Sometimes I fear we underestimate how smart kids are. But kids remember so many odd little facts! Even the most seemingly inattentive kids recall more than you’d ever expect.
I was listening to my Bible one morning while I made breakfast. I like to have my personal devotions alone in my bedroom and use that time for reading the Bible and in prayer, but then I listen to more Scripture while I whip up the food. Both my girls were hanging around the kitchen with me, playing quietly and waiting for their food. I was in 1 Chronicles 1, slogging through a genealogy.
The name Canaan was mentioned. My oldest perked up.
“Hey! I know that! That’s what we’re learning in church with Joshua and the Promised Land! You know, Pastor Mike’s maps?”
I was pleasantly surprised! It IS what we’re studying at church! And Pastor Mike does indeed put up many maps! I applauded her and we kept listening to the genealogy.
A few minutes later, we heard the name Midian. I was not caffeinated, it barely resonated with me. The other kid stopped her colouring.
“Hey, another one we know! That’s where Moses went and then God talked in the burning bush!”
I’m sorry…. What?
“Yeah,” chimed in the oldest. “He ran away there.”
“After he killed the pyramid,” the youngest stated.
“No, after he killed the Egyptian,” her sister corrected her.
“Right, right. The Egyptian. Who made the pyramid.”
I’m sorry… WHAT??!!?!?
I’m a full grown, adult woman who has read the Bible cover to cover multiple times, and my memory failed me on that.
This is just one of many examples where my kids stun me with their knowledge. They pick up on… well, everything. Whether it’s what they hear at church or what they hear while we’re singing in the car, kids hear and remember way more than we give them credit for. They’re little sponges.
I noticed that often times when adults engage with kids, they do so by asking questions. Not smart questions that lead to conversation, but dumbed down questions. “You went to dance class? Wow, what did you do at dance? Did you twirl? Did you jump?” Kids generally give yes or no answers to that line of questioning, which seems to frustrate the adults who want to engage with them. “Oh wow you’re cooking? What are you making? Soup? Are you going to work in a restaurant?” It’s just an interrogation, not an engagement. And I find it limits a child’s answers. You don’t get to experience their conversational skills when you’re giving them a verbal survey to fill out.
A long long time ago, I wrote about how babies are people too. Our children have very sharp minds, but just as any knife, a whetstone is required to keep it sharp. What a disservice we do to our kids when we dumb everything down for them! I’m not suggesting that we don’t give them age appropriate information, but I am suggesting that age appropriate information might be a little more in depth than Blue’s Clues and baby talk.
I read my youngest a William Blake poem the other day. She instantly memorised the first several lines and drew a gorgeous picture for me about the subtext she understood. I nervously started teaching my oldest about hundreds placements and identifying three digit numbers. She adapted with ease and was soon shouting out all the correct answers to the random numbers I wrote on the board. Our kids are smart. They deserve material and conversation that will challenge them! It is encouraging to know that when they sit in church, they may not understand everything, but they’ll pick up a lot. I also can, unfortunately for them, suss out the lies when they claim ignorance of their parents’ instructions. They know. They know a lot.
I recently discovered a Ted Tripp quote that sums up my goals for my children’s education and why I’m not afraid to challenge them. “Give your children big truths they will grow into rather than light explanations they will grow out of.” Our kids want to be thinkers, if only we as parents will show them the truth. My prayer is that I will constantly challenge their curiosity and give their ever working brains appropriate material to chew through. Keep being brilliant, my little ones!