From the Homefront: 6 ways we dumb down our children — and how to stop

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Education isn't going to get any better unless parents do more to expand learning outside of school. This doesn’t necessarily mean workbooks and flashcards. What it does mean is teaching kids that the world is a classroom, and you don't switch from learning to entertainment when the bell rings or when you’re handed a diploma.

If our kids see us learning, they will want to learn. If we talk about concepts and ideas with enthusiasm, we teach our kids that exploring new ideas is exciting. We can piggyback off what they are learning in school with library books, videos, trips to museums and good plain talking. Most importantly, we can teach by example that learning is fun, not drudgery.

6. Talk to them instead of with them

“Get your shoes on. What time do you need to be picked up? Have you done your homework? Get ready for bed.”

The human race has never talked so much. We chatter, text, call, Instagram and update our Facebook status. We exchange a lot of words, yet we’ve lost the art of conversation. Debate used to be a meaningful exchange of idea. Now it is an excuse to drag an opponent’s name through the mud.

It’s up to us as parents to communicate effectively with our children. We need to teach them how to have a conversation. Our children cannot be effective teachers, spouses or job applicants if they don't know how to communicate.

Our kids are born with infinite capacity to learn, create and contribute. If we keep that in mind, and make an effort to enhance their natural abilities (because it is work), we can let our children shine.

Tiffany Gee Lewis lives in St. Paul, Minn., and is the mother of four boys. She blogs at thetiffanywindow.wordpress.com. Her email is tiffanyelewis@gmail.com

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