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National Editorials & Columns

None of us have reached the literacy pinnacle

As one year ends and a new year begins, I want to take the time to express to those of you who faithfully read my column each week--thank you. I also want to express how excited I get when you make suggestions for future columns. 

A few of you are faithful about sending me materials that you come across as you read or asking questions. I greatly appreciate your efforts. You, the reader, is what makes the tedious effort of writing worthwhile.

Every writer hopes that someone is reading and that she is supplying her readers with food for thought. I deeply appreciate those who interact with me concerning the column as well as those who are out there reading.

I hope to continue to show relationships among the elements of literacy and every aspect of life. We are so fortunate to live in a literate nation where we can learn if we want to learn and where we have access to so many literacy materials.

I believe that not only a child is raised by a whole village, but that we never grow too old to improve our literacy. A community is responsible for the literacy of its citizens.  For too long we as a society, have dumped our responsibility for our literacy onto the lap of our educational system.

It certainly is an important element of literacy, but it is actually the third line of offense against illiteracy.

The first line of offense and the most important is the role of parents and their extended family. They are the ones who encourage literacy readiness and give consistent encouragement.

No matter how hard society and the educational system try to make up for the deficiencies of parents, real success in a big way comes by way of good parenting. When parents fail at their job there will not only remain illiteracy, but a lack of responsibility and violence. Too many doors are closed without literacy. 

To choose not to read may be a right, but to not be able to read is a tragedy that doesn’t have to happen.

Well-meaning parents often delegate their responsibility. Some of it can be delegated successfully. Society only fools itself if it thinks that it can make up for poor parenting; it’s like Truman’s famous saying, “The Buck Stops Here.”

Children often successfully grow up despite poor parenting, but how much further could they have gone with it?

“By school age, family and caregivers have already prepared the child for success or failure,” said Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of The Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Parents encourage or discourage curiosity, self-confidence, the ability to set a goal and work towards it, the ability to use adults as resources, the ability to relate well to one’s peer.   “...the most important lessons of life are learned long before age four, says Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a founder of Zero to Three and a professor of psychiatry at George Washington University Medical School.”

Greenspan said that sharing is learned between the ages of ten months and eighteen months. He also adds that learning to pay attention and process information begins in the early months of life. Following are some suggestions to encourage a positive 2013 even when economically things look gloomy.

Stay Positive. You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can know that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.

Wake up in the morning completing the following statement, “I will make a difference today by …”  Focus and zoom in on possibilities. Take a walk of gratitude to create a fertile mind ready for success.

Instead of being disappointed about where you are, think optimistically about where you are going. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

Transform adversity into success by deciding that change is not your enemy but your friend and discover the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment. 

If you do this more than likely your children will also. Live with three E’s: Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy and mentor someone, plus allow someone to mentor you.

Remember there’s no substitute for hard work. Instead of complaining focus on solutions. It’s the key to innovation. Read more books, magazines, newspapers than you did in 2012. Learn from mistakes and let them teach you to make positive changes.

Focus on “Get to do” versus “Have to do.” Life is a gift not an obligation. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: “I am thankful for …” and “Today I accomplished ...” Use the anti-depressants of smiling and laughing. Enjoy the moment. (Ideas gleaned from various e-mails.)

If you aren’t as literate as you would like to be, keep working at it. None of us have reached the literacy pinnacle.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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