Mercies started raining down at the very beginning of this week. The free section of craigslist helps God provide those mercies sometimes. A sweet mom was giving away a few toys so I went over to get them. When I got back home to look at the toys, there was an old shape sorter ball. It didn’t look like much, but the boys have spent so much time playing with it. Unlike the ones we already have, this one has twice as many shapes and each of the two halves rotate separately. This rotating feature adds such a new level of difficulty. With the other sorters, they know exactly were each piece goes and how to line it up. They don’t have to think about it anymore. With the rotation, shapes could be on the bottom or top and not lined up with the same shape directly below it as it was the last time they put a shape in. When I flip the ball over, sometimes the shapes are upside down from their starting placement. So I get to see the shapes that are easy for no matter where it’s at and I’m able to see the shapes that they don’t know so well but I thought they did. Repetition is good. It helps solidify learning and it builds confidence, but if things become easy due to repetition, then a few new changes will keep the brain hopping. Because it’s still new, the boys can play with this for 20 min before they bored and move on. Because of that extended time, there are a few squabbles that I have to manage. Each boy has shapes that are his favorite. The ball is continually being rotated and flipped to get to the correct shape. It takes longer to figure out some of the shapes when they are upside down. There is always the last piece to be placed in. That is the list of potential squabble causing issues. Each time we dump the pieces out and start over, I’m guaranteed to see some issue that resorts in the boys screaming at each other. That’s when mom steps in, removes the shape sorter from their reach and tries to calmly explain that they need to be kind and if they can’t share and wait their turn, then no one gets to play with it. After a minute or so, the sorter comes back and we try it again. There are times when things go really well and both boys share and everything gets put in its place with no issues.
This is a toy that I think will be around for a while and will provide good learning that’s constantly changing and promotes thinking. Sometimes I start feeling proud of my boys with what they’ve learned. I think most moms feel proud. With that pride sometimes comes the satisfaction that we helped teach them that skill or concept. It’s a bit of a humility check when what you once thought was a perfectly learned skill, you now know it to be more memorization/familiarity and not the ability to fully understand a concept yet. The memorization isn’t bad, it’s just that it’s the beginning of learning. I’m thankful to be reminded of this. I pray that I will not seek the credit for my children’s accomplishments, but rather praise God that He has given them understanding and used me as one of the tools to provide the learning.