Inspiring Children to be Lifelong Learners

Welcome to the August 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have talked about how they continue learning throughout life and inspire their children to do the same.

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From the beginning, my husband and I have been less focused on the academic standards of a school and more interested in what Sofie will learn from her school environment about communication, conflict resolution, working as a team or making mistakes… Rather than be someone who learns just enough to pass the test, we want her to be a lifelong learner.

Because of this, we’ve been front-loading her education, spending our dollars in the formative early years as opposed to saving for college, a time when Sofie will be living the values, qualities and influences that she experienced in her first ten years of life. Our choice for her early childhood education reflected that. Their Reggio Emilia philosophy speaks to the “hundred languages of children,” who are naturally curious about the world and interested in learning. The kind of learning that extends beyond facts and memorization, but focuses on a child’s innate desire to question everything, to know more.

Inspiring Lifelong Learning | Eco-Mothering.com

Sofie, age 2, explores a magnifying glass in her
Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom.

From ages two through six, Sofie was encouraged to investigate, explore and problem-solve, which helped our daughter develop into a confident, independent little girl. Now, at nearly nine years old, she is still full of questions every day from “what’s intuition?” to “who was Hitler?”

Sofie’s current school is another great match to our family values. In addition to academics, they focus on character, ethics and nonviolent resolution of conflict. Their mission states that the aims of their education program are “confidence, achievement, commitment to service and a lifelong love of learning.”

Another factor in our choice was it being an all-girls school where females take center stage. The girls learn they can do anything. They find their own voices. They take on leadership roles. They dare to do more. They are more likely to excel in academics including typical boy-centric areas of areas of math, science and engineering. They are less likely to fall victim to gender stereotypes. And, of course, they are not overshadowed or distracted by boys.

So far, Sofie is flourishing in this school. She loves being there. Her second grade teacher described our daughter as a bibliophile who “begins each school day with a hunger for new knowledge.” My husband, who hated his rigid elementary school, is astonished that any kid could love school so much, yet it reaffirms our commitment to our educational choices.

Hopefully, Sofie will remain in this school through her teens. Yet, what I want more—wherever she is—is an environment that fuels her passion for learning. We try to do that at home, and we’ll continue to seek other places that share our values.

Inspiring Children as Lifelong Learners | Eco-Mothering.com

My wish list for Sofie:

  • That she continues to be surrounded by new ideas, supportive teachers and peers, and the freedom to pursue her own interests.
  • That she begins to let go of her perfectionism and accept that giving a wrong answer is just another way of gaining knowledge.
  • That she keeps asking questions.
  • That she views areas of study like math, science or spelling as interwoven elements of life instead of compartmentalized subjects.
  • That she becomes more interested in the knowledge she gains rather than the grades she receives.
  • That she pursues any careers based on passion or desire to know more instead of convenience, money or status.
  • That she go to college if it compels her and not because it seems expected.
  • That she consider studying in a foreign country to expand her learning culturally as well as academically.
  • That she will always treasure her early education years for their lasting friendships as well as the strong foundation they provided.
  • That, like Michelangelo, she is never afraid to say “I am still learning.”

What educational wishes do you have for your children?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Financial Advice That Saved My Marriage — Shortly after they got married, Emily at Natural Parents Network and her husband visited a financial planner. Many of the goals and priorities they set back then are now irrelevant, but one has stuck with them through all of the employment changes, out-of-state-moves, and child bearing: allowances.
  • Lifelong Learning — Survivor at Surviving Mexico–Adventures and Disasters writes about how her family’s philosophy of life-long learning has aided them.
  • Inspiring Children to be Lifelong Learners — Donna from Eco-Mothering discusses the reasons behind her family’s educational choices for their daughter, including a wish list for a lifetime of learning.
  • Always Learning — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves learning, and lately she’s undertaken a special project that her family has been enjoying sharing with her.
  • We’re all unschoolers — Lauren at Hobo Mama embraces the joy in learning for its own sake, and wants to pass that along to her sons as she homeschools.
  • My children, my teachers Stoneageparent shares how becoming a parent has opened doors into learning for her and her family, through home education and forest school.
  • Never Stop Learning — Holly at Leaves of Lavender discusses her belief that some of the most important things she knows now are things she’s learned since finishing “formal” schooling.
  • Learning is a Lifelong Adventure — Learning has changed over time for Life Breath Present, and she is more excited and interested now than ever before.
  • Facebook: The Modern Forum — Dionna at Code Name: Mama explains why Facebook is today’s forum – a place where people from all walks of life can meet to discuss philosophies, debate ideas, and share information.
  • 10 Ways to Learn from Everyday Life (Inspired by my Life in Japan) — Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different offers tips she learned while living in Japan to help you learn from everyday life.
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11 Responses to Inspiring Children to be Lifelong Learners

  1. Sofie’s school sounds like a great fit! I love that perspective on all-girls’ schools; I hadn’t really thought before about how they demonstrate how capable women are.

    Your list of what you want her to learn is wonderful. One item that struck me was that she attend college only if she really wants to — that’s something my husband and I have talked a lot about as well, because we absolutely attended because it was expected. We’ve even had discussions about avoiding saving too much in dedicated college funds for our boys, because we want the choice to be truly theirs, and something they work toward themselves if they choose to go.

    • Donna DeForbes says:

      Not saving for (or choosing) college is a minority choice these days. I feel better about front-loading our daughter’s education rather than saving for a school she may or may not be interested in later on.

  2. What inspiring wishes you have for Sofie! We too, believe that allowing children to learn fully whatever it is they choose is important. Seeing our children learning in ways that are/were different from how we were educated is an interesting thing, no? 🙂

  3. “That she views areas of study like math or science as interwoven elements of life instead of compartmentalized subjects.” Oh this, a million times this! I want to adopt this as a motto and figure out how to incorporate this practice into our homeschool life. I hope you write further on it!!

    • Donna DeForbes says:

      Hmm, that’s a wish that I have yet to consciously address. Maybe I will try a blog post on it!

  4. Survivor says:

    I love that you are open in the educational plan for your daughter. If she is happy at school and learning well, you allow her to remain. If her learning takes her out of school, you seem to be just fine with that too. Learning is so individual that it’s hard to be all for or against the myriad of educational paths available.

    • Donna DeForbes says:

      I never realized I’d be so invested in her educational journey either. When pregnant, we thought we’d just send her to the local public school since it’s free. Since then, so many options and other considerations have opened up.

  5. Great post, thanks for sharing. I love your wish list for Sophie. A lot of what you say resonates with me too, similar wishes for my own children. It sounds like your daughter is getting a lot out of her school environment and has a real thirst for knowledge, which is great.

  6. Holly S says:

    The school you have found for your daughter sounds amazing! I’m currently leaning toward homeschooling my son, for various reasons, but if I ever do enroll him in some sort of “real” school (I don’t want to say traditional, because her school sounds anything but!), then it’d have to be something like you describe, a school that truly encourages him to learn and flourish.

  7. Kellie says:

    That she pursues any careers based on passion or desire to know more instead of convenience, money or status.

    I love that this is part of your educational goals. We have made it very clear to our children that we are completely unattached to what their careers are, as long as they enjoy them. When they discuss career options they find interesting, we tell them about the types of education that may support a goal of that nature, but we keep in mind that those are still far off days. I think that when I was younger, I was told that my grades would affect my career choices (completely untrue), and that I was going to school so I could have a good job when I got older. But I don’t think anyone ever really connected those dots for me between the education and the career part. Because of this, I’ve made a more conscious effort to do that with my kids, even though they are still quite young.

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