5 YO Emilio was reluctant to do his homework. I asked him over and over again, but he refused. It was a very simple task: "which of the figures on the page does not belong?"
The exercise asked the student to give reasons why the four images on the sheet do not belong together: A is too big, B is a circle, C is two instead of one and D is in a different position. Easy to understand, easy to write, homework should have been done in 10 minutes.
And I really wasn’t ready for this. "Please" I thought to myself "just finish your homework and you will get all the screen time you want."
I looked into the sheet of paper, Emilio had drawn sad faces in the two squares. "What is going on, Emilio?" I asked, “Why are the little squares crying?"
"It says that they don’t belong…" he answered with a very sad voice "But... they are only different, that doesn’t mean they don’t belong together" he told me with tears rolling down his cheeks.
My heart almost melted. "I see. We can rephrase this, how about: "Which one is different?"?" His face illuminated, we crossed the "don’t belong" part and replaced it with "different". He did his homework in 5 minutes and took extra two minutes to change the faces on his sheet. "Now they are happy" he said "They are different, but they play together."
Sometimes we are quick to judge. During these tough times of homeschooling and social distancing it is easier to lose your patience, but please don’t. Listen and observe your little ones, connect with their feelings and see the world from their perspective. You will rarely have another opportunity like this to deeply connect and understand your children’s reasoning.
Keep your mind open and help your children do so, too. It is in situations like these that we can crush a child’s creativity by imposing a standard "do the exercise as it is written and move on!" vs "I know you understand the exercise, so we can change the wording, no big deal". The first makes obedient minds that never question anything. The second makes empathetic, creative, free thinkers.
At Mistake Club we are creating a platform with resources for children, caretakers and educators to face the many obstacles of raising our little ones. Their first years of social interactions are the most important when developing a human being. Be kind, be empathetic, be patient… work will wait, your little one will not be little forever.
And you will be surprised by the many life lessons that small person will teach you, too.
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