Early stage English teaching involves primarily active games because preschoolers are energetic by nature and their attention span is quite short. Approximately, the three-years-olds can concentrate only for 7 to 9 minutes, four-year-olds about for 12 minutes and the five-year-olds for 14 minutes. It has been my observation that these values vary depending on the group, the frequency of attention span exercises or even the weather. In order to take full advantage of the attention span and learning time each active game should be preceded by detailed instructions. Then a teacher has to make sure that all children understand the rules to avoid unnecessary conflicts and arguments during a game. The chaos outburst can be disheartening for the next play. Let us remember that preschoolers’ attention scatters in a heartbeat and only a full control of the teacher guarantees to bring the game to an end.
Less is more
Be careful with the selection of language materials which are designed to encourage preschoolers to act, for instance: in a game called “Pass The Ball” a group of children sit cross-legged in a circle and gently pass a ball to each other in a gentle way not hurt anyone. The aim of the game is to repeat language material in a fun way. A child to whom a friend passed the ball is to say a first English word which comes to its mind. If a child thinks too long – it drops out the game. Words cannot be repeated. If someone says the same word which was already told – drops out the game. In older age groups the game can be made even more difficult by narrowing the vocabulary range only to numbers, colours or animals. Do not use too colourful, shiny or a loudly playing balls because preschoolers will focus on the object not on the task they are to perform. For this reason, it is good to prepare for a language material repetition game an objects that children already know – newly learned game rules and emotions accompanying victory or defeat are to entertain them during the repetition.
Expanding attention span
Concentration of preschoolers can be trained both in a kindergarten and at home. Daily dose of memory exercises such as nursery rhymes, new songs learning or reading your child before bedtime can significantly prolong the attention span. Learning by singing already known kindergarten songs over and over again can significantly boost memorization skills. It also consolidates vocabulary and grammar structures. Songs are also creating a learning context and develop a listening habit. Additionally, this singing method can be enriched by gestures or dance moves so our children will be able to learn even faster by stimulating left and right brain simultaneously.