I was teaching a 9 year old primary class at church a few years ago. They were a great bunch of kids. One little girl named Emma was and is extraordinary, but not in the way everyone assumes she is. She’s always prepared, she reads her scriptures daily, she knows the stories. She loves singing in the choir, she does very well in school, she’s an excellent reader and she works hard.

I have heard people say that she is a genius. I have heard people say her family is freakish, because they don’t have a TV. But after you get to know her and her family better you don’t believe any of that, what I believe to be true is that you have a combination of a smart, good girl and great parents!

In their home the they do have a TV, but its uses are limited and monitored, it’s not a babysitter or a time waster, it’s a tool. They watch educational things, good movies and videos, history, nature, TV can be a wonderful thing or a bad thing. They have chosen to use it for good.

They don’t have video games or each child with a cell phone or ipod or hundreds of other distractions and gadgets that most families think they can’t live without. Instead they read, they play games, they have lots of music, both listening and learning, they have animals to take care of, gardens to tend, they have parents who enjoy spending time with their kids. They have lots of interests and fun times, lots of family reunions and friends. I don’t think this family is perfect, but I know them to be good people who spend a lot of time giving their children a firm foundation to build on.

Emma’s reading skills aren’t extraordinary, they are just really good. yours would be too if you read more and watched TV less. She listens and remembers and learns well, you would too if that’s what you had been doing since birth and it was fun for you.

Our elementary school has a turn off the TV and read week every year. Everyone always talks about how great it was and how much more their family talked and had time for each other. Is it right to condemn as freaks or weirdos those that choose to do this every day? Is it right to put Emma down to genius just so that we feel excused when we don’t do as well by our children?

I can promise you that this family isn’t have as easy a time with the a couple other of the children as they have had with Emma, but they too will have a much better foundation than most kids. these parents aren’t leaving the kids education up to church or teachers or peers. They are having a say in what they learn and how they grow. Too many of us leave it all up to others, or we think we have plenty of time to get it done later, or simply ignore it and assume they’ll learn it when they grown up. Think of the advantages Emma will have in the world, how much farther along she will be in her education, her ability to make choices, her understanding of the world around her, her testimony even.

No, I don’t think Emma is a genius, I think her parents are!