You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
~Clay P. Bedford
Grow a life learner. One way to turn a child into a self-motivated discoverer is to provide opportunities to discover! My most special memories of my dad are of the days he would load us kids into the boat, head off into the choppy waters, and float in the middle of the lake while we tried to catch fish with plastic fishing rods. He caught a lot of fish, though.
This is how:
1. He put a colourful, odd looking object on the hook.
2. He threw the hook out into the water where the fish just might be hanging around.
3. He would slowly wind the reel and move his rod to make the fish notice that something in their territory was different and intriguing.
4. As soon as there was a bite – he yanked up that pole and brought that fish home for supper. The point is – he engaged the curiosity of the fish and knew when to make his move. To apply this to learning, what can you do in your environment to catch the curiosity of your child?
A quick brainstorm on my end resulted in my top five for my two year old:
1. Leave Out Bait:
Today I will leave out a big pot with a lid on it. Inside will be objects of interest inside. What will he do? I will be near by to offer a one to three word commentary for what he is doing or finding. “OPEN! …. What’s inside?” When he shows me something, I will be sure to name it with excitement and get excited about what else might be in there. When he tries to manipulate the surprises inside, I might even take a turn to try using an object in a different way. Oh the adventure of exploring something new!
2. Sneak Peek Lightening Flash:
One morsel of chocolate is never enough – it only leaves me wishing for more. The same may happen for my son if I take a turn peeking at something before he can see it — oooh the anticipation. Also, I could casually let him see or feel it for a moment before it disappears. He will do something to ask for more (whether it is a whine, or an I DO IT, or a reach of the hand). I will know he wants more time to explore the mystery adventure or object.
3. Safe Jealousy:
When children are nervous or hesitant, they may be less likely to explore or to try something new. In front of my child, I will try it myself with giggles and smiles. I will celebrate his attempt to ‘dip in a big toe’ to try it himself…slowly but surely. I will not underestimate the power of him simply observing me feeling safe and happy as I enjoy the adventure. Soon enough, he will take a leap of faith, too. He is learning about learning.
4. No Worries Now and Then:
I will make an accidental mess or a mistake (because every parent needs another mess). I will model for him how to deal with a set back. I will use positive self talk and get right to the (cleaning up and) trying again part. Mom was right – no need to cry over spilled milk! Have Oreos on standby. Learners learn through resilience and through believing in themselves. I will model those gifts for my son. My daughter and I used to read a Winnie-the-Pooh book that said, “Try Try Try again…just like Winnie-the-Pooh”.
5. Success Stories
Once I bungee-jumped. Now I can walk across a bridge in more comfort. Once I made it to the top of a mountain then skied down. Now tobogganing with the kids is a breeze. The point is – taking safe baby steps is a great way to build confidence and skills. But I feel it is easier to take those baby steps if you have raised the bar. Everything thing that falls under that bar is doable because you have done more. I will remind my children that they are brave and able because they have done __________ before this. My daughter has done her dance routine in a crowded theatre – so she is brave enough to do her class presentation with a smile. My son has stood under the spilling bucket at the spray park so he is brave enough to stand under the shower at home – goggles and all. We will celebrate – we will keep our fridge full of paintings and ribbons and photographs. Proof of their success will be found in their rooms and in the stories I will tell. Together we are brave adventurers…paint on the wall, scrapes on the knees….life learners.
Ideas for growing a learner: http://play-activities.com/blog/simple-steps-that-make-kids-curious-about-learning-part-1/
Marnee Brick, MSc
Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Speech Therapy
TinyEYE Therapy Services (Speech Therapy Telepractice)