Parents who neglect to teach learning-thinking-choosing and socialization skills should not be surprised when their high school and/or college age children become immature, emotionally-driven progressives unable to rationally judge the worth of almost anything they encounter along the prickly path to adulthood.
Life-serving values — reason, honesty, integrity, responsibility, discipline, self-reliance, purpose, and pride in achievement — must be encouraged as early as possible and continually reinforced at home to help young individuals survive America’s rising tsunami-level tide of politically correct authoritarianism.
Learning-thinking-choosing skills can begin very early by reading books to toddlers. This activity cannot be overemphasized. It is vital to add colorful stories to their little lives at the very same time when curiosity about everything tangible in the outer world is so new and fascinating to them. Nap or bedtime reading by parents to children not only cements close bonding and trust but also opens young minds to the inner world of imagination and to the pleasure of learning, helping to facilitate their development into the realm of conceptual thinking.
Tales with positive, moral characters and exciting events that perk inquisitiveness and project life as a purposeful and affirmative adventure can serve to offer role models, values, and behavior patterns that teach while they entertain.* Along with new stories, reading the same one multiple times offers another advantage by promoting children’s awareness of themselves as separate individuals capable of making choices. In the comfort of a “known” story they can feel free to explore options that reveal who they are or who they are becoming, what they value, and what excites them. If they can visualize themselves in fictional situations, they will begin to approach this important self awareness more confidently and gain a more defined sense of morality. Once they are able to express feelings-thoughts in simple words and when characters in the story come to decision-making moments (since the child already knows what the character will do), parents can stop the story and ask what the child would do in the same situation. This inspires even the very young to begin to understand that different possibilities exist, so fictive options teach the process of value selection in a fun, creative manner. Later, when children begin to read themselves, the roles can be reversed with children reading their favorite stories to parents and other siblings at designated times.
All of this reading aloud nourishes the mental development of children in a safe, cozy environment. The introduction to ideas, vicarious experiences, and different “people” (characters) through books is absolutely imperative for instilling love of ideas, curiosity, and creativity in very young children. And as a beautiful bonus, youthful reading instills a love for reading itself as a process to inform, to entertain, and stretch the mind for a lifetime as well-rounded, always-becoming-better adults.
When a bit older, teaching youngsters the socialization skills of interacting with others in person has become paramount because so many kids (and adults) conduct most of their communication via texting, cell phone, or online networks. Learning to function successfully with others in real life is necessary for making authentic friends, dealing with authority figures such as teachers, resisting classmate demands for conformity, and navigating dozens more interactions from making purchases to asking for directions. In addition, polite conversation, exchanging views on different subjects, and respectful debate teaches children to control their emotions by channeling them into calm, rational discourse.
Today’s is a highly politicized world where youngsters can be negatively influenced by agenda-driven educators, social media and the internet in general, overtly hostile peer pressure, socially engineered TV programming, and violent movies. Disagreement with the socialist-leaning mainstream can bring about ridicule or outright ostracism for independent minded children; therefore, it is vital for parents to provide active encouragement for critical thinking that will result in self confidence on the part of their own kids to interact appropriately even when others act inappropriately.
Dinner time (no phones!) is perfect for “show and tell” to share the day’s activities with children of every age. While teaching and practicing proper table manners — please! — subjects of general interest can be discussed by all family members. Car trips (no phones!) are also conducive settings for discussions. Wherever or whenever, it is essential for parents to initiate family interactions so kids can learn proper dialogue, expressing their own views coherently as well as listening to and rationally judging those of others. When disagreements arise, these offer opportunities to practice tolerance and patience; disagreements require logical thinking and civil debate.
Early training and continual practice in learning-thinking-choosing and socialization skills will help every child meet challenges and negotiate their personal development with greater ease. Furthermore, it is apodictic that not only are America’s “tomorrows” uncertain but also the vulnerable young are being used as innocent agents to help affect many an unhealthy culture change. Our divided nation teeters precariously on the precipice between individual sovereignty and collective bondage. Even if established by force, every authoritarian regime throughout history has made it a priority to warp the minds of the young in order to obtain future passive obedience; think Soviet Union and China for 20th century examples. American children today need all the family assistance possible to grow into rational, responsible adults able to stand against the tide of tyranny and stand up for liberty… for the sake of us all.
* National Geographic does a nice job for toddlers just learning about the world.
Some specific suggestions for especially good books:
"Welcome to the Symphony"
"Our Solar System," American Museum of Natural History
"Frog and Toad"
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Adamas." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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