To learn something, you have to focus on it. You have to engage your eyes, your fingers, your body, your mind. You have to get on and do it. Young children engage instinctively, with the right encouragement. They play, explore the world around them, listen intently to stories, socialise with friends. Children want to learn. Learning is in their job description. We have to teach children good habits too, so we model, coax and say ‘because you must’. As we grow, some learning is hard won. Children have to struggle, and persist, to achieve it. Here the intrinsically motivated are good to go, they have internal marshmallows* already. They will see the marshmallows in whatever you ask them to do. But some children are not so fortunate. ‘Gimme Marshmallows’ they growl. So you have to show them that there are marshmallows out there, and you can work together to get them. Sometimes they will have to wait for two marshmallows later, not grab one straight away. Learning is worth the fight. Therefore, I conclude in a completely unscientific way, that Engagement = Marshmallows.
*Please note this is a metaphor. This blog has a healthy eating policy.