Patience. This is the virtue a heart centred teacher possess that is commented on more than any other. Yes, we are kind and caring, but patience is something others marvel at, perhaps because it feels like something that is harder to come by.
Allow children to be children.
We don’t have a magical ‘patience well’ that we dip into to slow us down in our interactions and help us show grace at a child’s less than quick response. The source of our patience is actually entirely centred on our deeply held belief as a heart centred teacher that childhood has it’s own pace, and that development takes time.
When we are committed to respecting each child’s natural timetable, and to allow children to be children, then patience comes as a natural response.
We all know that children are not mini adults. An adults pace is then not suited to childhood, and we have to remember to not expect children to operate, process and jump to attention at adult speed.
Our fast paced society has people wearing busyness as a badge of honour and our children are often swept up in the hurriedness, and expected to keep up.
What our children actually need is time.
Time to be, to dream, to work things out and to decide. This pace of childhood should be the feature of your programme. Nothing should be rushed. There is a flow to your programme, but no haste. There is no racing to get through a day or a curriculum.
We want to offer children a safe haven from unnecessary speed - a peaceful oasis.
Patience comes naturally when we look at how our children develop and what it is they truly need.
It is difficult to rush children when we have seen how beautifully they blossom when allowed to unfurl at their own pace. Its hard to be impatient when quick responses given and expected put visible stress on a child. Our patience then is not necessarily an inherent quality in all areas of life, but with our children we are patient because this is what they deserve.
We are patient because we truly believe that children are marvels and must be allowed the room to grow into our expectations.
The source of our patience is always the child.
Patience comes from earnest little faces who really are trying their best. It comes from the understanding that the days are long, the year is long, and children's lives are full. Each and every human has their ‘off’ days, and we have to remember that children are just as human as we are.
Patience comes from understanding that basic needs come first, and that hunger, thirst, discomfort or lack of security all affect the child’s behaviour, ability to listen and desire to participate.
Patience comes from knowing skills take time to develop, and that mastery only comes after much repetition, and some unsuccessful attempts along the way. When we always notice what children CAN do, we can be more generous to their wee souls when there is something they can’t. It is natural to be patient when you have the faith that each child will blossom in their own time.
Patience is a given when we understand the vulnerability of our young children. These earliest years are the most important for nurturing the child’s developing personality and understanding of who they are. This crucial time has to call for kindness on our part. A learner needs time, support and understanding rather than impatience and criticism.
What children really need is for us to pause before responding. This brings mindfulness to how we respond, not just in the words we use but in the tone and the message behind our words. When we forget to pause we are simply reacting, and reactivity is what can crush little spirits. We have to remember that kindness is always the right response.
We don’t need textbooks to tell us.
If we understand who children are, and what they need, then we instinctively know how they need us to respond to them. Patience, as well as kindness, care and respect then become obvious.
We don’t need textbooks to tell us. The child tells us, and our heart tells us what needs doing. We’ve seen this expressed as a quote, ‘when the why is clear, the how is easy’. Easy may not be the right word, but if we changed it to ‘natural’ then it is perfect. And the ‘why’? The children are ALWAYS our why.
(This article was adapted from a previously published blog post ‘Patience and the pace of childhood’)