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Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 11:00 a.m. CDT

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Too often we think of learning as a chore and/or we somehow think we will like all parts of learning. 

Some of us enjoy classroom learning more than others, but taking charge of our own learning is important and when you influence children you either guide them towards that goal or discourage them. 

I firmly believe that every adult should be encouraging all children to finish high school and if you are an adult who didn’t, it is not too late to get your GED.

My father wanted me to quit school in tenth grade and I refused. Even in my day, a tenth-grade education limited your possibilities. 

Education is about not limiting possibilities, but about encouraging them.  It is being in there for the long run, rather than what I like here and now.

Today, so many exciting opportunities encourage literacy as part of our own literacy development, plus we can encourage someone else’s literacy development.  If you have ever been given a picture or note by a child, I hope you honored their work as you want your own work honored. 

This sounds simple, but it takes patience and recognition of what the child determines as language. Pre-conceived ideas can deter a child’s efforts.

Praise children for participating in literacy behaviors. Don’t put yourself in the role of correcting mistakes. 

Just sit back and enjoy your child’s learning. You’ll be impressed with the speed, and depth of his/her learning.

When a child draws you a picture or gives you a writing, let him/her explain it. I remember my mother-in-law voicing concerns about the letters she wrote to us.

With only an eighth-grade education, she feared she wasn’t communicating well. I told her, “Your letters are so precious to us because you care enough to write them.” 

I truly never noticed if there were language mistakes or not.  I was so privileged to enjoy such a wonderful mother-in-law. Her formal education may have been limited, but she took every opportunity to learn throughout her life.

Your education isn’t who you are, but refusing to continue to learn is part of who you are.

Failure, a fear of defeat, often leads to anger at self which slows interest in trying new things. My grandfather never saw failure as a deterrent to learning, but as a challenge to try again. Fortunately he got that idea through to me. 

As I look back on my life, I failed many more times, than I succeeded, but each failure led to knowledge that eventually led to success. I admit it wasn’t always the success I had aimed for, but it was always healthy success.

No one protected me from failure, but my faith and several individuals guided me through each episode.

Basically, love is what keeps us learning most effectively.  Five ingredients of love are: affection which includes appropriate touches (all of us need this); acceptance of who we are; honesty in all relationship (deceit corrupts); communication which is sharing what you feel and think and forgiveness which is accepting imperfections.

To grow in all areas we need dependability, a sense of humor, patience, and freedom to be alone and together with others. Are you happy about your literacy journey?

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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