Teaching Johnny and Mary

WE MOTHERS know that our children are priceless, that they are individuals, that they have only a few years for preparing their new lives to take their places in the world about them. . .

-elementary supervisor for the Chesapeake Conference at the time this article was written

WE MOTHERS know that our children are priceless, that they are individuals, that they have only a few years for preparing their new lives to take their places in the world about them.

We do so want to give them the right start. The more we realize the "infinite possibilities" in each child, the more we are apt to tremble over the responsibilities that are ours.

We know also that Jesus has promised to give us wisdom. We don't have to do it all alone. Perhaps a few pointers will help us to not only take our task seriously but to find ways to successfully do the work. Being a mother is such an awesome task; but we do have some wonderful advantages.

Here are a few:

1. We have the first chance at shaping the child—establishing his life pattern. Researchers are quite sure now that the first three years are basic in forming the set or pattern of a child's approach to life's opportunities and problems. So often we don't realize the impact of the way we early train our children. --Study Child Guidance, pages 193-198.

2. We have the privilege of helping our children build a strong body and develop its co ordination by practicing healthful habits of living.

3. We have the opportunity and responsibility of feeding the young mind and heart with the wonders of God's handiwork in nature. It is His best lesson book. Best of all, nature is all around us.

4. We also have the time to in form ourselves as to what is avail able in schools to fit our child's needs, so that when he leaves home to enter formal schooling it will be a smooth transition. A look at the present school situation shows us there are three very important considerations:

Your child's readiness for school.

His environment in school.

The plan of the school for supplying the needs of each child.

First, there is readiness—a magic word. It has nothing to do with a certain age. Those who have studied deeply into child development tell us maturation is some thing neither you nor the school can control. Its complex workings are fostered with a foundation of physical habits and spiritual nurturing. It cannot be hurried. Trying to do so will only bring dam age to a child.

We are so eager for the little ones to develop. Sometimes we unwisely engulf them with toys they are not ready to enjoy. Then about the time the toys have lost their charm for us, the toddlers are just beginning to grow into them. Did you ever try to hasten the opening of a flower? Oh, what wisdom we need!

If you are blessed with more than one child, did you ever try to compare them? Did you ever realize what a mistake you were making? Could you compare teething time, walking time, or any other development stage of your second or third child with that of any of the others?

When it comes to schooling, how strangely we have worked through the years! We've expected one child to suddenly become a part of a smoothly operating school, where he is ready to perform at the same rate as twenty-five other children in the same class. We expect this even though ages of the children's maturation may differ as much as ten months or a year, and everyone got a different "start" in life. More over, one week of premature delivery time can easily cut back months of living in terms of one's maturation. All these factors have implications for the traditional classroom setup.

Did you ever notice how eagerly many little children begin schooling—and how they plod along indifferently by the third year? Some have already decided they are potential dropouts by the end of the first year. One reason for this could be the highly structured graded system now practiced in most of the schools. It is the deep concern over the pit falls of the graded structure that has stirred a great deal of re search and experimentation over the past twenty years. Today educational opportunities for nongraded classrooms and the fitting of a child's individual needs into them have been making great strides. The formula for such schools has a simple objective— to fit the work to the child instead of fitting the child to the work!

This is what nongradedness, individualized instruction, continuous progress, open education, et cetera, is all about. Teachers need the understanding of mothers and fathers, and mothers and fathers need understanding from teachers. Together the preparation of children for the plan Cod has in His blueprint for each of them can better be carried to fulfillment.

Seventy years ago Ellen White spoke at a school board meeting and said, "The system of grading is a hindrance to the pupil's real progress. Some pupils are slow at first, and the teacher needs to exercise great patience. But these pupils may after a short time learn so rapidly as to astonish him. Others may appear to be very brilliant, but time may show that they have blossomed too suddenly. The system of confining children rigidly to grades is not wise." One of the board members agreed with Mrs. White and answered, "The sooner grades are done away with, so that the teacher can get close to the children, the better." To this Ellen White replied, "I know that some better system can be found just as soon as our instructors learn the true principles of education."—Manuscript 69, 1903. (Talks given by Mrs. E. G. White at Healdsburg College Board Meeting, July 7, 1903.)

Better principles of educating children at home and at school are being put into practice today. Study them and be the efficient, effective parent Cod would have for His children.

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-elementary supervisor for the Chesapeake Conference at the time this article was written

January 1974

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