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The Smile of Understanding

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

What do you see when you walk into a classroom and children are working? What happens when a child encounters something in their work they do not understand? How do they deal with the difficulty? Do they persevere and try to solve it? Do they put up their hand? Call out the teacher’s name? Have they even read the question to try to understand it?

Our experience is that few children in a classroom setting feel comfortable with not knowing. They want immediate support to understand or just to be told the answer. They are unwilling to stay with uncertainty and want instant help.

When children engage with Aurogames, a whole new way of working begins to emerge. They learn quickly that mistakes are okay and are an integral part of learning. Then they become willing to venture into the unknown and discover their abilities. They begin to persevere through difficulties with an intense focus. They look and try to understand what has to be done. They use focused attention and do their best.

If they require support/help - it is generally given in the form of a question (e.g. what do you see here? What color is this etc.) This questioning engages the child’s thinking. The solution is never given but a strategy to solve it may be provided. A helpful strategy for children lost in a pattern is to have them shift their focus to one small part of the pattern. Once they understand that part, they can move to the next small part. After a while they see they are building the complex pattern one small part at a time.

What starts to happen when children continue playing with Aurogames? They are focused for longer periods of time, persevere, learn to see their mistakes and self-correct, become flexible, and learn to solve difficulties themselves.

This progress children make is very rewarding to witness. However, the most fulfilling moment occurs when the smile of understanding emerges - when the child grasps what to do and completes a difficult task. The smile lights up their face – no words are spoken – and we know real learning is taking place. Magical moments – some captured in video, but most are imprinted in our memory.

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