April 24, 2018

The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss via Seussical the Musical­­­


March 2 was Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Read Across America Day (readacrossamerica.org), the beginning of a month dedicated to the enjoyment of books! In schools, we celebrated on Monday, March 3, but the celebration continued with guest readers coming to share the love of books with our students.

We celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss by reading his books, playing with language (rhyming words, nonsense words and poetry) and learning the lessons Dr. Seuss taught through his marvelous stories.

The many books written by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) have had an extraordinary impact on children and parents for more than 50 years and many are responsible for helping children learn to read.

Seussical the Musical, was inspired by the stories of Dr. Seuss and during a particularly anxious scene, the Mayor and Mrs. Mayor of Whoville lament the fact that their son seems to be imagining strange things and is acting abnormally. They are worried that he is “thinking too much” and sing a short song:

Oh, where are the instructions

On how to raise a child?

Who has the instructions

On how to raise a child?

Who has all the answers?

I don't know.

There are many lessons learned through the subtle messages in Seuss books, but the main lesson, I think, is that there is no one right answer to the question of how to raise a child.

Parenting is a journey that reminds me of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series for children, a journey with many possibilities and outcomes. Parents must make their own decisions about what is right for their child and their family and there are many decisions to make! Along the road of parenting we encounter three main areas that require parenting decisions: educational, social/emotional and spiritual parenting.

Educational Parenting—Parents are responsible for guiding their children and giving their children educational opportunities that will enrich and inspire learning, but this does not look the same for all children. All educational settings are not equal for all children. Some children thrive in a traditional setting while others learn better in a smaller setting or one geared towards special interests.

Other parents decide that home schooling fits their family and lifestyle. We are fortunate to have many choices and options that can provide an excellent education for all learners. It is the parents’ role to find the match that works for their child and their family and to trust their own instincts.

“It is better to know how to learn than to know.”

—Dr. Seuss

Social/Emotional Parenting—“Oh the Places You’ll Go” is a book often read during transition times, such as culmination from pre-school or entering kindergarten. In this book, Dr. Seuss shines a light on the possibilities we all have to succeed in life. Though we all must make decisions in our own lives, it is a parent’s responsibility to provide a stable foundation for children to acquire the ability to handle the challenges in life they are bound to encounter.

Raising children who are able to interact socially with peers and function emotionally by expressing their feelings verbally is a part of parenting that is challenging, but there is no greater reward than watching your children launch and become solo social beings.

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You're on your own. And you know what you know.

And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go....”

—Dr. Seuss, “Oh the Places You’ll Go”

Spiritual Parenting—From the time our babies are born, they become the most important job in life we ever have. We have family and friends for advice, our instincts to guide us and, of course, a multitude of parenting books available for the many questions that arise during every age and stage our child enters. The real job parents have is to recognize the unique individuality of each small person we are entrusted to raise. There are many ways to teach awareness and many belief systems about existence, spirituality and self-awareness and, of course, each family chooses their own path based on traditions and beliefs. The common ground for all is providing a foundation of shared beliefs and recognizing that each individual is a person of importance, no matter how small.

“A person’s a person,

no matter how small.”

—Dr. Seuss, “Horton Hears a Who”

The lesson we learn from Dr. Seuss is that there is no one right way to raise children. We try and succeed, try and fail, learn and grow together with the help of our friends and family. My one bit of ­parenting advice is that to maintain balance in life, sometimes, you must put your foot down.

“Step with care and great tact,

and remember that life’s a great balancing act.”

Topanga Elementary Charter School will host a Kindergarten Round-Up on March 20 at 12:30 p.m. Please visit or call the school office for information. (310) 455-3711.

If you have questions, comments, please send e-mail at amyweisberg@completeteach.com, with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. I would love both feedback and questions!

Amy K. Weisberg, M.Ed., has been a teacher for 35 years and has been teaching at Topanga Elementary Charter School for 19 years. ­Her business, CompleteTeach, provides support for students, parents and teachers. Her book, “How to Have the Best Super-Duper School Year Ever!” is available on Amazon.com. “Kids in the Canyon,” is dedicated to parents and kids, offering them tips for the month ahead and great activities for kids in the Topanga area.