TPR for kindergarten English songs

In the last article, I talked about some of the songs most children tend to enjoy in the very young learner English classroom.

Sometimes, however, children don’t respond to the music you’re playing. I remember in one of the classes early in my teaching career that a few children decided they didn’t want to sing or dance to the music, and so they would ‘sit out’ the songs.

What worried me, was that it started to become a little contagious. Other children, would notice one or two children sitting down, and decide also not to participate.

My centre manager suggested that I ‘motivate’ them by removing stars. (In other words, punish them by removing a reward).

However, I don’t use stars, and I don’t play on the reward/punishment paradigm. I also don’t believe in asking children to do things they don’t want to do in the classroom. That seems to me to be a sure fire way to make them hate learning English, and me.

Over time, I think I’ve picked up a few ideas that can work:

  • Understand children participate in different ways, see if you can find a way they enjoy. That might involve talking with the teaching assistant and parents about what’s happening in class.
  • Walk on the spot – one teacher I saw used a method where the children walk on the spot whilst the song is playing. At least this way they’re not sitting down and are instead doing something with their bodies.
  • Just do TPR or actions – allow them to just do actions to the songs, rather than have to sing them.
  • Ask them if there is a song they enjoy – then introduce that into the class.
  • Do songs as a group – Make sure your classes have songs everyone can do as a group, like Hokey Pokey Shake or The Pinocchio.
  • Don’t force participation
  • Introduce silly songs into the class. There are some songs most children enjoy, like Shake Break, if they’re a part of your class, it will make participating in other songs a lot more easy for the reluctant students.