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Quotes to Ponder
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Our Learning Opportunities

I've been thinking about the learning that can take place each day. Not the learning my children are doing, but the daily opportunities I have to learn. The kind of learning that happens when I read a good book aloud to my children, when I immerse myself in a project with my children, or when I stop to really observe my children.

I love to read about mothers that provide a safe, comfortable, enriching environment for their children. For example, the mother in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons easily participates in the pretend play of her children. In one chapter she rows out to the little, nearby island where her children are camping. She quickly picks up the "theme" ...

"Hullo, Man Friday," said Titty [her daughter] joyfully.
"Hullo, Robinson Crusoe," said mother. That was the best of mother. She was different from other natives. You could always count on her to know things like that.

What a treat it must be for my children when I join in their play. It gives them a chance to remember that I was once a child, too, full of imagination, eager to play. It blesses my relationship with them when I am not so busy being a serious adult.

While reading Hugh Lofting's The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle aloud, I found the advice of Polynesia, the parrot, to be challenging to me as a mother and teacher. The parrot advises young Tommy Stubbins about what it takes to become a naturalist ...

"But listen: are you a good noticer?--Do you notice things well? ... that is what you call powers of observation--noticing the small things about birds and animals: the way they walk and move their heads and flip their wings; the way they sniff the air and twitch their whiskers and wiggle their tails."

What does this have to do with being a mother and teacher? It made me ask myself some questions. Do I notice the small things about my children? Am I too caught up in how I expect them to look and act? Do I miss who they really are, what they are really feeling, thinking, learning? As I provide for opportunities for my children to become observant, do I take advantage of the time I have to observe them?

A mother and teacher can benefit from being a good "noticer." Good observation skills can help me see myself through the eyes of my children. Unfortunately, I don't always like what I observe. In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, some wise words from Marmee urged me to heed what I see ...

"Yes, I've learned to check the hasty words that rise to my lips; ... It was easier to try for your sakes than for my own; a startled or surprised look from one of you, when I spoke sharply, rebuked me more than any words could have done; and the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy."

Wise words for me, particularly since hasty words do rise to my lips. I know what Marmee means by "a startled or surprised look." Just last week, I found myself ranting about towels and bathing suits and shoes dropped carelessly in the kitchen. One look at my daughter's tears made me realize I had spoken too sharply and hasty. (Proverbs 21:23 came to mind ... Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.)

I would like to share one last quote today. The Empty House by Rosamunde Pilcher is a story of love rediscovered, but I was more touched by the story of a young mother discovering the joy of being a mother. Mrs. Pilcher writes ...

Watching their faces Virginia thought: Because it's new and exciting to them, it's new and exciting for me. The most trivial, ordinary occurrences will become special because I shall see them through Cara's eyes. And if Nicholas asks me questions that I can't answer, I shall have to go and look them up and I shall become informed and knowledgeable and a brilliant conversationalist.

I want to be a godly example for my children. Each and every day I have many wonderful opportunities to do this! My hope and prayer to grow more deeply in my roles as a mother and teacher will help my children grow, too!

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. - Matthew 18:2-5

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. - Proverbs 14:1

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. - Philippians 4:9

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. - Proverbs 16:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: - Hebrews 10:22-24

May 26, 1999
1999 by Kathy Ridpath
Please ask for permission to reprint this article, ridpath@chfweb.com. Thank you!


The following books are available through Our Favorite Books Bookstore. All proceeds from Our Favorite Books Bookstore in association with Amazon.com go toward supporting the chfweb.com website. Thanks for your support!

Swallows and Amazons
by Arthur Ransome
This is great fun, telling the story of two brothers and two sisters on summer vacation in the England lake country where they sail, camp, swim, make maps, learn cooking/housekeeping skills, and have fun adventures. Swallows and Amazons is the first in a twelve book series. Since we haven't read the rest of the series, I hesitate to recommend all of the books in this series right now. --Kathy Ridpath
Paperback: *Order Now!*

The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle
by Hugh Lofting
We love the Doctor Doolittle books, probably because we love reading stories about animals and Doctor Doolittle is the ultimate animal lover. :-) -- Kathy Ridpath
Hardcover: *Order Now!*

Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott
Truly a classic book. I believe this version is an unabridged version. You can find used copies of Little Women, too; just make sure you get an unabridged version. -- Kathy Ridpath
Hardcover Deluxe ill edition : *Order Now!*

The Empty House
by Rosamunde Pilcher
This is a story about a woman that rediscovers her first love during a trip to Cornwall. She is a recent widow who decides to go on this trip without the children's nanny which leads to more touching story, I think, of her discovering the joy of motherhood. -- Kathy Ridpath
Mass Market Paperback: *Order Now!*


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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."

Isaiah 54:13

Kathy Ridpath: ridpath@chfweb.com
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