One of the most important things parents can do is to make sure that their children have a large quantity and variety of experiences. Through experiences children learn to appreciate what others go through to provide their needs, gain a better understanding of the world around them and increase their skill and knowledge.
Adults often exclaim that children do not appreciate what they have. It is difficult to appreciate what is given to them if they put forth no effort to obtain it. Such experiences as picking berries or helping in a garden by pulling weeds give children an appreciation that no amount of lecturing could ever accomplish. They learn first-hand what it takes to provide those items. It is gratifying to see families picking berries together at Persimmon Hill Berry Farm in Lampe, MO. There are other places around the area where children can participate as well. Even gardening in flower pots or buckets in the yard give some needed experience with plants and food provision.
Experiences of watching production of food or other items in factories or plants provide understanding of effort that goes into providing our wants and needs. A trip to factories, a trip to the Tyson chicken plant in Berryville, AR, or other places that produce items we use can be eye-openers to children. They begin to understand that much work is involved in providing their needs. It is also a good lesson in science to see how machinery works. When families go on vacation, there are often places where children can take a tour and see how things are produced. Our grandchildren were able to tour the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA. That was a great thrill for them. It was especially nice when they were given some free candy at the end of the tour!
Children who are limited in experiences are usually limited in vocabulary as well. Without realizing it, new words are being used in almost every new experience a child may have. As children are allowed to participate, they enhance skills and abilities.
Some experiences are a lot of fun as well as educational. The Butterfly Palace in Branson is a wonderful place to take children. It is so much fun to see those beautiful creatures flying around and the film shown there is excellent. Mission trips for teenagers that many churches sponsor in the summer are wonderful! They certainly foster the understanding of how other people live. One church is currently sponsoring a trip to Alaska. Another church periodically sponsors trips to the Navajo reservation to help there in Vacation Bible School.
When we make sure children have a variety of experiences, we find that those experiences, themselves, do the teaching for us. Only a few words or comments are required to guide the children. No one has to tell a child how hard it is to provide blueberries to eat if that child has picked a quart or so of them! I doubt that as much food would be wasted once children learn what goes into providing it for them. Appreciation is naturally going to come! When teenagers prepare meals for the family, they are not apt to complain when mom or dad doesn’t have a meal on the table on time for them. They have learned that is it not so easy and they have a greater appreciation of the effort of their folks. When teens see children living in hogans on an Indian reservation, how can they not appreciate what they have?
There are many opportunities for children to experience many things if we are alert to the possibilities. Those experiences teach far more than our words.