My son has always tinkered, but has never been interested in building anything according to specs. He has built simple exact models maybe twice in his six years of life. He has gotten LEGO sets for his birthdays over the years and has always stacked them in his closet. Today he wanted to "engineer something" so we pulled out one of his sets.
I really want him to learn things on his own as much as possible. In Brain Blast Academy (our homeschool) I usually give him instructions and tools and allow him to struggle and explore and learn on his own, intervening only when he has exhausted his own efforts and resources. So when he asked to build, I knew it would require all the patience I have within me and all the class time we had scheduled today.
I had him sort the pieces out by color. While he did that, I said a little silent prayer for patience. For real.
I had him remove the instructions and explained how to read and follow them. I talked him through pulling out pieces for the first step and assembling the first unit and had him talk me through the process and assemble the next one. He finished the third set of instructions alone in private. The space vehicle will be complete in twelve steps, and the three he did today took almost two hours. His fine motor skills are not the greatest, but getting better, but I'm happy to report that there were no tears during this very long process today, both our attitudes remained positive and he worked with his body at the table the whole time! All this is kinda major, y'all. This is a kid who would melt down because the the G he just wrote looks like a 6...full meltdown. So my little perfectionist worked almost two full hours on something new, made a hundred mistakes along the way and zero tears, zero sackcloths, zero ashes. So yeah, major.
He understands that this whole process may take a couple of weeks to complete. My wish is that he will ask to work on it again soon without me having to prompt him. Then I'll know we're really entering a stage where he looks forward to challenging himself. We power through my assignments, but he really shines when his own internal spark fires. My kid does his best work when it's his own decision to work on something.
It's really important to me that my son find and follow internal motivation to navigate through his own educational process. The way he worked today gives me real hope.
So homeschool today was play. Zack was really happy to play on a school day. He proudly announced that he was using math to figure out where the bricks were supposed to go because he had to count spaces, so he was actually learning and playing. I told him that was a great observation and thought to myself, boy, you have no idea how much you're really learning today.
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