6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Educators have known for many years that the earlier children have opportunities for structured learning the better. Last year the federal government passed the Strong Start for America's Children Act to support just that for all children. Coming from a family who read and spoke and played music to in utero babies, we get it. But isn't there more to it than encouraging young minds to grow? Bright, successful children don't happen by accident, at least not usually.
If you type "parenting" into Amazon.com, over 94,000 entries come up. Lots of folks trying to tell lots of folks how to raise kids. To be honest, I probably haven't read a single one of them. And still, I think mine and Tom's kids turned out pretty well. Oh, that's not a pat on our backs, it's with a great deal of gratitude to our parents, our friends, our God, a little common sense and innate qualities in each of them. Before you say, well it's a different world now than 20-30 years ago, was it really? There was international conflict, financial recession, and digital technology was really beginning to light up the horizon. In our fast-paced world that simultaneously changes and remains the same, what are some of the traits most parents want their kids, or at least all the others kids, to have as they enter or return to formal education?
In our time of technology, us oldies but goodies frequently have to ask the young and restless for help. One speaker at a regional conference said it this way: they were born into the digital age, while we are aliens. Technology has allowed children to start school and stay in school because of the myriad of learning applications. Is that all there is to learning? Before we send children off to school, from preschool to medical school, I wonder how much time we spend deliberately teaching them how to do such things as love one another, hold onto their joy and peace, show kindness and forbearance to others, and demonstrate gentleness (usually) and self-control (always)? [Galatians 5:22 - 23] Based on the students I have had over the years, there seemed to be as much diversity in character building at home as in the appearances and abilities of the children.
Nowadays, many classrooms have "conflict resolution" and "problem solving" posters up. School counselors spend class time and one on one time teaching conflict resolution, while the teacher focuses on problem solving. Whether the conversations at home use the same verbiage or not, it seems that students who come with at least some of those skills tend to be more successful students, both academically and socially. When a child is unsuccessful trying to figure out a problem in math or the lunchroom and asked, "What could you have done differently?", all too often the response is a blank stare. As educators, parents, citizens sharing this 21st century, is it too much to ask that tomorrow's leaders be trained in tenderness, tenacity and technology?
If you could package and put positive character traits into backpacks and school bags for the first day of school, what would you include? Along with paper, pencils and paints, would there be room for peace, forbearance and self-control?
Conflict is drama, and how people deal with conflict shows you the kind of people they are.