Teaching Rubik’s cube to kids-1: It begins with parents’ perseverance


rubik2

About three months ago, we brought a Rubik’s cube home to play with, but mostly with the intent of getting our six-year-old girl interested in it. A few days ago, my daughter managed to solve the entire cube for the first time without any help!

Decreasing attention span among children, lack of perseverance and hunger to achieve truly meaningful milestones in life can get any parent worrying. But actually, perseverance starts with parents and it then trickles down to the next generation. But if you want the satisfaction of seeing it happening with your own eyes, there are some tools that can come in handy.

We strongly recommend that parents teach this to their kids. The learning process associated with this toy has considerable value. First of all, it is not very trivial to learn it from end-to-end. There are multiple methods of solving it and multiple sub-steps within each method. Of course, if you youtube it, you are guaranteed to be intimidated immediately! But that’s precisely why this toy is a great example of real-world learning situations.

Some rough notes in no particular order:

  1. We started the method listed here. Yes, first off, parent needs to learn the notation and how to read the solution. This, in our prediction, is the most difficult hurdle to pass! (“Oh, you have to learn, who calls this is a ‘toy’? It is supposed to be fun!”). If you, the parent, can solve it, then you are already there 50% of the way.
  2. The steps to get your child to start with are exactly as in the above link. Start with getting the basic “cross” solved. This may take a few days depending on the attention span of your child. One of the key lessons this toy will teach the child is persistence. All of this will appear daunting and frustrating initially. But if the parents can provide timely help and keep nudging and encouraging the child to persist, then the child should be able to solve it in a few days.
  3. The next step is to solve the corners of the first layer. Teach them how to “save” the work done so far and bring the corner into place. There are no explicit instructions for this, but you can easily figure this out in a short while. You can also look up the moves used in any number of youtube videos.
  4. If you came till here, then you have the first layer solved. Hopefully you are already seeing the utility of this exercise and you should have got ample opportunities to teach persistence/not-going-to-give-up already.

Celebrate the gratification of solving one full layer with your child. Reinforce how great satisfaction usually takes a lot of struggle and hard-work and that no other reward comes close to it.

Up next: Teaching Rubik’s cube to kids-2: About delayed gratification

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