The Wisdom of Wonder

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We’re still digging out from under our most recent snow storm, so I’m sharing some of my favorite posts from the SK archives.  Today’s post was written by Lisa Boisvert MacKenzie of  The Wonder of Childhood. – Kara

A little child looks up at the sky and asks, “Mama, why is the sky blue?” Mama responds “hmmn…. I wonder.”

There is a pause. The child gets quiet and turns inward. Silence. The child looks up with a knowing smile, “I know, the sky is a blanket for the earth, to tuck it in at night and keep it cozy,” to which to mother nods.

Another child asks his dad, “Why do birds sing?” The dad pauses and responds, “Gee, I wonder…” He waits. The child muses on it for a few moments and comes up with an answer, “I know, it’s their way of talking to each other.”

Children come to understanding through wonder. Curiosity, inquisition, engagement and enthusiasm flow out of wonder and in turn inspire more wonder and understanding. It is this spirit of inquiry that leads to wisdom, the ability to ask a question, hold the question and wait for the answer to come, which leads to more wondering, more enthusiasm and curiosity, a rich and juicy life, full of wonder, awe and wisdom.

“Wisdom begins in wonder.” Socrates

The child is born with a sense of wonder.



Fifty-five years ago, Woman’s Home Companion published an article, Help Your Child to Wonder by Rachel Carson, in which she wrote:

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and dis-enchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gifts from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

How can we nurture the sense of wonder in the children around us?

Be the example and model wonder, “Gee, I wonder…” “Hmnn…” and wait when a child asks a question.

Be in nature together, not with facts but to enliven the “sense” of wonder.

Take time to be present in the moment.

Value the daily and the ordinary, “what lovely clouds this morning”

Find the value, the goodness, in situations that do not work out as planned, ” I wonder if maybe we were meant to take a wrong turn because now we can see the rainbow.”

Let children get bored, boredom is the springboard for wonder and great play and projects.

Remember that wonder is all around us and reveals itself to us when we are free of fear, safe and silent.

Trust that children know, children are capable of asking questions and finding the answers and trust that it is within you too.

Lisa  Boisvert MacKenzie is a Waldorf Early Childhood Educator and mother of two boys.  She can be found at her blog, or the e-magazine The Wonder of Childhood. You can also find The Wonder of Childhood on facebook.

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About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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Comments

  1. I love this post and it really made me pause for a while and thinking all my answers were my children asked me about. This world has lots of different wonders that we ourselves can’t explain but I believe those are just wonderful things that God gave to human kind. :)
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  2. It is so important to wonder because there is a lot of things that we don’t understand, not as a child and not as a parent.. maybe some day we will understand it all… :)
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  3. What has wonder, that apparently innocent feeling of amazement so common in little children, to do with wisdom, often thought to be the privilege of those who are old? What has theology and religious experience to do with scientific investigation of the natural world? Thanks for sharing this site.
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  4. Great post. I know this sounds a little like bragging, but I remember distinctively how my children’s first grade teacher told us how different our children were from most of the kids she taught. She noted that they had a sense of creativity and imagination that she wasn’t seeing as much.

    While we do a lot of stuff here on our little farm, I attribute the biggest factor to this to the fact that we let them get bored. In a world where kids are overprogrammed and parents feel like they have to constantly engage kids and entertain them, we’re losing this valuable experience.

    My kids would say, “Mom, I’m bored” and I’d simply tell them to go find something to do. Perhaps it was drawing or making up a game. My son had a favorite stick collection for his make-believe world of being a knight.

    It was an important realization to find that kids need to do things for themselves, entertain themselves, problem solve and more in order to develop that important part of our brain.

    As Einstein once said (paraphrase) “Imagination is more important than knowledge”

    Who know what our children’s world will bring – imagination is what will help them contend with changes and new realities. Not knowledge that is staid.

  5. I think that often we see our children as just that, children, where really they are born complex individuals and we need to focus on giving them the time of day and following their desires and instincts, instead of thinking that we always know best…nature is the greatest guide :)
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  6. I had 4 kids and now 7 grandchildren. One of the things I love the most is helping them explore and watching them discover new things in their little world.
    Great post!
    Bernice
    Frustrated with the ever-present mess?

  7. Sometimes kids can really get to the point of things without even knowing it! They’re really smart in that way and sometimes they even pick up on your own moods on different days. It’s pretty uncanny how much they can really understand and how receptive they are to people and things around them.
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  8. If my child going to ask me something i don’t know, i will “google it” on my phone. This way i can give him a real information. Not before i would ask him directing question. that will lead him to the right answer
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  9. I totally agree! my girl is 2 months old and I can really tell how she’s exploring her world…. amazing!
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  10. Hi Kara,
    This is really a very inspiring post!
    “Wisdom begin in wonders”
    Thank you for sharing this post. :)
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