In the classroom, there are numerous ways the children show growth and progress. Some are obvious: being able to write his name, mastering sounds, or identifying numbers. Then, there is the progress that without careful observation can go unnoticed. This growth is typically in the social aspect of the class and can encompass work habits, attention span, and maturity. A seemingly simple work can offer many clues to this growth that can easily be missed.
A few years back, a new 4 year old joined my classroom. He was a typical 4 year old boy that loved all things “boy”…blocks, computer, rough and tumble on the playground. None of the works kept his attention for longer than 5 to 10 minutes. He kept busy with these works; but moved from work to work without much focus.
One day, early in the school year, he discovered the necklace work. At the time, he enjoyed the work just for the sensorial aspect of it. He liked to run his fingers through the box of beads, experimenting to see how they bounced. While he was getting the sensorial experience, he was in general not making a necklace. He would end up with one bead on the string and often had to be invited to put the work away to move to a work that would address his sensorial needs. The necklace work would sustain him for the typical 5 minutes.
As the year went on, he continued with the same ritual with the necklace work. Then one day, he brought his string over to be tied and he had put four beads on it. In watching him a little closer over the next few days, I observed him staying with the necklace work for closer to 10 minutes with less beads dropping to the floor. He would randomly pick a few beads out of the bowl and put them on the string as he was feeling all of the beads.
We moved into spring and the class had settled into the routines. I watched this child choose the same necklace work and do it now with a purpose. He would carefully move the beads in the box, specifically looking for certain beads. He had a plan in mind and showed more organizational skills. He would pick out specific colors of beads or make a pattern with them. He would put 10 to 20 specific beads on the necklace and now stayed focus for 20 to 30 minutes.
It’s easy to miss this type of progress. The academic benefits in a work as simple as stringing beads can also be overlooked. This child, in doing the same work all year improved: fine motor skills, concentration, attention span, organizational skills, planning, creativity, focus. This type of progress is just as important as the more obvious “academic” progress.
Are you looking for this improvement in your child?
Do you see the value in a work as simple as stringing beads, even to a 5 year old?