Decades ago, my education professor used to say, "Education starts from womb to tomb."
When I became a parent, in 1988, I realized how important early child education is and the impact it has on early child's development and future success.
Child development involves early education, with parents playing the leading role in this reponsibility. Even if the baby is still in the mother's womb, learning takes place.
I remember those early days when I used to talk to my first baby when he was still in his mom's womb. He responded when I said, "Kick, baby, kick." I read Mother Goose rhymes to him and sang baby songs for him. I recited letters of the alphabet and also counted one to 10 for him. He responded when I spoke to him. I did the same thing to my second child.
Both my children were my "case studies." I studied them, while providing them opportunities to learn. My wife and I took time to teach them the basics---their ABCs, numbers, colors,letter and number recognition, reading and writing---at a very early age.
Books and other reading materials were scattered everywhere in the house. I "tested" them to find out if they were curious enough to open a book. and they did, especially the picture books.
We taught them simple prayers, took them to church and cultural shows, and encouraged them to be creative. They raised questions, and we tried to answer them the best we could. We also visited libraries. Eventually, they developed the habit of reading and loving books early.
By the time they entered school, they were ready to learn more. And more they did from their teachers, fellow students and other people around them. Consequently, their preschool teachers didn't have problems with our children. We continued guiding and helping them with their homework and school projects.
Young children learn what they see and experience at home and in the community. Their brains are like sponges that absorb everything they're exposed to. Therefore, as their first teachers, we should provide them with an atmosphere of learning environment and a variety of learning materials and equipment.
In her letter to the editor, Suffolk News-Herald, Saturday, April 18, Mary Grace Garner-Atkins wrote that too many children are not ready for school. She observed that they're "ill-prepared" and have not been taught responsibility for their actions.
Why? Who's to blame for this early educational problem? Their parents, of course. Responsibility resides in the parents who conceived these children.
Parents, take heed of Garner-Atkins' plea: " Make it your aim to teach your children how to be responsible, to get along with other children, to be honest and to thank you and their teachers for helping them to grow up to be good, reliable adults." Amen to that.
Educational responsibility starts at home. Home is where children learn to love to learn and be responsible.
As parents, we are supposed to be role models for our children. If they see us as responsible, they will also be responsible someday. And if they ever have families of their own, they will carry on that responsibility and apply those family values and virtues learned at home.
If we are not responsible for their early education, who will be? The government? Teachers? The government can only do so much, and so can the teachers. They are our partners in educating our children.
Responsible parents beget responsible children.
-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-winning Suffolk News-Herald, Sunday, April 26, 2015. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.