• 14 September 2009 11:42 am


Five  years ago, I became a convert of ant-watching. It was really, really my daughter’s fault. It began when she was two and a half.

Joy’s fascination with ants was contagious. She would watch them marching in their lines along the tiles of the kitchen floor and porch. Sometimes she would drop bits of paper, pencil shavings or biscuits in their path. I was as fascinated with watching her as she was of those spindly robust insects trudging here and there and everywhere about the world. Walks to the playground were punctuated by ant-watching, so much so that dinner time arrived too soon and the playground had to wait for the next day. We watched ants scurry in and out of their nests in the soil, sometimes heaving bits of leaf, crumbs, while always remaining in line.

Once we saw a team of them heaving a small roach .

“Will they make it?” she asked.

“Hmmm, they seem pretty determined,” said I. I looked at my watch. “Let’s play on the swings, shall we?”

“Do we have to?”

I was confused. Who was it who wanted to go? But it would take some time for those little creatures to lug the big fella’ to the opening of the nest. So off we went.

I had heard before that children were natural scientists. But I hadn’t reckoned on how much our explorations together would open my eyes and heart to the wonders of our world. Because of these explorations, I have become a more observant person and a more sensitive mother.

As parents, we play such a significant role in helping our young ones to experience the sense of wonder in discovering. Do we need to be experts? No. What we do need, is a keen understanding of our children: What excites their curiousity? What engages their interest? How do they learn best? Then we can use what we understand of them to integrate science experiences that build on their interests.

We don’t need to know all the answers. But, we do need to ask good questions. Questions that probe deeper thinking, keener observation. Questions that will gently guide them to find out the answers.

This takes a lot of learning on our part as parents. It starts with us : How interested are we in our world? How curious are we to discover and to experiment? How motivated are we to learn along with our children?

While knowledge of theories aren’t necessary, a knowledge of the principles of science would go a long way in helping us understand how to make science experiences both meaningful and fun for our kids.

By the way, we did return to that spot after a good time at the park. And those hardy creatures did manage to haul the battered roach into their nest.

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