Process vs Product

Parents who understand this concept don’t expect their infants and toddlers to bring home great artistic products, displays, reports, etc. on a daily basis. It’s difficult, because parents want to know what their child is doing every day in their absence, and what he is accomplishing in the long term, even and especially, at this young age. But, at this young age, children need space and opportunity to explore and create, with guidance on the “how”, and not on any kind of finished product to show off daily accomplishments. Those kinds of “accomplishments” may not be serving them much purpose in the long run, despite their popularity in childcare centers throughout the U. S.

In the right environment, your child is making huge accomplishments every day, especially if there is not a finished product to show off at the end of every day, week, or even month. Often the “finished product” is a result of how well your child follows teacher-centered instructions, not an indication of his knowledge or his physical and creative developmental acquisitions. Without the finished product being forced to completion and display, the child is learning about the process of artistic materials such as why markers, crayons, paint, and pencils, work the way they do. And how the paper fits in to the process of using those materials. He is learning about physics when he is continuously rolling cars and trucks around the environment.

It takes a lot of faith and trust in your childcare provider, and some reasonable amount of daily, weekly, and monthly communication on their observations of your child’s development, even if it’s to say, “This week he was just continuing on with driving the cars and trucks around the floor, table, couch and windowsill!” Your child is gathering useful life skills from these activities, be it processing something relatable such as what he sees in traffic, or something much more abstract such as developing reasoning skills, or concentration.

Maria Montessori calls this the “Secret of Childhood” – we may not understand what is the driving force behind the child’s seemingly obsessive needs to repeat seemingly trivial actions, but when there is concentration present, it should not be disturbed, regardless of the adult’s understanding of it. The child is learning – regardless of our ability to put a label or a finished product on the end of the task in order to have a product to show to prove that learning has possibly or apparently occurred.

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