Teach Them Well
Commenting on our young granddaughter's love of reading and writing in my last post started me thinking about the gifts we can give our children thru encouragement and example. Here are a few of the things I think all children should be taught...
To love reading... read to them from the time they are very small, give them books of their own to treasure, listen to them read to you, introduce them to the library, provide a quiet family reading time each week to help the realize that reading is a lifelong pleasure. Let them choose reading matter that interests them, as long as it's age appropriate. It is ok to suggest, but if you exercise too much control you will thwart the adventure of discovering a whole new world between the covers of a book!
To love writing... not just learning to print the ABC's and their name, nor scrawling out the mandatory thank you note to grandma, but to express their thoughts and feelings in written words. Help them make a scrap book or a journal, encourage them to describe what they've seen or done, or to tell a story. Gently work on improving spelling and grammar, don't go at it with a red pen and a frown face!! Don't judge content harshly, praise their work and encourage their efforts. Use the fridge door for display!
To love creating... this can take many forms, from coloring or painting when young, to woodwork, needlework, crafting greeting cards, sculpting clay, making pottery, assembling a colorful pot of assorted flowers or plants, or building a tree house! Provide supplies, demonstrate techniques, offer help as needed (but let them take the lead), praise results! Creative outlets that can be taken into adult life will save a bundle in therapist fees in the future!
To love giving... demonstrate giving from the time they are very small and help them participate... choose a gift for daddy or mommy, bake cookies together for the older man next door, rake the yard for a neighbor, choose old toys and donate them. Give them opportunities to share, and talk about the importance of thinking of others. Teach them to share smiles and polite words too!
To have faith... children grow up in a scary world today with so many negative influences and things that are difficult to understand, like divorce. Don't drop them off at church at Sunday School, take them! Make faith a part of your daily family life and conversation. Explain what you believe and why, and teach them tolerance for what others believe. When times are tough, demonstrate how faith gives you the courage to keep going.
To believe in themselves... from day one make sure your children know that you love them and that they have value... not only if they are "good" and do everything right, but just as they are! Tell them the things that make them unique and special and help them find their own special ways to shine! Give them opportunities to take on tasks which will result in small successes that can build confidence to accept the challenge of greater tasks.
And even more... Teach them it is good to ask for help when you need it, to admit when you are wrong, and to say your sorry if you hurt someone. Teach them to be kind and well-mannered, to be adaptable to life's ever changing situations, and to pick themselves up when they fall. Teach them financial responsibility and personal integrity. Let them know we are all connected and we each have a role in the world. Teach them to be caretakers of the earth and each other.
Imagine how different things could be if each parent would consciously ensure their child entered adulthood with these simple gifts in their "suitcase" for life! Make the time to parent. Turn off the tv, the iPad, and the computer now and then - laugh, love and play with your child. Dusting can wait, the tv will always be there... but your children will be grown and gone before you blink twice. Do it now... be a parent who makes a difference in the life of their child, so your child will grow up to make a difference in the world!
What other things do you think it's important to teach a child?