How Silence in a Lesson Offers More than Words

We live in such a busy world, silence can sometimes be mistaken for a lack of attention, especially when it comes to our kids. I find this quite interesting, and have realized just how important pauses can be during a lesson, even if they go on for longer than one might be comfortable with. I see this scenario all the time, although I cast no judgment upon it:
I ask a student a question, and the student is silently thinking. After 20 seconds or so, I will hear a parent in the background saying something to the student about answering or saying you don’t know. While this is normal and I understand why they may try to redirect, I’ve realized a pattern. The student was so deep in thought, and maybe even so close to the answer they were looking for, and yet the chain of thought was broken. I’ve even had students raise their INDEX finger to their parents, basically saying “hey, give me a minute!” (if it was any other finger we might have a bit of a different problem).
Now, I understand, students can get lost in space or even distracted by something else other than what we are working on. One might ask; how do I tell the difference between spacing out, distractions, or true thinking? My answer is you just have to feel it. What I like to do during these silences is very quietly repeat my question while they think. This helps them stay on track of their thoughts while not becoming spaced out or distracted.
Over my 10 years tutoring and 8 years teaching in the public school setting, I have found this time to silently think truly adds a fun dimension to math for kids. They feel as though they are being understood, and given the time to process what it is they are trying to figure out. This can be tough stuff, especially when you are learning it for the first time!
I make sure I tell students if they are struggling to let me know, and even the most shy students have been able to ask for help instead of sitting there waiting. There are two reasons I feel this to be true. The first one is the students can really see the patience I have with them, and the second is their confidence is continually growing due to the slow and steady pace of instruction. I am teaching students to take control of their academic success, because their best helper is themselves.
The world is so rushed nowadays, but give a child a moment to reflect upon a new concept they are learning, and watch their confidence grow. When they are allowed the time to visualize what they are learning at their own pace, I find the smiles keep growing. At the end of the day, I’m in this for the smiles, everything else is secondary. I’ve learned more from the students I teach than I could possibly put on paper, and for that the least I can do is offer smiles back.
I would love to discuss the strengths, needs, and goals you have for your child in a Free 15 minute tutoring consultation.
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