While administrators are working hard to figure out how to continue educating and engaging their students despite unprecedented school closures and social distancing, teachers, parents and organizations are all finding creative ways to keep kids thriving.
As we navigate new things we may not have done before, it’s important to recognize there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one family might not for another, and what works one day might not the next. What we can do – and what’s within our control – is view this challenge as an opportunity to teach our kids some of the important soft skills that will serve them for a lifetime: creativity, resilience and confidence in learning. Whether your child’s school is offering distance learning, you’ve always been a homeschool family or you’re figuring it out as you go, you can find playful opportunities to model these critical skills. We adults have a lot on our minds but creating the time and space to learn through play can benefit the whole family – even you!
Creativity comes in many forms
Kids have an innate sense of curiosity, so let them explore their own creativity and imaginations. Look for playful activities that are open-ended and don’t have “right” or “wrong” answers. There are many ideas out there to help get you started. Here’s one idea: challenge your child to dream up a new creature or research something they’re interested in and have them get creative in how they “present” what they picked. It could be a painting, an essay, a play or even a model made of LEGO bricks. When building creativity into LEGO Education solutions, we think a lot about giving kids a chance to solve problems with many solutions. Another idea is to place a couple of stuffed animals a foot apart and challenge your child to connect them using LEGO bricks, paper and tape or other household objects. See what they make and ask them to tell you a story about it. This works great as a solo activity or make it a friendly family competition and see how each of you approached it differently. You’ll be surprised by the creative solutions to the same problem!
Resilience through meaningful failure
Resilience, which is the ability to adapt to difficult situations, tragedy and stress, is exactly what we need more of right now. As families find a new rhythm at home, it’s important to step back and reflect on what’s working, what isn’t and what we can learn from today that will help us do better tomorrow. Like any experiment, things won’t always go as planned. As parents, and for the many that are also stepping into the role of educator, it isn’t about always having the right answer. Experts suggest parents talk openly with their kids, bringing them into the conversation and involving them in this iterative process to learn together. This recent New York Times article helps you think about how to talk to kids about meaningful failures in small, easy ways. You can also put this into practice if your child is challenged by a new concept or doesn’t know how to solve a problem at home. Rather than ‘fixing it’ for them, give them a chance to work their way through it in a positive environment. This helps build the resilience they need to navigate life’s unexpected challenges – big or small.
Confidence in lifelong learning
Children get a boost in confidence any time they master a new skill or create something they can be proud of. Find activities and lessons where your children can get an early sense of mastery, then build on that with increasingly challenging activities like they would in school. By giving them opportunities for incremental accomplishment, you’re fostering a sense of confidence in themselves as learners. In classrooms, children using LEGO Education solutions start with simple builds and coding challenges, moving on to more complex lessons over time. This concept is called scaffolding. At home, this might look like mastering a scrambled egg before trying to flip pancakes or basic division before long division. The key is to praise their growth, not just the result. Saying, for example, “you worked hard to solve that problem and it paid off, now you can do that!” instead of “you’re good at math.” That way, as they encounter challenges in the future, they feel confident trying new things.
Children wake up each day curious, hungry for creative outlets and ready to learn. Now more than ever, you’re setting an example for your children so remember to embrace resilience and confidence in learning yourself and demonstrate that for your kids. And most importantly, use this time together to connect as a family, engage with your child and their education, and ultimately learn from this together. This is a stressful time for all ages but continuing to build critical skills and having fun while you do can help you and your kids flourish now and into the future.
Looking for more ideas and inspiration? Check out https://www.lego.com/en-us/letsbuildtogether and https://education.lego.com/en-us/homeschool for playful building challenges, activity starters, lessons and more.