As soon as a child reaches the first milestone of his being, he is quite unlike a little animal who drinks and sleeps, or cries and smiles. He becomes then a little being endowed with reason, though that reason be still in an embryonic state.
He has not yet uttered a name that his intelligence has suggested to him.
Two characteristics are peculiar to this stage of the child's life: a vivid curiosity accompanied by a singularly shrewd mind and a power of imitation developed to the highest degree.
That is why young as he is, in his second year, the principal, if not the only agent which will induce him to contract good or bad habits is Example—examples given by those who surround him.
Parents, therefore, should remember that they must henceforward live for their child—this will be very easy,—and moreover live before the eyes of their child,—that is far more difficult. They should be aware and never forget that a child sees everything, and keeps in his self, if not everything, at least all that strikes him, all that stirs up his sensibility and keeps his curiosity on the alert.
"But" you may say, "this little baby understands nothing." Just now, very likely; yet what he keeps in a corner of his memory, later on he will understand it; and his education will be the result of the examples he has witnessed, of the sensations which have laid hold of his mind and soul from his earliest infancy; and, alas! it is a hard task, later on, to get rid of their tyrannical grip.
" He does not know." Yes. But he can feel, and so acute is his sensibilty that it has been said that a child "feels even the imperceptible." Adapting himself to the tone of those who surround him, he copies them, and thus succeeds in modelling himself automatically, as it were, after their ways of talking, doing, and even of thinking. Hence the duty for the parents to keep a vigilant watch upon themselves in the presence of their child and upon those who surround him. Even the least you think about it, you come to the conclusion rather obviously, that children's education is impossible unless parents, first, be trained to give it.
Of all necessity, parents' education must precede children's education, else it would be a case of the blind leading the blind.
- Malaya Catholic Leader, February 9th, 1935 (1935.pdf pp52)