There are many reasons students find it hard to pick up lessons. Sometimes, it is their attention span working against them. Other times, it is their sleepy eyes. Or, in many cases, they are just not that curious enough about chlorophylls and photosynthesis. In all of these scenarios, however, teachers (as well as school administrators) can do something to turn things around: brain preps. Activities that allow the brain to get ready to take in information. Try these mind exercises to make students attentive to your lessons:

Focused Attention Practices

These are routines that allow pupils to concentrate on a particular stimulus. It forces them to flex the brain’s executive functions of sustained attention and emotional control. Deep breathing is one such exercise. Have your students inhale deeply, raising their arms above their heads and holding their breath for a while. Then let them exhale, while they pull down their arms. Do this at least five times, before and after your lesson discussions.

Aside from deep breathing, hand-tracing is also a good focused-attention practice. Give your pupils some writing materials and then have them outline their nondominant hand, while keeping close attention to the breathing and the movement of the pencil. For older pupils, though, you can go for a more challenging practice, like standing on one foot and focusing on balance.

Workout Routines

Exercise is undeniably effective in boosting brain power. Specifically, it can kickstart the production of endorphins, hormones that enhance the brain’s prioritising capabilities. After a walk or a jog, the ability to filter out distractions improves, thereby making students more focused on the task given to them. Promote fitness activities then. Bike-to-school is a good school-wide program to launch.

Assign buddies or create cycling groups based on the addresses of your students. Dedicate bike parking areas on your campus. Consider partnering with bike shelter manufacturers in having your school’s brand name engraved on the equipment. Of course, make sure to include exercises inside the classrooms as well. Play hopscotch after a spelling or math lesson. Scatter number or letter mats in the classroom and have the students answer your questions using those. Or, you can also have exercise balls on stand by, ready to be ridden on during recess.

Brain Breaks

Desk with notebook, pencil and ipod
Speaking of recess, a good mental prep activity is brain breaks. It helps students go into a state of relaxation, process the information discussed, and recharge them for the next batch of learnings. One popular activity for this is the dance off. Play some music, appropriate for the age of your students, and then let them dance to its tune. When the music stops, everyone has to stop moving.

When they fail to stop, they are out of the game. Repeat the play-stop music until there is only one person left. A brain break may also be time spent in the quiet zone of your classroom. Use comfortable rugs, bean bags, and throw pillows in this area. Provide some writing and reading materials so students can use them for leisure.

If you have been struggling with inattentive students who just give you blank stares after a lesson, perhaps it is time to pay attention to your mind preparation tactics. Use these activities to jumpstart those little, but brilliant brain cells.