As a mother of five and a speech pathologist who strives to give children language and a voice, I believe in the open, waiting minds of our children, and our potential to either ignore them or to expand, decorate and fill them. As parents and educators, we have an obligation to do the latter. To do any less is to waste the greatest natural resource of our country. But how does one fill a young mind with more than school subjects and dos and don’ts?
Let’s look at the word expand…to grow, broaden, widen. We can expand the minds of our children in many ways. Turning off the television, exposing them to books and encouraging reading are a good place to start. We can help them expand their minds by teaching them about the world and different cultures and philosophies. We can demonstrate to them the advantages of creative problem solving and critical thinking. We can model moderation and tolerance.
Let’s look at “decorate”… to adorn, beautify, ornament. We can decorate our children’s minds by exposing them to the arts and creativity. Music, theater, art and literature beautify the mind and allow it to dream beyond the confines of a child’s environment or economic status. The arts instill a sense of possibility, a sense of self.
The definition of “fill” that I choose is “to supply,” not cram, load or pack. Our children’s minds are already crammed with facts, media bombardment and in some cases, various extra-curricular activities that can take up as much time and significance as an adult’s career.
To supply our children’s minds necessitates giving them time, ours and their own.
We must supply them with the tools that they will need to be well-rounded and interesting adults and citizens…a sense of humor, an appreciation of nature, kindness to others, honesty, empathy, responsibility….and the ability to expand, decorate and fill the open, waiting minds of their own children.
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