Friday, January 23, 2009

Doing, Doing, Doing

My son loves doing things. He loves making, creating, planning, building, constructing, dreaming, figuring, contemplating… and, although I have moments when I’m not entirely sure how I am going to keep up with him, I love that he is a constant reminder to me that there is no better way to learn than by doing.

The things I see my son do each day are the very reason we opted to homeschool in the first place. I don’t want him to be confined to a seat in a classroom when his nature is to tackle the world in leaps and bounds (sometimes literally).

One of my concerns, however, has always been that one day my kids will get to a place where they will need expert guidance that is beyond me. And the hang up is not that I feel I must be or become an expert in everything that interest them, but that I am not always the personality that is good at going out and asking for help when I need it. I want them to be good at asking for help when they need it, and therefore I’m having to figure out how to do that – how to model that – myself. I’m good at exploring along with them. I enjoy doing a wide variety of things myself. But sometimes I think I take the “figure it out myself” approach a little too far. Sometimes it’s a relief to be shown how to do something. Sometimes you can get places a whole lot quicker if you just ask someone who is really good at something to provide a bit of mentoring.

My son has been taking electronics apart for years, and he’s recently started focusing on putting stuff back together. “I want to make it work again,” he was telling me the other day about a broken CD player that hasn’t worked in years. “If I could just figure out what part of it isn’t working.”

He proceeded to take the thing apart, review all its pieces, and then put it back together again. It was very important to him not to “break” it further. He wasn’t successful, but I so admire his attempt.

I told him I couldn’t help him with this particular problem, but maybe if we looked at opportunities to “do” more with the inner workings of electronics and electricity, he’d get to the point where he could build things himself and successfully repair things down the road.

I pulled out a 4-H book for the electricity project that I thought would give us a good start. We made a trip to radio shack where he spent his own money buying a few supplies (we also scavenged quite a few of the supplies from old flashlights and stuff we already had around the house). He’s making circuits. He’s already built a flashlight and yesterday he put together this switch to turn his light on and off.

Radio Shack has some a great little electronic “project of the month” that he’s looking forward to taking part in. Eventually we will make an opportunity for him to spend some time with his uncle and/or grandfather to get some serious hands-on experience. I’ll be keeping my eye out for other good mentors along the way, as well.

Right now, we’re both having fun with these projects – but I have a feeling his enthusiasm might outlast mine by quite a bit. Or maybe we’ll both gain enough skill that wiring needs in our old house will eventually seem not so intimidating. Better yet, perhaps I’ll have a skilled electrician in-house (or at least willing to come visit and work for cheap) by the time we get around to building a new one!

This is how it works! I think he likes explaining what he's figured out as much as making it work in the first place.

His sisters have been quite interested, as well. Here he's telling them about the switch he put together and how it works.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Have you heard of Snap Circuits? You can find sets on Amazon or in the Rainbow Resource catalog. Sounds like something he would like. :)