Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Parasha Va'etchanan and Teaching Your Children

I recently read an inspiring book that was recommended to me by a dear friend:
 It's a must read for any parent striving to play an active role in their child's education.

 This week's Torah portion includes the Shema Prayer which mentions the obligation for parents to teach their children. Whether we as parents choose to homeschool or use traditional schools, we are obligated to be active in our children's education.

So thanks to the book I mentioned above I have found my new focus when teaching my children. 

In her book, Lucy Calkins quotes the American poet, Theodore Roethke: 
"Sometimes, if your life doesn't seem significant enough, it's not your life that isn't significant's your response to your life."  
How amazing a life we and our children would lead if we can fill the everydayness of our world with significance. 

 So this is my new goal. This is what I want to teach my children. I am determined to instill in myself and my children the ability to see significance in the small stuff- to think creatively and to make something out of nothing.

Calkins relays a story of her son who showed up to show and tell without an item to present. Instead of giving his teacher an excuse, he searched into his pockets and pulled out a small white rock. He told his class, "In my family, we have memory rocks. You save a special rock from the tops of mountains, or from beaches, and when you hold it and close your eyes, you can remember the mountaintop and the sea." He then went on to explain the memory he had tied to that rock in his pocket.

This resourcefulness of thought has so many implications for our children's ability to create, to think critically and to imagine. All skills that can be fostered during their play. 

Unfortunately there are many kids these days who do not know how to play. They are often found saying this like, "I'm bored" and "There's nothing to do." All the while these are the same children that often have roomfuls of toys. How can this be?

Well, when so many of their dolls/figurines already come with scripted stories and when a push of a button is all you need to make their bear talk, there is loss of ingenuity to their play. 

If we can create a family environment where happiness comes from the simple things, where sticks become magical wands and blankets become caves, we can create a counter culture to the idea that happiness comes from owning things. We can create meaningful happiness.

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