My next door neighbors were having some repair work done on their porch, so I was hearing hammering and sawing. I looked out my kitchen window to see the neighbors’ two year old grandson watching the repairman intently. Of course, he didn’t watch long before he began asking the repairman questions. Then he picked up some “tools” of his own and began his own pretend work.
That reminded me of just how much children want to “do.” They want to be in the thick of the action, use the tools, spray the water, dig the holes, wash the car, cook the breakfast. It takes time and patience on the part of adults to let children participate in our daily tasks. And the finished product is not as clean or neat or exact as most adults want. Nor does it happen as fast as we want. So adults often brush children aside, pointing out that the child doesn’t know how, or is not strong enough, or can’t do it fast enough, or will be too messy. One mother told me that when her daughter was a preschooler, the little girl kept bugging Mom to let her cook. Mom shooed her daughter out, saying she was too young. Now her daughter is thirteen, and Mom wants help in the kitchen, but the daughter wants nothing to do with the kitchen. The investment of time spent with a preschooler on tasks he finds fascinating will pay off later.
The “I Want to do it” factor…
As I watched my neighbor’s grandson “help” the repairman, I also thought about kids in the classroom. They don’t leave their “I-want-to-do-it” at the door when they walk in. They want to work with their hands, use their five senses, think with their brains. In short, they want to be engaged – and not simply by watching a DVD the whole time. That’s easier for the teacher, of course, who doesn’t have to engage the children. The DVD does that. But there’s no relationship built that way, and it bypasses the natural inclination of children to be busy and learn by doing.
Now, I’ve created some DVD’s that are very popular with young children. So I’m not against using DVD’s. But use them as only a portion of what you do in class. If you look at my curriculum, you’ll see that it’s primarily built around being active – doing – using all five senses – thinking and talking about issues relevant to the kids’ age. As I’ve said many times before, take AIM. Be:
That goes for whatever age you teach. Even teens and adults like to get hands-on and engage their brains!
So . . . Happy teaching!