Over the last nine months, our home has seemed to experience a down pouring of questions. Questions about EVERYTHING! Covering every category and subject – historical, scientific, funny, taboo, thoughtful and so on.
It feels as though these questions have just turned up but I actually think they were always there, just that I hadn’t opened my ears, mind or heart to them before.
When the children were at school, apart from any homework and daily reading together, I felt their time at home needed to be as ‘study free’ as possible, affording them a well needed break. I had developed the subconscious notion that fun and learning were not partners and as so much time was spent at school in a ‘learning’ environment that the majority of time at home needed to be fun, work free time. Therefore, I had an entirely different attitude to the encouraging of these extra little projects and investigations.
I have since learnt that learning and fun constantly correlate and any learning which does not have a fun or interesting and relevant experience attached to it, is likely to be quickly forgotten.
I’m in no doubt that the questions must have always been there in some capacity but I really didn’t seem to notice them? And definitely wasn’t reacting to them or appreciating their value in the way we do now.
We’ve realised that these questions are the golden threads of interest, that, when asked, require time and action! Either by sharing knowledge, or by researching together, how can we feed this new interest and satisfy this natural curiosity to learn while the interest and enthusiasm are present. How can we make a memorable learning experience which can be tapped into time and time again in the future when required. This is definitely not always easy! But, so important to us, as we’ve found their little minds weave in and out of intrigue and if we want to engage them and arm them with more knowledge, we need to jump on the thread and run with it.
This has also required us to be more open and honest in our responses to all question categories. Not that we ever consciously decided to be closed about anything, but those cringeworthy questions, that rear their devious heads every once in a while, just when you’re not expecting them. We would, (admittedly), quickly brush over them or make an executive, on the spot decision to explain ‘you are too young to understand this at the moment, when you’re a little older we can explain.’ Yes, those ones- I’ve come to understand that they need to be answered! If they are ready to ask then they’re ready for an answer. They need to spark conversations, that lead to other conversations, that allow them to gain some perspective and knowledge of these often unspoken and taboo subjects.
By no means have we always managed to keep a straight face, to stifle a nervous giggle or hide our cringe reactions, but these have actually aided us in explaining that some subjects can embarrass people, or make them feel uncomfortable, but this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be discussed, especially if there’s anything that’s concerning them about them. We want them to feel that we are the people who they can feel safe in asking anything, and expect a considered and genuine response.
In a relatively short space of time, so many massively important things have been learned from these moments, things that I naively assumed that the children might realise, just because it had seemed obvious to me. But in hindsight, why would they just ‘know’ something?
This has served us so well so far, and allowed the children to begin to gain an insight and understanding of so much, fleeting as subjects have sometimes been, I’m in no doubt that they will return to it when the spontaneous curiosity is ready to be satisfied again.