The Association of Classical and Christian Schools has a good article by Louis Markos in their latest edition of Classis.
Here are some selected quotes with my comments.
I encouraged them [his children] to interact in a direct and spontaneous manner with the stories I read to them and the environment around them. I wanted them to know, not so much through study as through participation, how they fit into the world and how the world fit into them. “The world is full of magic,” I taught them, “—you just have to have eyes to see it and ears to hear it.”
This is what we want to do with our very youngest students and in nature studies. Don’t read “magic” as magic, but rather as mystery. The world holds together because God holds it together, and this is mysterious to us. The “magic” of science engenders curiosity.
Here is another good quote. It is especially relevant to science, especially grammar school science, and even more so to our pre-grammar school.
“It is exactly this experience that Mason desires for her pupils, an experience that can be expressed in numerous words, all of which combine the physical, emotional, and spiritual, and all of which produce that all-important humility that lies at the root of education: astonishment, wonder, awe, terror, fear. The child, Mason and Wordsworth both insist, has the ability to take in such experiences, even if he cannot immediately understand them. And it is right for parents and teachers to allow him to have that experience without incessantly demanding that it be broken down, analyzed, and categorized under scientific-sociological headings.”
Because the world ultimately exists by the Word and power of God, there is mystery in it. Not all of it can be boiled down into facts. The whole is greater than its parts. There are things we know about it that we cannot prove with science. Stories have meanings that are beyond the written words on the page. When we immediately break down and categorize, we cut our children off from this more holistic knowledge. Far better than an “abc” book for a three year old is a great storybook. The former desiccates the fertile soil of the child’s mind by presenting raw bits and pieces of facts while the other waters and implants it with a love for knowing, for stories, for the wonder of human relations, and for words. Cultivate a love for stories, books, and words, and the kindergarten or grade one child will readily receive his phonograms as if they were keys to treasure.
So, before we teach letters and words, we must engender the wonder of a story, of a book, of communicating through words spoken and written. A child must learn to love the awe, sadness, and joy of the world she enters into when a book is opened and read for her before she learns her letters. A child must learn to love these same emotions as he gazes at the world before we teach the analysis of science. Before we teach the facts of science, we must engender a wonder for and curiosity about nature. This is first the job of parents for the pre-school aged child. Familial love and a parent’s example are a necessary and powerful combination that inculcate values and loves in a young child.
Let us, therefore, as educators not put road blocks in the way of apprehension/synthesis. Let us stop comparing our children/students to others and insisting that they not “fall behind” in the three “r’s.” True education is not a race or a contest; it is a love affair.
What we do with our young children has a great effect on their love for learning.
Many parents of young children, when they interview for admission, are quick to talk about how intelligent their child is. Some go so far as to confuse disobedience with intelligence or precociousness. I care less about intelligence than other things. I want to know how well their child obeys. I want to know if good books are celebrated in their home for the love of learning, the wonder, morality, and curiosity they inspire.
Here is the link to the article by Markos: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/628235e71075ff6f1fa8e7ddc/files/16_September_Classis_Online.pdf
More to read: here is an article from Classical Academic Press about fostering love in the education of our youngest children.