Children are simply amazing. They are so exceptionally intelligent that they learn an entirely foreign language and are fluent in their new language in their first few of years life. Even more amazing is that fact that they do this almost entirely on their own, without the aid of textbooks, teachers, tutors, schools, and grammar. Even more amazing still is that they do so casually. Have you ever seen a toddler pouring over books or studying late into the night? Of course not! They don’t need to. They pick up this foreign language on the side, while learning a million other subjects. Their intelligence is natural – God given. Now, as amazing as all that is, what truly inspires me is children’s natural passion for life. They have an inner glow that is pure and refreshing. They love unconditionally and in abundance. They are quick to forgive and eager to please. Young children are so full of life that they restore it in all but the hardest of hearts. In this way, every single child is the embodiment of potential - infinite potential!
So, what happens? I mean, how do they go from infinite potential to the lost and confused high school graduates that are all too common? I believe that one reason for this dramatic decline is a growing lack of respect among parents and educators for our young children, for their exceptionalism, and for their infinite potential. We claim to highly regard our little ones – telling them that they can achieve whatever they set out to accomplish in life, but our actions betray our true feelings.
It starts very early with perpetual baby talking. Babies talk like babies because they are still learning to use their vocal cords. Why adults choose to mimic their children’s baby talk, greatly inhibiting the child’s ability to learn to speak, is beyond me. Perhaps parents think that their children lack the intelligence to understand adult speaking. The lack of respect continues as the child grows. Parents continue to baby their children; wiping their noses, tying their shoes, dressing them, washing them, and then making excuses for their childish behavior. If a young child is throwing a fit, it is not because he is incapable of behaving better, but because his parents accept his behavior as a normal stage that they must tolerate until he grows out of it. They refuse to properly discipline and train him. The same treatment carries over into education. Instead of teaching children as if they were highly intelligent beings able to think and comprehend like adults, child educators over complicate with vivid images, graphics, and cartoons. Parents and educators imagine that their children are unteachable unless the curriculum is properly customized for silliness, immaturity, and ridiculousness. In these ways and many others, parents show a lack of respect by selling their children short.
Least we fall back into our old habits of underestimating our children, I intend to provide an occasional “Lesson in Excellence” from exceptional children both in the past and in the present. Eight-year old Rhema Marvanne is this week’s “Lesson in Excellence.” It is easy to write Rhema off as a child prodigy, but to do so would be to discredit the hard work she has put into training her voice. When Rhema was very young her mother took the time to teach her how to sing. Then her mother passed away from ovarian cancer. Rhema now uses her music to minister to others. Rhema is exceptional, but so are our own children. Our children do not need to become rich or famous, there are many forms of excellence. If we cannot see this, then we have already failed them. It is our duty as parents to help our children realize their potential. We must guide them and believe in them, raising them to become their own “Lesson in Excellence.”