"WOW! Is that a 3-footed elephant?"
When was the last time you attempted to compliment a child's crafting, only to have it backfire? Or asked sincere questions about a project, only to be met with confused silence? It can be frustrating for both adult and child when the elephant in the room is that it wasn't supposed to be a 3-footed elephant at all.
As adults, the way we talk with children about their designs can be enormously influential. Inventing allows children to tinker with technology, explore new materials, and play with ideas. If properly supported, crafts can propel young learners into a deep love for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math that will last the rest of their lives.
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh has developed a research- and inquiry-based approach to facilitating rich opportunities to use imagination in MAKESHOP®, and we're excited to be partnering with them to bring you their posts full of fun ideas to inspire your kids
Here are their top recommendations of what to say to truly support your young creator's learning and development.
5 Things You Can Say to Support Your Young Creator:
- "Tell me about what you're making." No need to venture a guess about what it is. People make for many reasons. It may not be a "thing" at all -- it may be an opportunity to use a cool tool or try a technique, or it may have started out as one thing and developed into something unexpected.
- "What were the steps you used to make it?" Your questions can help your kids to think about their process and put that into words. Process questions help you both to be curious and thoughtful about what is unfolding and why – and that lays a promising groundwork for future learning.
- "You're working so hard on this!" Help your young creators to see how their continued attempts and patience allow them to overcome failure or challenges. They will be rewarded with bravery, confidence, and long-term success because they'll learn to trust the power of their efforts.
- "Can we try it another way?" Encourage your kids to think innovatively, to be brave and take chances. The inventors, entrepreneurs, and world leaders who solve life's biggest challenges are often the ones who don't stop as early as others, but envision new, different solutions.
- "Wow, I never would have thought of it that way!" Respect your kids' unique perspectives and areas of expertise. Allowing them to teach you or recognizing their distinct contributions empowers both of you to work together as strong partners in crafts and in life.
For more ideas of things you can say to cultivate the learning and joy of inventing in your child's life, check out:
- Helping Children Understand That Effort Is Worth It by University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development
- Make Sure Your Child Gets an Arts Education
© 2013 Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
Photos from MAKESHOP courtesy of Anthony Musmanno, IDEAMILL