Today, when (and if) the sun comes out, take a child outside and measure the shadow of something, and say, “Today, June 21st, is the longest day of the year. Let’s see how long the shadow is. Let’s pick something and mark the end of the shadow so that we can watch the shadow get longer as the summer goes on.”
All sorts of questions could come up depending upon the age of the child and the interests of the participants, for example:
What could we use to measure?
Could we use one of Daddy’s shoes? My shoe, Baby’s foot,
How could we use a tape measure?
What is the relationship of Daddy’s shoes to my shoes?
What is the ratio?
Do we need to pick a fixed time?”
…and so on and so on.
It is common for parents to ritualize story time every day. This is a good thing. To read to your children before he or she goes to bed is the most important thing parents can do to ensure that their children will grow up to be readers. It not only models something that you value, it builds your relationship, and gives you a time to be with your child in loving, fun, calm, quiet, spiritually enriching ways. Stories are the staff of mental life and relationships.
What if we had a curiosity ritual? This week we play around with sinking and floating; next week we notice the flight of balloons, or the creation of bubbles. What if parents were ritualistic about doing a cooking project with their kids every weekend?
Why do Americans do so badly in mathematics? Because mathematics is a foreign language in America. The vast majority of children grow up in a number-poor environment. We’ve forgotten that the language of mathematics is founded in curiosity. We too often think of mathematics as rules rather than as questions. This is like thinking of stories as grammar. Being curious together can be a really special part of the relationship in families. Continue reading