Child Guidance


Chapter 51—Preparing for School

The First Eight or Ten Years—Children should not be long confined within doors, nor should they be required to apply themselves closely to study until a good foundation has been laid for physical development. For the first eight or ten years of a child's life the field or garden is the best schoolroom, the mother the best teacher, nature the best lesson book. Even when the child is old enough to attend school, his health should be regarded as of greater importance than a knowledge of books. He should be surrounded with the conditions most favorable to both physical and mental growth.1 CG 300.1

It is customary to send very young children to school. They are required to study from books things that tax their young minds.... This course is not wise. A nervous child should not be overtaxed in any direction.2 CG 300.2

The Child's Program During Infancy—During the first six or seven years of a child's life, special attention should be given to its physical training, rather than the intellect. After this period, if the physical constitution is good, the education of both should receive attention. Infancy extends to the age of six or seven years. Up to this period children should be left, like little lambs, to roam around the house and in the yards, in the buoyancy of their spirits, skipping and jumping, free from care and trouble. CG 300.3

Parents, especially mothers, should be the only teachers of such infant minds. They should not educate from books. The children generally will be inquisitive to learn the things of nature. They will ask questions in regard to things they see and hear, and parents should improve the opportunity to instruct and patiently answer those little inquiries. They can in this manner get the advantage of the enemy and fortify the minds of their children by sowing good seed in their hearts, leaving no room for the bad to take root. The mother's loving instruction at a tender age is what is needed by children in the formation of character.3 CG 300.4

Lessons During the Transition Period—The mother should be the teacher, and home the school where every child receives his first lessons; and these lessons should include habits of industry. Mothers, let the little ones play in the open air; let them listen to the songs of the birds and learn the love of God as expressed in His beautiful works. Teach them simple lessons from the book of nature and the things about them; and as their minds expand, lessons from books may be added and firmly fixed in the memory. But let them also learn, even in their earliest years, to be useful. Train them to think that, as members of the household, they are to act an interested, helpful part in sharing the domestic burdens, and to seek healthful exercise in the performance of necessary home duties.4 CG 301.1

It Need Not Be a Painful Process—Such a training is of untold value to a child, and this training need not be a painful process. It can be so given that the child will find pleasure in learning to be helpful. Mothers can amuse their children while teaching them to perform little offices of love, little home duties. This is the mother's work—patiently to instruct her children, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. And in doing this work, the mother herself will gain an invaluable training and discipline.5 CG 301.2

Morals Imperiled by School Associates—Do not send your little ones to school too early. The mother should be careful how she trusts the molding of the infant mind to other hands.6 CG 302.1

Many mothers feel that they have not time to instruct their children, and in order to get them out of the way, and get rid of their noise and trouble, they send them to school.... CG 302.2

Not only has the physical and mental health of children been endangered by being sent to school at too early a period, but they have been the losers in a moral point of view. They have had opportunities to become acquainted with children who were uncultivated in their manners. They were thrown into the society of the coarse and rough, who lie, swear, steal and deceive, and who delight to impart their knowledge of vice to those younger than themselves. Young children, if left to themselves, learn the bad more readily than the good. Bad habits agree best with the natural heart, and the things which they see and hear in infancy and childhood are deeply imprinted upon their minds; and the bad seed sown in their young hearts will take root and will become sharp thorns to wound the hearts of their parents.7 CG 302.3