(This is random and opinionated. Just thought I'd give a fair warning...)
I was watching the presidential debates while I was working out the other day. I have tried to tune in as much as possible lately. Yeah, I decided this round that I'd like to be an educated American citizen and vote for the candidate that overall represents my values, not just the leader of my party. No. No one expresses or holds every conviction I do...they are not...ME. And, I'm not currently running for president, so...Anyway, this is not the point of my post.
The question was posed by the mediator that sounded somewhat like this: "U.S. High School students ranked behind 16 other countries in education last year. Why do you think this is happening in our country and as president, what will you do about it?"
Is the answer not obvious to EVERYONE?! I know this will come off opinionated, and that's fine. Am I right? Partially. Do I think I am better than the next guy? No. Am I smarter because I know the answer? Isn't that the point of the mediator's question? The ANSWER is: Many American parents are lazy and do not read to their children while they are young. It's easier to buy them toys, lots and lots of freaking toys, let them stare at the television until their brain cells resemble a pile of mush, plop them in front of computers for hours on end while they get their botox injections and read crap magazines, and then let other people babysit them for extensive amounts of time, ie. babysitters, grandparents, day cares, school teachers, counselors, thinking that they will do the educating.
No, T.V. is not the devil. Computers are not the devil. Daycare is not the devil. Public school is not the devil. Grandparents are not the devil. Botox isn't the devil, except for the fact that animal serum laced with a bacteria is willingly injected into a person's body parts is beyond me...tangent, sorry. Anyway, wasting time can definitely be the devil and buying into the lie that WE as parents are more important than our kids ALL OF THE TIME is a lie. Yes, you need time to yourself, but NOT ALL THE TIME EVERYDAY...why did you have kids?
Some people should not have kids. I am not talking about 'underprivileged' people or overpopulation or stereotypical first cousin jokes. I am talking about people that have kids to simply let their name live on in history or people that just do it because it's the reasonable next step. "Oh, maybe we should have kids since we're getting old."
KIDS ROCK. Kids take quality time and QUANTITY time. Have kids because you treasure LIFE. Have kids because you love God with a holy fear and desire to raise children that make an impact on earth. Have kids because you have so much stinking love in your heart you can't keep it all inside, you just have to share it! But, DO NOT HAVE KIDS TO MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD, because, if you do that but you don't READ TO THEM, you won't look good and you will be doing your kids a disservice...God is the greatest gift you can offer a child. Reading equips them to study more about God and fall deeper in love with Him through His word.
Learning how to read is not an economical issue. Libraries are free. Schools and teachers are only a small portion of the education equation. They are partial 'facilitators' for the hunger for learning that should be birthed at home. Parents who rely on their child's teacher to do all the teaching will always be disappointed, expecting more and more from their child, blaming the system, enrolling their children in more and more programs to 'make' them smarter. The reality is, if we as parents would make reading to our children a priority early on, EVERYDAY, for as much time as we possibly can (we often do one hour-yes, I have 'more' time because I stay at home and home school, but even the busiest parent can make time...finding it will never happen), our children will be better equipped for high school and college and real life.
I worked at a college for 5 years where I had a lot of interaction with students on a social level in the residence halls. Many of the students were well equipped for the intensity of the heightened level of studying necessary for success in college. Some were not. Some were not even equipped with conflict resolution skills when there was roommate drama. Drama.
Our kids are sponges. They watch and listen to us disagree with our spouses. They observe if we honor one another when we disagree or if we get nasty and morph into psycho meanies that lash out in anger. They learn how to disagree from us and they learn how to reconcile, or at least agree to disagree, from us. They watch to see the way we eat and view food. They listen to if we talk negatively about our weight or appearance, and follow suit. They listen to the way we talk to and about other people. They see if we want them to pray and read their Bibles, and if we show them that example or not. They learn what to value from watching us. Just as they are sponges for all that they see, it is true of what they hear. Children are blank tapes. Are our children, the little humans God entrusted to us, (His children really), our 'on loan' most valuable possessions, learning ALL of their life skills and aspirations from digital 'M*ickey Mouse' or Mama, or 'D*ra' or Daddy? We are responsible to make valuable recordings in their lives. So, yes, read! READ. But, also use discernment and wisdom as to what you read. Just because a book is in print or on a 'Best' list, does not mean it is worth your time or theirs. Heck, that's another lesson...teaching them what kind of books are worth their time will teach them to value time, something that one day they will need to read to their children.
By the time January 12th rolled around earlier this year, Noah had heard the whole New Testament, all the Psalms, all of Proverbs, all of Genesis, many other random passages and several other children's books that his big sis enjoys. She even 'read' to him, having learned the books from hearing them repeatedly.
Not one of the candidates brought up the topic of reading to their children...they all got 'political' and started blaming it on the system, on the other 'party', on freedom of choice, blah, blah, blah. We are faced with the freedom to choose...to read or not to read, that is our freedom.