August is a month of vacations—a chance to relax before starting a new school year. When we relax, we usually find plenty of opportunities for discussions. Use this month to find out just how productive those discussions can be so that you are comfortable including them as part of your school plans. Too often the pressure of handling both household and teaching responsibilities puts an end to this wonderful learning tool.
Discussion provides a model for our children to follow, increases their ability to think, and encourages them to put their feelings into words.
- Pointing out reasons for our opinions shows them how to support their own.
- Explaining why someone behaves as he does enables children to recognize motives. Discussing possible reactions to a person’s behavior increases a child’s awareness of his own actions and how they may influence someone else.
- Listening to your children provides them with an opportunity to articulate their thoughts and feelings. The more clearly they can express those thoughts, the more clearly they will be able to write them.
Here are a few easy ideas for the summer:
- Discuss movies and books:
Did you like the main character?
How did his weaknesses cause problems?
How did others react to him? Why?
Did he learn any lessons? (Gain any insight?)
If his thinking did not change, do you think it should have?
- Discuss the pros and cons of a decision. Hearing the thought process involved provides important training for their own decision making.
- Discuss the possible reasons for the specific behavior of a friend or family member.
How does the behavior make you feel?
Discuss possible reactions and the effect each could have.
Someone who is always friendly, speaks directly to the child, and asks for his opinion would probably make the child feel good. He knows he likes being around that person, but may not be able to explain why. If he becomes engaged in a conversation with the person easily, that person will probably continue this procedure of saying hello and asking his opinions. On the other hand, if he is shy and says nothing, looking away when spoken to, the person may eventually stop trying to be friendly, even ignoring him. Often children do not understand that their own behavior influences others.
Someone who is easily angered is likely to be avoided. Here children recognize that they don’t want to be near him because “he’s always mad at me.” Why is he angry? How would he react if you sounded just as angry and talked back? How would he react if you just listen? What if your face and manner are angry even if you say nothing? Is there anything you could say? What tone of voice should be used? (Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turneth away wrath.”)
This is also an opportunity to teach children how to weigh what is said. Is there an insight to be gained, prompting an attempt to change? Should the anger be disregarded because the person does not have just cause for the anger, or has opposing values?
These simple conversations provide important direction for our children, but take little effort from us. Have a relaxing month and enjoy your family.