On time and having your own agenda

In preparation for my trip to Italy, I watched with delight the YouTube video called CAINE’s ARCADE.  Then recently, during a pre-Italy meeting with folks in NYC, we watched some more videos from the Reggio Emilia schools that demonstrated young children working on their own agendas when creating a waterwheel – crafting, revising, experimenting, implementing and celebrating their work.

Both of these experiences left me wanting to hide all of the electronics in my house, all the devices that give instant gratification and give my children more time to problem solve, imagine and create.  Well, I didn’t hide all of the electronics, but I did start to pay more attention.  And when I did, I was delighted.

This past weekend, my son Max created a huge train track in the middle of my house.  He and his sister worked together initially to build the track, make the connections and imagine the train town.  Later that day, when his sister was out, Max decided to revise the track – it wasn’t what HE was thinking.  He took most of it apart and began to rebuild – adding a branch of track through a doorway and connecting to another branch through another doorway.  Later, he created a small circle track – finding just the right curve pieces to make the circle work.  He was proud of his efforts.  I noticed how long he stayed with this activity.  The amount of vision and re-vision that this took.  And then, the play that occurred with it up.  Each day, I ask Max if I can put it away (it is in the MIDDLE of the floor and all walking paths!!).  Each day so far, he says no.  He is still playing, adding, revising and working on his train tracks.  For me this is poignant for a few reasons:

1) For the last 6+ months, Max has been more of a lego kid: enjoying the kits, putting them together and then sometimes creating his own builds.  But the trains and train tracks have sat untouched.  So what was it on Saturday that spurred him to pull them out and start building?

2) He clearly had a vision.  I didn’t ask him to build with them or say, “how big can you make your track,” or “I wonder if you could build through the doorways.”  He set out with a vision and created it.  He problem solved the pieces that didn’t fit and was okay with dead ends.  He made it work.

3) Max benefitted initially from the collaboration with his sister, but then revised it later with his own image in mind.

I was proud to see that I don’t have to hide all of the electronics, but loved watching the attention Max gave his train tracks when following his own agenda and having the time to do so. How can we allow for more of that in our busy, busy lives?



  1. Vicki Vinton said,

    October 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Funny how this echoed the ambivalence I’ve been feeling about electronics here in Florence. I feel the need to check in each day but the world beckons outside the door of our apartment. And the problems I have to solve each day–how to say what I want to say in Italian, how to get from point A to B–are so much more engaging and satisfying. And bravo to you for keeping the train up in the middle of the house!

    Can’t wait to see you!


  2. Caroline said,

    October 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Maybe Max’s next problem to solve can be the walkways within the house.

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