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Taking a Moment to Stop and Play in the Puddles

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Always important to take a break and play in the puddles.

As parents and educators, we often grow frustrated by children’s lack of focus and how easily they become distracted. Sometimes, though, they can teach us to focus less on the end point and notice the wonders of the journey along the way.

The other day my wife and I went for a run so we packed the kids up in the stroller and drove to one of our beautiful nearby parks. Being parents of twins, sleep and mealtime routines keep our girls happier and my wife and I more sane. We promised the girls after our run, they would have some bike riding time so they could have fun and burn off some energy. Because of some “potty struggles” with one of my daughters, their bike ride time decreased so when they both finally got on their bikes, I was strongly encouraging them to ride around. No less than five minutes into bike ride time, they both hopped off their bikes and ran to investigate some small puddles (photo above). My first response was, “C’mon girls, we only have a few minutes… Keep biking”. Of course, being 2 year-olds, they chose not to listen and began to jump and play in the puddles… Enjoying the moment. At that point, following some toddler giggles that can make anyone smile, they again taught me something – stop, and enjoy the moments; be wide-awake to all that nature and childhood can share. For me, it was about burning energy… To my girls, it was about the first puddle they had seen in over a month… It was about the joy in jumping In water… It was about the sensation of picking up mud in your hands and letting it slide through your fingers.. It was about play and wonder.

We often get caught up in getting to the next event or achieving the next goal in our lives and filling our statements with phrases like “hurry up” or “come on, let’s go”. We sometimes grow agitated when our students and children continually get distracted by sights and sounds (often new to them) outside of what we are trying to accomplish. Sometimes, however, we need to realize that the journey is not solely about us and we need take our kids’ lead by taking moments to enjoy the wonders and curiosities in our journeys… and stop and play in the puddles.

For me it was a good reminder that although routines are important to our family, they are nothing compared to the small moments we will always remember. Sometimes it takes a couple of 2 year-olds to teach me to embrace the journey… Wherever that leads.

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Inquiring about wondering

I read a blog the other day by Seth Godin called “Wondering Around” and it made me think of how important “wondering around” is in education. In a time filled with standardized testing and ministry curricula, I wonder how much time we leave for students to just… wonder?

You see, we live our life and lead our thoughts through the use of questions. Listen to your thoughts for a minute and see how many questions you ask yourself; take note of how often you wonder. If this happens so naturally, how often do we allow our students’ minds to wonder?

Something that I have always had a concern with is the way we teach science in schools. Science is ALL about wondering! Scientists start by wondering about something, develop a hypothesis, and then spend days, months, and years testing and reworking their hypothesis. The majority of time spent by scientists is on questions! So how do WE teach science? We provide students with avenues on how to find the answers to questions we give them – what are the similarities between a plant cell and an animal cell, what is a fulcrum, or describe the scientific method. How much time do we allow our little scientists the opportunity to wonder about something, develop a theory, and then test/rework their theory? Do we spend more time fact finding than inquiring? What will benefit our students more – encouraging the memorization of facts or promoting the process of meaningful inquiry?

When I watch 1 year-old my nephew enter a room, his eyes are filled with wonder – he just wants to check out everything! Primary aged children are filled with questions – and they often ask the most important questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’. For some reason, as students progress through school, the amount of questions they ask becomes less and the amount of memorization becomes more. Instead of asking why and how, they ask “is this for marks” or “what is the answer”. What role do we, as educators, play in this?  How can we change this? How can we create more time for wonderment?

How can we encourage students to do as Godin says and spend less time “wandering around” and more time “wondering around”?