Education For Wonder
Some of Suzette’s helpful hints to make your child’s bedtime routine smoother and more successful

I was Inspired to adapt this article from a newsletter by our colleagues at the Children’s House of Park Slope. Written in 1995, it still rings true. – Suzette.

Children are on a quest. They want to understand the world beyond them. They love to ponder, pose question and discuss their ideas and attempt to understand the incomprehensible. They are seekers of truth, born with an inquisitive nature that propels them forward.

They are excited about finding answers that are acceptable to them. It’s important that parents and teachers share an appreciation of children’s creative thinking when they have figured things out in a way that makes sense to them.

Exposure to the world of nature is one simple way children can begin to see themselves as part of a bigger picture. They may not remember all the details of what their teacher taught them about science, but that doesn’t matter. What they will remember is far more important: their teacher’s excitement when they brought bugs to school in little glass jars, and how she whipped out the magnifying glass so they could see the legs up close. That experience will stay with them because it is physically concrete. It is an important model of the power of passion for a subject (in this case, science) and lays the groundwork for a close relationship with the natural world. The inner feeling of shared enthusiasm and the fun of exploratory learning comes back for the growing child whenever s/he re-experiences the physical activity initially associated with it.

As parents, you are creating memories for your children through the exposure you offer, the atmosphere you create, and your responses. Perhaps your children will always love sunrises because you bundled them into the car in the pre-dawn darkness to see the world awaken over the ocean. Sharing the things that bring us peace and contentment are wonderful gifts to give a child.

These are formative years for nurturing the sense of the human person and his/her relationship to the world. A lifetime of attitudes and philosophy are created from the family and surrounding culture. Dr. Montessori believed this was because of the child’s absorbent mind: The things the developing child sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear. In us the same things produce no change, but the child is transformed by them.

Everyday you teach your children through your actions. You either convey to them a sense of trust, gratitude, interconnectedness, capability, and awe or a sense of fearfulness, disappointment, isolation, powerlessness and complacency. Just as others have inspired you, you have a chance to inspire your children. Take the time to stop and look at the flowering roses and the expansive sky; share love with family members and friends; express gratitude for all that is good in life; cook a Thanksgiving turkey for a neighborhood soup kitchen; stop the car when you see a double rainbow in the sky. Children need examples of how we feel connected to life and love. When you share these moments with them either through direct experiences or through instructive stories from your life, you are inspiring your children by passing on your important messages about what it is to be human.

Our children give us gifts. As parents and teachers we have the unique opportunity to guide and nurture young life. We love being part of their growing; it inspires our own. Children can in fact pave the way to rekindle our inherent hopefulness. We want to stay close to them and their joyful spirits and what that awakens in us.

“But I didn’t wake you,” says the child, stealing our last moments of cherished sleep in the early morning. “I only touched you. I only wanted to give you a kiss.” It was as though he said, “I didn’t want to wake you physically. I only wanted to waken your spirit.” (Montessori)