Love, Play, Learn!
“Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.” ~John Holt
A love of learning begins in the home with the establishment of a secure foundation of trust from which children can explore their world freely and joyfully. Fred Rogers said, “Play is the work of childhood.” In other words, play is not a waste of time, something to be dispensed with in pursuit of ‘more important’ activities, classes, sports, etc. Play is the vehicle through which children process the adult-sized world they live in and the big emotions and overwhelming sensory input that comes with it. Play involves imagination, creativity, and unrestricted activity. Those qualities flourish in the context of a secure attachment to a parent, a sure knowledge that a safe haven, gentle guidance, and unfailing support are no more than a stone’s throw away.
Parenting choices strongly impact the level and type of attachment a child develops and, by extension, the development of a love of learning. A love of learning grows when it isn’t stifled by fear or stress or regimented by over-structuring or a focus on achievement or competition. Parents fostering a healthy attachment are thus also fostering a life-long love of learning in their children. The four characteristics of healthy attachment (i.e. evidences of a healthy attachment) according to the originator of Attachment Theory, John Bowlby, are:
- Proximity Maintenance – A child’s desire to be near the parent
- Safe Haven – A child seeking the parent for comfort and safety when afraid
- Secure Base – The parent as a base of security from which a child can explore and experiment
- Separation Distress – A child’s anxiety in the absence of the parent
These characteristics of healthy attachment are developed through parenting choices such as promptly responding to needs, positive guidance, healthy interaction, and modeling of desired behaviors. When a parent intentionally builds a trust relationship from the beginning of a child’s life, it forms the secure basis from which a child can explore and create and interact. And that is where a love of learning is fostered, in the joy of exploring texture by mashing lunch through tiny fingers instead of eating it, in the fascination of creating towers of blocks and knocking them down repeatedly, and in the comforting cadence of a parent’s voice reading the same Dr. Seuss book night after night after peaceful night.
I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.~Dr. Seuss
Play is imagination with feet~L.R.Knost
A love of learning is born on the playground, in a fort made of sofa cushions, and in the pages of a picturebook. ~L.R.Knost
The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things. ~Plato
Without imagination there may as well be no God, no Heaven, for we could not discern them, much less desire them, if we only saw with our eyes and not with our hearts.~L.R.Knost
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. The Seven Wonders of the World of Childhood
There is such a rush these days to get children sleeping through the night, weaned off the breast, eating solid foods, potty trained, reading independently, and on and on, that we seem to have lost the ability to simply enjoy life as it happens and let our children do the same. A Return to Childhood
On a Winnie the Pooh style ‘long explore’ my little Pooh Bear discovered the world in ways only a toddler can in…The Many Adventures of My Little Pooh Bear
Children who love to read…READ! Engaging children’s hearts in the wonder of reading instead of just training their minds in its mechanics. Raising Bookworms
The evolution of children’s communication proceeds at a steady and relatively predictable pace, though the timing is influenced by factors such as individual personality, cognitive development, home environment, etc. Here’s what to expect through the ages and stages…Tots to Teens~Communication through the Ages and Stages
From hitting to defiance to tantrums to testing the boundaries and more, here are gentle parenting tools, tips, and techniques…Practical Gentle Discipline
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 , and The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline the first three 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.