After a summer full of free time – most of which kids will have spent sleeping, lazing around and playing – it’s no wonder that many pupils find the return to school a difficult adjustment. The school routine of the previous year is a distant memory, and this can make coming back into a learning environment challenging.
As teachers, this is an issue we all face, but it can be exceptionally hard to address. With increasing distractions from learning (predominately in the form of smartphones and handheld games consoles) on top of the usual excitement of seeing friends again and unwillingness to concentrate, it is important we have a plan to motivate in place.
Reengaging students as soon as possible after the summer break is key to re-establishing a learning environment, and the most effective way to do this is to get them excited to learn again. Key Stage 1 and 2 aged children’s main motivation to learn is a lot more simple than older children’s – they want to learn when it’s fun.
“What ___ did this summer” Activity
Use your students’ desire to chat about their summer as a basis for an educational activity. Spilt you class up into pairs, and give them five minutes each to talk about their summer, and then a quiet fifteen minutes to compile a small piece on what their partner did that summer.
This doesn’t have to be extensive, as the aim of the exercise is to open up communication lines and get students used to remembering and writing down facts again. Remember that many won’t have practiced their writing skills at all over the summer, so this is a good, simple task to get them reengaged with compiling a report style piece.
The Cross-Subject Project
Beginning a cross-subject project at the beginning of term can quickly get pupils interested in learning again. Depending on your syllabus, you can combine learning in different subject areas with the topics you need to cover.
For example, using PE, Geography, English and Art together to produce an “Adventure Story” over the space of four weeks can work exceptionally well. Use PE lessons to create an “adventure world”, using crash mats as lakes and rivers, benches as stepping stones and rope bridges, and suspended climbing ropes and wall-mounted climbing apparatus as vines and cliff faces.
Allow them to plan their journey and story in the “adventure world”, and return to the classroom to start writing. Use Art lessons to produce illustrations for their stories, and work in Geography and even Science by teaching them about the natural habitat and animals that could be found in a tropical adventure place – is there a volcano there, are there earthquakes?
Make sure you have a rewards system in place for your class’s school work, whether it’s a standard school certificates or awards program, or one you create simply for your class.
Make sure you explain the system to your class on the first day to get them motivated to start earning these rewards and use colorful charts and posters to remind them how and what they can be rewarded for. Categories could include good behavior, helping fellow students, performing well in class tasks or completing homework or tests to a high standard.
How else do you get your class motivated after the summer break?
Louise Blake is a new mum and education and parenting blogger exceptionally interested in giving her little boy the best education possible. Currently she writes for School Stickers.
For more ideas on how to get creative and get your pupils loving learning check out our Creativity in the Primary Classroom course today!