Wonder and Curiosity Lead the Way in Classical Education
Let me ask you, what are you doing in your homeschool that truly interests you and your children?
Perhaps you’re enjoying fascinating science lessons and exploring new hikes outside. Poetry, literature, and music spark your soul and bring joy to your family. Or are you merely trudging through an unending list of to-dos and must-dos? Classical education isn’t meant to be an unending list of facts to learn, instead, it should spark wonder and curiosity.
This year I’m working through Dr. Christopher Perrin’s Eight Essential Principles of Classical Education. So far, I’ve discussed Festina Lente, Multum non Multa, Repetitio Mater Memoria, and Embodied Learning. In August I discussed the principle of songs, chants, and jingles. And this month is about Wonder and Curiosity!
Small children are a joy to educate. They’re full of wonder about the world. They’re curious about why the sky is blue or what happens when we mix yellow and blue. They exclaim with delight as Koolaid is added to water and the water turns red.
It’s easy to educate children who are full of wonder and curiosity.
Ideally, children hold onto their sense of wonder and curiosity. As they grow that wonder leads to worship, a love of God, and respect for tradition. Eventually, worship leads to wisdom, the ultimate goal of classical education.
However, how do we keep that sense of wonder alive in our children as they reach the preteen and teen years which gets driven out through drilling grammar rules, math drills, and Latin declensions?
Subjects You Find Fascinating
Nothing is worse than a homeschool which is depressingly boring. You sit down, work through the material, and rejoice as you close the books. It’s uninspiring. It destroys curiosity and wonder.
Instead, make certain you have several subjects you find fascinating. Make time to include these subjects in your week. Exclaim about the beauty of mathematical geometry, share the joys of a well-written song, or tell stories about people long ago.
A passionate teacher inspires curiosity and wonder about the world.
Drill with Songs, Jingles, and Chats
This year my kids and I are memorizing the American presidents as we work through American history. Let’s say my 8th grader in particular did a fair amount of groaning until I found the Animaniacs President Song. It’s lively, silly, and perfect to inspire my son’s curiosity.
The point I’m trying to make is that while drilling and memorization needs to be done, it doesn’t have to be done in a mind-numbing manner.
- Find silly songs to memorize which your children enjoy and include the information you need to learn.
- Make up funny jingles as a memory aid
- Stomp around the house chanting as you go
Keep memorization fun, light, and amusing. It doesn’t have to be mind-numbing drill.
Change Approach as Needed
Kids learn in different ways. For instance, I have some kids who adore completing assignments as planned. Give them the readings, the questions, and let them at it.
Other kids prefer to read their books and write a paper on a topic of interest. I’ve discovered notebooking works very well for them.
Another child adores research and following rabbit trails. Instead of assigning the readings, I merely hand my child the list of questions to be researched and step back. This child begins by attempting to answer the questions before being drawn off on rabbit trails.
Encourage your kids to follow their curiosity and explore rabbit trails in their education.
Watch the Atmosphere of Your Home
The atmosphere of your home will go a long way to encouraging wonder and curiosity. Make it one which inspires wonder and curiosity.
Spread books and magazines spread throughout the house for kids to browse through. My parents always kept a copy of National Geographic coming to the house and left it in the living room. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent pouring over the magazine, studying the pictures, and reading the captions.
What about science kits and art supplies? Make it easy to inspire curiosity in your children by keeping various kits available. Working through a science kit is a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon, and I’ve yet to meet a child who didn’t like to spend hours creating art.
Use the principles of embodied learning to create an atmosphere that encourages kids to keep a sense of wonder and beauty in their lives.
Keep Education Fun
There’s a reason favorite math teachers use jokes in the classroom. It livens up a dry subject and keeps kids listening. Every subject is the same way. You can make history dull by droning on and on about who did what and why. Or you can turn history into a story about the people, the characters, and the plots.
Make an effort to keep education fun. March around the house drilling facts, memorize information through silly songs, tell jokes, and follow interests.
Enjoy a pirate day by talking like a pirate while you homeschool. Send the kids on treasure hunts by having them solve math problems and read maps to find the treasure.
Kids who have a sense of wonder and curiosity are easy to educate. All you need is to point them on their way, and they take off exploring the world. So make an effort to keep a sense of wonder and curiosity alive in your children.