Do you find yourself telling your children to stop running in the house – and then in the next breath you tell them to get a move on, do it fast!

 

Fast is an abstract concept (one that is often driven by our emotions and purposes) and yet we need our children to understand it.  There are also different modes of fast.  I don’t like Daniel running through the house, and yet he is getting things done fast.    Today I explained this to him by relating to the different speed zones around town.

 

Initially I asked him if he knew what speed zones were in town – he knew – 25km, 40km, 50km, 80km, 110km (though there are a few more but these work for my purposes!)  I asked him if he knew why there were speed limits.  Yes, he knew that speed limits helped us keep people and other cars safe.  He also knew that there were places that were more dangerous than other places so they had slower speed limits.

 

This set the scene for what goes on in our house.

 

I explained that we needed to keep people and things in our house safe and yet we also needed to get to places (just like when we are in a car.)  So in this house there are different speed limits.

 

25km is like driving down Uncle Paul’s driveway – you take it slow because there are really precious things you don’t want to hurt.  In the house that would be like carrying a cup of tea, or holding something precious.

 

40km is like driving past the school – there are lots of people around and you have to be ready to stop.  In our house that would be like going down the hallway – you still have to have enough speed to get there but someone could come out of the bathroom, or the office and you have to be careful so you don’t have a collision.

 

50km is like the speed limit around town.  Once again you have to have enough speed to get you to where you want to go, but you can’t go so fast that you hurl down the hallway.  50km is faster than 25km, but not as fast as 100km.  50km is the best speed for inside our house.

 

Then there is 80-110km – this is the speed we drive when we start out on an open road; not so many people around, not so many distractions.  Can you guess where this speed happens in our home?  Outside!  Sometimes there is what we call ‘open roads’ which means there is no speed limit – you decide and you can go as fast as you want.  That is certainly outside speed.

 

He really connected with this concept (as I guessed he would!!)  So I ended up reminding him that on the road we have policemen who make sure that people stay safe and are able to get to where they want.  When people disobey the rules the policemen give them a fine, or they can even take away their licence.  We laughed – I wonder how I could take away Daniel’s walking licence!   Something to think about … but more importantly the lesson was learnt; an abstract concept (fast) in a very concrete, tangible way.

 

Teaching our kids when to go fast and when to go slow is a tricky thing - it is an abstract idea that needs a concrete illustration so they understand.

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