Charlotte celebrated her third birthday a few weeks ago. One of the gifts she received was a 48 piece Minnie Mouse floor puzzle. When I saw it, I almost laughed. I told my husband that it would be a long time before Charlotte was ready for that puzzle. She had been working on 12-15 piece puzzles. Occasionally, she put together a 24-piece puzzle. But, 48 pieces is twice that much. I was sure that Charlotte was not ready for such a big challenge.
However, Charlotte REALLY wanted to try putting together the puzzle and I could not dissuade her from trying. So, I pulled it out of the closet and let her try. I sat next to her while she worked, thinking that she was going to need a LOT of help from me. But, to my surprise, I was wrong. Charlotte worked diligently for about an hour and a half and this was the result:
Yes, she put the entire 48-piece puzzle together all by herself! And, she has done it several times since. I am so proud of her.
But, I am also a little disappointed in myself and my teaching. I keep thinking that I have been working so hard to ensure her success and have forgotten the importance of challenging her.
Charlotte has such an inquiring mind and she is so eager to learn. She LOVES a challenge and is very persistent at her work when I give her something difficult to complete.
Back when I was a teacher, I learned that most young children have those qualities, at least until they are trained that failure is not ok. Then, they stop liking challenges because they are afraid of failure. I don't want that to happen to my children. I want them to always love learning and seek out new challenges that will help them grow as people. So, I am working hard to not underestimate my children's skills. I am making a conscious effort to challenge them both daily and providing them a safe environment and support when they fail.
It breaks my heart a little when they don't succeed, but I am quickly seeing that it bothers me more than it bothers them. And, every day, it is obvious to me that they are looking forward to the challenges ahead of them. And, that makes me smile!
Marla is a former special education teacher and homeschooling mom of two little girls (ages 3 and 5) and is expecting #3 soon. She has her PhD in Special Education and loves to put her knowledge to use teaching her children and sharing learning/teaching ideas. She blogs about raising and teaching her children at Marla's Motherhood Musings and her family's experiences living in Zambia at Our Life in Lusaka.