Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Adar 5762 - March 6, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Taking Things Apart

by R' Zvi Zobin

One of the most enjoyable and educational things you can buy your boy (and girl?) is a set of screwdrivers. Having done that, you also need to supply him with things to take apart. If you don't, you risk being greeted with a triumphant, "Look what I did, Abba!" and seeing the innards of your favorite appliance spread over the table.

Chazal mention that one should buy earthenware pottery to give to children so that they can break them. A child needs to see the effects of his actions and learn how to control and channel them. Learning about being destructive is a part of learning about being constructive.

Undoing screws helps develop fine motor skills. Seeing how devices are fitted together and how they can come apart helps develop the imagination. Remembering how they fitted together and then trying to re-assemble the parts also helps develop the visual memory.

It also teaches a child to work patiently and quietly at a task. It teaches him to direct his efforts efficiently and plan an approach to tackling a complex task. It teaches him to be tidy and not lose any parts and to gradually increase his efforts when a task needs more effort.

Sometimes, a screw just will not budge, or parts are locked together and he cannot see how to disassemble them and then he learns to deal with frustration and perhaps even failure, and then to admit defeat gracefully.

Your child might need to appeal to you for help -- and then you might succeed or you, too, might not be able to do the job. And your son can learn that even an Abba can have a hard time trying to do things and even he can fail!

When your son takes an appliance apart, he will see how all the individual parts work together to accomplish the task for which the appliance was designed. He will begin to see how much thought and technology goes into its construction. Then, when he looks around him at the world, he will be able to recognize that there, too, is design and purpose. And he will be able to understand that people also need to play their roles in life so that we can, together, achieve the Divine Purpose.

When he takes the appliance apart, he will also try to understand how it works. Some aspect will be beyond his understanding and then he will ask you to explain how it works. You might be able to give him his explanation; you might need to tell him that it is too difficult for him to understand because he has not learned enough to be able to understand you if you do try to explain; or you might have to tell him that you do not know either.

All of these options are preparing him for his future learning of halocha and hashkofa.

After your son has successfully (or unsuccessfully) dismantled various items, he will probably develop the urge to repair broken furniture, appliances etc. Before allowing him to attempt to repair anything, warn him about the dangers of electricity, hammers, saws, drills and so on. Preferably, your house should be fitted with a high speed earth-leak detector to reduce the dangers of electric shocks.

As much as is safely and economically possible, encourage your child to `have a go' at repairing things -- with you simultaneously accepting the risk that he might not succeed and may even do more damage. But, of course, if he does fail, you should not chastise him, though some gentle, constructive advice might be acceptable.

He will eventually be using the selfsame skills and self- confidence he is developing now to build sugyos in gemora!


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