It’s been my experience that encouraging learning with my son (and with every child I have ever taught) is most effective when I let him lead. When my son was younger, I spent a lot of time being fully present while tracking his play. I stay mindful to silence the “traditional teacher” in me and remain devoted to allowing him to develop in his own way. His nature is very clear to me, and always has been. I know that if I try to “teach”, he shuts down. What do I do instead? I invite him to play and I make learning fun. I don’t push. He doesn’t resist. Simple.
I watch HOW he plays.
My son is 5. Instead of simply tracking his play now, I ask inquisitive/open ended questions that encourage him to think and problem solve without “quizzing him” about everything. My role in his play and learning is as a collaborator – a learner alongside him.
I like to set up random games and invite him to play. I respect his answer to my invitation.
Today I made up a game I called “FINISH IT” and invited him to play.
“Would you like to play this game with me? Its called finish it.”
“Um, no thanks. I’m going to fly my airplane.”
“Okay, just let me know if you would like to play and I will show you how.”
Ten minutes later…..
WHAT WE USED:
Inviting him to play games that are easy for him just encourages him to play games with me when things are more challenging. He definitely knows about patterns, but reiterating concepts never hurts. Plus, it led to some great dialogue about sorting and reinforcing terms like tallest/shortest, most/least, highest/lowest, etc. I asked questions like “I wonder which tower is the tallest?”, “I wonder which tower is the shortest?” – as if I needed his collaboration. I invited him to collaborate.
The game is simple. We took turns setting up a pattern and then said “finish it”.
The patterns were simple to complex. Sometimes it took one shot glass to “finish it”…sometimes it took several.
Here he is saying the pattern out loud.
He “finished it”
Simple play with lots of learning and connecting involved.
**It also helps if you sing “FINISH IT” in a silly opera-style voice
and when its your turn to “finish it”, you get up and do a little dance to celebrate.**
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin
AK (MESE, MECD)