In the past few weeks about 5-10 people have reached out to ask me for advice in the vein of “my kid is 6 and likes math and what should I put in front of them to foster this”. They are usually looking for specific answers.
I offer a few things my kids have enjoyed (everything can be found on the blog, ie here and here) but I want to be clear — I’m no expert. I’m just like the rest of the parents who have the same goal of watching their kids’ curiosity flourish.
To kill many birds with one stone here’s the gist of my email responses:
I don’t create pressure. Let learning be a source of joy. Insight is its own reward and to train someone to appreciate that when they are young is a life-long gift because they can find stimulation in the pleasures of the mind and the mundane.
Sure, math proficiency has plenty of instrumental value in life, but appreciation and beauty is the bigger gift here (I also suspect this is an antidote to the doping that broader media does to people — if you find beauty in the evergreen you don’t need to constantly be taking drags from the current times and you’re perspective and emotional state will be better off for it. No science behind that — just my hunch).
You are already doing the single largest muscle movement –> literally giving a shit about your kids’ curiosity flourishing. Like seriously that’s 90%. The specific instances of expression — coding, writing, drawing, cooking, composing — or any other forms of creation are secondary. Creating not just consuming is the key because by being able to manipulate the world (I don’t mean manipulate in some evil sense) around you, you reinforce your agency.
When I see fear and extreme tribalism I see people retreating away from agency and frankly accepting some learned helplessness. Your role as a guardian is to shepherd a healthy sense of agency (unhealthy would be to program an overconfident narcissist).
Code and writing are symbol-manipulative domains — some will gravitate to that more than say carpentry or being a physical maker. I’d be open-minded about the specific expression and focus on nurturing the upstream creation and play impulses.
And if you got this far you exemplify an ironic phenomenon — the people who reach out looking for help/guidance/opinion/validation on their approaches are the people who don’t need to (this is not a back-handed way of saying don’t reach out btw, it’s just an observation!)
This young portal in the Moontower codex is an attempt to consolidate some specific learning stuff if interested: