This post first appeared in: http://lego.featured.yahoo.com/post/115820751901/building-sibling-relationships
[The pictures in Yahoo Asia features me with the kids; the pictures used here in my blog depict the entire BUILD process.]
It’s finally possible.
A year ago it would have been nearly impossible for my three children to sit around a table and work on something together. Today, at 6, 5 and 3, they play so well together, role-play seamlessly to the point they know one another’s thoughts, and huddle ever so often to read (the same book) and share a conversation.
So to test their ability to collaborate and cooperate, I tasked them with a project during the recent March holidays.
I called it the “March Holidays Special Project”.
The instructions were simple and the rules were few. LEGO has kindly sponsored this Swamp Police Station LEGO City Set and I told them these were my conditions if they were to take the set from my hands.
Work on it together. Build it together. Do it in parts because it seems massive. And do your part.
And just one more for good measure: Don’t ask any adult for help, if possible!
Ok, Mama! they said.
I was a little skeptical. They had agreed to my terms so readily. I was certain they were going to give up and ask for an adult to help them. Truth be told, I was all prepared to. It would be a good bonding time with my children, anyway. But my six-year-old confidently said, “I won’t need your help. Or Dada’s help. And I don’t need to take a break. We can finish this. We’re master builders. “
I reminded him that a ‘group’ project meant that the younger ones need to be involved in some ways, and the operational word “together” meant that he may have to assign jobs to them because they would surely look up to him (he’s the grand master builder in their eyes!) for directions.
And so the kids got to work. They began by first sorting out the many packs and instructional booklets in the box. Becks helped Ben match the numbers.
Nat got a pair of scissors ready so that he could pass it to Ben to cut each packet open, as opposed to tearing the plastic recklessly and risk losing important pieces of bricks (so clever!).
Ben then assigned manageable roles for his siblings: Nat fixed the easy things, like the crocodile for the swamp. Becks helped to sort the LEGO bricks by size, while the big brother did the tougher jobs of snapping bricks in place and constructing the swamp police station with all the details.
When Becks and Nat did lose their stamina after a while of doing their job of sorting and helping, they assisted in other ways. They brought the master builder his Yakult and fed him fruit and cookies. They took care of him.
I sat around and watched the whole process in amazement. The strength of their bond was amazing. Even though they couldn’t stay as focused as korkor, they loved him in other ways to make up for not assisting. They knew that their big brother was in the midst of making something big and special – something everyone would get to play with when he was done.
And soon afternoon turned to evening and evening became night, and four hours later, TA-DAH!
They didn’t take a break (well, at least Ben didn’t) and they made this, all with their little hands.
And the big brother gladly let everyone take the credit. “This is what WE built, Mama,” he said.
Creative play, imaginative construction and exploratory learning. I have always believed that LEGO was capable of immersing my children in all of that. What I never imagined was that LEGO, through my “March Holiday Special Project” helped my children bond, and gave them a chance to demonstrate care and support for one another. Most importantly, this project helped them experience what leadership and teamwork is all about, and how this can be something we can embrace in our household.
Disclosure: This post was first written for Yahoo Asia. LEGO Singapore provided the toys discussed.