Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when children are encouraged to become doers rather than watchers. Even though the world has changed around them, children and their needs have not changed. They still need to learn to create, build, explore, and ask questions as well as all the other skills that children learned in past years. It is the job of parents and grandparents to present the rising generation with options that take them away from video games and movies and into activities.
Darla Isackson posted an interesting article titled “Life Is Not a Spectator Sport: How to Get Your Kids Get Out and Play” in The Meridian Magazine. Along with sharing reasons why children need to be active and giving ideas of what they can do, Isackson gives the following explanation for what is happening in the world today.
Have children changed in their basic needs? Have parents changed in their desire to encourage the total development of the child? Not at all. However, parents and grandparents are just as likely to be caught up in the “watching” instead of “doing” mode as are the children. Today when parents “do” something with small children, it seldom involves really “doing” anything at all. Parents are most likely to suggest they watch TV together, go and watch a game, go and watch a movie, or go to the zoo and watch the animals. They rarely sit down and create or produce or create something with their small children. Instead of singing, they watch others sing, instead of making up stories they watch or listen to stories someone else made up. Instead of figuring out how to do something and developing a new skill they watch someone else perform. Parents have a relatively few precious hours to teach, train, and encourage the development of children’s minds and hearts. Yet in today’s society, during those hours, shared focus on a mutual task may not take place at all. (ideas drawn from various pages of Meeting the Challenge.)
Isackson suggests that parents and grandparents help children to learn skills by doing some of the things that children did before the age of constant entertainment. My eight-year-old grandson learned to play marbles at Cub Scout camp. This experience led to some research, which in turn led to a recipe for making marbles. The fun of playing marbles was increased by gaining more information as well as the opportunity to create something new. A nine-year-old granddaughter is learning to crochet, knit, and sew as well as draw and paint. An eleven-year-old granddaughter loves to write and illustrate stories. Other grandchildren are learning to play musical instruments.
Along with the above types of “doing” activities, Isackson suggests that parents teach children how to clean their rooms rather than just saying, “Go clean your room.” She suggests the following checklist to help older children complete this task. Obviously, some of the tasks need to be completed daily and other weekly, monthly, or quarterly, but doing these tasks teach important skills.
Make bed. Change sheets when necessary
Pull everything out from under the bed and put away
Pick up everything on the floor and put in proper places
Vacuum thoroughly and dust
Straighten closet and drawers. Sort and discard unused items
Wash window and light fixture
Isackson suggests that adults remember that life is much more than simply watching other people do things. Life is a time of learning and becoming, and it is meant to be active.
This summer let’s remember that life is not meant to be a spectator sport. We were not born to watch the adventures of others on the screen of life. We were meant to be the stars of our own life story. We were born to “DO” much more than “WATCH.” True, much can be learned from observing, but what is the worth of the lessons if we don’t quickly apply them in our own “doing”? …
Our challenge as adults is to encourage and engage in the kind of DOING that fits the criteria listed in the first list above. [See her article for the list.] This summer, let’s not just watch others have fun, watch others live and learn and develop skills. Let’s take a child’s hand and dive into DOING!
This is fantastic counsel! I am grateful that my children are actively teaching their children to DO things instead of allowing them to SIT and WATCH other people do things. There is much to learn in playing and working at home as well as on outings of many different types. When we teach children to be DOERS instead of WATCHERS, we will help them to learn necessary skills as well as strengthen our families, communities, and nations.