“Children Learn What They Live” – Inspiration for Parents, Teachers, & School Librarians

The poem, “Children Learn What They Live,” by Dorothy Law Nolte, can inspire teachers & school librarians to make the classroom a learning experience for life. | No Sweat LibraryFor decades a light-catcher with this poem hung in my kitchen window to remind me every single day how important a job it is to raise children.

When my own were in middle school, I returned to education as a science teacher in an at-risk alternative high school. The impact of these words became even clearer as I met and taught those youths.

Today I share these words with you, hoping that, in these troubled times, they will inspire us to raise young ones with sensitivity and compassion, and teach them with zeal for developing caring, responsible global citizens.

Children Learn what they Live

by Dorothy Law Nolte
(with my adjustment to the pronoun)

If a child lives with criticism,
S/he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
S/he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule,
S/he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame,
S/he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance,
S/he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement,
S/he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise,
S/he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness,
S/he learns justice.

If a child lives with security,
S/he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval,
S/he learns to like her/himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
S/he learns to find love in the world.

NOTE: Dorothy Law Nolte, born January 12, 1924, wrote “Children Learn What They Live” for a weekly family column in The Torrance Herald in 1954, and copyrighted it in 1972. Learn more at childrenlearnwhattheylive.com/

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