Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Teaching Our Preschoolers to Think Outside (or Inside?!) the Box

One of the things that I love about being at home with my kids is the ability to be relaxed and have time to do fun things with them (pardon me while I step aside and LAUGH! TIME?!  HAHAHA!).  Honestly, I love staying at home have to pump myself up to take my kids out (it's the introvert in me!).  And yet, I still struggle to spend quality time with my kids because of the endless chores that seem to never end, outside activities, finances, cooking, shopping, work, etc.  Our culture has become so complicated in the last 100 years!  I think about how families used to live and work on a farm, together, all day, every day.  Women had little babies and children playing at their feet until they were old enough to work, then they would work alongside their mother until they were old enough to help on the farm.  Life was about supporting your family, not family supporting your work as it really seems today.

That being said, my strength is not in coming up with amazing crafts or complex activities to do with them.  It usually consists of me looking around the house and wondering, "What can we do or learn about today?"

By vocalizing this simple question and doing this exercise randomly (at home, in the kitchen, in the car, outside, etc.), we are teaching our children how to think critically, and to establish the ability to think and learn.  For instance, it teaches them to think outside the box by looking AT the box or IN the box and to see how the box works.   Contrary to popular belief, learning is not about sitting at a desk and completing a work book or a number of exercises.  That has it's purpose and is important, but, learning is so much more than that!  Learning should be a quest for knowledge; a quest for truth. It's looking at something and not just taking it for face value but seeing what it's purpose is and how it works.  I could get really deep here.  Just think about that.  Think about what this world would be like if people actually thought when they looked around, met people, and tabulated in their mind what impact decisions would have if they made them.  It all starts when they are little people, when their brain is forming and making connections.  Everything great has small beginnings.

So, as an example of what I'm talking about, the other day I looked around the room and then said to my son, "Hey, let's look inside the piano and see how it works!"

He looked at me, then looked at the piano.  We walked over and I removed all the little decorative objects from the top, then opened the lid.  I let him stand on the bench (I was right next to him to help him keep balanced), and let him peer in.  He was fascinated.  He spent quite some time exploring the inside of the piano, looking at the harp, hammers, and then watching how the keys made the hammers bang the strings.  It was a beautiful moment for the two of us.  For him, his mind was being opened and stretched as he began to understand the mechanics of a piano; for me, it was watching him and seeing how his brain was working, ticking, expanding, thinking.

Gosh, we have such a beautiful job.  I mean; how could it get better than this?

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