How to teach pupils to build patience in the classroom

Learning patience is an important step in every child’s development. The benefits are huge – from feeling calmer to being able to work towards long term goals. Here are some tried and tested methods to help you teach patience to your pupils in your teaching job.

Acknowledging emotions

Acknowledging your pupils’ feelings and emotions when it comes to their struggles with remaining patient is the first step towards progression. One way to do this could be by using reflective listening – a method where you listen to what somebody is saying and repeat their thoughts back to them. This allows them to clarify their thoughts whilst also showing that you understand how they are feeling. This buys them time and lets them think through their emotions, rather than respond to the immediate reaction. Everybody struggles with patience from time to time, so it’s important to remember to normalise how they feel.

Diverting attention

Within the classroom there are many times when a student will have to wait their turn. Whether this is waiting for feedback from a teacher or to use a piece of equipment, sometimes it makes sense to refocus and work on something else for a while. Learning to divert attention can be a useful skill and can prevent situations where pupils are wasting valuable time, or getting frustrated that they can’t do what they want when they want. Some ideas to utilise their time whilst waiting could be researching for a new project or revising. It’s also a great way to encourage students to be proactive when it comes to their learning.

Hands on activities

For younger children, many popular games and activities such as the egg and spoon race, pass the parcel and baking all promote patience building skills. Slow and steady wins the race after all. Another interesting game option is ‘The Silence Game’. This Montessori method where you encourage the child to sit quietly and pay attention to any noises that they hear is a great way to re-centre and experience feelings of calmness. Any opportunity to break up a busy day with a few moments of quiet concentration is a step in the right direction.

Practicing mindfulness

Patience and mindfulness go hand in hand. Introducing simple mindfulness techniques into the classroom could really benefit older pupils. Gathering in a circle and doing a ten-minute walking meditation, writing a gratitude list or spending a few minutes doing a deep breathing exercise are all simple yet effective ideas to get started. The benefits of mindfulness cultivate over time, so how often you do these activities is more important than the time spent doing them.

Remember, patience takes practice. New skills take time to develop, and each pupil will be at a different stage in their development. Positive affirmation leads to behaviour change, so noticing when your students do show patience can be more effective than pointing out when they don’t.

If you are reasonable with your expectations and cultivate the right environment, every pupil should be able to develop patience over time.

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