A Good Beginning
The Bible is filled with imagery about the importance of building a strong foundation. It is one of those truths that is so obvious, yet it helps to be reminded of it on a regular basis. Among other examples, our Lord used the parable of the wise and foolish builder and imagery of the cornerstone.
Children’s literature explains it to us in another way. Everyone knows the fable of the tortoise and the hare. But how many of us parents, like the hare, sleep and then run to keep up with our children?
To change the analogy, how many of us parents are awake to the potential of our young ones? The fable’s moral is clear: the hare underestimates the tortoise. Is it possible that we underestimate our children? Yes, they often surprise us, but are we aware of their true potential?
A Miraculous Time
The learning potential of little ones is nothing short of miraculous. It is a gift from God. Never again will we learn so effortlessly. Never again will we absorb a language spontaneously and without the aid of grammar rules. The famous Catholic educator, Maria Montessori, dedicated her life to studying these early years. She writes,
The child has a different relation to his or her environment from ours… the child absorbs it. The things she sees are not just remembered; they form part of her soul. She incarnates in herself all in the world about her that her eyes see and ears hear. (The Absorbent Mind, p.56)
Simply put, at this early time of “absorption,” it is critical that we immerse our children in what is good, that we tell them what is true and that we show them what is beautiful. As parents, it is hard to say what our children will remember. But we do know this: they are being affected and shaped by their environment. In some real way, especially in the early years, everything that our children experience will stick with them forever.
More Important than College
College is equated with success in life, especially material success. From the beginning, parents begin to save – understandably so since most colleges are astronomically expensive. Yet we want to point out the importance of setting a strong spiritual and academic foundation, fully recognizing that the early years of a child’s life are a miraculous and formative time.
There are many examples of St. Francis families doing just that, here’s one:
As parents of five children, it is unlikely that we will be able to afford Catholic high school and then college for the kids. We’ve decided that we will invest in giving them the best foundation possible in learning, living, and practicing their faith. They will have to take that information and apply it at some point to their daily lives; and, they are going to have to do that in a secular world. With the spiritual and moral foundation they receive in Catholic schools, they will be able to practice living their faith in high school with us as guides, before they leave us for college and beyond. With the grace of God, the foundation received at home and school will provide them with the confidence and faith they will need to be successful Catholic adults. (Paul & Teri Schmitt)
Read the full story and rationale behind this decision: