How to Foster a Love for Learning as Our Children Grow
As children move from preschool through elementary school and beyond, at some point they start to hear phrases like “It’s time to grow up,” and “You’re not a little kid anymore, time to grow up.” This is not the kind of advice that the most successful human beings would give young learners. There advice might be more akin to Peter Pan’s one liner “I won’t grow up!”
There is a point of view, a concept that I love deeply. I call it:
Living Like a Child
I love it so much, I titled my first book as an author with those words. Living Like a Child can be interpreted in many ways. For me, it has meant:
Communicating with my body
Communicating with my face
Being willing to ask a question at any time
Living with a sense of wonder
Living with a sense of “no ordinary moments”
Embracing the idea of experimenting with different ideas
Being and staying curious
Following my curiosity to discover new perspectives
I could go on for a while, but that gives you a good idea for starters. Here are two concrete strategies you can use with learners of all ages, to help them, and yourself, live like children now and into the future.
FACIAL and BODY GESTURING
When a student asks us a question, try responding FIRST with your face and/or body in a meaningful, loving, and even humorous way. This creates a very open door for the student to respond in kind. In doing this, make sure you know the personalities of your students so that you don’t over or under react. The goal is to help your students think more deeply, in different ways, and to feel safe exploring new ideas. We want them to mimic the greatest human beings, who because of this approach have defined the history of humanity.
EXPLORE AND EXPERIMENT
When I work with any student, I encourage them to:
Observe and/or find something new they have not noticed or used before.
I then ask them to think about new ways in which they can use what they noticed and/or found.
This is so simple, not always easy, and with time, always very effective. It does take patience. At first, older students will often look for something easy to find and experiment at a very basic level. By “experiment”, I don’t necessarily mean to conduct a formal experiment, although that is a worthy approach. What I’m referencing is the idea of experimenting with ideas, both individually and in groups. Once your students have found something they’ve observed and/or noticed, have them:
Work as individuals and either think and/or write down their ideas about how what they observed could be used differently.
Work in groups and share their individual ideas with each other.
Work in groups and come up with, still another new way.
Take the time to compare the original and new ways of using what they noticed.
I also encourage you to use these two strategies with your own family, colleagues, and friends. Finding newness in oldness is a magical approach that reinvigorates us all.