Most of what I do in a day with Pea involves following her leads: does she want to go to a park or the museum or to Audubon? Does she want to talk about dinosaurs or do art? I try not to push an agenda on her because 1) she isn’t exactly malleable and it’s not worth a fight and 2) I’m heavily invested in a child-guided approach to teaching her.
At least once a day (OK, more like three or five), though, I have her do something that is “good” for her development. Chutes & Ladders, or problem solving, or basic number theory stuff, or a game with turns, or a harder-than-normal puzzle.
But what this kid loves above all else? Worksheets, particularly pre-K worksheets about matching animals to their tracks, or circling all the red things, or completing a shape. She does some things very well (mazes, matching, finding all the red things) and some things rather poorly (completing shapes or letters). But she will do worksheets for hours if I let her. (I have to bring her down gently with page after page from dinosaur coloring books.)
So weird. I love it, but it’s weird. Also, it makes me think about odd things, like, am I stifling her creativity if I urge her to color inside the lines? Or am I helping her develop executive function? Should I encourage her to find the “right” answers, or leave her mistakes alone? She gives up on things that are difficult for her, so I have to push her some: encouragement has to be effusive, not phony, and not so much that I annoy her. It’s kind of a weird dance we do every day, where I try to get her to do just one more thing that she doesn’t want to do (e.g., draw a J instead of a T – curves are hard), but not to the point where she’ll want to quit.