Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Hey, Mizz Nelsen!"

I trumped the given curriculum for the entire school year with the theme of curiosity. DeShawn, my least-involved kindergartner, hovered for weeks on the sidelines of learning. I don't know what triggered the moment he announced in morning news, "Hey, Mizz Nelsen! I'm curious 'bout what we're gonna be curious 'bout today." Then DeShawn cracked up with pride over his own play on words. And I cracked up with him, delighted that we jumpstarted a child's mind with curiosity.

Crawling babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are the epitome of curious learners. You, too, catapult a little one's mind into learning when you 1) childproof your home and 2) never slap her hands.

Maria Montessori, a front runner in early childhood education, believed a child's hands are her tools for exploring. Maria was adamant that slapping or restraining a child's hands smothers the very curiosity that fuels her fire for learning. Imagine what would happen to the ecstatic face of the little one in the above picture if you slapped her hands for touching the diapers, the very things her hands insist she touch.

Oh, yes, you may have to remove your little one from tempting electronic controls, which draw her like a magnet. But repeated removals and redirection are far better than repeated slaps. Tell her, "You may not play with the television, but you may play with these toys." Redirection, substitution, and diversion are the effective tools of discipline for a small child driven to explore.

One well-meaning father told me, "I'll teach my child to mind on the spot. When I say 'don't touch,' I mean don't even think about it!" It is far easier to put away the lovely pottery you bought in Maine than to exhaust yourself protecting the very things your child's hands want to touch.

Some morning announce, "Hey, little one. I'm curious 'bout what we're gonna be curious 'bout today." Maybe you'll crack up together! (Look for my next blog on mere minutes of learning.)

A Colorful Thought: Color your child's curiosity with the warm reds and yellows of encouragement.

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