I’ve been trying to prepare some materials to teach Noah the alphabet, and initially, I had grand plans of what the materials would look like, and how our ‘lessons’ would go.
You see, I used to be a secondary school teacher, and I was used to preparing nice-looking handouts, and conducting lessons with students who could generally follow my instructions. I also was very particular about things being done in the “correct” way, you know, cutting in straight lines, pasting things in a certain way… that sort of thing.
Along came Noah, and I learnt that little things like that, are honestly, unimportant.
I first started cutting the felt for his felt board, and was a little bothered when I didn’t manage to cut it “properly”. The edges were far from being straight, and I contemplated cutting it again, to see if I could do it “right” the second time round.
Then, I thought I could hide the imperfections when I glued the felt to the board. Alas, the craft glue I used wasn’t very effective, and I had to get my mum to bring her glue gun over, to ensure that the sides were properly sealed.
My imperfect felt board
The next step was to laminate the words and pictures I prepared, cut them up, and attach tiny strips of velcro behind. I thought I was being smart by using a paper cutter, but didn’t factor in my shaky hands, and inexperience with it. So, I ended up with very poorly cut pieces, like these:
Again, I considered using a pair of scissors to trim the edges properly, and even thought about re-printing those that were too badly “damaged”. I was really annoyed with myself for not being able to do it neatly, and kept trying to think of ways to make the pieces “perfect”.
However, Noah woke up from his nap, caught sight of what I was doing, and eagerly asked to hold the pieces. Then, as cliche as it sounds, I suddenly realised that it didn’t matter that the pieces weren’t perfect to me. What mattered was that Noah wanted to play with them, and he definitely didn’t care if the lines were straight or crooked. He didn’t notice that they weren’t cut properly, so why on earth did I let it bug me so much?
The old me would also have insisted that he placed the matching pieces neatly on the felt board, but I resisted the urge to be a control freak, let him arrange them the way he liked, and realised that it didn’t kill me to let him do that.
When he decided that he wanted to colour instead, I kept my mouth shut when he decided to hold a coloured pencil in each hand to colour, when he coloured out of the lines, and when he coloured the rest of the page instead of the picture itself. I figured that there was plenty of time for him to learn how to colour within the lines, and that it really doesn’t matter if he chooses to make the plane multi-coloured.
Colouring is fun!
Kids: they give you perspective, don’t they? 😉
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