Make Plans Ahead of Time to Celebrate July 4th

July 4th is just around the corner.  What plans do you have to celebrate this holiday?  My children’s book It’s Not About You Mrs. Firecracker – A Love Letter About the True Meaning of the Fourth of July is available to help you and your children learn more about this important day in our history.  Why do we celebrate that day? It is not all about the food and firecrackers!  

To learn more and order a copy, please CLICK HERE.

Plan College Visits with Your Children During Summer Vacation

Summer vacation is a wonderful opportunity to visit different colleges during your travels.  Let’s face it – a college degree has almost become a must have for a successful future.  By encouraging your children at an early age to begin considering attending college, they will be focused and ready when the time comes to narrow the choices and make the ultimate selection.

My late husband and I did just that.  When we visited family for Christmas vacation one year, we all went to take a tour of a local university in the city.  We made it a family affair: included our two sons, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandma.  Our oldest son complained about it as he just wanted to “have fun” during his Christmas break, but reluctantly went along.  It turned out to be an interesting and informative opportunity to visit the university, tour the grounds, and talk with various representatives.  Our sons took other campus tours at various colleges with their classmates, but guess where both our sons attended college?  Yes – at that same university we toured during that break!

Be sure to visit the college’s website and find out when there are tours available.  It is best to join a formal tour provided by the college than to just wander around the campus not knowing the area.  During the tour, you can ask important questions about scholarship programs, financial aid, dorm living, etc.  You can always wander about after the formal tour!

To learn more about the benefits of college tours, CLICK HERE.

Service Projects for Children This Summer

Among the many interesting things that your children can be doing this summer are service projects in your community.  These projects teach children gratitude, how to care for others, be kind and helpful, and instill a sense of pride in them.   There are various non-profits that are committed to many different issues so whether you partner with one or do your own project as a family will be up to you.  I have included in this week’s blog some ideas for you to consider.

Start off by talking with your children about what projects they would like to participate in.  The last thing you want to happen is have a car full of complaining children because you are “forcing” them to do something they do not want to do.  Do they like dogs and cats?  If so, consider having them volunteer at an animal shelter.  Of course, check with the shelter and other non-profits first before you plan a service project to ensure that they can accommodate children. 

Do they complain about trash at the park? Organize them and their friends to do a clean-up.   Have they accumulated a lot of clothes that they have outgrown?  Help them gather the clothes together and donate them to a women’s shelter.  I have listed at the end of this blog a couple of websites that suggest a number of service projects.

Before, during and after each service project, talk to your children about the importance of what they are doing.  Encourage them to do more. Praise them for their efforts. 

For ideas on service projects and getting your children ready to serve, please read these two online articles:

Make Sure Your Children Participate in Vacation Bible School This Summer

Churches have developed wonderful programs for children during the summer that have become known as vacation bible schools or VBSs.  Some programs last one week, others up to one month.  They are excellent programs for your children to learn more about the Word of God, develop friendships, and have a lot of fun.

There are many professional companies that produce annual vacation bible school programs, from teaching materials for teachers, to music videos, song CDs, skits, and bible verse memory cards.  Each program differs but they usually follow a format.  There is typically one simple theme and bible verses are selected that support the theme.  For example, a company has as one of its themes this year “Life is Wild – God is Good” with a jungle motif.   Another theme is “Athens – Paul’s Dangerous Journey to Share the Truth” with a Greek motif.

The creativity of these programs is amazing.  The appeal to children exceptional.  No longer do church leaders have to be concerned about creating their own study material and music, as everything is prepared and provided for them to lead a successful vacation bible school.

Importantly, vacation bible school is not a babysitting service.  As a lay children’s minister who volunteered as a leader for many VBSs, I was saddened to see that often parents thought of it as that.   It is instead a wonderful learning program where children thoroughly enjoy themselves. 

If your church sponsors a VBS, please enroll your children in it.  If not, research other churches in your community that do.  Your children will truly be blessed by participating!

Helping Your Young Teens Find Summer Jobs

I don’t usually write about issues relating to young teens but thought a blog post about helping them find summer jobs would be informative.  As a teenager, I wanted to work during the summers to earn that extra bit of spending money and I’m sure that like me, your children are eager to do the same.  Of course, you should first check the employment laws of your state to find out the age that your children can start working at an official job and if a work permit is required.  There are full and part-time jobs that your early teens, especially, may be willing to do.

Babysitting is at the top of the list.  I did that a lot during my teenage years – both during the day, when necessary, but mostly in the evenings.  As I babysat for one family, soon other families heard about how good I was and then I was in high demand.  I eventually limited babysitting to one family who used my services frequently. 

If your young teen enjoys being with children and is mature and responsible, consider babysitting.  It is not all fun and games, though, as the safety and well-being of children are involved.  Your child should be prepared for all that may happen, with you as the parent being available as a backup in the event of an emergency.  A great babysitting training course is offered by the Red Cross in many areas, both in person and online.  The link to the course is provided below.  Being a certified Red Cross babysitter will give your child bonus points for prospective employers.

Being a dog walker and pet sitter are also age-appropriate jobs.  Families travel a lot during the summer so they need someone to take care of their pets.  Again, your young teen must like pets. Have your child become familiar with the pet and the pet familiar with him before taking the job.  Make sure that he understands all the feeding and walking instructions before the family leaves.  Also make sure that the route for the walk is safe for the child and the dog.  Your child should not walk the dog in unfamiliar areas.

