By the 1940s, over 5,000 fire-watch towers, manned by Forest Rangers, stood guard over our U.S. National Parks. At the first sighting of errant smoke, the Ranger would communicate with firefighters, giving exact coordinates for finding and extinguishing the flames. Hopefully, before they could begin to burn out-of-control.
As parents and educators, we are rangers too, and we are watching for the flickers of fire that ignite in our children’s souls. What sparks their wonder, budding dreams, self-discovery, awakening talents, and interests? We hope to identify their individual coordinates and fan and feed their fire, without controlling or dampening it.
As we keep watch, we can ask ourselves these questions:
What does my child notice, pay attention to, and celebrate?
How can I affirm and encourage his/her individual light?
What we do, and how we do it, matters a lot. Here are some ideas for us to be on watch and ready to identify and feed our child’s fire.
Slow down. Our lives are busy and full of responsibility and activity but we all need to take ownership of our pace and slow it down–We can be calm and intentional with our time, our words, and our watchful awareness.
Be Present. Wherever you are and whoever you’re with, be all there. There’s so much beckoning our attention. Let’s make being “present” with our children our new normal. This includes turning off our phones, media, and technology.
Listen and Observe Deeply. Listening and observing deeply means we are lovingly open and receptive to hear and come to know our child just as he/she is and notice the kindling potential of who they are becoming.
Seize the Moment and Engage. There are special teaching moments with our children that often come at unpredictable, and sometimes inconvenient, times. The key is to engage. Awaken — Seize the moment. Be meek and receptive, and cherish them. Join in their wonder. Play and work beside them. Get out in nature. Match your child’s levels and rhythm. Share in what they notice, what they pay attention to, and what they celebrate.
When our children identify something interesting or important to them, share their delight, ask good questions that expand their thinking and inspire them to discover relevant and meaningful answers. Deep learning and satisfaction will come, kindling their fire.
Feed the Fire. Nurture Their Potential and Possibilities. You may have a child with kindling fires that are guiding him/her to be artistic, scientific, inventive, compassionate, outdoorsy, athletic, musical, well-organized, homeopathic, engineer-minded, political, creative, peacemaking, instructive, green-thumbed, and mathematical. Feed the fires. What endures for the long-burn will reveal itself over time. In the meantime, we can…
Provide multi-sensory and discovery learning experiences.
Encourage them to experiment, figure things out, keep trying, and make some choices.
Facilitate opportunities for them to build upon their unique points of wonder, budding dreams, self-discovery, awakening talents, and individual interests.
Assist them to progress and mature into their true dreams and passions, through practice, repetition, experimentation, in-depth exploration, and study.
Trust them with responsibilities, personal accountability, and stewardship.
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