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National Editorials & Columns

Our children will carry on what we’ve started

Last week I introduced my imaginary friend.  Jerry Spinelli shows his vivid imagination in his excellent children’s books. 

I recently checked out I Can Be Anything!, illustrated by Jimmy Liao.   What a delight!   Look at every child you see and remember: A child is a person who is going to carry on what we have started.

He is going to sit where we are sitting and, when we are gone, attend to those things which we think are important (or not). We may adopt all the policies we please, but how they will be carried out depends on him.

He will assume control of our cities, states and nations. He is going to move in and take over our churches, schools, universities and corporations. All our books are going to be judged, praised or condemned by him.

The fate of humanity is in his hands. So it might be well to pay him some attention. (Adapted, Unknown Original Source)

Humans understand what they hear at least two to three levels above what they can read themselves.  It’s logical as you first learned by hearing.

How many times have you read something which seems to be written in another language? Someone explains the material you read and it is quite understandable. 

A person with close personal ties more easily learns from others and likes to teach others. Competition is motivating if your success odds are fairly equal and you perceive the possibility of success.

Healthy motivation comes from within the person or within the situation itself. Poor motivation comes from external sources, such as wanting to please a parent or teacher. Motivation needs practice opportunities enhanced by attention to the activity. 

If it feels good or if it is exciting, the person will repeat the activity.  If there is a humiliating experience the person stops trying.

Failure is not the barrier to motivation, but perceived shame or loss.  Failure motivates when we learn from it and perceive there is a chance to succeed if we try again.

Thus, if literacy tools (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.) surround us and we spend time reading them, our children recognize they are an important part of our lives.  Giving lip service to literacy without practicing it is like giving lip service to faith without practicing it. 

Our children and our friends’ children are the first ones to recognize when we are fakes.      

Sometimes literacy events start out to keep a child occupied.  My granddad made me an “office” both at home and at his newspaper office.  Each was a delight to me. 

His staff would leave pictures, some of the lead used in those days for printing and other odds and ends.

My home “office” included old checks, bills, letters, etc.  I also received guidance as to what “file 13” meant and that efficient offices were kept neat. 

My first “office” was a corner of granddad’s large desk.  I had a special slot to put my “mail” ready to go out.  It always was “mailed”.  My supplies were in a small drawer. 

Every so often something new showed up in my office supply drawer such as a new pen, pamphlet, or a stapler, Sometimes my “mail” ended up on our sharing board. 

I decided once that I wanted to send checks in my mail, so Granddad showed me how.  My “office” motivated me to write more and more and furnished me with many pleasant memories. 

All those years I was having fun and learning, granddad and grandma could get their business done.   Personal offices are strong incentives towards literacy.

Plan the office together, even if space is limited and you need to use ingenuity. 

First find a place in the home to set up the office. It might be a drawer that the child can easily reach to put their office supplies. Note:  this is not a junk drawer; it is an office drawer.  In it, put advertisements, etc. that have clean backs for the child to write “important” letters or stories - The more colorful the paper, the better.

If space is really limited in your household, those plastic totes of all sizes make efficient offices. It is important though that a specific place for the office is designated, so that it doesn’t just become another toy.

For office stamps, promotional stamps that come in the mail work well. For envelopes use the ones that you usually discard because you don’t order the item advertised.

In the office drawer or tote be sure and include pencils and markers. Remember for the young child they should be large as young children haven’t developed the small muscle motor skills as yet.

Next, specify a hard surface for writing. Have a special place for the child to “mail” his/her letters.  He may make post cards from the greeting cards you receive.

Often children come up with a product that you can post on your refrigerator or bulletin board (perhaps one of the best literacy motivators) before it is “mailed.” Sometimes, too, the “mail” can be sent to loving relatives.

Offices can be recycled love.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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