The other day my MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) was discussing the pressure we feel to try to raise genius toddlers.   It’s become a competition on who knows their ABC’s first, who can count the highest, who can read before kindergarten.  We’re pushed to put them in preschool at 2 years old, when we all went at 4 and 5.  We’re supposed of have “school time” at home. 

My child who lights up when a someone comes over to play, or runs into a room full of other kids saying YAY because she’s so excited to be social, but is seen as behind because she doesn’t know her ABC’s yet at 22 months old.  Ridiculous.

The development experts say the most important thing a 2 year old should be learning and is ready for is imaginative play and socialization, not sitting at a desk learning basic math.  You think it’s sounds ridiculous, but just talk to a mom with toddlers and she will unload on you the pressure she receives. 

The devastating fact is in an attempt to compete globally, the US education system has decided to go against what developmental experts say, and require ridiculous things by the time children are in kindergarten.  No Child Left Behind is great at teaching kids how to memorize things for a test, but do they retain?  Are they learning? NO!  So, as a result, our children our all left behind.   I challenge you in this election season to keep asking about EDUCATION unless you have loads of money and can send your kids to private school where No Child Left Behind is a joke. 

Once I calmed down and started seriously thinking about what I should be teaching Emily in order to compete with other kids, it hit me heard, God’s voice in my brain….”And the Greatest Commandment is Love.”  That’s it.  That’s what I should be teaching Emily. 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

If I teach Emily to love and accept others…to care for others… to not see difference as bad, but an opportunity to learn.  If I can teach her to be thoughtful, helpful of others in need, forgiving, accepting, not afraid to hug, than I am successful in God’s eyes, and you know what, everything else in life follows. 

Everything is based on a foundation of love.  Can you imagine if all mothers focused teaching their kids not to judge others, but to love.  That’s more “global” than teaching American kids to win the math and science global competition.  Think of the impact she will be able to have on others? God is about relationships, love fosters relationships, and lives are changed.  You don’t bring someone into a relationship with God by judging them, it’s by loving them that you change lives. 

Where in the bible does it say…”And the Greatest Commandment is teaching your toddler math and science?” anyway? 

I will now make more of an effort to expose Emily to children of all cultures and abilities, and teach her how to help others and praise her for doing so.  Teach her to hug others, and be a good example of someone who loves and cares for others instead of going through life ignoring strangers and judging neighbors for their differences.