Learning at home

The ‘learning at home” article as it appeared in the Seymour Telegraph

Principle 7: Design from patterns to details

Do it Yourselfer #8

Our four and a half year old son Sen learnt to walk, to draw, paint, speak, the alphabet, basic writing, counting to 50 and understand Japanese before going to kinder. He’s learnt that from his family, without the aid of organised classes. It’s easy to underestimate the role that parents play in educating kids.

When I asked Sen if he would like to have a day when he didn’t learn anything, he replied “No, that would be too hard”. When asked why, he said “Because I wouldn’t be able to do anything.” Learning is something that happens as we live our lives – and cannot be avoided. Saying that, there are things that we can do to encourage and enhance learning in the home environment.

Like most kids, Sen is naturally inquisitive. I try to answer his many questions in a way that gets him thinking, often answering with another question. His questions are opportunities for him to learn, to learn about things that he has an interest in. It’s much more enjoyable to teach something to someone who is curious and ready to learn.

Four and a half year old Sen with his ‘helicopter’ that he designed and helped build.

Building a helicopter

I remember being told by a friend of mine that if I wanted to build something I should draw it first. “If you can draw it, you can build it”. That stuck with me.

So when Sen asked if I could make him a helicopter I asked him to draw a picture of it first. “You need to have a think about what you want it to look like” I explained. He came back to me after a few minutes with his masterpiece, he was very clear what he wanted.

We sat down together and had a bit of a chat about how we might create his helicopter. We found some wood, an off-cut of wire mesh and got out the drill and jigsaw.

Using his drawing as a guide and under his direction I cut the wood and helped him drill the holes for the windows. We then sanded the body of the helicopter to smooth out the rough edges.

Using bolt cutters, we cut off the pieces of steel to match the propellors and joiners for the wheels.  We drilled holes in the wood to fit the steel in and glued them in place.

The left over pieces of wood from the hole saw made ideal wheels that were fixed onto the joiners with some silicon.

While Sen’s helicopter doesn’t actually fly, he is very proud of his creation and makes sure that guests know about his work. It takes pride of place on the living room bookshelf.


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