You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
~Clay P. Bedford
This has long been my goal for my children. Although I have always home schooled my children, this philosophy could be implemented in any home by any parent. Many teachers do try to do the same in the traditional classroom setting.
This explains my personal suspicion of all packaged curriculum or the thinking that what works for one child will work for all. Every child is so very unique and born with different tastes and interests. If the parent, or teacher, can tap into this natural curiosity and direct it into a system of study, you will find an eager, willing student.
When my children were very young we would read aloud every day and they usually chose the books from which we would read. Of course I made sure to purchase books worth reading and looking at. A professor in college directed me to the book, 'Honey for a Child's Heart' by Gladys Hunt, and I found it very helpful in finding appropriate literature for each age group.
Reading aloud will open up great discussion even with a very young child. You will begin to see what captures their imagination and what subjects interest them. Take this natural curiosity a step further by implementing crafts or projects in relation to the books.
When my children were a bit older, early elementary age, I painted a time line on the wall of one of our back rooms. We began to add every event or person we discovered in our readings. Anyone who captured their attention or an event we read of, would be plotted on the time line. Young children do not always have a realistic grasp of time or sequence. This visual aid helped establish this in their minds for future use.
Another aspect of the time line was that we plotted all biblical characters as well as secular ones. In this way the children grew up realizing the Bible was a historical book with true events and happenings.
When we moved from that house into our mud hut, I was unable to repaint the time line and I found I needed something more compact and portable when we traveled in the states. I began a large notebook / 3 ring binder in which the children plotted their discoveries onto a time line which marched across the top of each page. We could add half sheets which did not cover the time line for additional notes or pictures to illustrate the events further. We also placed pocket envelopes in to hold actual specimens or larger objects which could not be pasted into the book.
Originally I had intended for each child to have their own Time Line book but found it hard to keep up with them all. I also noticed that by sharing the same book, the children would often become interested in the notations of events which had been placed there by one of their siblings. Their curiosity would be piqued and they would begin to want to learn more about it. I thought this was helpful and a wonderful means by which to expose them to new subjects. It also gave the children the opportunity to teach one another about their personal interests.
By adding in Art and Science activities to our time line we would discover some amazing things together and the children were constantly investigating on their own. This would explain some of the things I have found my children doing. Discoveries which often left me amazed at what they were capable to do by themselves, such as nearly creating a workable rocket in the middle of the jungle.