Whether they have short attention spans or just a thirst for entertaining lessons, these tips for teaching Gen Z will help you give your kids the best education.
Is it eight-second attention spans or just a thirst for entertaining lessons?
Born into a world dominated by technology, connectivity, and rapid change, Gen-Z learners possess distinct characteristics that don’t always conform to traditional teaching practices. But as a creative generation that is beginning to enter the workforce, Gen Z has some of the greatest learning potential. So how do you teach Gen-Z kids?
These teaching strategies will empower parents, teachers, and educators to effectively engage and educate Gen-Z kids. Whether you’re a parent seeking to enhance your child’s learning experience, a homeschool parent trying to figure out how to reach your kids, or an educator aiming to create dynamic classrooms, these tips will help you navigate the educational journey with Gen Z, fostering their growth, curiosity, and success.
(And you’ll bring some fun and excitement to your own lessons and relationships!)
Of course, Gen Z is a diverse group, so get ready for some trial and error. As you build positive relationships with your Gen Zers, they’ll be sure to tell you what they like—and what they don’t.
1. Be Like Your Gen Zer
The first step to effectively teaching Gen Z is to become like Gen Z. Gen-Z kids often have unique insights and perspectives. Like most people, Gen Zers don’t take it well when someone judges them for their opinions. So be open to learning from them as well. Get to know each of your kids individually and bring some of their pizzazz into your interactions and lessons. You’ll be amazed by how much they open up to learning when they feel like they’re seen and understood.
2. Break Up Your Lessons
Research has shown that Gen Z tends to have shorter attention spans, but that can happen to anyone when they’re uninterested. So break your lessons into shorter segments, even if the only way to do that is to take dance breaks. Use a variety of activities, discussions, and hands-on tasks to keep them engaged and maintain their focus.
3. Use Technology
Gen-Z kids have grown up in a digital age, so incorporating technology into your teaching is a must. Whether at home or in a classroom, utilizing interactive apps, online platforms, and multimedia content will make lessons more dynamic and appealing. So familiarize yourself with the best sources of tech, and don’t be afraid to ask your Gen Zer for help. Sure, they might think you’re a little *antique*, but they’ll be engaged and have a blast learning.
4. Create Visual and Interactive Content
Once you’ve got the technology thing down, use visuals, videos, infographics, and interactive elements to spice up learning. These visual aids can help illustrate complex concepts and keep Gen-Z students interested. And it’ll be even better if you ask your kids to create this content as a project. They’ll have fun using their tech skills to learn, and you’ll get to view all kinds of creative content.
5. Incorporate Multisensory Learning
As much as Gen-Z kids love their tech, you’ll find that there are many Gen Zers who have different styles of learning. Appeal to those different styles by incorporating a mix of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic activities in your lessons. You’ll want to provide a variety so that no kid feels left out, and you can adjust as you get to understand your kids’ learning styles more deeply.
6. Try Active Learning
Gen-Z kids are expert multitaskers. But if your Gen Zers still seem not to be learning, engage them through active learning strategies. Debates, case studies, simulations, and role-playing activities will be a fun change to the typical school routine. And Gen Zers are all about fun activities that break the norm.
7. Don’t Forget Collaborative Learning
Gen Z-kids value collaboration and social interaction. Incorporate group activities, projects, and discussions to promote peer learning and foster teamwork. This can be a study group of friends at home, a group presentation at school, or a group discussion during a tutoring session or lesson. But keep in mind that group work can be a struggle, especially if some kids slack off. So judge the work fairly and have a plan A, B, and C in place to keep the various groups engaged.
8. Consider a Real-World Application
Some of Gen Z’s disinterest in learning has to do with the usefulness of the knowledge. Gen Zers want skills-based instruction that they can actually use. They want hands-on experience, not boring lectures. Consider connecting your lessons or study help to real-world scenarios and examples that resonate with Gen Z’s desire for practical knowledge. Show them how what they’re learning applies to their lives and future careers. This will help them see how their education is actually useful, and they’ll be more open to actively learning.
9. Customize Learning
Sometimes what works for one person doesn’t work for another. For example, one person might like research papers but another would rather craft an original video game concept or music score. Gen Z appreciates personalized experiences. Provide opportunities for them to choose topics for projects, explore areas of interest, and take ownership of their learning. Whether it’s social media, trending topics, or their favorite hobbies, they’ll feel more connected to the knowledge they learn.
10. Incorporate Social Issues
Gen Z is socially conscious and cares about global issues. Integrate discussions about social, environmental, and ethical topics into your curriculum to capture their interest and stimulate critical thinking. And don’t be afraid to bring these topics up at home outside of a learning context. This will help your Gen Zer develop learning skills outside of the classroom.
11. Provide Immediate and Constructive Feedback
Provide prompt and constructive feedback on assignments and assessments. Gen Z values continuous improvement and knowing where they stand. They’ll appreciate your honesty and willingness to meet them where they are. Your feedback should be all about helping them rise from there, not meeting your own expectations.
12. Be Flexible and Adaptable
Gen Z is a flexible, easy-going generation, and their education can be the same. Be open to adjusting your teaching methods based on their feedback and needs. Gen Z appreciates educators who can adapt to their learning preferences and keep them interested.
13. Encourage Open Dialogue
Gen Z takes life seriously, but they have fun while doing it. So relax and make your classroom or home one where there’s no pressure to be right or wrong. Create an open and non-judgmental environment where Gen-Z students feel comfortable expressing their opinions and asking questions. Encourage discussions that allow them to share their thoughts and perspectives.
14. Teach an Entrepreneurial Mindset
Encourage creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset. Allow your Gen Zers to explore innovative solutions to problems, and provide opportunities for them to showcase their creative projects. You’ll be surprised by their talents, and they’ll be excited by your interest. Plus, these innovative skills will come in handy throughout their lives.
15. Discuss Their Futures and Careers
The world is full of creation, invention, and innovation. Jobs are changing at a rapid pace, and Gen Z is a large part of that change. Help your Gen-Z kids understand the practical applications of their education in terms of future career opportunities. Show them potential pathways and skills that are in demand. This is the time to explore YouTube, consider jobs that don’t exist yet, and get your kids excited for the future they’ll create.
16. Communicate Openly
Many Gen-Z kids already have a vision for their education journey and don’t like it when others try to force their expectations on them. Maintain open and honest communication with Gen-Z students about their educational needs, challenges, and goals. Listen to their concerns and ideas, and ask how you can support them. Being honest and open with your Gen Zers will only help them relate to and respect you.
17. Encourage Self-Directed Learning
All Gen-Z kids learn in different ways. Foster this independence by encouraging your child to take initiative in their learning. Teach them to set goals, manage their time, and seek resources on their own. But don’t be scared if your kids decide to work on an assignment the day before it’s due. Definitely guide them and talk to them, but for some kids, this is just what works. Procrastinators and perfectionists, hard-workers and natural geniuses, they’ll all get to the same destination if they put in the work.
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Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.