The Seven Wonders of the World of Childhood
According to the man whose name is synonymous with genius, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” ~Albert Einstein
And when it came to his genius, he said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~Albert Einstein
Preserving the passionate curiosity that is a natural part of childhood, then, seems to be the most logical and effective mode of early childhood education. And it is as simple as encouraging the wonder of imagination…
In the world of a child wonders are as simple as sticks and sheets, leaves and books, boxes and giggles, and the promise in a rainy day.
- In the hands of a child a stick is a king’s scepter, an adventurer’s staff, a knight’s sword.
- In the eyes of a child a sheet is a fort waiting to be built, a sea waiting to be sailed, a cape waiting to be worn.
- In the fingers of a child a leaf is a tiny ship to blow across a puddle, a mini parasol for a snail, a triumphant flag atop a mud-castle.
- In the heart of a child a book is a map to a fairy forest, a flight on an alien spaceship, a ride on the back of a dragon.
- In the mind of a child a cardboard box is a boat sailing rough seas for China, a bridge over a raging river, a cave full of lost treasure.
- In the mouth of a child a giggle is an invitation to play, a mini song of happiness, a tiny voice of comfort.
- In the footsteps of a child the rain is a puddle to be splashed in new shoes, mud to be squished between little toes, a rainbow to be chased to the golden end.
In the wonderful, beautiful world of childhood, the morning wakes with trees that need to be climbed, holes that need to be dug, and mudpies that need to be made. The world’s classroom teaches them that problems can be solved and obstacles can be conquered. When imaginations soar, everything becomes possible.
It is in the small moments of discovery that big dreams are born. When little fingers are buried in the earth, an archeologist has made his first dig. When curious eyes peer at stars through a paper-towel roll, an astronaut has made her first spacewalk. When chubby hands wrap a washcloth cast around a cat’s tail, a doctor has healed his first patient.
Just as letters of the alphabet on their own have no meaning, but used in concert with each other can create poetry, literature, and song, so learning the mechanics of words and numbers alone has no purpose, but placed in the context of life being lived can create wonders as yet unseen.
‘Let the children play’ has become a clarion call in some parenting circles in recent years, and with good reason. With childhood obesity, illnesses, and depression rates all on the rise, examining the way we raise and educate our children is vital for the health of our children, our nation, and our future.
We need to find a place in our busy lives for children to be children, to enjoy the simple pleasures we enjoyed as children, to dream and imagine and create and become. Life is for living, and children are experts at living life to the fullest. We would do well to learn from them.
My little funnyface enjoyed the movie version of The Lorax when we saw it last week, but then forgot all about it. But when we read the book together a few days later, it captured her imagination! She painted her face orange with face paints this morning, drew on a yellow Lorax mustache, and spent the entire day outside building a Lorax forest out of odds and ends she gathered from around the yard.
My sick baby has pneumonia and has been spiking a fever of up to 104 degrees the last few days. She’s been laminated to me, too sick to even hold up her little head, poor thing. But today when she saw a cardboard box she immediately climbed down off my lap and into the box where she played happily for a few minutes for the first time in days. Mommy’s heart was happy to see a little spark of my playful girl again, for sure. The power of a cardboard box knows no bounds!
Don’t believe in the wondrous power of play? Check out the next Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/Donald Trump in the making! Here’s the story of a nine year old boy, an old parts shop, and a cardboard box arcade:
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On a Winnie the Pooh style ‘long explore’ my little Pooh Bear discovered the world in ways only a toddler can do in…
L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.