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Tips to keep children engaged: what we learnt teaching them about forest and land fire prevention


Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our teams are working hard to ensure educational efforts on forest and land fire prevention keep going strong. We conducted virtual workshop sessions to help teachers in Indonesia learn the necessary skills for delivering forest and land fire prevention messages to their students properly. Over the course of those sessions, we encountered many interesting questions teachers had about how to keep the children engaged and during these classes on forest and land fire prevention.

The highly diverse conditions of our society, due to different environments, cultural backgrounds and education levels, have made the implementation of education on forest and land fire vary from one region to another. Teachers face a multitude of challenges – from fostering students’ understanding to educating those whose parents still practice traditional slash-and-burn agricultural method when opening their farmlands.

From those questions, we’ve gathered seven tips which you might find helpful when educating your children, especially on topics such as environmental protection:

1. Fine-tune your teaching method to the classes

Methods for educating older children (the fourth to sixth grade of Primary School, Junior and Senior High School) are not usually applicable to younger children (kindergarten and the first to third grade of Primary School). They have significantly different psychological conditions and learning styles. Younger children prefer a more one-on-one, straightforward approach, and have limited attention spans. So instead of making them read a book or watch a full video on the subject, break it up for them into parts, and utilise a more play-and-learn teaching style.

For example, if you are teaching younger children, you can split the viewing of the Rumbun and Jungle Friends video series into episode 0, episode 1, episode 2, episode 3. Otherwise, you can watch the full version here.

On the other hand, older children prefer more abstract and complex materials, and do well in a group approach. They also have the ability to concentrate for a longer period of time. Ask them to sharpen their mind through group discussions on what to do and how to prevent forest and land fire, and present the results of such discussions.

2. Set up a conducive environment to the child’s learning process

The learning atmosphere is essential for children. Make sure that there is proper lighting, a comfortable class layout, and good air circulation. Can you imagine what it is like to learn under poor lighting and stuffy air? It will be difficult for children to absorb information when they are uncomfortable.

3. Understand the child’s learning style and intelligence

Image source: http://freepik.com/

Every child possesses at least nine types of intelligence at various levels, and has their own individual learning style depending on the most prominent type of intelligence they have. Teachers should take this into account and adjust their teaching methods if necessary, before conducting a class with children.

  1. Naturalist intelligence (nature)
  2. Linguistic intelligence (language)
  3. Logical intelligence (mathematic)
  4. Musical intelligence (music/art)
  5. Kinaesthetic intelligence (bodily motion)
  6. Visual-spatial intelligence (visual space)
  7. Intrapersonal intelligence (self-interaction)
  8. Interpersonal intelligence (interaction with others)
  9. Existential intelligence (divinity)

So if you don’t want your students with dominant kinaesthetic intelligence to fall asleep in class, don’t ask them to simply listen a story about forest and land fire prevention. Instead, ask them to play outdoor games such as little detective game to solve the puzzles in the Rumbun and Jungle Friends storybook.

4. Improve children’s reasoning instead of asking them to memorise

The rapid flow of information in the 21st century has provided children with access to various sources of information via the internet. Parents and teachers should encourage children to think critically about each piece of information received in order to figure out WHY something may/may not be done and HOW to do it?

Parents and teachers can stimulate children’s reasoning and critical thinking ability by asking them to tell stories based on materials from our Rumbun and Jungle friends campaign site, with emphasis on questions such as how forest and land fires happen, what causes forest and land fires, how to prevent forest and land fires, what to do when we see forest and land fires, etc.

5. Maximise the right brain to help retain information

Information can be easily forgotten when the right brain functions are not well utilised. Do you remember how long it took you to memorise lyrics to your favourite song? Now think about how long it took you to memorise facts for an exam – we’re sure that took much longer than the song. That is a perfect example of activating your right brain to memorise information, and we can apply similar principles in teaching children.

Teachers and parents can include artistic elements such as singing or drawing in their lesson plans. These are effective ways in preserving a child’s memory over a longer period of time.

6. Take a break to keep our brain fresh
The human brain can absorb materials presented at its best only during the first 20 minutes. After that, the ability to concentrate will decrease. This is even more true with the topic of forest and land fire prevention, which can be heavy especially for younger children.

Teachers and parents should break the materials up into parts, and be creative in order to maintain optimal learning for children, for example by incorporating activities and games into the lesson.

7. Appreciate and acknowledge every effort
Giving appreciation may seem trivial, but can have great impact on a child’s learning process. If children attempt to draw a green village without fire, will they respond more positively to praise and encouragement or indifference and ridicule? If we do the latter, they will probably give up learning about forest and land fire prevention and sulk their way out of it.

Those are several tips to optimise children’s understanding of education materials on forest and land fire prevention. Of course, there are other different tips from the ones shared, but the tips above can help us create a good entry point to educating our children on these topics.

In a bid to help teachers and parents educate their students and children, we have provided a special landing page on our website containing education materials on forest and land fire prevention for students of primary, junior high and senior high schools. The education materials on forest and land fire prevention are available for download on https://www.smart-tbk.com/fire-prevention.

Through this landing page, teachers and parents can have access to thought-provoking materials such as presentations on forest and land fire prevention, storybook, animated videos and podcasts. All can be downloaded for free. We hope that our children turn out to be a generation that realises the importance of forests and the environment, and stop the spread of fires in the country.

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