Notes: Teaching Your Children Joy

Excerpts and Observations on the book
 by Linda & Richard Eyre

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"Too much stress is placed on young children's abilities, on their being able to put together numbers and letters quickly, on their manipulations skills.  The world at large seems to have become overly sensitive to 'How soon will my child read?' or 'Just listen to how well he counts (or recites).'  While these skills do have their place, we strongly believe that real happiness, contentment, and the ability to cope with the world are more closely related to a child's joy."
-Preface, p. 10

With some overlap, the age ranges where children learn these skills best:
  • Ages 0-6: Joy
  • Ages 4-12: Responsibility
  • 10-16: Service & Charity
-Introduction, p. 15

Children are born with the gift of spontaneity, the ability to live in the present, and to be 100% interested in what they are doing.  It's those traits that I'm afraid of permanently scarring in my little boys every time I yell at them or listen half attentively.  Hopefully this book and these activities will help me re-discover those same joys!
-My thoughts, Introduction, p. 16

The goal is to preserve children's natural sense of joy and teach how that joy can enhance the choices they make in life.  How the chapters are arranged:
  • Examples & Descriptions
  • Methods (Activity Ideas)
  • Family Focal Point
  • A story to share
-Introduction, p. 17-18

"Being a conscientious, involved parent of preschoolers can be an exhausting proposition...parents do more reacting than acting, they end up measuring their success by the emotions of frustration and impatience...A parent with one basic objective each month can look past the momentary crises that come to all families and can see the progress the children are making in the area of that monthly goal."
-Introduction, p. 18-19

"This man loved his senses and his senses loved the earth.  He'd close his eyes so he could listen better to whippoorwills.  He'd stop just to breathe the lilac breeze in early May.  He'd let the soft, black soil sift through his fist just to feel its texture.  And when his wife baked apple pie, he would hold the first bite in his mouth for half a minute "to be sure I taste it all"...his ability to feel the joy of his own body brightened his eye and enlivened his face so that the world looked back with envy."
-Chapter 2, p. 35

"A child's senses are more acute than ours, but the joy of the body lies in understanding what we sense, and that is where the teaching comes in."
-Chapter 2, p. 36

The joy of the body includes:
  • Work and effort
  • Singing
  • Sports and Exercise
  • Touch and Feeling
  • Control
We lose those joys as we grow through fear and embarrassment-things children learn from adults.

I understand the idea of parents burying a child's innate sense of joy over the years.  Every time we shout no as they jump off the bed or we they hear us talking about things we're not good at, they take that upon themselves.  It's a natural protective instinct, but wouldn't it be great to raise a child to adulthood with the zeal for life they had when they were 3?
-My thoughts, Chapter 2

"Talk about each activity afterward...This is a key throughout the process of teaching children the child to identify the joy and be conscious that he is feeling it, so that he wants it and recognizes it the next time."

-Chapter 2, p. 39

Love of the earth is experienced through our five senses.  We will find happiness in it if we allow ourselves surprises, awareness, appreciation, and sensitivity.

"Happiness comes through awareness."
-Chapter 3, p. 51

The two stories at the beginning of this chapter relate the differences in how adults and children experience being in nature.  Adults have a tendency to lump "nature" into one big package and generate thoughts about it in that way as well.  Children, on the otherhand, experience nature one special thing at a time.  They hear a bird and look for it.  They see a stick and run to pick it up.  I especially remember seeing this in our boys as both of them were put down on the grass for the first time.  They hated it!  Beck would do anything possible to make sure his hands and feet were off the ground.  That's because in that moment the feel of sharp blades of grass were 100% on his mind.
-My thoughts, Chapter 3

Interest and curiosity are inherent child skills but easily lost.  Spend time watching what your kids are watching and then find ways to encourage activities focused on whatever that is.


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