Imagine one of the nation’s most powerful public figures at a school near you. He shares ideas about being a leader and a good citizen. Then, he yells, “At ease!” The kids quickly stop talking and listen. He has their attention.
Colin Powell, the former U.S. Secretary of State, has been traveling the country and sharing an important message with children that discipline and respect is essential to be a good citizen. He also encourages parents to provide structure at home and says this is where success starts.
“It begins, the first time with a child in his mother’s arms, he looks up and says, this is my mother, she is the one that feeds me,” Powell said.
He continues the message by sharing how a young child trusts the loving adults that provide for her needs. The mother, father, grandparent or sibling will talk with the baby, feed the baby and change the child’s diapers. This is when structure begins.
“By three months of age … that is when language, love and structure begins,” Powell says.
He emphasizes the importance of reading to a child, teaching a child and spending quality time together. His message states that this is the nation’s responsibility- with Head Start, preschool and prenatal care. But it is also the responsibility of parents.
“The education process begins, even before the child is born,” Powell says.
He says that parents should be reading to their children. A high indicator of lifelong success for a student, and a child, is their ability to read in third grade.
“If you are not at the right reading level in third grade, you are a candidate for jail at age 18,” he said.
Powell freely offered that he was not the best student in preschool or elementary school and got his records to prove it. He even tried a few college programs, which didn’t work for him. Finally, he found structure with the ROTC and excelled.
He notes how the military provided him much success because of the structure.
He then traced his success back to his upbringing and having a community that believed in him.
“You can self-improve and self-educate as you go along. But, this begins with the gift of a good start,” Powell said.
He attributed his good start by being raised in a nice family, a family that believed in him.
“It is so essential that we put this culture back into our families.,” Powell said. “We are not just investing in our kids, we are investing in our future.”
© Let’s Talk Kids, 2014