Six Ways to Keep Wonder Alive
January 29, 2013
Everyone who knows a toddler knows that they’re naturally curious and imaginative. For toddlers, each day holds the potential for new adventures, and a simple cardboard box can be anything. This natural sense of wonder is what makes children such a joy to be around.
As a parent, I want to do everything I can to keep this sense of wonder alive for as long as possible. But I struggle with this in the day-to-day. With all the tasks I need to accomplish each day, it’s easy to lose sight of wonder, imagination and the world of “what if.” Here are some ideas I’ve tried that can help you incorporate a little wonder into every day.
Try seeing what isn’t there.
Look up at the clouds, and point out the shapes you see. Give yourself time. I can’t see anything at first, but after a while the pictures starting jumping out at me.
Make up a “what if” statement.
Use it to start a fun conversation with your child: “What if cats could talk?” “What if you were the grown up and I was the kid?” “What if we could fly?”
Don’t answer your child’s question.
This may sound strange since we’re so used to answering every question our children ask. But the next time your child shows curiosity about something new, try reply with “I wonder…” As children’s language skills expand, they’ll come up with ideas and guesses.
In this age of information accessibility, it’s so easy to look up the answer to any question. Instead, try wondering out loud. When passing a construction site say, “I wonder what those workers are building.” Upon seeing an unfamiliar fruit in the grocery store say, “I wonder what this fruit tastes like.” Or when you finish a roll of paper towels pose, “I wonder what we can make out of this.”
Expose your child to different types of art.
A toddler won’t have much patience for an art gallery, so it may not feel worth the price of admission to go to one. Find out about the free days at your local museums and take your toddler for an early and quick trip through the most interesting galleries. No explanations will be necessary as you both wander around wondering!
Think outside the box.
Your child doesn’t even know about the box yet, so practice ignoring it right alongside him. Toddlers often find new and interesting uses for things we didn’t even think of. Unless something or someone is being harmed, try to allow for divergent thinking and actions. Applaud your child’s creativity.
While the pace of life may not allow us to stop and smell the roses as often as we’d like, try to squeeze in some “wonder time” each day. Please share your favorite ways to sprinkle wonder into your days.
More games to play with babies and toddlers:
Melissa Catalano is a schoolteacher and runs My Play Place, a play-based parent-participation toddler program where kids learn, create and socialize in a fun and safe setting. She holds a B.A. in Human Biology and an M.A. in Education from Stanford University. In a day filled with teaching and running a business, parenting is the job that still provides the most challenges and rewards.
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