Working diligently on my dissertation, I promised my family I would take a sabbatical from all my work the week of Christmas to focus on spending time with family. It was amazing the amount of down time I accumulated and the amount of movie marathons which I watched in a rather short time period.
However, there was something that occurred with my two-year old that made me step back and think of the great learning opportunities we share together as a family. Too often, it’s sobering news when one is informed that learning can occur outside of the traditional brick and mortar of a physical classroom. Learning occurs everywhere. I am reminded of standing in line at Wal-Mart recently when a middle-aged woman was reviewing bold letters on the magazines as they stood in line. Speaking with her, she indicated to me never to waste a teachable moment.
The woman’s wisdom has stayed with me ever since and it was vibrant following Christmas as my daughter found great enjoyment in a costume “Mom-Mom” bought her. The sleek white lab coat and stethoscope were intriguing to her. Quickly, she toted around the costume and jammed it in everyone’s face to learn how to use it. There were pieces which went along with the costume where she made a personal connection to because her pediatrician has checked her ears with an otoscope similar to the pink one in the package.
After getting dressed and read to go, my daughter attempted to give checkups to all of those in the house by checking their heart and ears, similar to the cartoon Doc McStuffins seen on Disney. During the checkup we learned together where the heart was located and mimicked the sound of the heartbeat she was “listening” to during the checkup. The next thing I knew, she was making the sound affects as she gave her new Elsa and Anna dolls their annual checkup.
Stepping back and reflecting on my sabbatical, it amazes me the exploratory learning opportunities available right in front of you. Unfortunately, I am guilty of not always taking advantage of those opportunities. I encourage my colleagues and friends to remember a phrase I learned from my long-time carpool partner. “A child’s first teacher is their parents.”
Now, my daughter may not grow up to be a doctor as she sees on television. However, I pray she continues to be curious and anxious to explore new opportunities. A seeker of knowledge is a trait what my wife and I hope to pass down to her.