Putting the wonder back into childhood

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Childhood is a time of questioning and wonder. It is a time to look up into the sky and ask how did the clouds get there? How do plants grow? And all the other incredible questions about how the world around us works. I know sometimes these questions can be tedious and sometimes we flat out don’t have time for them, but they are an essential part of a child’s development.

As a teacher I have noticed children asking fewer and fewer questions about the world surrounding them. Many children overlook these details and have ceased to be excited and interested in these smaller but very essential aspects of life. My big question is why? Why are children reflecting less and less? What has changed to steer our children in a different direction?

There are several reasons that have attributed to children losing their sense of wonder.

In the fast paced world we live in today we often overlook small moments of wonder. I love to walk with my children and inspect every branch, bug, rock and plant we see, however often times we are on a tight schedule and I must rush my children past these very interesting but tiny wonders. When we actually have the time to go on an investigative walk the children soak up every moment of it. They always take the opportunity to ask every question under the sun and reflect upon things that maybe they had overlooked when we rushed to the car to go to school. It is essential to take the time out of our everyday routine and give children time to develop their ideas and questions.

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Another reason I have found that children wonder less is based on the fact that television has become a huge pacifier. I have become a culprit of using TV when children get too whinny and I have work to do, however this contributes to their lack of wonder. However, too much TV can be detrimental to your child’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no more that 1-2 hours of TV daily for children two years and older. Excessive TV often takes away from children’s opportunity to interact, explore and play. In the long run this can stunt developmental growth socially, physically and inquisitively. This can easily be fixed by restricting TV time and closely monitoring what shows your children are watching. One of my favorite shows that can actually inspire wonder and questioning skills is Little Einstein.

The final reason children wonder less is their lack of free / independent time. Children are scheduled so tightly in different activities that they do not have time to explore independently. I know that during really busy times our beautiful toy room can sit untouched for days. When children aren’t given independent time it is more difficult to explore, question and have interest in the world around them. Below is a list of way to easily incorporate wonder and questioning into your child’s everyday life.

Ways to encourage wonder and questioning skills

1. Share things of interest with your children; when driving by something interesting point it out to your children.
2. Begin a discussion based on your children’s questions.
3. Ask your children questions about what you are observing or thinking about. Ex. Why do you think the flowers are starting to bloom now?
4. Encourage your children to ask questions
5. Explore topics your children show interest in; if they are asking about wolves look up pictures and videos on the Internet, take out books from the library, talk about them and ask questions together.

Bringing wonder back into you child’s life is one of the best gifts you can give your child. It can inspire and open minds to a different, bigger world.

Written By Nicole Rowley

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