Kids like to make stuff involving art and craft, science projects, robotics, software etc. These are called maker activities. I refer to kids who become engrossed in these maker activities as 'Maker Kids'
‘Making’ is what differentiates us from the animals. Very few animals are makers but all humans are makers in one form or the other. Thus all kids are maker kids to a certain extent. Kids like to make stuff involving art and craft, science projects, robotics, software etc. These are called maker activities. I refer to kids who become engrossed in these maker activities as ‘Maker Kids’.
Some kids go to additional lengths and start researching for projects online. These days most kids eventually land up on sites like YouTube where they learn about different projects. I have seen kids in my makerspace who do not see much of traditional television. They only see YouTube videos of projects. I have personally observed my son doing this. Once he came to know that he can see maker projects on YouTube he stopped seeing Doraemon on TV. He started to focus exclusively on YouTube videos of maker projects.
My son became more calm and I could see his concentration on maker projects. I started helping him by buying stuff like Arduino, sensors and motors online. I was quite surprised that he was able to use everything on his own without any guidance from my side. He just used to search Google or YouTube and find the relevant video or photo for the electronic part. These searches also helped him to increase his vocabulary.
Since seeing long videos on mobiles is not a good practice I bought a Google Chromecast to save his eyes. Google’s Chromecast enables the telecasting of YouTube videos to television from mobile phones and computers. Maker projects made my son an expert in problem solving. Sometimes he was able to do what I could not.
He became better at studies. Specially his reading improved considerably since he had to search websites, read content and then make stuff after seeing the projects. I saw this same pattern with some of the maker kids in my makerspace. These kids seem to enjoy maker activities so much that they experiment with stuff for hours. Their mental capacity to absorb new stuff increases tremendously when doing maker activities. They seem to reach the state of ‘Flow’ as described by the noted psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.
To parents making activities seem good in the beginning. Once kids seem to get so engrossed in the activities that they start leaving other activities they get worried. My advice to such parents is that these kids are non linear thinkers. Instead of stopping the kids the parents should use this force to cover curriculum and studies at a faster pace. Maker activities can also be used to teach organisation and communication skills to kids.
I have used maker activities to teach reading and maths to my son. I once used Arduino to teach him a list of english dictation words which the school had given him to learn. Sometimes it becomes difficult to use maker activities to teach things like writing but on the whole maker activities can be used to teach a lot of stuff. I am generally able to teach kids concepts of physics and maths using maker activities at my makerspace. Kids also enjoy the scientific and mathematical stuff a lot.
Father of a boy who comes to our makerspace tells him that he will be allowed to visit the makerspace only when he completes school homework. The boy happily completes school homework so that he can visit the makerspace on time.
Thus if your son or daughter is a maker kid do not stop him or her. Use the force inside that maker kid to get him to learn stuff. Maker activities are good for teaching science, maths and communication. Use their power to maker the life of your maker kid happier.