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Summer is for relaxation, ongoing learning opportunities

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It will soon be summertime. School is out. Some children and youth, through intentional family scheduling, will rest from the school routine, refresh and get in some valuable play time, and also continue doing some formal academic work, read, travel and generally keep the school skills honed and perhaps enhanced. This will happen in some families but, based on my experience, not in most.

Recent brain research shows that windows of opportunity for maximum learning in important areas of development such as mathematics, language development (including foreign languages), emotion and music open and close, thus making learning in those areas easier during those periods of an "open window."

Dr. Rima Shore of the Families at Work Institute observes that, "While learning continues throughout the life cycle, there are 'prime times' for optimal development periods during which the brain is particularly efficient at specific types of learning."

If a young child is denied a rich learning experience at any early grade level, and at any time during the year, something will be missing, and that something will never be fully restored.

This is a very simple natural law and an important one.

We, the community, dare not allow those windows to close without providing for them in a special way during the formal school experience and outside the school, as well. After all, the schools are ours, and any great school system eagerly seeks constructive input from people like you, the reader of the Springfield Business Journal. Also, these are our children and youth we are talking about, and we must not leave something as important as education to chance. Your support of and involvement with the education of our youth in and out of the formal schooling process is essential.

Now then so what?

Here's what. Back to the competency issue with a suggestion for the business community.

Much of our local business and industrial community gets actively involved in supporting the local public, parochial and other private schools. The question is, "Are we really taking care of our responsibilities as completely as we should?"

Without Missouri business and industry, our entire social system would be dead in the water. Without providing our children and youth an educational opportunity which becomes the vehicle for serious, lifelong academic growth and development, Missouri business and industry would likewise be dead in the water.

We have established great partnerships between the schools and business. This is essential in a nation that survives because the great values that have stood the test of time are regularly transmitted to the next generation. "My child, if you would keep that which is bequeathed unto thee, you must earn it anew."

One may ask, "Can't the schools just do their jobs and leave the rest of us alone?"

Goodness, no! At best the schools have our children and youth focused on academic matters approximately 9 percent of their lives from birth through high school graduation. It may seem to many young people that they have been in the classroom all their lives, but really, they have been mostly at home and in the community all their lives.

An excellent example of what a community leader can do is in the work of the late Mercedes "Dede" Smith. She and her husband, Ted, provided splendidly for their children, but Dede went beyond her family responsibility by establishing Summerscape, Summer Quest and the Leadership Academy, which have influenced countless children, young people and their families. Clearly, she knew the value of doing more than was required for her own children. So she created excellent learning experiences for many children and youth which were made available during the summer months.

There have been many Dede Smiths in our community, but there are never enough. You, the readers of the Springfield Business Journal are among those who adequately care for your own. But, you must share the vision you have for your own children and grandchildren by helping provide for all the children in the community, starting with those directly associated with your organizations.

Do you need another worthwhile project to consider? Think about this:

The Ozarks Crime Prevention Council and the Springfield Public Schools are developing a collaborative effort titled Springfield Reads. Get in touch with N. L. "Mac" McCartney, Larry Freund, Dr. Ken Neale or Dr. Emmett Sawyer to see how you can help. The time has come for this good idea. It deserves your support.

Check on it.

(Arthur L. Mallory, EdD, is a former president of Southwest Missouri State University and former commissioner of education who resides in Springfield.)[[In-content Ad]]

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