Earlier this year, my ds11 (who was then 10) and his best friend initiated their own learning time together each morning after davening (morning prayer services). They did this entirely on their own initiative, and decided to learn Seder Makkos (tractate of mishna), using the Artscroll English translation to help them understand the Hebrew wording.
This morning we made a private kiddush together with the family of his friend (our two families were over 20 people!) in honor of them completing the entire seder Makkos. What was so nice wasn’t just that they did the learning, but that they wanted to do it. Over the past months my ds hardly mentioned anything to me about it except in passing, but they kept it up, morning after morning. His friend’s mother said she felt the push to do it was from my ds (because every morning at 7:30 am his name showed up on her caller id to be sure his friend was awake on time :lol:), but my ds said it wasn’t true, that they encouraged one another equally. It’s heartwarming to see our boys voluntarily wanting to spend their time increasing their Torah knowledge, not to get pats on the back from the adults around them, but for their own sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
You know, kids want to do the right thing. They want to be knowledgeable, and grow in their competence. They want to develop their character and become better people. We adults tend to think we have to push things down their throats, that we have to make them be responsible and do what we want. And it’s true that sometimes left to their own devices they’ll make different choices than what we’d choose (though different doesn’t mean bad). But overall my parenting experience has been that kids do more, and do it better, when they’re listening to their own inner conscience. When kids develop their own sense of internal motivation, it’s powerful, so much more than something imposed on the outside can be!
By the way, this morning ds16 mentioned to me that he and ds11 are almost finished with a different tractate of mishna(they learn together immediately after morning davening, and then ds11 learns with his friend while ds16 learns with his adult chavrusa/learning partner, then come home late in the morning for breakfast). So it looks like the two of them will be making a siyum very soon – BH no shortage of occasions for festive meals around here!