Welcome to Week 1 in my Think Like a Teacher series!
This series is designed to give you, as a parent, proven teaching strategies to help your kids thrive at home.
I was a Gifted and Talented teacher for years, and I loved every minute of it. Now, as a stay at home mom, I’m finding that the skills and habits I learned as a teacher are incredibly useful as a mama too!
Read more about this series here…
This week addresses the topic of wait time.
You know, the period of time between when you ask a question and when your child answers? When you hear those awkward “crickets?” Yeah, that!
Practicing the habit of wait time is an essential tool in any teacher’s (or mama’s) toolbox.
Picture this: a mom is showing off her 15 month old to the grandparents. “What sound does a cow make?” Because of the pressure to make her baby perform and impress the family, this mama jumps right in and gives her toddler the answer. “Moo!” exclaims said mommy. Well, grandma really couldn’t care less if mama knows her animal sounds, she wants to hear the little one say it, of course! At this age, most children would have been able to give the correct answer, provided they’re given ample wait time.
This is a silly example of course, but it just illustrates how easy it is to rob our kids of an opportunity to interact, without even knowing it!
According to one study, “In most classrooms, students are typically given less than one second to respond to a question posed by a teacher.” (source) Less than a second! As a beginning teacher, I was so nervous about keeping my students’ attention that I was certainly guilty of neglecting wait time in my classroom.
However, as I matured a little and settled into my personal style of teaching, I began to accept, even crave, those little moments of silence when the only sound was that of the gears in my students’ heads turning!
Wait Time Improves Conversation
Do you have one of those friends you dread to talk to because you just can’t get a word in edgewise? It’s torture! You feel unheard and unneeded. Nobody wants to interact in this way.
I think our kids can feel this way with us sometimes! We ask a question. Give ourselves the answer. Ask another question. And so on, and so on.
If you want to have a real conversation with your kid, let him have a little brain space to really think before he speaks. Conversation requires patience. Conversation requires wait time!
Wait Time Increases Confidence
Let’s go back to our scenario with the mom and young toddler. Imagine if the child would have been allowed a little wait time and had come up with the “moo!” his mom was looking for. Can’t you seen the smile on his face as he basks in his accomplishment? When kids are allowed time to actually think for themselves and respond, their confidence soars!
Action Steps for This Week
- Ask your child a meaningful question and provide wait time for a meaningful response.
- Practice counting to three (in your head, of course) after you ask a question. Researchers say a three second wait time is a minimum! (source)
- For younger kids and toddlers, try a creativity themed question like “If you could combine any two animals, what would they be?”
- For older kids and teens, try a critical thinking question such as, “What are your two favorite family vacations we’ve taken, and what do they have in common?”
- While you’re on a roll, practice the wait time strategy as you talk with your spouse. You’ll be amazed at how wait time draws your conversation deeper and helps you be a better listener!
Here’s your pinnable image to share!
We need to slow down. Listen to what children are saying, and adults, too. Don’t put words in their mouths.
Exactly! It’s about being intentional with our interactions.