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Saturday January 29th 2022

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Is Your Child Getting “Junk Experience?”

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Scientists have confirmed what anyone who has ever watched a child grow already knows: Nature and nurture are inextricably intertwined. Nurture is that which the environment contributes to the whole that is any of us. The environment includes the influence of home and family and everything else that is a child’s experience. Experience includes the emotions your child feels on the ball field, in church, and during time spent at grandma’s house. It includes the programs he sees on television and movies and video games. It includes the messages he receives from books, peers, elders, and dinner table conversations. It includes the influences of neighbors and relatives, clergy and teachers, best sibling and worst foe.

Experience includes every sight, touch, sniff, and sound.

Experience includes every sight, touch, sniff, and sound.

Experience includes every sight, touch, sniff, and sound. It includes every word, gesture, and emotion. It includes what goes on in the schoolyard, the bus, the classroom, and the locker room, in the friend’s house, in the dark. It includes every birth we witness as well as every death. All of it becomes the experience that nurtures us as we grow. That nurture then becomes inextricably intertwined with our nature, that which is already inside us to be.

As our children’s guides, we parents choose the nurture that is going to inextricably intertwine with the nature that is already inside our child. It is only right to put the quality of the nurture we provide at the top of our priority lists. Sometimes it seems we pay much more attention to that which nurtures children physically than to that which nurtures the whole person a child will become. Continual consumption of junk food is dangerous to a child’s health. Continual consumption of junk experience is dangerous to who our child becomes.

All parents will not define junk experience in the same way, and, even if they did, everyone’s list of experiences that meet that definition would be different. It’s up to individual parents to think about and observe their children’s experiences so they may determine if a change of diet is in order. If a parent decides change should occur, that knowledge becomes the power to alter the child’s experience intake.

STARTING POINTS FOR THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

* You don’t have to go along just because everyone else does

* Children are complete persons as-is

* Stop dividing life into so many boxes!

* There are as many ways to learn as there are to skin a cat

* Teaching is not essential to learning

* Learning happens all the time

~~ From Linda Dobson’s What the Rest of Us Can Learn from Homeschooling, Three Rivers Press, 2003

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6 Responses to “Is Your Child Getting “Junk Experience?””

  1. Jay says:

    Linda,

    I like the metaphor of some experiences being junk….the foremost these days being video games.

    We are a young homeschooling family of 2 years and enjoy reading your blog for encouragement. We would like to see whole posts in the rss feed for ease of reading in Google Reader.

    Have a great holiday!

    Jay

  2. Hi, Jay,

    Checked with the webmaster who said that's not possible, at least at this moment in time…I'm sorry. Please keep reading, though. Now that you've planted the seed, we'll be alert for that.

    Thanks for your nice note – I hope you and yours have a terrific holiday coming up! Grandma Linda

  3. Trish Dish says:

    So…what goes for a Junk Experience in the Dobson household? And has that changed over time?

    Some phrases just capture so eloquently a whole train of thought…junk experience is one of those.

    For us, many TV experiences fall into that category (for adults too!). Now, our TV is an educational tool. Nature and Nova have some great programs, and some cable shows like the Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs are very educational IMHO. But I have to watch how we use our tool! Nothing easier than turning it on to keep the kids (ages 6.5 yrs, 3.5 yrs and 1.5 yrs)occupied while I do chores…and so I will think to myself "junk experience…beware" when I do that next time!

  4. Kids have grown so I have to dig into the recesses of ancient history to answer this one.

    Back then, TV viewing was certainly at or near the top spot. NOVA was around then, and always recorded for use at appropriate times! Popular movies fell into this category, too, as did SOME (not all) activities some of their friends were involved in.

    What did I learn? In keeping with the saying, "Only an empty cup can be filled," I gave them the latitude to follow interests and passions, thereby greatly filling up the cup. In the long run, it's a lot easier – and most definitely a lot healthier approach for all concerned – to have "a cup too full" for too much junk.

  5. Ann says:

    I don't believe any experience is 'junk.' I learned from watching boys commit a robbery in my neighborhood when I was a child. My boys learn incredible vocabulary from their 'violent' video games. They watch a lot of TV too, and they retain nearly everything they see and hear there, most of it pretty useful.

    I thought maybe a junk experience example might be going to Disney instead of on a real vacation, lol, but I guess even that could be used in a positive way.

  6. Mia says:

    The first thing I thought about was TV and recreational computer time as well. Even if it is educational or "nourishing" in some way, you have to ask yourself if it's the BEST experience your child could be having. Being the compulsive/perfectionist person that I am, with three kids, if I tried to think about this every minute of the day, not only would I never get anything done, I would probably not be a very pleasant person to be around! 😉

    However, I do see the benefit in assessing how your children spend the better part of their day or, at least, make an effort to block off "x" number of minutes or hours to do something meaningful as a family. I have a 12 y/o, a 9 y/o, and a 5 y/o – all girls. I want them to remember me as one who looked them in the eyes and listened intently, was interested in their words, and loved them deeply when they grow up. I want them to remember their childhood fondly.

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