Re-focus Attention with Loneliness Busters!

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

When you welcome students back at the beginning of a new school year, after a vacation, or following an extended time away from class due to any reason, including natural or man-made disasters, you have an opportunity to catch and keep kids’ attention by introducing what I call loneliness busters.

Let’s face it…the world can be a scary or lonely place at times. Most adults have developed strategies for managing feelings of loneliness, but many of us still need “a shoulder to lean on” sometimes. Experienced educators know that children are less skilled at dealing with negative feelings. They benefit from guidance we can offer, including the admission that we sometimes feel lonely too. Loneliness knows no age limit.

When teachers creatively break through the barrier that negative feelings, like loneliness, can create between adults and children, we create communication lines that can help students gain a more positive sense of themselves and the world around them. In the process, teachers help children re-focus on learning in school so that they can be successful.

It’s usually – not always, but usually – easy to spot kids who are struggling with difficult feelings – shyness, loneliness, anger, frustration. I’ve had success with a loneliness buster that helps students in grades 3 – 5 get past bad feelings by writing about them. I invite them to write on a computer, like the student in my blog pic below, when one is available, or with pencil and paper.

Focused writing helps students

To introduce this activity I read a poem about loneliness that I’ve written (see below) and I read it aloud as a surprise – almost always on a day when my students seem a bit downhearted or more distracted than usual.

When I introduce this poem I tell the class that the title asks a question. We talk for a minute or two about why questions attract attention. Everyone knows the answer…a question needs an answer – that’s why! Then I ask them to listen for the question and think about their answer to it as they hear my poem…

Am I The ONLY One?

Am I the only one

Who sometimes feels lonely?


You feel lonely, too?

You do?

Then, that makes two who feel blue.

It’s not always easy to say

What makes me feel this way.

What exactly spoils your day?

People who don’t seem to care?

People too busy to stop and see

How lonely you may be?

At least now I know

That I am not the only one

Who feels I miss out

On some of the fun.

Thanks for telling me

That I’m not the only one.

Maybe it will help

For us to learn

How to better share what we feel.


Finding ways to be happier,

Now, that’s a BIG deal!

After I finish reading Am I The ONLY One? aloud I offer the class a choice...we can talk more together to see what answers students have to the title question (strictly on a voluntary basis – I never force students to share personal feelings in front of the class) or we can “climb into our private, quiet zones” and write individual poems about loneliness to share later.

At the close of class, I challenge the students to think of loneliness busters in addition to writing and to – what else – write them down!

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students are having trouble writing connecting sentences between the beginning, middle and end of a story.

Solution: Show toy airplanes, pretending to make them "take off" across notebook paper. Explain to the class that stories, like airplanes, require clear "flight paths."

Related Posts: Become the Classroom of the Traveling Story!