Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Real Life vs. Structured Lessons

I think many, if not all, of us struggle with the balance of spontaneity and structure. Of following the day or planning it. Some of us are lean more one way or another, but I think the balance is the important part and the most hard to achieve.

Sometimes, I think we try to hard to plan and do things just right. As illustrated by the clothes pin activity, as it happened in my house.

I've tried numerous times to make pinning clothes pins to a basket a super fun activity. At first Ryann was too young. And then she didn't care. And then she did care, but got frustrated/bored easily. In the end, she still didn't know how to pin a clothes pin, which I found disappointing because it meant she wouldn't have the skills to help me hang clothes outside this summer.

Last weekend I was hanging clothes on the line and she was so interested in what I was doing she insisted on helping. So I gave her a clothes pin and held her up to the line. And she pinned. She pinned a few items of clothing before running off to tackle something else.

It suddenly wasn't hard or boring. It was just... natural. Because clothes need to be dried and the edge of the basket is, at the end of the day, just the edge of a basket.


  1. You know, this is such a huge point! Children know when an exercise is just "busywork" and they won't put much thought into it. But as soon as it has real-life purpose and applications, not only are they drawn to it but they work hard to master it. Isn't that just beautiful? Thank you for providing such a concrete example and lovely reminder that everything we expose the child to should have purpose and meaning.

  2. It is the same for my son. He does not like lessons or repeting exercises. So, I integrate the exercises into his/our real life, so he can understand the purpose. For example, for pouring , spooning or using a funnel, I let him to serve his own drinks and food. It is messy at the beginning but doing the exercises in a natural manner is the best way for him to learn.

  3. Exactly! I've also found that some skills that you are just desperate for them to learn one day they'll just do them no problem and you just think why was I making such a big deal out of this?