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Make us wait

Monday, 18 July 2016  | 

Make Us Wait

If there is one thing that frustrates me (and I appreciate that it is done with kindness and good intentions), it’s children with SEN being consistently allowed to go first. Some would argue, skipping lines, or being asked questions first, or giving the child first choice over activities – is the only way to get through the day. I would respectfully have to disagree.

Our children need to learn to wait, to take turns, to share just the same as any other person. Sometimes they will get to go first; sometimes they will have to wait until last. And yes, I know that they find waiting hard, I know that it can result in challenging behaviours (especially the first few times), and I know that everyone else don’t mind them being first – but that does not make it right.

So, how can you teach this skill? How can you make sure or children learn to wait without resulting in a meltdown? Simply put, you teach it, in exactly the same way as you would teach any other skill, one step at a time. Scaffolding your approach gradually so that the child is increasingly able to wait for longer periods of time.

In my class, everyone wants to answer first (or no one wants to answer at all – depending on the mood we’re in that day). I use a ‘thumbs up’ system, I talk to the student who I want to answer, whilst smiling at and putting my thumb up at the ones who are waiting. I show them that I’ve seen they are waiting nicely, that I’m proud of them for knowing the answer, and that I will get to them soon.

As a family we go to places early so they are quieter, so it’s less overwhelming and the queues are shorter, but we queue behind everyone else and wait our turn. Our children are motivated to do fun activities; so if waiting is difficult these are a great place to start, we can use them to our advantage to teach the skills they need to learn.

One day, in the not too distant future, our children will be adults – out in the world living their lives. They will not be cossetted in a place surrounded by people that have known them since they were small; they will be surrounded by strangers who expect them to act with courtesy. We can give them the ability to succeed or we can take it away.

So please, next timeyou wonder whether to skip a line or avoid a place with a queue, think then think again. Let’s work on more than getting through the day. Let’s prepare our children for the world…

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