It’s the day before Valentine’s Day. Hallmark’s TV ad depicts happy children with a mom in the kitchen preparing to bake. The scene focuses on delightful giggles as squiggly eggs are about to be cracked into the bowl. Messy, gooey and amazing! We are all hands on deck ready for explosive egg energy! What else do we have here? We have kids here that are socializing together AND involved in meaningful activities (Stella Vosniadou. 2001. How Children Learn). Curiosity, imagination and who knows what else are just break out spontaneously and no one would have to be told! And, just when the fun is hatching, the message we see on the screen is Pause and Enjoy.
It’s taken me a long time to learn as a parent and as a librarian (I got a late start in the librarian part) to really take that time when the opportunity presents itself. I don’t know about you, but if a burning question comes up and my attention is completely fixed elsewhere (fill in appropriate digital device or chore or napping) it was my habit to say – wow! You ask a great question there. Let’s be sure to remember that and look it up when we get a sec! (Likelihood of follow through – well you can just imagine). About a year ago, I woke up and realized what I wasn’t doing right at the genius child moment of relating new information to prior knowledge! And, you know, well, chances like this can be few and far if either party is more attuned to let’s say, a digital device or anything BUT the other person.
When Pause and Enjoy played out today, it reminded me of how the number of astounding little fleeting moments of inquiry have gained momentum. Finally I stopped to pay attention, prompt, ask or answer my child’s questions, and show her different places to locate good information. She asks, does and reflects now in a continuous cycle with real motivation to understand. I hope she’ll forgive me for waiting until she was 10 for the lightbulb to slowly brighten in my stressed grad student brain. So focused on the trees there that I totally missed the forest.
Some of the best questions kids may ask may not happen WHEN they are in the library or at school with teachers. Families and caregivers are smack dab in the middle of the target for these moments. No hiding behind the old habits. If this arrow hits you, consider yourself lucky and boldly go from there! (Don’t forget to write and tell me how it went!)