Cultivating Wonder and Awe in Our Children

Doing Good Newsletter

CULTIVATING WONDER AND AWE IN OUR CHILDREN

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We all know that amazing sensation of feeling part of something much larger than ourselves, of being upended by the vastness of the night sky or the intensity of great music. Research indicates that experiencing these magical feelings also changes how we approach our lives. It can make us more satisfied, less self-involved, less likely to feel starved for time, more grateful and more likely to help others.

These "wow" moments also stimulate curiosity, creativity and innovation - all critical tools for solving complex social problems. Most important, they bring joy. Here are some ways to nurture wonder and awe in your children, while also rediscovering it yourself.

-Jenny Friedman, Executive Director


A DOSE OF WONDER

Make a Difference...

It's worth putting aside your schedule and unplugging your devices to search out some mind-expanding magic with your child.

  • Get out in nature. It is the ultimate in awe. Take a hike to see a waterfall, view the night sky away from city lights, or find the best fall color.
  • Awe-inspiring experiences aren't always supersized. Take time to notice the beauty of small things - exquisite wildflowers, delicately patterned insects, intricate lichen formations.
  • Focus on the world differently. Look through a camera or binoculars as you walk through the woods (or even a paper towel roll!). Use a simple hand lens to focus on the small and inconspicuous by day; use a flashlight to see what lurks in the darkness by night.
  • Whether indoors or out, follow your children's lead, pursuing what intrigues them at the moment. Marvel at their curiosity and let it guide you.
  • Slow down. Lie on your back and listen to a great song. Stare at one piece of art for as long as possible, then talk about what you see.

THE POWER OF AWE

Talk About It.....

You are more likely to notice and remember moments of awe and wonder if you talk about them. Here are some tips for getting your family to share.

  • Model a sense of amazement for even the smallest wonders. Comment out loud to your children about the astonishing things you see, hear and feel in nature - and in your everyday life.
  • At dinner or when riding in the car, share your inspiring moments and ask family members to do the same.
  • Ask your children what they wonder about. Wonder out loud yourself. ("I wonder OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg Machine how far away those stars are. I wonder how deep this lake is. I wonder why zebras have stripes.")
  • Ask open-ended, thought-provoking questions to stimulate your child's sense of discovery and wonder. ("Why do you think people want to travel to space? What do you think it would be like?")

Learn About It.....

When you plug back in, here are a few fun, wonder-inducing videos to watch together.

Scale of the Universe

Scale of the Universe


INSPIRATION

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder... 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."
— Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder