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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Sustaining Pre-K Attention

Sustaining Pre-K Attention

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I currently work in a Head Start setting with 18 children. Their ages range from 3 to 4 years old. I have implemented whole group, teacher directed time into the day; this whole group instruction lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes and there is usually a story and an activity for a follow-up. We try to stay within this time, especially since this age group has a short attention span. However, we are having a hard time maintaining their attention during story time. We make sure to change our story approach every day. We use strategies such as book on tape, reading whole group, reading in small groups, using finger puppets, using felt pieces to make it interactive, using puppets, using material that is age appropriate, and using quality literature that the children are interested in, but it does not appear to be working as smoothly as we would like. Does anyone else have any suggestions or approaches on how to sustain their attention? Any comments are greatly appreciated.

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Lori Wunderlich's picture
Lori Wunderlich
Pre-K Teacher from Pittsburgh, PA

I work with 3-5 year olds. I find that my students love to listen to read allowed stories. At the beginning of the year I try to find shorter stories that do not have much content then build from there. Make sure you read pre-read the book you are going to be using. Most of the time you do not notice but it does make a difference in the way you read when you already know what's coming next. Another suggestion is to tell them that you are not going to show them the pictures. First you will read the words then you will show the pictures. This will dismiss some of the comments like "I can't see..." Make sure to read with inflection. Children love storytelling too. If you can memorize a story then tell it back to them using felt puppets like you said or using different voices for the characters, they really get into it even my youngest students.

One other suggestion... if they seem to be uninterested... stop the book in the middle where they are really interested and say we'll finish this tomorrow.. make them think "Oh my what's going to happen with ____?" all night until they are so excited to find out what happens the next day.

I hope at least some of these suggestions help!

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