As an example, before teaching one of my science tutoring clients about magnets, I allowed him some time to play with the magnets and show him some fun things they could do. Details of how I set-up this activity are at the end of this post.
Some considerations for priming include:
- Use the same materials that the child will use for the activity (such as showing an example of a spelling test before he takes it or looking at a set of magnets before they're used in science class),
- Priming should be casual and relaxed. You don't really have to teach anything during a priming session. The goal is for the child to "get to know" the materials so that he or she will be familiar with the materials when it is time to do the activity.
- Priming should incorporate frequent opportunities for reinforcement. Make it fun for the student by providing praise and rewards for participating, as appropriate.
Examples of priming (for different ages and topics) include:
- Looking through a picture book at home that the child’s teacher will be reading at school,
- Looking at pictures of the zoo before a field trip,
- Reading over an assignment with the student in advance, explaining it and answering questions,
- Showing an example of a completed assignment (as well as a rubric that lists expectations for the assignment and how it will be graded),
- Demonstrating how to use a computer program and having the child watch you before trying it himself or herself.
Here's an example of a priming activity I used before teaching one of my students about magnets.