at my school! I use pretty much every suggestion on your list to keep things lively and my students think I’m hilarious.

    1. Marie

      Large class sizes are so difficult! And I bet your kids love you and will always remember the things you did with them. Thank you!

  10. Susan1375

    Moving stuff around the classroom, chairs, seating arrangements, displays etc all seem to keep the students interested.

  11. Peachy A.

    This list is a great help to teachers out there.It help keep boredom at bay and keep their class interested.

  12. Joanna

    These are great tips! I remember I used to get bored very easily in school when the teacher would not engage very well in the lesson, or when it was a one way conversation only.

    1. Marie

      Yep! If the teacher isn’t engaging his/her students, they get sidetracked very quickly.

  13. Tanya

    These are great techniques that would aid any mom who home-schools or any teacher. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

    1. Marie

      Yes, Tanya, these ideas are great for anyplace that kids are at!

  14. Kay

    My son is very easily distracted in school. I think he could do with some of these to keep his focus.

    1. Marie

      I hope that he gets to try some of this! And that you figure out some ways to keep him focused.

  15. I love these ideas for keeping kids engaged! Keeping it interesting has always worked for me when teaching children.

    1. Marie

      Very true, Pearl. They appreciate the fun activities and we get to enjoy fewer discipline issues because happy kids are better kids.

  16. sdamasceno

    I love this post. It’s so easy for kids to lose focus. We have to keep them entertained and tailor to their learning styles. IT will make all the difference.

    1. Marie

      You are right–it will make all the difference.

  17. These sound like great tips. I know my son loves when his teachers talk about things outside the classroom. He gets excited telling me about the things they discuss. So it really does keep things interesting.

  18. I guess it really depends on the ability of the child to develop the skill of finding something constructive to do during down time.

  19. ohmummymia

    My son will start school this September.I hope he will have such an awesome classes

    1. Marie

      I hope so too, Kasia!

  20. Fab tips here. Keeping things new is a great way to get their full attention. I do that with my kids all the time.

    1. Marie

      Your kids will remember that for many years. And it will have a profound effect on the way they raise their own children!

  21. inmyprime50

    These are great tips and I bet they can be used at home too.

    1. Marie

      They definitely can, Cindy!

  22. Claudia

    This continuation of your previous post is so full of great ideas. I think watching the body language of the kids is a key part of ensuring that they don’t get bored.

  23. Renata Feyen

    I suppose a lot also depends on the kid’s interest but those are some great tips for teachers 🙂

  24. Cristina Petrini

    I would have liked so much, when I was this age, that my teachers asked these questions and did what you do very well.

  25. chad

    These are amazing suggestions…It is both easy and very difficult to keep kids engaged in classrooms…

  26. Heather

    There have been a number of times my kids have been bored in class. This is great info for teachers!

  27. ashley

    These are some really great examples. I have lots of friends that are teachers and I will definitely pass this along to them.

  28. The Joyous Living

    more great tips for preventing boredom. i really like your ideas of including the students in the conversation and making the material relevant for them.

  29. Nkem

    The biggest successes being the small ones is a great way to look at it!

  30. Keep switching up the routine….that will surely keep all the learners on their toes. Probably, every 2 weeks.

  31. Gervin Khan

    Wow! Definitely a great way to defy boredom inside the classroom as many have failed to do. I’ve read the part 1 and from there I was already convince. The addition of part to makes it really clear that what you’ve cited is a legit ways to prevent boredom in the classroom.

  32. Melissa Delgado

    This is a great post! Thanks for sharing.

  33. bella

    I wish my school had this. I have learning troubles and I was always just put in a different room just because I had to learn different. This is such a great post.

  34. Emman Damian

    I think you need to be creative and innovative. Introduce something new. Also, be happy!

  35. Celebrate Woman Today

    I wish more educators used these effective principles to undo the boredom in the classroom setting.

    1. Marie

      I think that as research continues to roll out showing how much easier and more effectively these classrooms run, teachers are starting to implement these things. There are a lot of really good teachers! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  36. Steven Morrissette

    You should really be a teacher for teachers. You always have great advice.

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Steven. I have helped fellow teachers for some time. But honestly, we all help each other. 🙂 Thank you for your thoughts.

  37. katrina Kroeplin

    great new ideas. we will def need this this fall for school.

  38. Melissa

    These tips for preventing boredom in class are excellent! I can just imagine how hard it can be for teachers to keep children’s attention spam. Switching the routine is definitely a great strategy. Thank you for sharing, great post!

    1. Marie

      Very true, Melissa. Especially during certain times of the year (holidays, end of the school year), it can be even harder to keep the kids’ attention. Thank you for your thoughts!

  39. tweenselmom

    These tips will definitely wash away the kids’ boredom! I’m glad you got to share this with us, I find this really helpful!

  40. Kristine Nicole Alessandra

    These tips would also apply to homeschooling. My grandson will be doing virtual classroom learning this school year and for him to stay focused on the teacher will be a challenge. I am sending the link to this article to my daughter. My grandson starts classes mid-August. Thanks for sharing these tips.

    1. Marie

      You are right, Kristine! They definitely apply well to homeschooling. I hope this is helpful to your daughter!

  41. World in Eyes

    What a wonderful idea for your trainee teachers. These way to to prevent boredom in the classroom is very helpful for teachers.

  42. Mudpiefridays

    love this topic! every single one of them is such an important guide for our kids. Thanks so much for sharing

  43. joanna

    A two ways conversation is a great way to make sure that the children are not getting bored. I remember that this was one of the issues in school, it was always the teacher speaking and the children almost asleep.

  44. Monidipa

    Trainee teachers can really try this out for students. The tips look great. I can share it with my teacher friends.

  45. Bright snow Loveland

    Very educative information, Prevent Boredom is a great tool teachers must know. Thanks for sharing.

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