Monday, January 17, 2011

Choosing a Work that is too Difficult

Above is a picture ofMe Too working with a subset of the Melissa & Doug Rhymes Puzzle Cards cards without understanding the concept of "rhyming." It is painful to watch that way.

After giving it the old college try for fifteen minutes he asked for my help. After that I let him pick a piece on his own. Then, I would say the name of it and ask him if there were any other pictures whose names sounded like that object." He was able to do it very quickly that way.

I let him work with this knowing it was too difficult for him for several reasons. (1) There was a possibility that he would learn what a "rhyme" was on his own by matching the pieces by shape and then saying the names of each pair of images aloud. (2) If he didn't figure it out on his own, it would give me an opportunity to teach him what a "rhyme" was as a clue to solving the puzzles. I know my son and knew he would not be interested in that information until he had failed at the puzzle. I was right. (3) It was very possible he wouldn't be ready for any of the above. That's okay too.

Typically if a child tries to use a material that is too difficult for them it won't hold their interest and they won't be likely to chose it again for a while either.

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  1. I agree but it helps if it slightly challenging. For us, I've seen K lose interest after the first time if the work is too easy. I'm always trying to figure out what she is capable and for the most part has surprised me with what she can grasp. Rhyming came naturally after playing name rhyming games. She thought it was hilarious to make up rhymes with everyone's names.

  2. Sorry for the typos from typing on my phone.

  3. Joyful Learner,

    Absolutely true of course. Whenever a child loses interest in a work it is said that it was either too easy or too hard. I was only thinking today about works that are obviously too hard. I still don't think he could do this work independently.

    Another post I wrote related to this was called something like "the right work at the right time." But I know I'm preaching to the choir here :)

  4. Did you give a presentation on this or just let him try it out? I saw in another post that Kal-El did the geometric solids very independently. Some books/people seem like they are sticklers for doing presentations, when do you make exceptions?

  5. Mel,

    I did give him a presentation on this. That's what made it so clear he wasn't ready because he didn't understand about the rhyming. However, he wasn't patient enough to let me lecture him on rhyming. It was much better for him to learn by doing a little later in the process. I tend to talk too much :) He attempted this work again today and seemed to do fine, but I'm not sure because I was working with Kal-El and when I looked up again it was put away.

    Kal-El made those discoveries very independently with the geo solids. However, he has had several geo solids presentations over the course of the last year. I didn't let him choose a work w/o a presentation. I usually don't.

    I believe most works deserve a presentation if only for the sake of demonstrating the care and grace with which the material should be handled. However, sometimes the Kal-El has given a pretty effective presentation for Me Too before I did and I think that's fine. Also, there are multiple presentations possible written up for every work and I don't believe in giving all of those. For example, there is a presentation for showing the kids how they solids roll and don't roll. I don't believe all of those are "original" or necessary. I think it takes the ownership of the learning away from the child if you point out every little interesting thing about the material yourself. The materials are designed for the child to discover some of these things for themselves. Just like how Kal-El discovered that there were always nine spindles left at the end of the spindle box on his own.