“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”Maria Montessori
One of the most rewarding lights to see as a parent is the light in our children’s eyes. Children get lights in their eyes for some really wonderful reasons and as parents there is such profound satisfaction when we see it.
Our littlest ones are magically capable of this light with the simplest discoveries: when we reappear from behind a blanket during peek- a-boo, or the delight at the effects of gravity while dropping an object to the floor over and over. (Usually at the dinner table)
As our children grow, helping them to keep that light aglow is one of our most sacred jobs. The light glows brightest when the child has an “Ah Ha” moment. The desire to discover is ingrained in all of us and keeping that desire fresh is vital. This continues into the adolescent years and beyond.
The age guide below will help you think about ways to keep that light shining bright.
0 to 3
- Explore all the natural wonders, gravity, reflections, and their bodies abilities to walk, run, jump, balance, and move large objects.
3 to 6
- Explore fine motor abilities – scissors drawing, careful movements
- Expand gross motor skills: how high, how fast, how long.
- Explore language and numbers and the natural world – not as memorized tasks, but as explorers discovering something new
6 to 12
- Follow the child’s interests. They are full of questions at this age. Dig deep together. Make interesting connections you never thought of on your own, be awed and amazed at the comparisons they make between very different concepts (that is a true sign of intelligence)
- Honor it and watch the light grow brighter.
12 to 18
- Don’t stop talking…
These kids have learned so much in their few short years they sometimes think they have it all figured out – wonderful.
But at moments when they realize they don’t, it can be scary for them.
- Keep reminding them we are always learning.
- Model for them the joys of continuous discovery. Keep your “Ah Ha” light glowing so they understand this is not just for kids.
- Help them find their passions so the light grows not just from a moment of discovery but from a place of deep satisfaction that they have discovered something that brings them continued joy.
The world was created with a spark of light and all of life depends on it. Our goal as a parent is to keep the light shining for ourselves and our children because our true joy depends on it.
Much research has been done on the science of learning and it reinforces the concepts we know to be true for ourselves: To become life-long learners we need to deeply honor and love the process of discovery.
For further study we recommend: Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, David Elkind’s The Power of Play, and How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin.