Thursday, February 01, 2007

Help children to help themselves

Before anyone makes the mistake in thinking I'm all wise or holy, please know that this post is only digressing on material from a good (out-of-print) book I'm reading by Maria Montessori: The Child in the Church.

We adults easily fall into the attitude that we are the all-important directors of our children's intelligence and even soul! We think that by imparting our direct, dominating personality on our children, we'll supply everthing necessary for them to become responsible, spiritually enlightened Christians. What a pity! I've too often thought that between my husband and me, we are the end all and be all of our children's development. All good thing and bad things come as a result of our parenting.

Children have an innate, God-given principle within themselves that will unfold little by little as they grow if it's left unhindered, and gently encouraged. Sometimes, we adults GET IN THE WAY of our children's growth. Montessori illustrated this difference when she talked about how people interpret the Gospel incident where Jesus says "Suffer the little children to come unto Me..." Too often this is pushed into meaning "Lead the little children..." when the reality is that the words suggest "Permit the little children to come unto Me..." Adults hinder this process by trying to do for the children what they ought to do themselves... what can only only be done by themselves! I think of it like a budding fire. It will grow and burn and flourish if allowed enough air and proper kindling. But blown on too much, and suffocated under too much wood... the fire will have no room to grow; it will snuff out.

Our goal as parents should always be aimed at helping children help themselves. This is primarily done by respecting the sensitive periods of development inborn in each individual child's psychological make-up (on a side note... this is my primary reason for choosing to educate at home). Different things are understood at different ages and trying to force children into certain facts by certain dates may hinder their intellectual development. The best way to learn about the developmental readiness of our children is by.... drum roll please... spending time with them!!! Oh, the novelty! Anyone who is a mother knows that unless young kids are sleeping or zoned in front of a TV, they are moving. Young pre-reading children won't benefit from books or pictures to stimulate their minds so much as activity. The kind of activity that properly marries physical and metal... mind and spirit. Block building is one obvious example.

We adults would do best to simply provide the resources our children need to engage in meaningful play... not to disregard a child's readiness or unreadiness for more formal academics. Be in tune with your kids. Trust them to assimilate knowledge on their own timeframe with gentle loving guidance from you. In short, permit them to come to Jesus without you clearing a pristine path and tugging them along.

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA


one of us :: 6:24 AM :: 3 Comments