Even deeply spiritual people may not think that the realm of philosophy applies to the training and education of children. Granted, children do pick up a philosophy of living unconsciously from their parents. However, deliberately bringing philosophy into the light of a child's consciousness, by grasping any opportunity to help them creatively evolve their own personal philosophy of living, has tremendous value.
I would like to share an experience I had one evening recently with 3 children who are being brought up in a home of conscious spirituality and values, having been "primed" to be receptive to enlightened exploration.
It all began as a very mundane, material level of card playing. We four were playing a vigorous game of quadruple solitaire — just like solitary solitaire, but with four playing instead of one. I have found that many children love the energy and competitiveness of this game.
As we were playing it became obvious that some strategies worked and some didn't. We began to comment on these occasionally saying things like, "Stop whining" or "Don't just sit there, do something."
Halfway through the game we decided we would find parallels to the card game and the "game of life" when we were done playing. I also suggested that when we finished the game we could recall which game strategies worked and which didn't and write these discoveries down.
The children ranged from 7 to 14 years of age, and they all enjoyed this "philosophizing" as I called it. It's nothing more than developing a way of thinking about living, an art of living, that can make life better for people just like the solitaire game can be made better by game strategies.
From this exercise, the children and I came up with a list of "Parallels to Life." The oldest girl said she thought it would make a good essay for one of her English classes. I definitely agreed. When the children's parents got home we read the list to them and they clapped with delight. Here is what we came up with:
Parallels between playing a good game of solitaire and playing a good game of life
- You can't stop just because things aren't going well.
- If you get stuck, you can ask others to help you to see things you may not see.
- You can't peek ahead and look at the unturned cards.
- You can't waste time focusing on plays you missed.
- You must think positively — if you say things like, "I am not going to do any good in this game!" you will be negatively programming yourself.
- You must keep aware of the whole situation — what others are doing and what is going on where everyone is playing.
- Saying, "I wish" doesn't help.
- Saying, "If only" doesn't help.
- Whining doesn't help.
- You donut know if you are going to win or lose.
- It doesn't matter if you win or lose — it's how you play the game.
- Having fun is important.
- You can't stop and wait for one particular play to happen while you are passing up other plays.
- Take advantage of what you have been given to play with.
- Luck is a part of it.
- It is fun to see others win.
- It feels good to win yourself too.
- When things are too intense, take a deep breath.
We could have gone on but we got enough out of this.
This kind of "philosophizing" can probably be done with most games and activities that adults do with children. It's important to let the discovery come from them. If they are the ones discovering these little gems, they will own them. Parents need only ask the pertinent questions and act as a stimulus, just get the ball rolling and everyone will enjoy the excitement of this thinking game. If only two little gems of wisdom are gleaned from a particular occasion, that is just fine.
Do let us know how it goes if you try "philosophizing" with your kids while playing games or doing life activities. It can be quite fun and helpful to "flesh out" these kinds of activities with philosophical meaning.
Always looking for the Spirit in the simple things of life with kids and families,