It starts when they’re born. They learn to smile. They learn to laugh. They learn to roll over, sit up, talk, feed themselves, crawl, walk, run. New parents dote on their babies and toddlers, squealing with joy during their cheerleading efforts. Every parent does it. But somehow, those squeals fade with time, and after a while we don’t get as excited when we witness our kids learning something new.
Why is this? How is finally learning the multiplication tables different from learning to walk? Is it because it isn’t a physical achievement? Is it because it’s harder to witness the steps that were taken to comprehension, since they occurred inside your child’s mind? Whatever the difference, I’ve noticed that my personal joy from watching my kids learn hasn’t really diminished. I still continue to take great joy in watching my kids finally get a concept, come up with a clever idea all on their own, and discover new things that really get them excited. I may not audibly squeal, but I certainly do inside. It’s so satisfying to witness your kids taking the information about the world that they’ve been given, and somehow translate that into an understanding of the that allows them to work out the logic of something new, all on their own. Sometimes it’s almost as if you can literally see that light bulb go off over their head. Their eyes light up and, ding, they have it. The constant realization that my kids are really their own, separate, fully functional people continues to astound me.
Sometimes when your kids comprehend something new, it happens after a lot of effort and study. Sometimes it has to wait until their mind is ready to grasp the concepts. When my daughter has trouble fully understanding a math concept, for example, I’ve found it’s helpful to just leave it be, work on related but different lessons, and go back to the trouble topic in a couple of months. Always, she then understands the concept with no effort. I’ve been lucky to have been able to have so much time to study how my kids learn. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for those telltale signs of learning. Passion for a subject, paying attention with no difficulty, asking unexpected but completely relevant questions.
It is my very strong opinion that one of the biggest joys, or perhaps the biggest joy, of raising children is to watch them learn. Who’s with me?