First, approach your child with love, hugs and a great big smile. You have reason to smile because such a child already has a healthy “affection for knowing.” This is a sign that God’s love is flowing into the child’s interiors and needs corresponding external support from parents and teachers.
Love opens the mind and a mother’s love is what first promotes mental curiosity in a child (that is why in Hinduism a mother is called the child’s first guru). The proper approach therefore is to keep engaging a child’s heart. We instinctively know this when we read Fairy Tales to our children. Fairy Tales further open a child’s mind because they transcend knowledge of the mundane world and promote the fantastic. They communicate directly to a child’s heart and prepare him or her to think outside the box and consider that there are realities beyond the physical arena.
We call this right-brain thinking.
God, with Infinite Wisdom, employed that same kind of strategy in many of the stories in the Holy Bible! They are written with that same psychology of teaching because they involve fantastic and miraculous scenarios. According to Swedenborg, fables, myths and legends are written from correspondences. These stories, as well as Scripture, contain deeper levels of meaning and therefore address the needs of the developing human mind as it seeks more interior levels of knowledge and truth.
This process proceeds from generalities to particulars (details). As a child’s mind matures, the intellect (understanding) becomes more activated by being challenged to discern and recognize deeper elements within any general topic. But this is not just “stuffing” the mind with new details, the heart must move to a new species of affection (love) at each new stage. (Knowledge in the memory is like undigested food in the stomach—it isn’t fully metabolized until it is broken down further).
So the challenge of parents and teachers is to assist the child’s heart to love more rarefied ideas. The problem is that parents and teachers also have to possess a working knowledge of these levels of affection and their corresponding categories of ideas. Swedenborg’s theological writings provide parents and teachers with the proper guidance (if one knows where to look). But special creativity is also required to keep children’s growing minds captivated and engaged. Development of a child necessitates a similar development obtained by the parent and teacher.
Here is the simple psychology behind mental growth.
A child’s mind starts with a love of learning and acquiring knowledge. Then the maturing mind seeks to understand what it knows. From what it understands, the developing mind next wants to reason and judge these things (and we become rational). From reasoning and judging, the mind seeks to distill that which represents the greatest goodness (usefulness). In this way the healthy mind ultimately turns toward values, spiritual matters and God (otherwise it will not represent a yearning for truth).
Since this topic is so big I think I will stop here and take any further questions you might have. Otherwise, I would have to dive into a great abyss! Also, my two books, Sermon From The Compost Pile and Proving God offer additional insights.