Parents can do a lot through the events of daily life.Socrates said, “wonder is the beginning of wisdom,” and Dr Peter Haiman, who has been a childrearing consultant for over 30 years, agrees. Here are some of his ideas on how parents can go about Developing a Sense of Wonder in Young Children:
- Parents and other adults who are models for the child regularly show their surprise, interest, and attraction to the natural world and its happenings - from the movements of a worm, the wag of a dog's tail, bubbles popping in a bath, the shadow cast by the sun, and a spider's web, to the mould on an old slice of bread.
- Parents and other adults close to the daily life of the child interact with the child and her world from evident interest, spontaneous humour, and joy.
- Parents encourage children to freely experiment, taste, feel, hear, see, explore, and get into things that are interesting and safe.
- Parents show their pleasure and delight and create novelty in what otherwise would be life's daily mundane chores and routines.
- Children see and hear their parents become engaged and responsively enlivened when doing such things as reading a story and playing or listening to music.
- Children safely and playfully enact the stories in their imaginations or the imaginations of creative, empathetic parents.
- Children notice that their parents let themselves get lost in the fun and creativity of play.
- Parents find something good about the mistakes children will make as they grow and learn.
- Parents are flexible enough to postpone their planned activities from time to time and let a child's creative idea or direction lead the way.
In a world that has largely lost its sense of wonder, below are some ways to foster this beautiful gift in children’s lives. They will rarely be bored; rather, forever grateful, and future generations will thank you for your efforts.
Helena Adeloju is editor of Family Edge. She writes from Melbourne.