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How VS What

July 8, 2011

When showing PlumGirl something for the first time I always try to monitor what I am doing and saying very closely.  I try to focus on showing her HOW things can be done, but not WHAT to do.  This distinction might not seem like a large one, but I think that it is important.

If I show PlumGirl HOW to do something, I am giving her a tool with which she can do whatever she chooses.  If I show PlumGirl WHAT to do, then I am limiting her creativity.

For example, when introducing wet glue for the first time I taught PlumGirl how to squeeze the bottle over the paper by putting my hand over hers on the bottle.  I then pointed to the things she could put into the glue, but always gave her choices of what, where, how many, and which.  I was showing her how to use the glue, but not telling her what to do with it.

However, I do think that children often learn through imitation.  Sometimes I have to show PlumGirl what can be done with materials.  As this often takes multiple demonstrations, I make sure that each time I am demonstrating with materials that each product and process is as different as possible.  I hope that by varying my demonstrations I am showing PlumGirl that the possibilities are endless and that new uses always exist, even while giving concrete examples of what can be done.

I want to develop PlumGirl’s creativity and hope to never limit it.

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