One of my favorite methods for training children is through the use of "silent teaching." This can be an incredibly effective method. I’m sure you’re curious what that means. Silent teaching is teaching that goes on without lectures without actions, without anything overt.
A fantastic way to use silent teaching is the family home environment. The story is told by a prominent clergyman who tells of visiting a woman whose sons all went to sea and took jobs that involved the ocean. The mother was at a loss to explain it. Yet, the clergyman couldn’t help but notice the huge picture of the ocean over the living room couch.
Using the home environment is a vastly underused method. Try to spend some time sitting in the various rooms and ask, “What do I feel in this room? What do I find myself thinking of in this room?” Ponder each room with these questions in mind. Then ask, “How could I use this room to teach my children?”
Here are some ideas on where to start:
The humungous family picture – Having a family picture prominently displayed teaches “You are part of something big.” “You are loved.” “You are a part of us. We’re all a team.” Crucial teaching.
Family pictures wall – Have pictures of the grandparents, parents, kids, all the ancestors you can find. What does this wall teach? “Here is the history of our family and of you, our child. Here are our family members reaching their goals. See Grandpa Ed standing in his farm? See Daddy graduating from college?”
Family glory wall – This is the place to celebrate. It could have items made by the kids, awards, artwork, Dad’s sculpture that won at the fair, Mom’s blue ribbon, the kids’ certificates, whatever. Make sure it is nicely displayed. Don't allow it to become a sloppy clump of items pinned on the wall. You want this to be a source of pride and joy for the family. The lessons of the family glory wall range from striving for excellence to learning that we all have gifts. They add to family unity. They teach love, approval and confidence. Again, the lessons are innumerable.
Inspiration – These can be quotes on the wall, beautiful art reproductions, prints of nature; things that teach and inspire. We have my father’s favorite quote from Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up!” over our door. The kids read it coming and going. We have religious art throughout the house. You can use pillows with great quotes. Be creative.
Music – Be aware of the impact of music on children in your home. Play the classics, play beautiful, inspirational music in your home. It will uplift their minds and their spirits in a powerful way.
Bedrooms – Use the child’s bedroom to inspire and motivate. A big whiteboard is a great addition. When the kids were teens, this was a crucial item for us to convey info and love to them. I’d draw big lips and write, “You are loved!” Also, we had the kids make goals annually. We printed them on nice paper and put them in a picture frame. Hung on the wall opposite their beds, the goals were the first and the last thing they saw each day. Use their bedrooms to feature their talents and likes. Have the kids pick out people, events, or things they love and put them in their rooms. If she loves Abraham Lincoln? Get a print of him along with a favorite quote and put it on the wall. Does he love Alaska? Display some travel posters. Lots of inspiration can go on in bedrooms and that beats cartoon figures being pushed by the marketers.
Everywhere is free game. This includes the hallway which is a great place to have silly self-portrait drawings by all the kids. How about the bathroom? A cute cartoon of all the kids together with a funny saying, “Wash your hands. Wash your face. Clean kids live in this place.” This promotes unity and cleanliness. Why not consider the space over the door? This would be a perfect place to display all those great Pinewood Derby cars. Be creative!
Go through your whole house with the eye of a teaching parent. Now, don’t go crazy and stick quotes in every room! Be selective. Another tip is to move things around. If things stay in the same place, they can become wallpaper. The kids tune them out somewhat. Add new pictures, move the pillow. Point things out to the kids and then let them learn.
Your home can become a powerful environment rich in feeling, inspiration, and teaching. Your kids won’t even know — the house has been teaching them all along.