August 10, 2020

I wonder – words matter for our children

Child development with teepees

As the saying goes, our children will remember what we do, not what we say.

Don’t let this fool you into thinking your words don’t matter. The way we reflect, the way we wonder with our children will prepare them for a lifetime of compassion.

When a child wonders, he is sensitive to his surroundings and should have the freedom to explore his thoughts and ideas.

Do you ever find yourself comparing your children’s childhood to your own? I do it all the time. There is a huge difference though – life for them moves much quicker. When we were young, we had to sit through commercial breaks on television or use the time as a chance to run to the bathroom.

We sat patiently by the radio waiting for our favourite song to come on, poised to hit record on a tape deck.

Today, as soon as you like a song, you can own it with the tap of a button on your phone. We waited to declare a major and then changed it in our third year of college. Now they are graduating from high school with enough credits to enter university with just two years to go.

Children don’t have as much downtime. Stimuli are everywhere. And there is less time for our children to just breathe. Over stimulation negatively affects children learning and it leads to stress.

You can help your children with a simple 2-word phrase.“I wonder…”

Are you over-scheduling your child’s life?

The pressure on our children to achieve, combined with our belief that our child’s success is a reflection of us, leads us to over-schedule their lives.

Over-scheduling leaves little room for boredom, spontaneity, silence, and play. By including the words “I wonder” into a conversation can counter this and have a profound effect on your child’s brain.

There’s a theory about learning called The Wonder Approach. Basically, it suggests that wonder is at the centre of all motivation and action, and therefore, in essence, at the centre of all children’s learning.

A childhood with no wonder, no beauty, no sensitivity, and no security would still have development, but it’s not learning. It’s training.

Here’s how I used “I wonder” and how it connected to my children learning. We were sitting outside one day and my children, incredibly bored, asked every mom’s dreaded question: “What’s there to do?”

If they had opted for television or the iPad, they would’ve been stimulated and out of my hair. Instead, I looked at the huge oak tree in our back yard and said, “I wonder what’s in the knot of that tree.”

For the next hour, I watched my twins take turns standing on a chair, poking sticks into the knot, shrieking at the idea of a monster jumping out.

Just saying “I wonder” opened the door. They saw the world and its beauty and connected to it. Because they felt the security of a nearby parent, they had the freedom to explore. They learned that there was just a bunch of dirt, acorns, and moss in that knot, but their minds were active.

This simple two-word phrase isn’t a cure-all. In a world that allows little space or time for imagining, “I wonder” could be a reminder that their minds are built to discover and explore.

“Curiosity creates empathy. To care about someone, you have to wonder about them.” – Brian Grazer. A curious mind: The secret to a bigger life.

Help your children slow down and notice the world around them. Start with two little words: I wonder…

Bring the wonder out of your children with a teepee. You can also find us on Jozikids.

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