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How a Mother’s Curiosity Can Fuel a Child’s Learning


Mother's Curious Learning Unschooling

“We are mostly teaching what we need to learn. We also teach best what we most need to learn”

Recently, I came across those words of wisdom (above) from the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (by Richard Bach). That line was shared by Kiran Gulrajani – on the online forum of the Learning Societies UnConference.

And, those words struck a chord with me. They sum up my experience as an un-schooling parent to Pari (my 8.5 years old). I believe I have been and will continue to be a good parent/mentor to my child because I have a fertile mind – rife with curiosity to learn and explore.
I’m in a good position to mentor because I’ve got a lot to learn myself; I WANT to learn a lot. Though I’m just a few years shy of 40, my inner child is alive and kicking – very much a no-holds-barred learner. I’m not a master of any art or skill but thanks to my ever-inquisitive mind, I’m good at quite a few things. If I wasn’t open to learning, I would have been a bad example for my daughter and a rather poor mentor/teacher.

And, the learning is on. Every single day.

It may sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet but that’s not my intention. :-) As you may have gotten by now, from the title of this post, I have learned that my learning and curiosity enriches the life of Pari in more ways than I can ever fathom. For, whatever I do, seek, create, learn, it somehow flows through the whole family including Pari.

She’s right there – sometimes in the middle of it, sometimes watching in the periphery while I do my own thing, and other times – she’ll come back to ask what I did, how, why etc. Be it my passion for photography, for books, for birds and bees and butterflies, for art and craft, for words and languages, for reading and writing, for spirituality, for unschooling, healthy living, healthy cooking – Pari has not been left untouched. Some things have interested her later than sooner; some caught on with her life wild-fire, with others – she added her own dimension and dynamics. But, essentially – every pursuit of mine has added to her potpourri of learning and has enabled her to make those learning connections.

And, then there are pursuits exclusively her own. And, I haven’t been left untouched either. I’ve taken an active interest in what she gets excited about.

So, the learning flows both ways and we give each other curious company.

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Pari and me side-by-side in an art workshop – both learning the nuances of acrylic painting

Can Curiosity-deficit Adults Teach/Mentor Children?

I find it hard to digest that adults whose curiosity to learn has been dried up can be in a position to teach children – those young learners who are a powerhouse of curiosity and imagination; who are willing to drink from a well of new sights, smells, sounds, clues, textures, hues….

When the adult – teacher or parent – is not willing to explore/learn, how can she teach anyone, much less  children who thrive on exploring something new every moment.

As I see parents send their children to this class and that class so they can learn this and that – be it music, dance, martial arts, public speaking et al, I wonder why those parents would not think about joining a class themselves so they can get their minds ticking and thinking like kids. Are their days over? Is there an age to learn something new? Is their life over?

They don’t hesitate to invest in the best learning gear – in sports, music, technology, art – for their children; they rush to book fairs so as to buy more and more – children’s books that is! That’s understandable. We want to give the best to our children. But, are we being the best examples of learning that they can look upto?

How often do parents pick up that guitar lying in the corner and gathering dust? How long has it been since they dipped their paint brush in colours to experience the fun of making art? (well, you definitely don’t need to be good at art to make art!). When did they last go to the terrace to marvel at the night sky. What was the last time that they got soaked in rain or jumped bare feet in the puddles…?

When children see the adults/parents/teachers pursue learning like there’s no tomorrow, they get the idea. They feel the enthusiasm, they get into the flow.

When Pari sees me following my interests and passion, she gets excited to pursue her own (or mine).

silk cotton pod picked in a nature walk

Those times when she declared she’s not interested…

So, there was a phase when she said, with an air of non-chalance, “I don’t think art is my interest. It may be yours. Not mine.” I acknowledged that and let her be. But, I continued to make art whenever I had the time (I actually created time no matter what). Seeing me engrossed in art, she would come and sit next to me, even though she may not make herself. And then came the marathon art project that I took up during my 8th month of pregnancy – the 30-day leaf art challenge. A few days into that challenge and Pari sat next to me each evening (and night) that I made my leaf art. She made her own art – zentangle leaves, Kingfisher, sea-shore – whatever struck her fancy. She even blogged about it.

I knew this might happen. Though, I never started that project to get her back. But, she just couldn’t resist. That path was strewn with genuine enthusiasm – the enthusiasm was mine. She got encircled and became my parter in art and curiosity.

acrylic colours art learning

For children to become curious learners, they need parents and teachers to live a full life…

…..yes, a life filled with curiosity, enthusiasm and a love for learning. Age? What’s that go to do with learning?

This quality (wanting to explore and learn something new) alone is a good enough starting point to be a great unschooling partner for my children. And then, of-course, virtues like being kind, loving, understanding, fun (yes, fun, and not boring!) and patient make for a great un-schooling team at home.

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What are you learning these days? Please share and I’ll add to my list of things to learn. :-)

The post ‘How a Mother’s Curiosity Can Fuel a Child’s Learning‘ was first published on Mommy Labs.

