Interacting with Children
Different aged children will have different needs, require different ways of being taught and will engage in creativity in different ways. Just like you will have your own personal reasons for investing in children, you will also have your own way of teaching children. Below are some of the tips and techniques that I've developed over the years that I’d like to share.
Key things to remember –
Know the area you are working in – The size and how many children it can hold, whether there are any nooks and crannies they could escape and hide in (it does happen!). Where the toilets are and how many leaders you would ideally have to assist or lead with you.
Give clear, precise commands – children respond best by giving them strict boundaries and outlines that they need to complete their work in. For example – you want them to create two movements, one that shows when they are happy and one when they are said. So say to them ‘you have the count of 10 to make your happy position -10, 9, 8, 7…’.
‘Lock it away’ – is phrase I use once I have either taught something or the children have just made something up and we are moving onto something else but what we’ve just done needs to remember. We pretend to take a key and lock the side of our head that
Engage with them using eye contact and crouching down to their level if they are shorter than you.
Have a stop signal – really important
in larger groups of under 11 year olds, it needs to be something that they can
either pick up and copy so you know you have their focus. Examples I have used
~Be a star fish in 10, 9, 8, 7…
~ Do a series of claps that they have to mimic back
~ Raise your hand in the air
~ Count back from a number
The idea of the games below (bar the Name and Action one) is that the children are moving around the space or within a given area either walking fast/running depending upon which instruction you have given them; once they have done the action/movement which is needed they resume their moving. Also to add a bit of competition element to it you could start eliminating the child who completes the movement/action last – this would be a judgement call depending on the group.
Name and Action – this works best with the group size being
no more than 10 and if you know that you are going to be seeing the people
periodically that day or in the future.
~ It’s as the name suggests, you go round the circle and as the child says their name they put an action to it – preferably a big and expressive one.
~ For example, I would go ‘My name is Anna’ and at the same time do a big jump in the air, reaching as high as I could.
~ Everyone would then copy. Once everyone had had a go and done their action, the idea is then to go round the circle doing everyone’s names and actions continually, gradually getting faster.
N.B depending how big and expressive the young children's moves are you can use this as part of a warm up.
Traffic Lights – is as the name suggests; red stop, green
go, amber an additional movement/ transition movement of your choice.
~ Then get fun by adding different colours in, blue, yellow, purple etc. each one signalling a different way of travelling; run, hop, skip, jump, forwards/backwards, slowly/fast.
~ Use yours and their imaginations.
~ Can also use it as a game and get people out who do it last
Numbers – run along the same lines as traffic lights, except these are
movements on the spot as opposed to travelling ones. For example; one could be jump in the
air touch the floor and walk off again, two; turn on the spot, three; find
a partner hold hands (both) facing each other lean out with all their
weight lower to floor without breaking hold and then stand up again, and
four could be sit down on the floor and stand up again.
~ Also try it with the numbers signalling the size of groups they need to get into.
~ All the time in between movements the children should constantly be moving around the space.
Piggys Snakes and sharks – this one is just a bit of fun!
~ Piggy’s = piggy back
~ Snakes = lie on your belly on the floor and wriggle along and
~ Sharks = lie on you back with your feet in the air.
Captains Coming – pretty self-explanatory and I’m sure you know it!
Ways of Delivery
Demonstrate, demonstrate, demonstrate – the one key word!
Mirroring – teaching children movement is best done in the mirror, this enables them to always see the movements you are doing and allows you to see the children and whether you have their focus – or whether they’re misbehaving. By this I mean learning to teach everything in the opposite, naturally we teach with the right side leading, but when you mirror you teach with the left side leading. It’s a bit hard to get the hang of, but when you can its invaluable.
Chunking – divide the material you teaching up into manageable chunks - teach a little, practise and reinforce it, then teach a little more.
Association/ imagery – children will associate and remember movements much more easily if they know something that they can remember it alongside. For example, stand tall like a soldier, be small like a ball, be floppy like a puppet, draw a big sun in the sky etc.
Dance with them – always take the time to dance with the children, and always dance it to the best of your ability. They’ll be inspired!
These are some tips and tricks that skim the surface of interacting with children, but hopefully they have given you a few ideas. Tomorrow we delve into getting their creativity going.