“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Well, I may say ‘simple,” but in reality their play is significantly more complex, creative, imaginative, and instructive than the majority of battery-operated, bells-and-whistles distractions so many of us are hoodwinked into buying for young children.
What I’m talking about is wooden blocks, Legos, plastic animals, gardening, puzzles, train-sets, cars, airplanes, cardboard boxes, hide-and-seek, and – most of all – books. David and Beks – Beks especially – are obsessed with books! Books and stories. “Tell us another story, Grandaddy!” “Read another book, please!”
It’s the gift of imaginative play, of curiosity, of constantly running experiments, of interacting with the environment and just making interesting things happen. Children are all such individuals, such unique creations, such beautiful reflections of the purposeful, loving, imaginative soul of God, the author and encourager of all life.
LEARNING: And David and Beks are learning constantly. Not only are we all pitching in to teach them, but they are teaching themselves as they organize, and observe, and test, and hypothesize, and prove, and fail, and adjust, and try again.
Do we push them, control them, and narrow their choices…? or do we let the spontaneity and growth unfold? Should we mold them in pre-selected directions…? or should we see where their creativity takes them? Is their path already determined by race, family resources, IQ, school district, social background, parents’ interests…? or will they chart their own course? Do we plug them into the traditional educational machine…? or will they thrive with more potential in another setting?
OBSERVATION: Most importantly of all, what are the children learning from us? From their wonderful parents, from their enthusiastic grandparents, from their faith community? Are they observing the evidence of people living like they mean it? Are they witnessing life-charged lives? Do they see blessed children of God, following the Living Way?
When I’m with my grandchildren, I see such hope and promise for the future. The Spirit pours the creative impulse of God’s imagination and purpose into each young life, and everything – absolutely anything – is possible!
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.