Thursday, November 13, 2014

Figuring it out

My work is not repetition. It is an exploration. (Guido Molinari)

When a child struggles to fit a piece to a puzzle, when he struggles to keep a tower from falling, or when he struggles to remember what comes after three; how do you respond?  How long do you wait?  When is the right moment?

Letting children play without helping, without showing, is sooooo hard to do.  It's like an itch you want to scratch badly, but you shouldn't, because it will only make it worse.

Last month my two and a half year old pulled out a box that he's never used before; a wooden box that houses four different twelve piece puzzles.  I watched him try to force two pieces to fit together, try another, turn it, and try some more.    

Pretty soon he was fitting a couple together. "You're matching the pictures." I told him.

He seemed to realize what I said because he was matching more pieces together, and looking for other pieces with letters when he found one with letters on it.

He isn't proficient with puzzles, but he was figuring it out without me directing him, and when he got stuck he asked for help.

Once they were all put together he did not want them to be put away....

They became a display on the table for weeks.

Occasionally, he took the puzzles apart and put them back together, mostly, over and over again.

He was figuring out how to manipulate these new objects.

I don't believe he would have explored the same puzzles for weeks had I showed and instructed him; as an MIT article here suggests,

Had I not simply stated what he was doing with the puzzle pieces, he may not have discovered that they will fit together sometimes even if the pictures don't match.

There's something to be said for modeling and doing as you would like your child to do.

Sometimes they need to figure it out on their own, no showing, no telling.  And that moment will come once YOU figure it out!

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