Monday, January 20, 2014

my thoughts are not your thoughts

I read an evaluation of an "active child" age 4 who is considered to be not functioning well in the classroom.  To be fair, they were careful to say that it's not a problem with the child, it's just that they are not equipped to manage him.  And it's true, in a classroom of 20 children in a small space, an extremely active child is going to be difficult to manage, even if he has a shadow.

Some of the issues that were brought down:

  • doesn't play with toys in the appropriate manner.
  • brought a chair over to reach something
  • is not able to attend lessons about letters etc.

  • There is no "playing with toys in the appropriate manner." The appropriate way of playing with something is however the child's interest or imagination drives him or her to play with it.  If you are trying to say that the child is using the toy in a way that breaks the toy or that injures or disturbs others, then say so.  It is ridiculous that adults think that children should play with toys in specific ways.  This kills creativity.  It is specifically those children who find ways to use toys that are not the way they are "supposed" to be used who are the people who can think out of the box and find solutions to things and ways to use resources that other people don't see.  This should be encouraged and certainly not inhibited.
  • I understand that dragging furniture about in a classroom with 20 children is disruptive and I am not criticizing the teacher.  I am critical of the underlying assumptions that allow the classroom to be set up so that this is a problem.  If a four-year-old child wants to reach something and has the independence, the strength, and the ability to move a chair to reach it, then this is an obvious and excellent method of problem solving.  This is to be commended, not criticized.  I personally would guide the child to put the chair back when he is finished, and consider this child resourceful and capable.  
  • There are some children who are capable of sitting in circle time and of learning letters and other "academics" via passive listening at age 4.  AGE FOUR.  {The Mishna says 5 and the Gemara says (or 6 or 7).}  Leonard Sax says that boys most commonly diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten are those who are the younger half.  Some children are highly tactile and energetic and the LEARNING that they are engaged in at age 4 is exploration and mastery of their environment.  They like to touch things, explore things, climb things, build and break things, look at things, try things and see what happens.  This is very important learning.  A child who learns this way should not be stopped.  He should not be forced to sit and listen to circle time.  You are interfering with the efficient way that he is being impelled to learn.  You are making him miss out on extremely valuable learning opportunities.  You are boring him.  Instead of letting him learn what he wants and allowing his creativity and urge for discovery to guide his learning, you are stifling him.  An active child like that will learn in his own way if you let him.  He will learn how things work.  He will increase independence.  He will do amazing things.  Forcing him to focus on letters is absurd for a child of his age with his temperament. It's painful and it's actually impeding the learning he is psychologically and intellectually designed to do.

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