I’ve made plenty of references in The Dr. Rick Blog to the importance of “patterns” in our lives. Our last blog is one recent example . Helping kids see the patterns in math and science, for instance, leads them to see how we adults systemize, use logical thinking, classify, order, identify, analyze, predict, and extend our knowledge. Recognizing patterns probably helped our earliest human ancestors survive. (“Follow tracks. Eat.”)
We’ve discussed the value of routines for kids and families often. It is a familiar and favorite theme on these pages. Routines help kids know what’s expected of them and what comes next.
Patterns appear in just about every subject kids study. If we lead kids to recognizing these patterns, we can make their studies more meaningful and help them to extend and deepen their knowledge.
Here are some examples.
- Math. Studying math shows learners number patterns when they learn to count by ones, twos, fives, tens, and so on. Learning their times tables sets the stage for higher level math. Eventually they generalize their pattern recognition to larger problems. Concepts like ordering, systemizing, logical thinking, and classifying are the direct result of seeing patterns. Count by twos and fives with the little ones to show them numerical patterns.
- Science. Systems like the weather, seasons, nature, animals, fish, and plants are all pattern-based. Kids study how to tell time – one of the most basic patterns of our lives – by learning seconds, minutes, and hours. They eventually learn days, weeks, months, years, centuries, millennia, and eons. All patterns. Point out the regularity and dependability of seasons to show nature’s patterns.
- History. Kids who study history soon recognize there are patterns in our human existence. Immigration, wars, human behavior, generations, elections, and heroes all are the lively stuff of history. Eventually students see definite patterns that arise from one historical period to another. Understanding today becomes more manageable when we understand our past. Talk about the hot issues of the day and show how earlier periods dealt with them, also. High gasoline prices? Show pictures of the gas lines of the 1970’s. Can some patterns be broken? Discuss.
- Language Arts. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening make up the language arts. Just think of the patterns in our English language. For instance, making words plural by (usually) adding an “s” or “es.” Making words possessive by (usually) adding an apostrophe and an “s.” Spelling rules are another example: I before E except after C, or when sounded as “ay” as in “neighbor” and “weigh.” Reading rules, grammar rules, speaking patterns, listening habits, and poetry – with its metrical patterns, like Dr. Seuss – are all examples of patterns. Read The Lorax or The Cat in the Hat and show how, because of the rhyme pattern, kids can predict what the last word of many sentences will be.
- Music. The patterns of music – rhythms, tempi, melodies, and musical forms – are maybe the most easily identified of patterns. We can hear and feel them, even dance to them. It’s not hard for kids to move from recognizing patterns in music to recognizing patterns in other subjects. “Feel” the pattern – rhythm – of various kinds of music, from waltzes to hip hop.
- Physical education. Another way kids can “feel” patterns is to point out the regular rhythms, motions, and movements of sports. Pitching a baseball, kicking a soccer ball, jumping rope, hop scotching, twirling a hula hoop, swimming the crawl, jogging around the track – they’re all patterns, right down to the rules we all agree to play by.
- Art. When kids study art and make art, they quickly see patterns everywhere. Repeating patterns of color, style, themes, and subjects are evident, whether the kids are taking virtual field trips to the world’s most famous museums or making arts and crafts in their art classrooms. Watch the best art teachers casually point out patterns and ask the kids to describe them.
- Life. Patterns make up our daily lives and help eliminate chaos. Our weekday patterns are different from our weekend patterns. Patterns help us organize our lives, our activities, our families, our socializing, our worship, and our world views. Once we help our kids recognize the patterns in our lives, they become more able to manage busy lives.
- Driver’s Ed. Plenty of patterns to learn about, plenty of safety and mechanical lessons. Traffic patterns. Driving on the right. Passing on the left. Traffic circles. Pedestrian crossings. City patterns. Country patterns.
- Religion. There are patterns in the ways people worship, the ways we pray, the ways we seek to understand a higher power. Whether we go to a place of worship or keep our higher thoughts private, people all over the world have patterns of prayer. Show the rituals of your family’s worship and how they fit some universal patterns, whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, or private – chanting, singing, kneeling, bowing, or quiet reflection.
Every subject kids study has its own patterns. Casually pointing them out shows the relevance of one subject to another and helps our kids learn with deeper understanding. You see the pattern.