Blossom With True Learning
One of my very favorite things as a mom is to watch the love of learning in my children. Sometimes it’s through something I introduce to them, and sometimes it’s just something they discover on their own, but either way it’s up to me whether or not I encourage that growth and exploration.
My oldest daughter Lilly (4) has completely fallen in love with birds and gardens. At her age, it would be easy to pass over these interests and tell myself she’s too young to really understand about them and enjoy them. However, that would be wrong in more ways than one! Instead, I try to give her all the knowledge she can hold. I don’t shove it into her or expect her to make an A on a test. No, I simply talk to her like a friend and give her bits and pieces throughout the day that she can digest as she goes along.
Does some of it get forgotten? Yes. Does some of it go over her head? Yes. But much of it settles down deep inside her and lights a fire to know more. I see this every day with her as she just naturally pushes herself to learn more.
Are there children who don’t have this desire? Possibly I guess, but my theory is all children are naturally born with a yearning to learn. We can stifle it by harsh criticism or by spoiling them with too much easy entertainment. Children need to learn about dirt by getting dirty in the outdoors. They need to learn about birds by crawling on their tummies to try unsuccessfully to catch one. Basically, children need wonder, adventure, and some hardship.
That sounds incredibly counter-culture I know. None of us would say we intentionally seek hardship, but consider for a moment what striving to achieve something worthwhile and hardship do for us. Keep in mind I’m not talking about useless or harmful hardship. I’m talking about the feeling of accomplishment we gain as we stack wood for the winter. After all, using electric would be easier. Or how we feel when we grow a fruitful garden. The grocery store is easier. But it seems like nothing quite equals our pride in these things.
The same is true of our children. They naturally desire to learn, but if they never are required to put in effort of their own, it won’t mean that much to them. If I were to sit my daughter down and recite a textbook entry to her on birds or gardening, she would probably look at me with a blank stare, and while perhaps tolerating it for a few minutes, she would eventually grow tired of it and maybe never mention these interests again.
No, it’s far better to allow them to be active participants in their learning journey. Lilly will learn about gardening by helping to water, plant, fertilize, and harvest the produce. She will experience firsthand how much work it is. She will get sweaty and perhaps not enjoy some parts as much as the others. Then she will get to help eat or preserve the harvest. Through it all she learns, grows, and becomes a wiser, stronger person. Consider the opposite effect it would be if I only expected her to do the fun parts and eat of my efforts. She would neither appreciate or deeply understand the process. Through this experience, she will learn what no mere textbook or lecture could ever teach.
Through this learning process, she will have triumphs and disappointments. I would be wrong to shield her from those. In real life, we don’t all get a gold medal, and in learning, we have struggles and hardships. She may find that a plant she babied along dies, or she may experience first-hand that birds don’t always get along in one happy family. This is good for her. It not only expands her potential but ultimately points the way to the Creator and our need for a Redeemer and Savior!
So, remember to give your children lots of opportunities to learn and don’t be afraid to let them struggle a bit. Do hard things and really blossom with true learning!
Jenny Underwood is a wife to her amazing husband of 21 years and 4 lively children. She blogs at https://www.inconvenientfamily.com where she is learning that blessings aren’t always convenient.