We’ve all heard the saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Learning is a lot like that. You can try to force learning on your child – but the best learning definitely comes when it’s about something that interests your child.
I’ve definitely found that to be true for my sons. We’ll be reading something together and suddenly it sparks a question in one of my boys. We Google the answer and that can lead to another question and another… and the next thing you know, we’re laughing, their eyes are sparkling, and we’re all learning.
The learning that happens in this way is very spontaneous, it is always off plan, and it is effortless.
I used to think that when my boys had a question what wasn’t related to what I was teaching them that they were trying to take me down a rabbit trail… that it was a mere distraction. I now know that it is a spark of curiosity about something has been lit in them. When this happens, I need to be willing to drop whatever I’m doing and fan their desire to learn into a flame.
1. The Internet – Keep a Kindle, an Ipad, or some other device nearby while learning is taking place so that it an easily be consulted when the spark of curiosity hits. I have a Nook that I keep in our living room. When my boys ask me a question for which I don’t know the answer, I say, “I don’t know. Let me consult my brain.” We Google the answer and discuss whatever it is about which they’re curious.
2. Flexibility – We need to have a willingness to be flexible. Be ready to pounce on any little spark of curiosity and dive into it. We were reading about Thomas Edison one day when my youngest son asked, “So… who invented the toilet?” That led to an interesting study on the history of toilets. My boys were thrilled to learn that the plumber who popularized the flush toilet was named Thomas Crapper. That was the thrill of our day for sure! And I doubt that either myself or my boys will ever forget that little tidbit of trivia. 🙂
3. Time – I’m famous for being a planner and being in a rush. I love to use lists and I love to check things off of those lists. These traits are NOT helpful for spontaneous learning. I need to continually remind myself that it’s much more important to let my boys dive deep into things which interest them than it is for me to get everything checked off of my list for them.
As this new year of schoolwork begins, try to keep in mind the best way to learn and determine to take advantage of these opportunities whenever they present themselves. The more you are willing to explore your son’s passions with him, the more inquisitive your son will become.
QUESTION: What do you think? Would you rather stay on task while teaching your son or do you try to follow his lead? Please leave a comment below.