Educating children begins on a parent's lap

Regarding your Oct. 3 editorial "Raising book-fed kids": Our children are educated (or should be) more by parenting than by school teachers.

All three of our own children graduated from college with GPAs of 3.9 or better.There is only one reason they are proficient and voracious readers: We read to them at home constantly from the age of six months.As soon as they could sit up straight in my lap, I read to them - every day for at least an hour - everything I was reading (newspapers, novels, nonfiction), as well as the traditional children's books.When time came for nursery school, each child was reading at fifth-grade levels, and writing at third-grade levels. Education starts in the parent's lap.If it doesn't start there, it won't start at all.

David Martin Las Vegas, N.M.

Regarding "Raising book-fed kids": In my childhood-development studies, preschool and kindergarten are not the place to teach reading and numbers. Children cannot understand numbers until about age 6. Learning letters at the same time is a natural development.

There is already too much seat work in school and not enough humanity, freedom, and compassion. Free play and self-development should be emphasized in preschool. My own voracious reading enjoyment began in elementary school at the ample and generous school library.

Ruth Carney Puyallup, Wash.

Your editorial "Raising book-fed kids," misses one of the key causes of reading failure: The English spelling system is the worst in the world. A child in a non-English-speaking country can read any word he sees and spell any word he hears before he leaves the first grade.

If a child can't read, he can't learn other subjects. Students who are successful in school don't drop out - failures do - from discouragement. Reform of our spelling would turn our school-failure and dropout rate around and save countless hours of reading and spelling practice for all students, thus freeing up more time for math and foreign languages.

Ralph W. Emerson Tacoma, Wash.

The real Middle East culprits

The real culprits in the Middle East are the Arab oil-rich countries who plunder Arab resources to protect and promote their tribal control rather than use oil power on Western countries in order to extract Israeli compromise, ("Terror rises again in Mideast" Oct. 13).

Our president's understanding of how serious the situation is and his effort to prevent further escalation means that he is only concerned with his legacy and his wife's election in the New York senatorial election. Israel, not our national interests, sets our foreign policy in that region of the world.

Moorad Alexanian Wilmington, N.C.

Voters can hold spending in check

Your Oct. 12 editorial "Bellying up to a pork barrel" asks, "Can't Congress turn off its spigot until the voters speak?" This begs a sharp retort: Why can't voters realize that politicians will tax and borrow and spend to buy votes until the voters stop electing politicians who pander to our most narrow and selfish instincts?

The members of Congress are only doing what politicians normally do if unchecked by a well-informed and highly principled populous. This cycle of tax-borrow-spend will never end (short of bankruptcy) unless we the voters realize that the government that governs least, governs best, and most certainly governs cheapest.

John Brandon Urbana, Ill.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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