When teaching young learners, teachers need to adopt a balanced teaching style which includes a variety of activities often called either stirrers or settlers. Stirrers are activities which encourage students to be active and dynamic which may include standing, hopping, strolling and running. Settlers are activities opposite to stirrers. It involves learners to sit down and be calm.
For some young learners coping with the new environment as well as separation from the parent can be overwhelming. To make their transition smooth, a teacher should strive to make the environment familiar. Once they start feeling secure, and gain a sense of safety they would be demonstrating their independence.
It is important for teachers to use these different activities to establish a routine in the classroom. And also to use the activities to make the unfamiliar surroundings familiar to young learners. Some of the stirrers and settlers activities are as follows:
- Create a positive learning environment for the young learners where the young learners have the freedom to select his/her activities and the teacher either add/remove materials as needed).
- Create a controlled atmosphere right from the beginning by allowing the kids to enter the classroom and settle down quickly in small groups (for instance if a class has 15 students making a group of five in each will do so).
- Ask them to introduce themselves one by one will also help in getting them acquainted with their classmates.
- Engage them in physical activities such as warm-up exercises, dance-related activities, or games that require physical movement. Physical activities are effective in settling young learners.
- Use hand gestures to reinforce communication e.g. “thumbs up” to pay attention to the teacher or “raising both the hands up” meaning everybody needs to calm down. Once young learners are familiar with the hand gestures, they can be used to settle students easily.
- Make young learners get acquainted with the routines and procedures to have minimal classroom management issues.
- Teach students to do stretching exercises, take deep breaths, practise yoga or perform exercise-based activities.
- Let young learners draw or colour in the worksheet or drawing books while reciting a simple story in the background and then enquiring the students if they had been listening to the story.
- Conduct short activities for instance showing the colourful balls or blocks and asking them to name the colour.
- Use playdough as a tool to settle down the young learners. Most children enjoy making shapes out of the play dough.
- Fill a small container filled with water and allow young learners to sail paper boats.
Facing the young learners can be an experience to remember in more than one way. The first few days permit to guide them and also utilize the free time effectively through appropriate learning aids. Materials that can be helpful to settle young learners include: clothespin, number cards, dotted cards, buttons, toothpicks, pompoms, toothbrushes, paints, number dice and a lot more. Engaging preschoolers in activities right away helps them to be less preoccupied with the separation anxiety and get acquainted with the school environment. A list of settler/ stirrers that could be helpful for the first day :
- Name tabs- creating a personalized name tab will help to learn the names of other children.
- I spy with my little eyes- Designate one child as the looker, the child is supposed to find something in the area that everyone may see and give clues about what they are looking at. The child who guesses the correct answer will be the new looker.
- Music and Rhythm- Start a day by playing kid- friendly songs.
- Clap your hands- “if you are happy and you know it” is a popular song full of action.
Hence, Stirrers and settlers may or may not be a game. It gets the students moving and thinking, gets them in the mood for English, helps them to reflect on their learning and helps with classroom dynamics. Using them often engages children in a meaningful way.