We live in privileged times for many of us and not so privileged for many more. Social media, the internet, 24 hour news, heads of households working full time, and an overabundance of children's activities have nearly collapsed our sense of community. And by community, I mean the secular public forum. The place were a variety of backgrounds meet, discuss, work and come together in a voluntary effort of good that illuminates our common humanity and grace.
In this environment it is even more important to teach our children how to sit and listen to others, respect other's philosophies, and speak up in a respectful manner when you believe there is injustice. Educationally, we need to pass along these skills to our children:
- critical thinking
- life long learning
- analysis and reasoning
- alternate ways of thinking
- community engagement
- speaking skills
- group dynamics
- respectful communication
- desire for knowledge
It is not too early to model and teach these skills. I started with my children when they first came home from the hospital. Communication knowledge and style are the first skills. I never spoke "baby talk" to them. I modeled appropriate verbal communication speaking as an adult using not only introductory language words and concepts, but higher levels that I repeated over and over for years. I believe this process strengthens a child's understanding of language and complex concepts. With a strong basis for language it is much easier to each all of these other concepts.
My take is that we underestimate our children. They go through a rough process of maturation and should be respected like any other being. If we are patient, accepting, respectful, and understand that they deserve a mature approach, they will evolve with a strong desire to sit well with and advocate for others.
By Russell Peterson
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