While standing in line at the post office today, I was waiting behind a mother with her 3 or 4 year old daughter. I love being in line with young children. It’s such a pleasure to be in that situation because most kids will wander away from mom or dad in order to explore their surroundings. Today’s little explorer was pushing the doors on the trash cans and watching them swing. She turned to her mother with glee in her eyes…
“Stop that. You’ll pinch your fingers.”
#1) I could not believe that the mom would snap at her daughter like that.
#2) If the mother had just let her daughter play with the swinging doors a bit longer, she might have pinched her finger. If she had pinched her finger, she might have thought about the door’s mass (in the vernacular, of course) and how it swings rather quickly, not leaving enough time for her fingers to escape.
Sometimes kids get hurt, but they learn through those experiences. When my husband was a child, he scraped an iron across his face; he has never forgotten that irons get hot. Kids learn from mistakes just as adults do.
I am disappointed that parents think it’s more important for a child to not pinch their fingers, than to learn about the physical world. I strongly believe a child’s aptitude or liking for science is linked to the freedom a parent gives their child to discover and explore.
Of course I’m not saying I’m going to jump off the Empire State Building in order to prove gravity exists, but lets give our kids the chance to be little scientists in their own little worlds.
That is, after all, where most scientists get their start.