Parents of kindergarten kids are concerned that their children cannot cope with Year One and send them for tuition classes. A private tutor related this to me: One student, a three-year-old child, has been with her since she was two. Lately, her mother finds her unmotivated. She does not want to sit down for lessons anymore. She just wants to walk around and look at things. Her mother is worried that she will not be able to be on par with her peers. Her private tutor was told to encourage her to do more lessons so that she will stay ahead of her peers.
Many parents are worried that their children’s preschool education cannot prepare them for formal schooling. They tend to pressure their children to take on more than they can handle. Many children at a very young age complain that they are tired. These children are not only tired physically but emotionally and spiritually, too.
A child’s spiritual development means more than just teaching him to observe a specific religion. It is the basic human energy from which we draw meaning in our lives. Children need to be in touch with nature and realise their place in the world.
Children are gifted with a natural spiritual sense. According to Jean Grasso Fitzpatrick, author of Something More, Nurturing Your Child’s Spiritual Growth: “The greatest challenge we all face as spiritual nurturers is to become attuned to the young child’s authentic spirituality which, unlike our own, is such an integrated part of life. Children’s exuberant spirituality is reflected in everything they do. A child shows us the extraordinary in the ordinary.”
To keep this wonderful gift in children, parents must nurture its very presence and provide an environment in which it can flourish. Children need time to remain silent and calm. Growing up in a noisy world where traffic, the TV, computer and the radio is everywhere, children have little chance of experiencing what silence is all about. Silence is very important to a child’s spiritual growth. They need silence to know more about themselves and their world.
So whenever possible, take your three-year-old out hand in hand, for a walk in the garden or a stroll in the park. Sit down on a patch of grass and close your eyes without saying a word. Moments like these can allow your child to notice more things in her environment. She may tell you: “I hear the birds singing.” Or “I hear the wind talking to me.”
One primary child complained that he had too many classes to attend and had no time for himself. His mother asked him what he wanted to do so that he would be happy. He responded: “Nothing. I want to do nothing.”
When children are bombarded with all kinds of activities, they feel themselves “drowning” and are not able to understand the purpose of pages of writing. He only does his work to avoid punishment. Eventually, he will lose all motivation to learn because he sees no purpose in it.
Children who spend hours in front of the television and the computer find it hard to cope with the world of nature and appreciate the beauty around them. It is important that parents foster the sense of awe and wonder in children before they are numb to what is in our world. During a parenting session, I asked parents to allow their children to hug a tree.
One lady in the audience immediately responded: “The trees are full of ants. It is too unhealthy to do it.” Our children today are kept away from nature because parents feel they gain nothing from it.
Childhood is a time when children can be children, not miniature adults who have to maximise their time to fit in so many things. It is every child’s right to discover the world in his own time. He does not need to rush through things in order to stay ahead.
When things get tough and rough for children, they should be allowed to take their time to just stare at the sky.
Whatever wife lectures the violent baffle.