April 2013 Archives


      There are many ways to measure success in life, but one parameter that is high on my list is to be a life-long learner. As an old saying from the Talmud remarks, "A fool learns only from wise men; a wise man learns from everyone." How do we cultivate the desire to learn wherever we are?

·         Encourage curiosity: Teachers will often say that the only "dumb question" is the one you don't ask. Yes, our children can barrage use with endless queries, but we can also ask them some questions of our own: why do the worms come out on the sidewalk after it rains?; how many different kinds of birds can you spot?; why are there cracks built into new sidewalks?; what makes the tides happen?

·         Research your vacation trip: Ask your child to find out ten new facts about where you are going. Let them be the "expert" on the vacation, teaching other family members the history of the place you visit and the main attractions you are sure not to miss. Put them in charge of collecting maps, trip details, and planning out some of the days. Spend some time "debriefing" after the trip to see how it all went.

·         Spend ten minutes outside just sitting and watching: As one spiritual teacher once said, "Don't just do something - sit there!" This is the cheapest way I know to relieve stress and feel connected to the earth. Check out the book The Other Way to Listen  by Byrd Baylor and Peter Parnall and read it aloud with your child. Find a comfortable place outside and just watch and listen for ten minutes. Make a list of your observations. You will be amazed by the richness of the natural environment and the observations your child will make.

·         Use everyday tasks as learning opportunities: Cooking is a math lesson: if we double the recipe, how much flour do we need? Mow the lawn and create a small compost pile: why does it get warm?; how does it turn into soil if we add other plant matter? Make a fresh salad from foraged greens (like dandelions) when you weed the lawn. Pay attention to packaging when shopping and minimize your environmental footprint by bringing your own bags, then calculate how much energy you save by not using one plastic bag or recycling one aluminum can. (By the way, you will be amazed by the impact of recycling aluminum...).


Summer will soon be upon us - the world is our laboratory. And be sure to enjoy the learning: one key to contentment in old age is to never stop learning and growing.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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