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Secrets from a Teacher: Wait Time

This is one of my favorite secrets, because I didn’t believe in its power until I saw it myself, and then I was blown away.

The secret is this: wait time.

wait time

And it works like this: when you ask a question, wait at least 5 seconds before calling on a student.

Now, I realize, in your everyday life as a parent, you are not usually asking a question and waiting for a kid to raise their hand to answer.  But “wait time” is applicable when you’re reading with your kid and they are struggling with a word, or when you tell your toddler to repeat a new word you’ve just said, or when you just want your child to elaborate more on something they’ve told you.

When I first heard about “wait time,” I had to practice it.  I was working in kindergarten and first grade classrooms at the time, and I was used to asking a question and calling on one of the first kids who raised their hand.  What’s wrong with this?  It doesn’t give the “careful thinkers” time to think!

So, I tried it.  I asked a question to a class of first graders and counted silently in my head.  A couple of hands shot up immediately, and then a couple more.  When I got to 5, it was like magic!  SEVEN more kids raised their hands.  Amazing, right?

Kids need time to think.  They need time to solve their own problems.  They need time to process new information.

Try using “wait time” the next time you are working on something new with them, and don’t rush them to answer before they’re ready.  You will be surprised what they can do when you give them just a little extra time to think about it!


(This post is part of a Secrets from a Teacher to Make You a Better Parent, a part of the write31days.com challenge.  The best way to keep up with this series is to subscribe via email here.)

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