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Of the world’s geniuses, Leonardo da Vinci ranks toward the top. Michael Gelb distilled what he considered da Vinci’s principles and published seven steps to genius in a book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Gelb says, “Although it is hard to overstate Leonardo da Vinci’s brilliance, recent scientific research reveals that you probably underestimate your own capabilities. You are gifted with virtually unlimited potential for learning and creativity.” This means our children, too. If we follow the examples set by da Vinci for problem solving, creative thinking, connecting with the world around us, and harmonizing body and mind, we can liberate the unique intelligences of our own families. Da Vinci’s principles are:

• Insatiable curiosity - This natural impulse becomes an approach to life and learning.

• Direct experience – This is a hands-on approach to making life up-close and personal with persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Maria Montessori said, “The hand is the instrument of the mind.”

• Refinement of the senses – Da Vinci said, “All our knowledge has its origin in our perception.” In Montessori, we have an entire category of equipment called ‘sensorial’ to teach children refinement of the senses

. • Embracing paradox – As we learn more, we face ambiguity and uncertainty. In the natural world, it becomes things we can’t control, so we learn to adapt.

• Balance – Whole-brain thinking enables us to balance art and science, logic and imagination, seriousness and play, East and West, male and female.

• Physicality – The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, and fitness sharpens our whole outlook.

• Interconnectedness – We seem to be on the cusp of a new order called globalization. Our children will visit regularly with people over the whole earth. This puts everyone’s issues in our own backyard, whether it’s ecological, political, or social concerns.

Gelb’s book is a wealth of exercises to focus us on each area, but more delightfully, Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods sets the prescription of simply going outside. The beauty of being outside in unstructured activities is that we tap into our inherent genius that da Vinci talks about. We believe in living up to every person’s potential.