I shall begin with a brief anecdote…The other day I was going through the drive-thru to grab some lunch. I was fourth in line so, obviously I had to wait. I was sitting my car for about five minutes when all of a sudden a thought crept into my mind, ” What is taking so long?! ” Then I had another thought, ” When did 5 minutes become a long time, what is wrong with me?!” When I got home I pondered this moment a bit more. I started to tell my husband about it when the words came out of my mouth, ” I remember when we stood in line and waited, now its all rush, rush, rush.” After I had recovered from the alarming fact that I sounded like my mother, I realized that today our kids are used to instant gratification. Because of this, the notion and skill of patience is diminished. This little, but oh so important skill, can play a big part on their language development and social skills.
Patience is very subtly built into many of the social communication skills that we use each day and in turn teach our students. Let’s think about it a moment. What’s turn taking during game play…patience. What’s listening to someone’s story…patience. What could we call observing non-verbal cues…patience. These skills all require the student to stop and wait before going on. Now, there are students whose level of patience is beyond their control, e.g. students with ADHD, but for the rest of our students it is a skill that we need to start to emphasize.
Now how to we start to ‘undo’ the work of drive-thrus and instant downloads? How do we make this abstract concept more concrete? First our students need to understand the word patience. I won’t give you the dictionary definition, instead, see what your students define it as and adjust from there. If they know what it means ask them if they know why it is important. Explain how it is more than just ‘waiting’. It is showing their character, compassion, and kindness to others. These are traits that the majority of people find important and will appreciate. If they don’t know what it means you can explain how it is waiting calmly for your turn or something to happen. When we do this, people notice it and will see us as being thoughtful and kind, someone they want to be around. That’s just my take feel free to use it if you want 😉
Go over situations that require patience. For junior high and high school students it could be showing patience while they wait for a text response. If we do not show patience while wait for the response and continue to send message after message until they respond, the the person will become annoyed and maybe not respond because they are irritated with us. With elementary students, it can be showing patience while waiting to share in class. If we do not show patience and blurt out what we want to say, we can annoy our classmates because we are not following the rules.
Patience is a skill that can impact our students in so many ways. It is critical that they understand why it is important to do their best to use patience in their everyday activities.