How to spark joy in learning

To spark joy in learning, make learning FUN and let children learn through PLAY!

Every child is a natural self-directed learner. Children are naturally curious about the world around them. Young animals are no different. If you were to observe a puppy or a kitten at play with its siblings, you will notice just how curious they are about everything! Sometimes to the state of utter destruction!

They are also endowed with such innocent looks that one would not have the heart to punish them for their “crime” even if they were to be caught red-handed at the crime scene!

Lesson number 1: Let them PLAY to their hearts’ content because through playing and trying things out, children learn about the way the ways of the world, and how they can co-exist happily and peacefully. (Don’t worry about the mess – they are a necessary by-product of creativity!)

Be inspired!

In the process of their playing years – and this should not be restricted to only pre-school years but extended throughout one’s entire lifetime – they will come across others who have similar interests or passions and these individuals will INSPIRE them to further their skills and expertise of their game.

And the “games” could be music, dancing, writing, drawing, science and mathematics. When learning becomes like a game to be played, it is much more enjoyable and much less stressful for the student.

Our son’s sudden interest in classical music slightly more than a year ago – a drastic change from his anime music days – was a great surprise to me. As a piano teacher mom, I did my duty of teaching all my children basic skills in piano-playing. After that, it was entirely up to them to choose to pursue piano or any other instruments. My first-born chose the acoustic guitar, and my second child chose the electric guitar. So when my youngest child chose the drums, I was ready to close my chapter on the piano for good. Until he started tinkling on it one day to the tune of a Japanese song from an anime show that he had watched on his iPad. And when he started watching the super heroes movies, it was Batman and Superman theme songs. Then Star Wars came along, and you can guess what he was playing then! All these were self-directed, playing by ear and experimenting with music notes at the piano. Without his mommy’s help.

Then one day, he started watching this anime series about a boy pianist whose ENTIRE life was the piano. His (the main character) passion/possession for classical piano music was intense. The dramatisation of the climatic parts of the music was emotionally provoking. That was the time my son came up to me and excitedly declared, “Mom, I want to learn to play classical music!” and I was thinking, “ah, good. Maybe we can start with some easy pieces……” and without hesitation he continued, “I want to learn to play Chopin!” And I was thinking, “…….preludes? waltzes?….” “Chopin Ballade no.1 in G minor!!! I LOVE THAT PIECE!!!”

And that, my friend, is the power of INSPIRATION. Nothing is more powerful than that first thought before all the other voices come into the picture: are you sure? Are you out of your mind? You’re NEVER going to do it! YOU CAN’T EVEN READ NOTES!!!!

The amazing thing about the mind of a child, is that it is so pure and innocent and yet to be tainted by the world. And adults who are able to maintain this state of child-mind has the unique ability to create unique works for the world. And this is what we, as parents, need to guard with all our hearts and not allow it to be tainted by negativity and self-doubts.

And so, with a big smile on my face, I tell my son, “Of course my dear, you shall learn to play Chopin’s ballade!” And I think to myself, “Now how the hell are we going to do that?!?” 😳

(To be continued…….)

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