Friday, September 17, 2010

Occupation and Self-Expression

Dear Friends,

Oh, I hope that you all are having the beautiful weather that we have experienced lately! It is a chore to remain indoors for more than a few minutes when everything is golden and glorious. We found this little article in the "Mother's Magazine, August 1908", that we would like to share with you~

Occupation and Self-Expression
By Jeannette N. Phillips

The things that children try to do naturally, indicate what they like to do, and what they can do with advantage to themselves, if only right help is given. For instance, children of primary age are very fond of using pencils, colored crayons, or paints, of cutting things out with scissors; they try to create with both color and form. At first their efforts seem to result in haphazard only-- fingers won't go where they are expected to go. But set a little one at some definite line of "work," or simple occupation with the tools and materials mentioned above, give him wise direction, and he is happy, enthusiastic, patient, and does better and better. What is going on as he improves in the special work? Just what goes on in all forms of practice, training of muscles, eye, brain, development of new ideas about making his hands express his thoughts. As he grows older and is set at occupations in line with his maturer inclinations and abilities, the same thing goes on-training of the powers with which he is to work all his life. To this is added formation of the habit of trying to do, to carry out ideas as they assert themselves- of concentrating thought and purpose on some specific end. This is positive, definite self-expression, and self-expression is the key to honest, individual, satisfactory achievement. The quarrel between the child and real work in many cases arises out of the fact that the work he is required to do cannot even by courtesy be called self-expression for the child.

Many children of junior age like to put things in rows or piles-build things in their crude way: but interrupt a boy when he is busy carrying out some scheme of his own and set him a piling work, and he becomes rebellious. The difference between wood piled and unpiled does not appeal to him; he learns nothing from his task except to dislike work on general principles. Help him to find a reason for wanting the wood piled neatly, and he will do it as well as he can, improve as he progresses, then think of himself as an achiever, a victor. Children like to run about, like to do things that older people do, play that they are carrying on this or that kind of business or work. But tell a little girl to go for a package of cornstarch when she is wholly absorbed in managing a doll's tea party, and then, because she has no interest in cornstarch, the errand becomes a task. Time the errand rightly, show the girl that she is helping keep house, or that she is going shopping, let her choose which store to patronize or the kind of package that looks most attractive to her, and she begins to feel a little responsibility, she knows the joy of self-expression, and she has done something toward setting her mind into order-she can think better in the future. Children like to create, but give a girl a towel to hem, and the creative element is wholly obscured to her vision. Help her to make doll clothes, or simple Christmas presents for her loved ones-that is, she can mark out, cut, put together, "make something"-and she gets the muscle training, the eye training, the training for skill, none the less, and her work expresses her own thought and taste and wish-has a meaning. Moreover, she has learned what she can do by using her own hands and eyes and brain; she is willing to try some other form of work.

May we each find joy in our own tasks and find ways of making them more enjoyable, too!




  1. Dear Mama,
    I like the post!
    The picture is so cute!
    I love you and I like you1
    (> < ) ~A bunny for you!;)

  2. Dear ♥~Mama~♥,
    I love you and I like you!:)

  3. Oh the cheeks on that baby!!! To adorable:-)

  4. I must say dear friend, that my boys fit these descriptions to a "T". :)

    Both of them, to this day, enjoy building and putting things in rows... what a very informative article. You always think of sharing such wise tidbits with all of us.

    I really appreciate it dear one.

    Que linda se ve esa nena :) Se ve que esta creciendo bella y saludable...como su mami ;-)

    Con mucho carino,


  5. Dear Marqueta,
    Thank you for sharing this ~ I love vintage magazines. I have a few Good Housekeeping from 1914 ~ I just love them. Especially the ads for clothing!
    Hope your day is just lovely ~

  6. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this very thoughtful post. Yours most kindly, Katie.


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