Making Learning Fun
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
We have all come across students who are present in the class but aren't really there fully. If you look closely, you can see that they're in a different world, a world which definitely has more to offer besides it being really fun and exciting! In their world, there are characters never seen before, ideas they consider worth testing, story endings that make them want to make a sequel and so many questions they want to keep exploring. When you wake them up from their dreamy world, how they wish everyday class with you was as much fun!
But, why does this happen? Simply put, they don't always gain as much as they want to in the way they want to and most often don't know why they're doing what they're doing in class today. They wonder how it's relevant in their life today?
Let's understand this through an example. Think of a movie you love to watch again and again or a show that you follow and really can't miss. What's the difference between these and the ones you stopped watching long time ago. You probably can't relate to them anymore, there's no thrill, too long, season end wasn't exciting enough or they're just not fun any more. It's the exact same reason why many students stop listening or engaging in class, it's just not fun anymore.
That brings us to the question, why fun? Why is it so important to make our class time with students fun? The simple answer is that it will increase student engagement and participation. However, there are many scientific reasons that emphasize the importance of fun learning. Two of the reasons, that we believe are important for educators, are listed below:
- Fun lessens stress: With so much pressure on students to achieve more and grab every opportunity that comes their way, stress is inevitable. However, a learning environment that is entertaining
amusing and playful can help reduce all that stress and at the same time direct them towards their goals. When one is less stressed, one can also recall or memorize better.
- Improves relationships: Research shows that a fun experience allows people to talk more to each other, bridging communication gaps that might have existed and in turn helps people to build trust in each other. Isn't this an important life skill to excel in life and also make general living more meaningful?
Now, comes the next part. How do I make learning fun for my students? Here are certain easy and simple ways that could get you started:
1. Let children choose who they want to work with: So often, teachers worry that if they allow children to sit with their friends, they'll just talk and not concentrate. The question is, how can you leverage that relationship so they can have meaningful conversations that allow them to help each other towards common goals. Set those expectations with them and help them to see how their friendship can actually make them strong partners working towards class goals.
2. Partner with children in the learning process: Which child wouldn't enjoy co-owning the lesson with you where their ideas are worth a lesson and have the potential to add to everyone's learning? If not in big ways, you can start doing this by giving students choices on projects they want to pick or time they want to spend on a particular activity or planning the end of the month showcase on their own. Ideas are many, what's important is to embed the thought that children add equal value to the learning process and they in turn gain much more than just being recipients of the information. As Benjamin Franklin said," Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
3. Encourage Play: At the start, middle or end of a day, allow children to let loose and play with their friends. This could be in the form of a planned activity for introducing a topic, a board game or self created games. This gives children a break from the usual way of thinking and exercise those creative muscles. One cannot emphasize enough on the fact that kids love to play and nothing makes learning wholesome than doing something you already enjoy.
4. Explore through Questioning: We have heard that a "well educated mind will always have more questions than answers." Not only does this lead to children owning their learning but also make learning life long. Build a culture that encourages children to question and one that celebrates their curiosity. This aspect alone will bring all the fun in children's lives because remember children naturally like to question from the day they are born, " what is that? why is that? when? and so on and so forth." Why kill this natural curiosity when we can nurture it?
5. Don't give answers: There's a simple way to explain this one. How do you feel when your best friend give's away the end of a movie that you'd been waiting to watch over the weekend? Yes, it discourages you from even watching it on your laptop. It's the same with classroom learing. When you give away answers easily, students urge to put in effort and look for an answer on their own reduces and over time stops. Let them explore even if they don't reach the answer rightaway. They would have learnt so much more on the way.
6. Nature, the teacher : Nature they say is the best teacher. Why do children look forward to their sports lessons and run out the moment the bell rings? Being out in the open, running, observing other things outside the four walls generates so much enthusiasm to explore and learn. Plan your lessons in a way that children get to explore nature or reap the benefits by being in it. A simple reading lesson under a tree is enough to relax a mind and allow it to absorb all that learning. And most importantly in a naturally fun way.
7. Bring different stimuli: When we always work indoors in front of our laptops, even a small walk outside is a refresher. That's because its a new stimulus that's giving your brains messages to think differently. When students go through one lesson after another in more or less the same format, their brain yearns for a different message so it can think more and think differently. Try to bring different ways of instructions like an audio book, a newspaper article, share a story by enacting, a new teacher in the form of a puppet, play music in the background during work time, etc.
8. Story Telling: In the urge to make children critical thinkers many a times we forget the single most thing that makes learning enjoyable, keeping it so simple that a child doesn't get lost in self doubt or worry if they can even do it. Everyone can do it as long as a teacher knows how to make tough topics simple. One way to do it is by sharing your own personal story on how you understood this topic. It's simple, interactive, engaging and all children love story telling.
If you found these interesting, give them a shot. Do remember that all of this will show the result you want when YOU are willing to let go and have fun with your students. Also, feel free to use these images as posters for your work room or planning book. If you'd like your own free posters, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will email them to you.