(written for a home education exemption when Lboy was aged 6)
Lboy is particularly fond of playing with Lego, so we have been using this interest to teach him the following learning tools. With these tools mastered, he will be able to learn anything he sets his mind to (and indeed we see proof of this already).
- Habit of attention/concentration:
He has to pay attention to details – following instructions correctly for a model to turn out right. Lboy will often work for hours at a time on a project – he is very focussed.
- Habit of excellence:
We expect him to do his best – if something doesn’t work out the first time, we encourage him to try again and again until he gets it right.
- Habit of orderliness/neatness:
He has to tidy up when he has finished, putting things away in the right place, picking up every last piece – home management skills!
- Habit of truthfulness:
Lboy has learnt to truthfully assess what he actually knows and what he yet has to learn – whether a project will be so far beyond his ability that it is unrealistic to attempt it, or whether it would be just a bit of a challenge or perhaps even an easy one. Sometimes he has wanted to boast that he can do anything in the book, but after truthful evaluation he has needed to retract his claims!
- Habit of self-control:
It can be hard to share your precious constructions – or even just the odd block – with your siblings, but Lboy is required to do so and learns self-control as he does.
- Habit of diligence/redeeming the time:
In the face of distractions, he is spurred on to work hard. We find Lboy does not wander aimlessly, but always has something to occupy himself.
- Habit of love:
We have encouraged him to use his skills to bless others, especially by helping his younger siblings to make things or sharing what he makes with them.
- Habit of obedience:
Through following mama’s directions over the years, putting together models has been a great training ground in obedience for Lboy.
Good appetites for literature, art, music and video
While we work we listen to music, feeding our souls as well as stimulating our minds and using our hands!
Lboy’s interest in making Lego vehicles (his most common construction) is even reflected in the books he likes – The Friendly Book, Katy and the Big Snow, Dig Dig and his all-time favourite since he was one year old, The Little Yellow Digger!
As far as art goes, when we were studying Ancient Eastern civilisations, it was a picture of a horse-drawn cart Lboy wanted to copy, rather than armour or flowers like his older siblings.
(Although that is not to say he doesn’t like other things too – this just shows how we can use his interest to develop his learning).
What size block will fit in that gap? How do you make the back wheels turn when you turn the steering wheel? How many small blocks would be equivalent to this long one? How big do wings need to be on an aeroplane? What does a propeller do? How can I stop this tall structure from falling over? What’s this colour?
All these questions have arisen naturally out of time spent working with Lego.
While Lboy follows instruction manuals very closely, he also spends a lot of time creating his own contraptions – flying machines, hovercraft, cranes and buildings. He then plays creatively with what he has made too.
Perhaps understandably, Leonardo da Vinci is a favourite friend!
Reading and writing skills are not particularly connected to this interest, although we envisage Lboy making a book with photos and descriptions of some of his constructions. Not everything needs to be connected with this particular interest, and he has shown an interest in learning to both read and write and is making good progress.
Speaking skills are honed as he monologues to himself while playing and as he helps his younger siblings to make models too, and as they play and negotiate together.
Listening is important when he has asked for help and needs to follow verbal instructions.
Reason can be developed by dialogue and that certainly happens as we work/play together. Mama asks probing questions to stimulate thinking.
Problem-solving is another way of developing reasoning skills and this, too, occurs naturally…I can’t find the long red block, what could I use instead? Why does this model keep tipping? How could I make it more stable?
When a child forms an opinion on something their reasoning skills are further developed, so we encourage Lboy to persuade us why his opinion on a matter is correct or at least reasonable! This often occurs as we are working together and doesn’t need much encouragement!
We have been able to use Lboy’s interest in building to encourage him to think about “real life” issues, particularly ecological ones (for example, the use of fossil fuels) and financial ones (the monetary cost of buying and running a car) and world poverty (how most people do not own a vehicle, but rely on public transport or walking) etc. Talking with older wiser people about some of these things has already had an impact on our son.