Saturday, May 20, 2006

Kids, interests, and their concept of time

Hello there!

I have noticed that children can learn so much about things that
they are interested in -- they remember every small detail about the
fish that they caught and helped Dad clean. They remember with
clarity the time that they toured the Corvette factory and can share
their adventure to the last detail with anyone that asks. They can
name the stars and major constellations after spending nights in the
backyard with Mom or Dad and a telescope. While investigating an
interest in baseball, they can tell you all about Babe Ruth, Satchel
Paige, Hank Aaron and more, but they can't necessarily tell you the
years that they played.

With my own crew, I learned that there was an age or level of
development where they could begin to put things in order time-wise -
understand the concept of the American Revolution coming before the
Civil War, for example. Before they reached this point, their
interests were more pressing in their minds than the order that
things happened. To help them begin to understand the concept of
time, timelines are invaluable.

For example, the study of baseball started our study of the Civil
War, as we discovered that the game was spread from north to south
in prison camps during the Civil War. While they were fascinated
with baseball/softball at the moment, the Civil War caught their
interest -- what was it, why were Americans fighting Americans, etc.

While working on Gardens, we discovered that Gregor Mendel (Father
of Genetics using sweet pea plants) worked on his research across
the Atlantic Ocean during the Civil War and had his paper presented
to the European scientific community in 1866, right after the end of
the Civil War.

All of this to say that sometimes the interest that they are
following can reveal other areas of interest that become a
fascination. I quickly learned that it is more fruitful to follow
that interest, pointing out connections to other things that have
been studied. It is helpful to have them create timelines as the
study progresses, so that they can see the overlaps - Mendel's work,
Baseball, Civil War, etc.

I've noticed that this gives them a framework on which they
can "hang" the information. They also can see that nothing happens
that is just science or history or art -- God weaves the events
together in such amazing ways.

The timeline also helps them learn that events are happening all
over the world simultaneously. In 1862, in the middle of the Civil
War, President Lincoln signed the bill authorizing the building of
the Transcontinental Railroad (Trains). In 1863, the first section
of London's Underground Railway opened. Also in 1863, both Henry
Ford and Henry Royce were born -- to later become leaders in the
development of the automobile...

I have an analogy that helps me understand a child's mind -- a
child's mind is similar to the storage area on the top of an old-
fashioned rolltop desk. There are all kinds of cubbyholes and nooks
and crannies to be filled. When children are young, they can put all
kinds of things in those compartments, and know all about each one.
They know just where each morsel is, and know just how it relates to
other pieces (baseball to civil war to trains). As they grow older,
they begin to sort and arrange the information in the desktop, based
on time, interest, etc.

So, there you have my theory about kids and interests and their
concept of time. But who am I to tell you that? You know firsthand
that they don't understand the concept of wait, or not right now, or
just a few more minutes! <smile>

Amanda B.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting analogy! I find our boys' memories to be very sharp. It's funny because sometimes one of them will say, "Remember when we studied about such-and-such and blah, blah, blah..." and I will look at them with a blank look on my face and say, "No." And, to think... I was the one who taught them. :-)



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