Raising Little Inventors
“Mummy, what do you think is inside this?” Simple questions like these happen everyday. Questions which present us with opportunities to learn and discover; opportunities to test theories and to explore. When we hear these questions and respond with a simple, “What do you think? Let’s find out together,” we are nurturing our child’s deep desire to learn and instilling a curiosity for how things work.
Through hands-on work; tinkering, designing, conceptualizing, our children are problem-solving, drawing conclusions, applying their knowledge and creating new ways of thinking and doing; we are raising little inventors.
Little inventors build. They design. They think of an old idea and find new and interesting ways to improve upon it. Little inventors persevere as they try again and again to perfect their designs. Little inventors question things, they wonder, they want to know more. Little inventors see possibilities and potential. And little inventors dream of what could be.
I have a little inventor. He is five. Everyday he asks me how different things work, how they were built, what’s inside different things and whether different machines exist. This strong desire to poke around inside things, create new versions, make changes and see what happens is played out most days in his play.
So how do we raise little inventors?
My son is only five but I could always tell when I was teaching high school which children’s innate desire to create was nurtured while they were young. These almost adults were resourceful, confident people with steadfast resilience. They weren’t put off by failure, rather seeing it as an opportunity to try another way. These students also had a strong sense of self; a self confidence that comes with being valued and trusted as children.
Now with my own children, I am trying to nurture their own sense of curiosity and wonder by providing opportunities for them to ask questions and seek answers in a very real and hands-on way.
Tinkering; poking around, seeing what happens, reflecting – it’s science in its most basic form. It’s one way we are supporting our little inventor. Tinkering encourages curiosity;
- What is inside here?
- What does this do?
- What happens if I take this off?
- How do I put this back together?
- How do I make this work again?
Do you have any old electronics at your place that could be used for tinkering? We have a growing collection of old telephones, remote controls, computer keyboards, cameras all in different stages of disassembling.
How you can support a little inventor in your home:
- Create a maker space – gather together materials for constructing and inventing like tape, clean recyclables and wire
- Take a trip to your local refuse store. Give your child a bag and let them fill it with all kinds of wonderful bibs and bobs:
- this is one of my son’s favorite things to do. He gathers things like old switches, lights, bits of pipe, door handles, tubing, anything which takes his fancy
- use these materials for inventing
- Gather together old electronics to disassemble and explore. Show your child how to use a screw-driver and let them pull out every part
- Give your child a visual journal and some quality drawing pencils for sketching ideas and designs
- Study inventors; Edison, da Vinci, Gutenberg, Bell
- Read story books about inventing. Two of our favorites are Iggy Peck Architect and Rosie Revere Engineer
The more we encourage our children to wonder and question and follow their own path of exploration, the more we are hopefully helping to raise children who will grow into adults who too will wonder and question, who’ll problem-solve, who’ll have ideas and will have the confidence and the skills to pursue those ideas; creating new future pathways.