Encouraging a Desire to Learn
I woke up to discover my son had been up for a while. As I made breakfast for myself, (he had already ate). I asked him what he was doing. His response surprised me. “I’m reading the encyclopedias.” Obviously, his learning curiosity has kicked in.
“Oh, really? What are you reading?”
“I wanted to know more about the states, so I’m going through the encyclopedias to learn about them.”
I don’t know why I should be surprised, that’s something he used to do. He would learning curiosity about something and then figure out how to find the answer. He’s always been fascinated by maps and geography, so learning about the states has always been on his radar. But given his overwhelming desire of late to play video games 24/7 I was surprised.
Encouraging Learning Curiosity
In that moment I had a choice. I could have said, ‘That’s great. It’s time to start school now, go get your history book and let’s get started,” or I could say “Wow, what a great project how about we make it a school project?”
I chose the latter.
Lately, I had been feeling like I wasn’t allowing him to explore his own delights enough. I was worried that I was stifling his desire for learning. I’ve been concerned that school was becoming more of a chore and less of a learning experience. So it was a great joy for me to hear that he still wants to learn.
He spent the entire day, exploring different letters of the set of encyclopedias. He got organized by listing each of the states in order of statehood. Then he said he chose to read about them in reverse alphabetical order. So he started with Wyoming. Then on his page, he listed one new fact for each state that he read about.
At 5:00 I told him he had worked hard enough for the day and that he could finish tomorrow. He completed 19 stat
es. There are encyclopedias stacked all over the room and my son has learned today.
Maybe it seems like this project really serves no purpose. Perhaps you can’t see value in learning random facts about each of the states. What I see though is a boy who is fascinated by maps, fascinated by order and puzzles, piecing together a clear view of something he wants to know more about.
Perhaps he’ll be a cartographer when he grows up. Maybe he’ll be a state historian, or even work for the Smithsonian. Who knows? The point is he wanted to learn. He wanted to discover and he set to doing it without being prompted to it by me.
After his “school” day was finished. You would think he’d put away the books for a while and spend time playing his video games. But he didn’t instead, he sat drawing maps, flags and fun fact pages for states. To him, that was fun.
How about you? What do you do when you discover your child having a learning curiosty about something specific?