A parent stopped by Family Resources last week and donated many puzzles to us. I love puzzles and recall many peaceful hours spent through the years putting puzzles together when our children were young.
There’s something so satisfying in finding just the right piece one is looking for and pushing it firmly into place. I was always agreeable when the suggestion “Let’s do puzzles” was made. It is such a compatible activity for a grown-up and child to do, sharing a quiet energy, concentration and determination in completing this joint project together.
Now in Family Resources playroom, I am often amused watching an older child pull out a puzzle he’s done many times before, put it together in breakneck speed, then return it to its rightful place with an”I’ve still got it!” look of confidence on his face.
Later on in the week, a parent and I were discussing learning and the subject of worksheets came up. This mom was a bit surprised that her preschool child balked at doing them, even though she shows interest in reading and is a very curious learner.
I encouraged this mom to take a good look at what concepts the workbook pages were teaching. So often it is a repetition of a skill a child already knows well or one she automatically accomplishes through her active learning style, in her everyday world – matching, sorting, recognizing differences, making connections
And, perhaps it is just not the missing ” puzzle piece” this young child is seeking right now.
For when I consider the way independent learning happens for a child, it is very much like completing a puzzle – the joy in finding the missing piece, the motivation to search for it and the satisfied feeling when an accomplishment is realized.
Think of the learning that occurs for a child from birth to five years old. How much of it is formally taught? Yet every fragment is a significant piece of the learning puzzle your child is assimilating.
I enjoy hearing stories about children and one of my co-workers shares delightful and insightful ones about her grandsons. This time she was telling me her oldest grandson was not that enthused about reading at first. He did what he had to do in first grade but his passion was in math and the enjoyment of numbers.
Until suddenly, an explosion – he was reading everything in sight, spelling and writing words constantly, just for fun, just for himself!
That’s what you call an aha moment for a young learner.
That’s when the missing piece has firmly been added to the puzzle.
That’s when a child owns his learning.
So as parents we need to trust this forward motion of our children without fretting or undue pressure. If we are reading aloud to our children, encouraging their interests, answering their questions, offering experiences, supporting creativity, providing independent time for them to play, choose and integrate their activities, then relax.
Watch for and enjoy those aha bursts of learning as they develop and grow naturally along your child’s own sometimes puzzling, yet always unique, path to knowledge.