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Classroom management: teach kids how to wait

Date: February 19th, 2015
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: “I want it now.” “I don’t want to wait for the reward.”

That’s how kids are. They don’t want to wait for things, they all want it now. Instant gratification.

I do an exercise in the classroom to help kids learn delayed gratification. I say to the kids, “On Friday, at 2:10, we’re going to do something great. I’m going to announce something that’s going to be really cool.” I say this on Monday.

So, of course, all week, what are those kids doing?

“What is it? What is it? What is it? Can you tell us, miss? Can you tell us? We’ll be really good, really good…just tell us now.”

But they have to wait. They can’t earn their way into it any sooner.

Allowing them to earn something sooner is what Alfie Kohn refers to as “punished by rewards.” We’re allowing these kids to get this instant gratification, and buy their way into something sooner than what they should be waiting for.

I set a lesson up by having the kids wait until Friday at 2:10 for the announcement. We do this on a regular basis until they’re comfortable with delayed gratification.

Because learning to wait is a skill!