I had a tiny bout of insomnia and was doing tons of reading on different methods and philosophies on teaching young children. I came across a study done on children who were introduced to a new fancy toy. Half of the children were given some time alone with a toy with many different functions and the other half were given teachers who explained what the toy did and how to play with it.
The second group of children played with the toy exactly the way they were taught, while the first group of children figured out the functions for themselves and discovered several features not taught or enjoyed by the second group.
The group taught exactly what to do had no need to figure things out for themselves and were unable to enjoy the full spectrum of the toy.
But this study led me to ask: What effect do our daily actions take on our children’s desire to learn?
Are we feeding our children our children enough information to keep them quiet, or patiently waiting for them to discover the world and the joys of knowledge and understanding?
I personally love learning, and adore children who feel the same. I am also blessed (but sometimes feel cursed!) with a daughter who is just a passionate about knowledge and understanding. As my two children have grown, I am trying to learn the best ways to feed their interest in learning. And it is very evident that every child is different.
But I think that I have learned that the best way for children to learn and love learning is to figure things out for themselves. This is very difficult and takes quite a bit of patience.
It is much easier for me, as a mother, to do things for them, not require any help from them, stop them before they make mistakes (especially messy ones!) and finish things for them when they struggle. But those things frustrate children, and quench the excitement of learning.
Some of the most amazing inspirational and successful people were born out of adversity. They experienced success regardless of social status, economics, prejudice, lack of formal education, physical restrictions, and/or countless other options of hardship.
I am beyond grateful for everything God has blessed my family with and would never want to put my children in any of the above situations. But those who have made history can teach us something. They can teach us that the best lessons are the ones we have to learn for ourselves, that those who become great do not become so because greatness was handed to them.