Astonishment and surprise are emotions that arise when we meet or something unexpected happens to us. In addition, they are two very important emotions for the development and learning of children. It is the mission of the parents educate children in surprise and amazement to stimulate their children's curiosity and desire to learn. But how can we do it?
But is surprise an emotion? Indeed, we could also talk about the fact that it is the shortest of all, the one that lasts the least. And it is that sometimes suddenly appears and disappears just as quickly.
On the other hand, surprise can be considered to be a neutral emotion, since leads to another negative or positive emotion. If, for example, I am walking down the street and when I turn a corner I run into a friend that I haven't seen for a long time, my reaction will be first of surprise and then joy, however, if I find a lion around the corner, the reaction after surprise will be fear.
Surprise activates us and makes us react depending on the emotion in which it derives. If I am surprised by something unexpected but positive (suddenly water starts to come out of the ground) my reaction may be curiosity, of approach (how has it happened?) But if I am surprised by some danger, as in the case of the lion, my reaction is flight. In both cases, being surprised has led me to react in a certain way.
We are amazed when we see something for the first time, when things happen to us that we did not expectWhen we learn something or manage to do something that we thought was very difficult, when something out of the ordinary happens. Even when they tell us something we didn't expect to hear.
Astonishment and surprise are closely linked to curiosity and the desire to learn. Surprise enables attention to be activated, exploration and research behaviors appear, and directs our cognitive processes (memory, concentration, attention ...) to the situation that has arisen.
When children are very young and begin to discover the world, everything is new and surprise comes easily. For example, when they begin to make the first sounds they surprise themselves, and they surprise others, who react to those sounds, and that leads them to continue making those noises that later will give rise to language.
Or when a child asks himself questions about the world (why do birds fly, why is it raining down ...) he is being amazed by his surroundings, wonder that will lead to questions and new learnings. We cannot forget that emotion plays a very important role in learning.
The pedagogue María Montessori emphasized the importance of amazement in children's learning, since the engine of children's motivation is amazement. As stated by Catherin L'Ecuyer (2012), author of the book 'Educar en el amador', the child's ability to think about impossible things is wonderful, therefore, amazement is an innate mechanism in him.
Parents, teachers and professors play a very important role in children's ability to wonder. On many occasions it depends on our actions whether the child maintains that innate curiosity or loses it. We live in a world that goes so fast at times, and is so charged with stimuli, that children do not have time to stop and observe the world around them, there is no time to get bored and ask questions and when they are asked, many times it is the adults' responses that cut off that innate curiosity.
It is true that there are children more curious than others, but all are curious by nature and it is important to respect that nature, which involves respecting the development rhythms of each child and their learning styles. It is also important to regain calm in children's lives, without forgetting something very important, don't give them everything done.
Therefore, the role of the adults around the child is fundamental, accompanying them in their growth, providing environments that facilitate discovery.
Some ideas or tips to introduce wonder into our lives can be:
1. Respect the evolutionary rhythms of each child and their times
But above all respect the child in his way of being and learning.
2. Avoid stimulus overload
The excess of sensory stimuli that surround us can saturate children and prevent them from stopping to think. For example, when I smell something for the first time, that smell makes me stop, close my eyes, look for the source of the aroma ... However, if I am surrounded by smells, sounds or images, there is no opportunity to stop. questions about them. Therefore, try not to overstimulate children and offer quiet moments to children.
3. Encourage curiosity in children
Children, especially when they are young, do not stop asking and asking about the world (why do chickens lay eggs ?, why do stars shine ?, why, why, why?).
Faced with these questions, parents often give closed or too rational answers, to satisfy all curiosity and at once. But if instead of responding directly to them, we use these questions so that children look for the answers, we facilitate and promote that curiosity, key to learning in children.
4. Provide playtime for children
And this game must be creative, free and unstructured, that is, let them play at their own pace, with simple materials, leaving the imagination free.
In addition, we can propose different games to children with which to work on emotions such as surprise. For example, in 'Educational Proposal to Work on Basic Emotions in Early Childhood Education' (by Naia Armesto for the International University of La Rioja, Spain) they suggest a fun game that consists of telling children that, from a distant planet, some messages have arrived that we must decipher. These messages are, to say the least, surprising. An ingenious way for children to be surprised and understand what the emotion of surprise means.
5. Promote reading
Books, in addition to being a source of knowledge, are an open door to surprise, to imagination ... We can play at reading books and change the ending or encourage our children to write their own stories.
6. Accompany the children
Ultimately, it is about accompanying children in their own way of discovering the world, seeing with their eyes and giving them the opportunity to discover the world for themselves.
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