Friday, February 23, 2007

Impressing Young Children

I had a reality check yesterday given to me by one of my first graders. We were coloring pictures about how many cups are in a gallon, and this is what he said,

"Miss Lowery, there are sixteen cups in a gallon. And that's how old my cousin is. He's sixteen, and he's my buddy. He's so cool. Cause his jeans have holes in them, and sometimes he has a mohawk."

What does it mean to be cool? In the eyes of my first grader, it's holes in jeans and mohawks. But, who taught him that? And, are we really conscious of the fact that six-year-olds are thinking this way?

My reality check came in the idea that young children are already so capable of picking up on what society deems as "cool." Not only do they pick up on it, but they internalize it...hold on to it...and it some ways, yearn for it. Unfortunately, my impressions are that more and more parents are becoming oblivious to how society is affecting their children. My experience in my classroom shows that few parents realize their responsibility in shaping their child's understanding of "cool" or "pretty" or "smart." Some of these parents are just naive about how impressionable young children are. However, some of these parents just choose not to play that role in their child's life.

This realization hurt, in a way, because I can't go in and change that. I can make a good impression on my students, and pray that the Lord touches their hearts by my example. But, in the end, their families and the culture that they are exposed to has a larger effect on them than I do. This leaves me with a burden to pray for our families; for parents to realize how important it is for them to guide their child's perspective of "cool."

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
Deut. 6:7-9