A Different Kind of Learning Opportunity - They’re Still Learning

When an electronic item breaks in our house, I sometimes let the kids take it apart to learn from it before I throw it away or salvage it. They love to take things apart, see what’s inside and find out how things works. I must admit, I am blessed, my children love to learn.

The case on my son’s dynamo flashlight broke beyond repair and the crank no longer worked. So, I loosened the screws holding it together to get them started and then gave them a screwdriver and told them they could take it apart. They were quite happy about this and got right to work.

Crank FlashlightAs usual, I walked away to let them learn and discover on their own and then came back to check on them in about five minutes. I noticed one of them coming back to the table with a hammer. I was a bit surprised (mostly that they had gotten it so quietly by themselves). As any mother would do, I asked what they were planning on doing with the hammer. Their plan was to smash the flashlight with the hammer to see what would happen. My first thought was “No, that’s not how you learn!” Instead of saying what I was initially thinking, I realized that they haven’t really ever had the opportunity to smash something with a hammer before. They are boys and should be allowed to smash things once in a while just for fun since it is a part of the way God created them.

So as painful as it was for me to allow them to make such a mess, I told them “Yes” they may smash it, though first they must move it to a box on the front porch (to contain the debris and prevent damage to my table). I helped them move the flashlight, went over a few use and safety guidelines of hammers with them, and then let them commence with their plan.

They took turns jubilantly smashing the flashlight with the hammer for a while. After the case of the flashlight was smashed to bits, they played with the circuit board inside. Moments later, they excitedly came running to me to show me that they had figured out how to crank the flashlight and it was now working! Seeing as it wouldn’t crank before, this was quite the accomplishment! I took a few minutes to point out some of the different parts of the now working flashlight circuit board before they went back to play with it some more feeling quite proud of their accomplishment.

It amazes me sometimes how much children can learn from what seems like a silly experiment. My children were going to smash a flashlight with a hammer-not much of a science experiment. Yet, they learned so much because I was willing to let them try their own experiment their way. Learning may not always take the form that I expect. I will try to remember this in the future and consider objectively when they come to me with an unusual plan.

Please share an example of how your children have learned in an unusual way.

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