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Bindu August 27, 2014, 2:43 pm

    your post hit home hard Rashmie.I have n’t done any art project for myself in a long time…so this has been a reminder thanks :)

    • Rashmie September 1, 2014, 6:56 pm

      Bindu – glad it’s art for you too :-) Take that time out for yourself and immerse in exploration of colours!

  • Laura Grace Weldon August 27, 2014, 7:31 pm

    A wonderful, engaging reminder Rashmie. Thank you.

    What am I learning these days? I’m teaching myself to more frequently go beyond the comfort zone of my own quiet introvert nature, opening up my house to art parties and potlucks and reunions of neighbors who have moved away. We recently had a few dozen people here (welcoming friends to bring friends as well) to engage in a messy project called “hypertufa.” If I want to make a mess, might as well make it big. It was fun, exhausting, and totally worth it.

    • Rashmie September 1, 2014, 7:03 pm

      Laura, I’m learning and challenging myself, too – to go out and meet more and more people, invite people into my home and basically not stay content with my own lovely company! I said “lovely” because I like spending time with myself – an introvert like your self.

      That hypertufa project sounds amazing. I’ll keep it in mind. Do write more about it on your blog.

      It’s been a long time since I stopped by your blog to comment on your posts, but I want to take this opportunity to tell you that I read many of yours posts as they land in my inbox. You’re an inspiration. :-)

  • Edlyn @MummyEd August 27, 2014, 9:32 pm

    I can’t agree more with you! Having kids is like getting to have a second childhood, including going back to school and re-learning everything! Which is both fun as well as a torment sometimes :D I’ve recently had to attend some professional courses, so I make it a point to tell the kids I’m going to “school”. I hope they’ll realise that we *all* need to go to school no matter how old we are!

    • Rashmie September 1, 2014, 7:06 pm

      Yes, Edyn, I agree with you – having kids is like having a second childhood and most importantly – unlearning and relearning! Thank you for stopping by. Hope to connect more often with you here. :-)

  • Madhu August 27, 2014, 11:58 pm

    Thats so true Rashmie, we teach what we are learning.
    What am I learning new these days? That’s a tough one. Your post reminded me that I probably stopped being a child which I so used to be before getting married.
    But I do get your point and to an extent I do things like not mind the mess and just let her explore her creativity :)

    • Rashmie September 1, 2014, 7:11 pm

      Madhu dear, I hope you get to be a child again :-) I understand that things change after marriage, what with responsibilities of a home, relations and then kids. But then, the responsibilities become so much lighter when you’re having fun while doing it…

      Will send you an email soon. Your parcel arrived today and I can’t begin to tell you how much of a kid I got to be as Pari and I were unpacking. So much gratitude towards you for making Pari’s day the best in recent times. The joy on her face was a treat to my mommy heart…! Thank you and hugs…

  • Kiran August 28, 2014, 7:10 pm

    Nice Rashmie..

    Thanks for acknowledging me.

    One correction..
    I dont think that quote is from ‘Zen mind, beginner’s mind’ – unless you saw it there.
    I have just picked it up in my journey of life. I think the first line of the quote I read in ‘The Life you were born to live’ – Dan Millman- a book I have mentioned in my blog post

    The Live movie you are here to watch: Free will Astrology ;-)
    http://coevolvewithkiran.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/the-live-movie-we-are-here-to-watch-free-will-astrology/

    You may even find an old related post interesting-
    “Letting go of walking your talk.. so as to dance ;-) ”
    http://coevolvewithkiran.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/letting-go-of-walking-your-talk/

    More as we connect.. Keep writing..
    Love,
    Kiran

    • Rashmie September 1, 2014, 8:12 pm

      Kiran, thank you for visiting and sharing. That quote – yes, I figured it’s by Richard Back, from the book: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.
      Will go ahead and correct the error in the post.

      Meanwhile, I read that article you shared – ‘letting go of walking your talk’. It nudged me (gently) to think on this topic. I also liked the views of Chittaranjan and Biren shared in the comments.

      Yes, more as we connect. Hope to see you at the next LSuC. Or, do come over whenever you visit Goa. We live in South Goa. Pune is not far. :-)
      Cheers…

  • fatcat August 31, 2014, 9:03 pm

    I’m letting my daughter teach me to crochet. It is so funny how excited she is to teach me something!

    • Rashmie September 1, 2014, 8:14 pm

      Yes, you’re right, @fatcat – they get so excited when they get to teach us something. Crochet has been on my list to learn. I followed some You Tube videos. But, I think I need a ‘person’ in the real-world space to see and learn from.
      Thank you for connecting. :-)

  • Laura Grace Weldon September 1, 2014, 8:23 pm

    Aw Rashmie, thank you. How very synchronous, because I comment very infrequently on your posts but always find them inspiring and often share them on my Free Range Learning facebook page.

    • Rashmie September 3, 2014, 12:05 am

      I appreciate your sharing, Laura. It’s an honour :-)

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