One of the greatest things about kids is their endless curiosity. They have a “why” for everything: “Why is the sky blue?” or “Why do cows moo?” In fact, they’re sometimes so eager to ask their questions that they have a hard time waiting for an answer. This can be a bit of a challenge for teachers, who generally have to keep up with lots of little learners at once. Here, you can find some handy tips to help kids focus—both in the classroom and at home.
Practice “Wait Time” With Kids
“Wait time” is a technique used by educators all over the world to help kids process information more effectively. Introduced by Mary Rowe in 1972, wait time encourages students to take at least three seconds to think before responding to a question or comment. Studies show that when educators enforce this method, students develop more patience and respond more thoughtfully to questions they are asked. Here are a few suggestions for teaching the kids in your life to practice wait time:
- Ask students to count for three and five seconds in their heads before asking or answering a question.
- Teach students to wait at least three seconds after a question has been answered to ask another.
- Use tools or hands-on classroom toys like the CogniToys Dino that enforce wait time.
Introduce Fun, Screen-Free Tech Tools
Learning should be fun. Think back to when you were a kid—did you learn best when your teacher asked you to recite the alphabet, or when your mom turned memorizing the letters into a song? In 1992, Mark Lepper and Diana Cordova found that making lessons into games significantly improved learning performance. Today, parents and educators are constantly searching for new ways to keep learning dynamic. Unfortunately, many modern educational tools involve screen-time, which often results in passive learning and decreased engagement. In contrast, toys like the CogniToys Dino give adults a more interactive alternative, helping teach important skills like listening, critical thinking and patience.
- Listening: Generally, people stop talking when interrupted—the Dino doesn’t. If you want to move on or ask another question, you must wait until the Dino has finished speaking.
- Critical Thinking: The Dino speaks at a slower pace than most people, teaching kids to listen and process information more carefully.
- Patience: The Dino can only listen to one person at a time. If one child tries to interrupt another, the Dino will continue speaking as to the original kid.
Play Waiting and Listening Games
Waiting and listening games are a great way to fill transitional time in the classroom, but they can also teach kids to slow down, be patient, and listen (without even realizing they’re doing it). A few teacher favorites include:
We could talk about the benefits of wait time forever (which, ironically, is a word kids may use to describe how long they feel wait time lasts). We promise that with a little bit of practice, kids will get used to the idea of considering their thoughts more carefully, and, as a result, learn the value of patience, both when interacting with others as well as themselves.