The Spice of Life

By Matthew Lewis on November 01, 2017

Some of my fondest memories of being homeschooled, unsurprisingly, came not from textbooks, but from “normal,” day-to-day happenings. Things like getting up at I-didn't-know-there-was-such-an-O'clock in the morning to go watch meteor showers, gathering materials to build a perpetual-motion device (it didn't work), and much, much more, all helped “turn on” my developing mind and cultivated curiosity.

The “problem” with all this is that not much of what really ended up being fascinating to me could have been predicted. Sure, parents know their kids, and can often tell in advance if certain children will enjoy particular things or not. But when something really grabs a child - when their imaginations really get going about something, or they're just plain captivated by learning as much as they can about it - that sort of thing is almost always unpredictable.

But it can be planned for.

How do you plan for the unpredictable to occur? Simply put, create an environment ripe for it to happen.

One of the best ways I know of to do that is to help our kids learn to see the beauty in “small” things. In other words, help them learn to see and appreciate the “spice of life.” Some call it “taking time to smell the roses.” No matter how you quantify it, the concept is the same: Teach kids to observe, to be curious, and to ask questions.

Lisa and I have been blessed to find a number of high-quality “coffee-table books” for exceptionally low prices at used book sales. These books feature stunning photography of people, places, and things, all over the world and throughout history. Our kids are still young, so the only time these books come out are for quiet time before bed. They eagerly pick a book, often too heavy for them to lift on their own, and lay in bed for half an hour or so just poring over the pictures.

Another good way is to not keep our own observations to ourselves. If we see something remarkable, we remark on it! Sometimes it's as simple as just taking the kids out after dark to look at the full moon, or commenting on the intricacies of a flower petal, or pointing out the more subtle instruments in a piece of classical music.

Life is full of little things that are worth noticing, and it is these things that turn on young minds and light the fires of a love for learning!