This I Believe

Brenda - Topeka, Kansas
Entered on June 29, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family, love

Love’s Endless Wonders

I watched as the worn wooden stairs once again felt the soft steps of the old man carry his great-grandchild down to the basement pantry shelf.

As each grandchild turned nine months he would make the same journey. Pointing to individual cans of food with his finger, he’d say, “See here – here’s a can of plums. Plums are purple. Plums start with the letter p.”

They would spend the time needed to label each variety enjoying each other’s company. At nine months, that the grandchild understood what he was saying was doubtful, but she understood the attention she was receiving.

On Saturday morning, the sound of the door bell rang as it was pressed. She moved swiftly to answer it, the neighborhood children spilling in as the door swung open.

“Hi, Mrs. Chambers! Is it time to get a book yet?” Smiling, she watched as the neighborhood children carefully looked through each book.

Reaching toward her desk, she took out the worn notebook and began to write each child’s name alongside the title of his chosen book.

“Remember: bring them back next Saturday so you can borrow another.” Those were the days when mothers stayed home with the children and cars went to work with fathers. My grandmother was the neighborhood library.

Long hot summer days rewarded me with a walk down to the local Burger Dairy store with Grandpa for Popsicles. He always had an excuse; Grandma needed milk or maybe a dozen eggs. But I always knew the true reason: we needed a Popsicle. Enjoying a Popsicle was a large treat disguised as a small treat, for I got to share in the community as he pointed out the comings and goings of the neighborhood along our walk.

Encourage hands on experience in the classroom. Ask open ended questions and provide open ended activities. Children do learn by playing because play is their work. Academics will come when social skills are learned. Mistakes are children’s greatest lessons and often a missed teaching opportunity. All of these are teaching methods and ideologies being taught in today’s Early Childhood Education classes.

My grandparents were already practicing those methods decades ago. They were ahead of their time. Only they called it entertaining the children.

Long walks in the woods with Grandpa taught me about plants and animals. Folks in need were brought home for Sunday dinner. Homemade activities required me to get dirty or messy. Each and every experience they gave me, not only enveloped all the developmental areas – it preceded today’s hands on teaching methods in a time where children learned by sitting quietly in school.

Their philosophy about teaching children was role modeled beautifully during their lives and shared with their grandchildren. Because of that awesome role modeling, this I believe: children are given to us from God, not brought here to entertain us, but to be nurtured by us. The joy we receive from our experience with them is our gift from him.