Raising Curious, Interested Kids

“I’m bored, text me.”

textingThis phrase appears countless millions of times per minute on social media sites, written by young people of all ages. I once read the quote, “Boredom is the scream of an unfed mind.” I concur.

In this information age, the wonders of our world have never been more accessible. I could not have imagined sitting at home and having video at my fingertips where I could watch anything at all just by typing it into a search.

But kids now are bored. Texting nonsense night and day, they are resorting to taking naked photos of themselves and sending it around just for kicks. Or they play the potentially fatal “choking game” to stave off boredom. It’s really come to that.

A hobby or interest is one thing often missing in the minds of this generation of techno-jaded kids. Ironically, in this age of so much, there is very little real passion—the kind of passion that encourages study and learning and that is fueled by intellectual curiosity.

So how do we fuel it in our children? My own belief is that the less media the better in the preschool years. Lots and lots of reading. Lots of free play. Lots of good music and a happy home life where children have the bedrock security upon which to build their emotional life. Exposing kids to as many good things as possible is important. Whether it’s an airshow or a concert or an art museum or a political gathering, somewhere in there, your child may find something to interest them.

Parents’ interests also influence. It is obvious that Tom has directly influenced William and his passion for good music. I also used to play music to all my babies before they were even born. (Will probably knew Frühlingsstimmen and Bruckner’s 8th by heart before he was even born.) Charlie also must have a lot of opera somewhere in his subconscious as I was going through the Wagner Ring Cycle before he was born! You don’t need long hair music to stimulate a child with music, though.  I played folk songs on the piano many times while the little ones jumped and danced around. Will and Mary made a circuit through the house when I’d play the theme from Thomas the Tank Engine on the piano.Sam has been up to his eyeballs in books from little on up. Maybe I had a little to do with that interest.

It is a beautiful thing to see a child find his or her passion. Then, all you have to do is step back and watch. The child takes it from there. As parents, I liken it to setting a buffet for our kids. We lay out things that may interest them, and it ultimately is up to them to pick something up.

willhauptwerkWill has been assembling a Hauptwerk organ in the basement. Several parts go together, and they have been arriving one at a time. Yesterday, he was excited to see the keyboards arrive. He disappeared into the basement with various cables and things. I didn’t see him for several hours.

By evening, he had most of the parts put together. He came up to find me. “Come hear some hymns, Mom,” he said.

I sat holding a sleepy Emmy (she is almost too big to hold now) while our son began to play. Silent Night, and Away in the Manger came first. Then he played Holy, Holy, Holy, and finished off with something lovely by Edward Elgar. Tears came to my eyes that in this world so full of evil, God still gives us such beauty. And he often does it through the interests of our children.

Our daughter Mary is an artist who loves to draw and paint. A teacher
maryfallat her school saw her doodles on a lunch bag and pulled it from the trash. “That’s amazing!” he said. Her colors are always vibrant, like she is.

Emmy is starting to spend a lot of time on the piano, picking out chords on her own. She appears to have an interest in music, and she makes up little songs she sings while dancing with such grace.

We don’t know how God will use the talents He has given our children, but having a part in developing those interests and gifts is a great privilege.

5 thoughts on “Raising Curious, Interested Kids

  1. Lisa Green Kentala says:

    Many kids don’t have interested, invested parents – and many kids have good parents yet they turn away from them for various reasons. I do believe things like substance abuse tends to run in families. None of my siblings, children or siblings children have that problem – our parents didn’t either. Just as good traits are inherited and/or encouraged, so are bad traits. Both my boys love sports (like their dad) and music (like me and their dad). We don’t want our kids falling prey to bad influences – which are everywhere – and that’s the tricky part.

  2. Paula says:

    I had an older lady who babysat me when I was very young, before my dad retired. Some of my earliest memories were of her pointing out little fascinations on our walks. She had a parakeet, and cats, and everything was interesting. My parents could hardly keep up with me, I was constantly exploring.

    These days you can’t just let kids roam all over exploring, it seems.

    I’ve tried to do the same with my kids… some of it has stuck and other times I wonder… sigh. I want to live on a farm with lots of woods to explore. Growing up we never really had to worry too much about property lines.

  3. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    I like this pic of Tom and Will headed to a concert with their music bags. A friend added the special effect. You never know what kids will inherit or develop an interest in. They are mystery packages, full of surprises.


  4. Sam says:

    Excellent, excellent. We plan to homeschool our kids, and my main goal for them is to learn to love learning. If a child loves to learn, the world is open to them. Solely drilling them with facts will only kill any excitement and curiosity that they have. It’s not that facts aren’t important, and sometimes we have to learn things we don’t enjoy, but mostly kids will want to seek out the facts on their own if the curiosity and the passion for a topic is there.

    I remember pouring over books about the civil war and WWII and memorizing dates of battles and names of air craft. Why? Not because it was a homework assignment but because it was fascinating.

    There is absolutely no excuse for boredom. The world is a wonderful place. The mark of a child used to be awe, wonder, and fascination with things that adults found commonplace. That is why it grieves me to see how soul-dead the children of the modern world have become. They no longer possesses childish (in the best sense) wonder because they are too busy staring at the screen of an ipad from their earliest moments. It is tragic.

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