Our surroundings matter.
If we are in a place where we feel safe, our brain is less likely to rush into fight or flight mode.
This is why, if we want to subtly spark curiosity in our kids, it is best not to put everything away behind cupboard doors or neatly sorted on the bookshelves.
I am not saying you have to live in a disaster of clutter. Once too many things are strewn about, our brain will just block it all out.
But a few select things, on the coffee table, or otherwise empty shelf that is low enough for the child to notice will be noticed.
And when we notice things we get curious.
I don’t know how many books my 13-year-old has read just because I left a book I knew he would enjoy laying out on where he would see it.
He doesn’t take books off shelves. He is not the type to get lost in a story for hours. But he loves mythology and non-fiction books. They have to be well-written, and if there is a little humor worked in, all the better.
He read all the Life of Fred elementary math books when I bought them for his younger siblings just because he enjoyed them so much, and because they were laying around. Easy to pick up and dive into for a few minutes, and then put back down.
I know my kids learn a lot from things I leave strewn about the house (mostly books, but puzzles, brainteaser games, quiz cards, and learning games also get attention.) I know because I don’t actively teach them from those sources. They know a lot of stuff I didn’t teach them. This is how it should be.
A child needs to learn that they do not need the parent or teacher to learn. They can do it on their own. This brings confidence which helps them have the courage needed to explore subjects on their own.
I change things up, once the item is being ignored it is no longer useful.
I may subtly be putting things out in areas I want them to know more about, but I always mix it up with things that will just be fun, that way they arn’t suspicious of my master plans.
Think about this with resources you arn’t sure how to fit into your schedule, or things on the shelf that you know are awesome but never get pulled out.
Be subtly, if they catch on, it is game over, and they won’t pay a bit of attention to the things you lay out. Not if they know you are engineering it as part of their learning. It had to seem very casual. It they ask, just say you were looking at it and forgot to put it away. Do not ask if they want to read it, use it, play it, etc.
They are more likely to be curious if you are not cramming it down their throat or offering it up on a spoon.
Let them pick up the spoon and the food of learning on their own. This is how they practice the life-long habit of learning.
Are you curious about the image for this post? Did randomly placing something interesting if front of you ignite your desire to learn more?
The image is a public domain image provided by The Met: Terracotta zoomorphic askos (vessel) with a ram’s head.