Teaching young children perseverance

Spending the time to complete one of these sets really does pay off in the long term even if in the short term you feel like you’re going crazy.

Why you may wonder do you see a picture of this castle!
This castle and I have some history and time together.
Let me go back to the beginning.

Thomas……….the tank engine.
Like all parents we bought our first set of trains and tracks when our son was barely 1. He was happy to eat the tracks and not much else. By two he played on the tracks but the tracks were apart more than together. But since it was a circle or maybe a figure of eight track everyone could handle that.
Gifts and enthusiastic parents added to this simple set and a huge lucky find at a car book sale lead us to practically having the island of Sodor in our house.
We boxed everything up for easy access and use. But now of course we had so many pieces we could have a ball with the configurations. It became the challenge. Who could make the most elaborate track? It never started that way. But as the kids handed you a bridge or track that curved you had to add 5 pieces just to get to another side.
Life had become complicated.
The other side was that a 2 and 3 year old is clumsy so they would regularly spoil and break the beautiful construction.
30 minutes of hard sweat and almost tears- poof- now the floor looked like Armageddon.
I knew then back in 2004 that my spatial skills better improve or I’m in for trouble with this boy. Little did I know that I would have two more boys and this little problem would just get worse.

You would think with time and plenty of practice that I would improve. But I haven’t….not really.

I weep with joy inside when I’ve made this amazing construction and take pictures and celebrate with the mummy dance. I DID IT! IT FITS TOGETHER. Because I want to remember and repeat but spend less time and have a lot less emotion invested. By the time I have turned off the camera. Placed it on a high shelf ( climbing toddler) I hear a voice, “Mum! He’s broken it! Can you fix it?”

Silence and deep breathing from me. “Please!” comes a little voice from the other room.Melts my aching heart and in I go again for round 2 of a long fight to establish the Thomas tracks in the house this morning.

As they have gotten older I’ve been able to step back and become the train consultant. Brought into to fix misaligned tracks and loop under the bridge to connect with another part of the track. I’m not qualified for this task but none of us seems to mind as we all blunder along together. We regularly had a disaster strike to a particularly tricky part of the track to cover all our inadequacies…………ok mine for not being able to fix it. We’d smile and move on.

This castle came in 100s of little bits and no kidding I spent a frustrating 55 minutes working on this the other day with oh so helpful sons who laid all the same colour pieces together. Matched like with like and gave pieces of advice…….gently as they could see my frustration rising.  No pretend castles or battles today to save me. They wanted a castle.

Defeated after an hour I gave up. Offered another toy to pretend with. They gave me hug and told me that I had tried my best then said we’ll get dad. He’s always does it. We wanted to give you a chance first. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or give them a hug. I did the first and last before sulking away defeated.

No kidding……………………..10 minutes later the castle and the pirate ship arrived finished to beaming children.

Will I be hanging up my hat?

No. Although it frustrates me that I can’t seem to get how these configuration things work………..Lego, castle, pirate ship………..there are going to be more in my future, I can just tell. I accept my spatial inadequacies and persevere. I hope I learn eventually and am thankful that there are plenty of people around me that aren’t spatially challenged to rescue help me. If you’re not spatially challenged I’ve always fantasized about owning a Thomas the tank engine ebook manual where there is a lovely picture to select. List of all the track pieces. I find all the pieces and it tells me which order to lay the track. “Lay piece 1a then the bridge followed by 1b” Music to my ears. That would be sweet!

Learning that is associated with these play activities has been priceless. The negotiation of social skills, hurt feelings, high emotion, frustration, dedication, perseverance and deferred gratification.

Toys of choice right now: Pirate ship and castle. Two weeks going strong , guarded and loved.

We’re always teaching even when we think we’re not. They are always watching and imitating.

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  1. I also find these things frustrating. But luckily we seem to have established that it doesn’t matter if the train track joins up! I am not quite up to castles or elaborate Lego stuff yet – yikes! The worst part for me is that I find it so hard to think with a constant commentary.
    Oh, and this is a good model in perserverance, but also problem solving for children
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..what can we do with a hula hoop? =-.

  2. I have found it much less frustrating to buy large quantities of lego pieces, hide the instructions on what these pieces can build and let the kids imaginations take over. Much more creative and much less frustrating to the parents. Another time in their lives will come to learn the skills of following directions. In childhood, having fun goes a long way and developing their creativity is very important too!

    • Totally agree with you Lorna about hiding the instructions for Lego. I much prefer them using their imaginations than what the instructions say. I have a hard time helping them build the pirate ship, train tracks and the castle so they can then use their imagination.

  3. The thing I love about Lego is the challenge and the perseverance required by the kids to make the Lego to the instructions and then the freedom and fun they have creating what ever they want after.
    .-= PlanningQueen´s last blog ..2010 Quarter 1 Review =-.


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