I love new supplies at the start of the school year: fresh notebook paper, the smell of new crayons, new bottles of glue, scissors that want to dive into art projects, Kleenex, wipes and this year, masks and hand sanitizer.

I double check things as a teacher of young children; double check my name tags to be sure spelling is correct, double check my classroom decorations, lists, calendar and job chart and pray for my students. Whether it be in a traditional classroom, virtual classroom or at home, one supply is essential in all classroom situations and that is the ‘Love of Learning.’

Children begin learning when they are born. Their first earthly assignment is to observe, feel, touch, taste and yes, cry as their way of communication to us.

Our assignment, as parents and educators, is to continue to nurture the quest for learning. This might include flexing and expanding our ways of teaching in order to meet the God-given inquisitive nature of children.

In order to do this as parents and teachers, we have to examine our own hearts, thoughts, emotional feelings, values and viewpoints of how children truly learn. Children over the years have taught me so much on how to learn. Yes, we do teach our lessons, but how do children apply what we have taught?

We hear and observe learning in young children through their play. Play is a child’s work. In learning centers, we observe children learning about home life through dramatic play that includes dolls, a play stove, tea sets and toy cookware and pretend baby beds.

Children can build towers, rockets, roads and whatever else they can think of with Legos and other building blocks. Likewise, with Play-doh, a child can make flowers, animals, homes and the creations are limited only by their imaginations.

My late husband loved to learn! He was my best cheerleader in this endeavor with teaching my students, as well as his students over the years. When the movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” came out in the summer of 1982, he built a rocket-shaped learning pod for my classroom.

After the movie, all children and families were engaged in learning about space! He installed a simple computer for students to practice their math facts, read space books and write language experience stories all around the space theme. The children loved to use their imaginations to explore space as they applied learning skills. This was something simple to create and it truly encouraged the students to shoot for the moon in learning.

We can foster the love of learning, as we approach this new school year as educators and parents, by examining our own search for knowledge by taking time to respond to children’s questions.

We have to examine our own attitudes for learning. It is not so much the materials, entertainment or activities in learning new concepts, but it is the simple choice as parents and teachers to make ourselves available for our children in taking time to engage in prompting and probing meaningful conversations of what they are learning.

We all can remember those teachers and parents who took extra time with us. They listened so intently, our knowledge was built and we were excited about learning new ideas! We, as students, felt special!

We will be taking on different roles as parents and teachers in encouraging the “Love Of Learning” for our children during this new and different school year.

We need to pay attention to their interests. We watch and note what they seem to enjoy interacting with, as well as their socializing with others. For the “Love of Learning” you can incorporate what their interests are in teaching new and different concepts. For example, I had a first grade student who was having trouble with counting, addition and subtraction. He was completely uninterested. At one of our “Show and Tells” he brought in a set of his model cars. An idea popped up in my mind to use model cars to teach him the concepts of counting, addition and subtraction. He responded wonderfully and we expanded the car theme to other areas where he was having trouble learning.

We have to adopt the role of being a facilitator in the process of teaching and learning. We encourage and accept new ideas from our children about different concepts and subjects. We have to let children express their ideas freely as they make contributions to different subjects without the fear of being incorrect or wrong in the learning process. Children become really excited about learning when they can express themselves creatively. We applaud our children when they express their ideas by encouraging them with praise even in the smallest accomplishments.

 We have to model our excitement and surprise of learning something new in front of our children and students.

I realize that seeds were planted in my heart by all the teachers I had who touched my life by realizing that teaching went beyond lessons, testing and standards. The teachers I had in Opelika accepted me as an individual and encouraged my ideas, skills, weaknesses and talents that went well beyond the walls of a classroom. They fostered such a “Love of Learning” through different experiences that I, too, wanted to share and teach students the joy of learning.

Learning is a lifelong endeavor; we never stop learning no matter what we face. I have packed up that “Love Of Learning” and taken it into many classrooms as I humbly continue to learn.

Classroom Observer
Beth Pinyerd