Have you ever stopped to watch a little girl playing with her dolls, or a little boy playing with his trucks? My! how busy he is, putting himself wholeheartedly into his play. Yes, this is the nature of a child; what he does, he does wholeheartedly. It is for this reason that a child is such a joy to teach; he listens well, absorbs everything. Because a child is so easily led, we must be very careful what we impress upon his little mind.
These small children are entrusted to us by God, first as parents, and later as teachers and parents. It is our duty and calling to instruct these children, to train them. We often think this instruction begins after the child is old enough to understand or to reason. If you wait until the child is a year old to begin this instruction, I fear you have already wasted one precious year. Instruction begins immediately; a child soon knows his Mother, the touch of her hand, the sound of her voice. And very soon he knows that Mother and Dad mean what they say, or he may learn that if he cries they will give in. So we see the training process going on in the very small child.
As children get a little older their learning capacity becomes greater. A mother doesn’t have to say, “Well, today I’ll sit down and teach Johnnie his Sunday School verse.” No, learning comes gradually through repetition, and a mother can teach her child as she goes about her work each day. She can talk to her child, sing to him and with him, look at picture books, and later read to him. She can show him the way of a Christian in her daily life. Children learn by doing, so help your child to do the right things and to do things right. Teach him obedience for God’s sake, and respect for adults. Teach your child to observe God’s creation round about him. Tell him who makes the seed grow, the flowers to bloom, the sun to shine, the snow to fall, etc. Give to your child all you can.
Oh, but you say, that takes time; we just don’t have that much time. Our calling is to train our children in the way that they should go, and that way is the way of God’s people. Yes, it certainly does take time, but first things first. For the very reason that this is a time‑consuming thing and a real necessity, Mothers should he at home all the time and should not feel compelled to work out. You have a great and wonderful responsibility; don’t underestimate the ability of your child by thinking he is too young to learn these things; but rather teach him all his little mind is able to absorb.
With a training of this nature at home, the five year old child will be well prepared to enter school. You will have laid the foundation not only for school days but for life. Upon this firm foundation we teachers can build; we can instruct your child, to the best of our ability, in the ways of our God. Indeed, we count it a privilege to train these covenant children to be stalwart sons and daughters of Christ. To quote John Ruskin: “It is a painful, continual, and difficult work to be done by kindness, by watching, by warning, by precept, and by praise, but above all – by example.”