Let’s Build Some Stuff!
Today was a day full of doohickeys. First, we heard “Rosie Revere, Engineer”. Then, we put together doohickeys, thingamabobs, and inventions of our very own, made of popsicle sticks, clay, marshmallows, string, glue, and anything else we could find. Later on, some of us found airplanes to play with and tried to fly them. Others played in the mud, and some of us even built a secret lair inside a tree!
One thing that’s really surprised me lately is how infrequently children build stuff these days. When I think about it more I shouldn’t be all that shocked, since screens occupy so much of our time in modern life (I’m guilty, too!).
But, Day 3 of our TimberNook camps reignited my passion for giving more kids the opportunities to build more things.
Why do kids need to build stuff?
I’ve written a lot about the importance of empowering, or building up, our dogs and our children. The problem-solving skills associated with using tools and materials to build a tangible object do just that: they empower our kids.
Building problem solving skills, fostering resilience
It’s not a stretch to suggest that these are the exact types of skills we need to be teaching if we want our children to be independent as teengers and into their adult lives. (I’m assuming you want your child to move out eventually, right?).
The act of building things also teaches resilience. If you’ve ever tried to put together a piece of furniture from Ikea, you already know that you’re bound to come to a bump in the road. But, at what point do we give up with the trials of creating ?
Whether it’s building a random invention or sweating through the construction of a desk from Ikea, all too often we give up way too early. We’re even inadvertently teaching this to children, because this concept of “giving up” is learned behavior.
Looking at risk and safety objectively
Empowering your child also involves empowering yourself, especially when it comes to fears about risk and safety. As parents, we have to understand that risk is inherent. It’s part of life and it’s not going anywhere. Besides:
The “prevention of” something does not teach safety.
Think about that statement for a few moments. For example, the prevention of anxiety isn’t teaching a child not to be anxious. A dog-related analogy might be the fear that something will start a fight, so you take it away.
That’s no way to go about life! Let’s go into some examples from Day 3 to further illustrate this concept.
Sensory Experiences through TimberNook
One of the things we do at TimberNook is test curiosity: we give the kids something they’re unfamiliar with to see if they’re even curious. There aren’t too many safety concerns to worry about if the child isn’t even curious!
I set out “real, adult” clay carving tools for them to explore. Many children weren’t even curious about them, so there were no issues around safety. If we want kids to understand how to use certain items safely we need to give them opportunities to become familiar with how they should be used.
We also played around with sticky goopy glue, smushed clay together with our hands, and splashed around in the mud. Like Days 1 and 2, Day 3 offered an extraordinarily robust sensory experience for our campers.
What is your role?
I’d like to end today’s recap with another question that will hopefully get you all thinking: What is your role?
“Parent” isn’t good enough – that’s what you’re called. How are you a parent? What does that role look like?
Doglando parents know all about this type of questioning, because it’s just like when we talk about aggression. I want to know what that looks like, exactly.
If we want to empower our children to learn, play, be independent, and so much more, this is a question we should be asking ourselves regularly. Once we clearly establish our roles, we can develop a mindset that helps us boost our children (and even our puppies) from the very beginning. There’s no right or wrong answer! Don’t forget to share your answers in the comments, too.