by Linda Patterson
New ideas and discoveries don’t just happen in a Discovery Lab at school. They can happen at home, in your backyard or wherever you may find yourself on a sunny spring day.
As parents and teachers, we can provide, lead and guide our children through paths of wonder, exploration, self-discovery and learning. If we’re looking, we can see their interests and passions begin to develop at an early age. God has blessed each child with unique gifts, interests, skills and talents. It is our joy to see them begin to blossom as they “bloom where they are planted!”
Children’s books help us with some great tools to encourage these developing traits in our children. Some of the first words in early readers are “Look,” “See” and “Do!”
You might have a Curious George-type child who will try anything and everything with no caution but learns from his mistakes. Or maybe you have a Molly Lou Melon who uses her imagination to “create” fun instead of playing with expensive toys. Ada Twist Scientist is always asking: Why? How? When? What? Can I? She wonders what the world is all about, and her parents’ reply: “We’ll figure it out!”
Here are a few teacher tips to encourage, inspire and support our child in wonder, discovery and a love of learning.
- Read with them.
- Hear “their” stories.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Welcome their “ideas.”
- Be aware of their developing passions.
- Display their efforts as well as their “masterpieces.”
- Remind them that it’s OK to be different.
- Provide materials, spaces and places to explore.
- Unplug and get outside. (In this age of technology and increasing childhood obesity, it is even more important for children to connect to the outdoors. Not only do they need fresh air and exercise, but not going outside can affect behavior and learning ability.)
With spring officially upon us, here are some fun opportunities for discovery that this season brings.
- March is typically a windy month and a great time to fly kites or make wind chimes or wind socks.
- With April showers, it’s a great time to go on walks with umbrellas and rain boots to make a big splash, look for worms, study the clouds and do a Rain in a Jar experiment showing the water cycle.
- Along with rain comes a great opportunity for an outdoor Mud Kitchen, where the kids can cook up some messy fun.
- Signs of new life begin to appear as we observe birds making nests and laying eggs. Bulbs are bursting through the ground and come to full bloom. Caterpillars and butterflies are showing up. These are great opportunities to study life cycles, symmetry and more.
- On Earth Day, April 22, kids can help clean up their neighborhood or someone else’s. They can also make something fun out of recyclables.
- April also is a great time to look for constellations and meteor showers in the evenings or make a flashlight planetarium indoors.
Whatever you choose to discover, make sure you find ways to take advantage of the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer. Happy discovering everyone!