Monday, November 4, 2013

Better Late Than Early

If I wasn’t already a decisive member of the “better late than early” camp of formal lesson presentations, this conversation pushed me well past the mark.

I was starting to feel a little guilty about the lack of structured time I spend exclusively and intentionally with my 3-1/2 year old. He joins my older kids and me for our Morning Time together (sometimes) before independent lessons start; he gets read to by all of us; he gets to build all kinds of inventions and structures side-by-side with his older brother; he gets all the standard exposure of merely being a bystander in the way of a homeschooling household. But I don’t really sit with him and do the standard “preschool” fare, which seem like it should be pretty fun with for a 3-year old. I’d want to do it if I was three.
So, in order to assuage my guilt, I devised a pattern lesson for him one morning. I brought out the teddy bear counters – it was officially a “lesson”. I ordered them: red, yellow, red, yellow.

“Hey Andrew! Look at your bears! They’re in a pattern – there is a red bear, then a yellow bear, then a red bear, then a yellow bear. Which one comes next?”

(sucking in an excited breath and eyes lighting up) “My bulldozer!! I need to plow them down! I’ll go get it!”
And that was the end of the lesson. He was off, running to fetch the perfectly obvious bear successor.

Why would I want to put his little mind in a box to see only plastic bears in some predetermined order, and train him to see only one solution to a problem, when his little imagination instinctively goes to all kinds of creative places that I don’t even consider? Yes, son, plow down the bears because your mind is not limited to a four-color set of plastic bears yet. Next time I’ll let you set the pace and I’ll perhaps learn from you.