House sitting is another job that is available in the summer, as families travel.  The duties usually involve watering plants, picking up the mail and packages, mowing the lawn, and keeping an eye out for anything that is happening around the house.

There are many opportunities for your young teen to get out of the house during the summer and earn some money.  Help him network and prepare.  He will benefit tremendously.

Please check out this website for more information on the Red Cross babysitting training course: CLICK HERE

In Spelling Bees, All Children Are Winners!

We have all seen them – a child standing on a stage, before a room full of people, being given words to spell.  Each child patiently attempts to speak clearly into the microphone to spell the word.  Many of those words are very difficult to pronounce, much less spell.  We think – what a smart and brave child to be standing up there in front of all those people, trying so hard to accurately spell.  What I would also encourage you to think about are the many benefits to having your child participate in a spelling bee.  Here are just a few:

1.    It helps to enhance your children’s vocabulary, as they learn more words and become accurate spellers.

2.    It helps children learn better grammar as they not only learn the meaning of new words but also learn to use them properly in sentences.

3.    It helps children to develop poise and confidence.  Being able to stand in front of a group of people, think on your feet, and handle pressure are important skills that take time to develop. 

4.    Since it’s a competition, competitive skills are being developed as well.  Friendships are being built and competition brings excitement.

5.    For those children who do not win, it gives them the opportunity to figure out what they could have done better as well as how to lose gracefully. 

If your child wants to participate in a spelling bee, it is very important that he gets the support he needs both at school and at home.  It takes discipline, diligence and hard work.  And, the rewards are tremendous!

Riddles – Fun & Educational for Your Children

Riddles are often called brain teasers for a reason.  They help your children to think outside the box and in multi-dimensional ways.   When was the last time that you went over some riddles with your children?  Pick up a book at the library or a bookstore, or go to a website listed below to have some fun time.

I love riddles!  When you are driving with your children or spending time with them in other ways, asking them riddles is a great way to pass the time and help them learn.  After asking the riddle, try not to give the answer right away if your children are struggling to find the answer.  Help them on the journey to find that answer.  For example, here is a good riddle to get your children to think logically:

Q: You walk into a room with a match, a kerosene lamp, a candle, and a fireplace. Which do you light first?
A: The match.

If your children do not get the correct answer right away, ask such questions as: can a candle light itself? Of course, the answer is “no”.  Ask that same question for each of the other items – a kerosene lamp and a fireplace.  The answers would still be “no”.  For any of those 3 items to get “light”, you would have to light the match first. 

Please be warned that there are some very difficult riddles out there and some that do not make much sense.  Review the riddles yourself before asking them to your children.  Is the riddle age appropriate?  Will my child learn from the riddle?

Here are some websites that are filled with interesting and challenging riddles:

Singing Helps Your Children’s Development

(Photo of the children’s group Lake Norman Singers)

After recently reading a newspaper article about how singing is beneficial for adults, I thought that it must have many more benefits for children.  I did some research and this week’s blog is about just that.   Children love to sing and singing helps their intellectual and emotional development in many different ways.

The advantages of having children sing are explained: 

  1. Singing helps a child improve his vocabulary by learning new words.  Experts say that parents should start from when the child is very young, as singing nursery rhymes and simple songs can be a foundation upon which words are built.

  2. For young children, it helps them learn to communicate by exercising lip and tongue movement.

  3. It helps develop the “memory muscle” – when your child is learning a song, tunes and words are being embedded in your child’s mind.

  4. It helps develop creativity.  Your child can create songs about anything and anyone. Make the words rhyme or not.  There is no limit to what type of song can be written and sung.

  5. It helps your child develop self-confidence.  As your child practices a new song with both words and tunes, she will become more confident as she masters it.

  6. When your child sings with a group, it helps him to develop better social skills as he will be learning and building friendships at the same time.

The websites listed below give parents and caregivers many tips as to how to encourage singing.  They range from singing before bedtime or just making up songs while you are at home to looking for singing classes or a group in which your children can participate.  Make it fun.  Your children will enjoy themselves and learn at the same time. 

For more information, please visit these websites:

Activities for the Whole Family to Celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus

The day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is this Sunday.  I don’t like to refer to it as “Easter” because that word is of pagan origins.  Besides attending a morning service at church, do you have anything planned as part of the celebration?  Here are a few ideas to make the festivities more fun and informative for the entire family.

1.    Decorations. Before the event, make streamers or tabletop centerpieces on the theme of the holiday. Dove or cross streamers are a lovely touch to an indoor or outdoor space. The same goes for signs with bible verses on them. You can find several other decoration ideas online or come up with them yourself!

2.    Crafts Table. Whether you plan to invite friends over or choose to keep it as a family celebration, a crafts table is always a good idea. There could be coloring pages based on the biblical story, stencils to make doves and crosses, even paint and markers to illustrate a favorite story or memory.  These creative ideas will keep children occupied while the adults greet guests, prepare the spread, or just relax. Do not let the kids have all the fun though, as adults can join in on the crafts table too!

3.    The Feast. Speaking of a spread, you can spice things up this year by making a meal reminiscent of the Last Supper. Though the Bible is clear that unleavened bread and wine were served at the Last Supper, the other foods Jesus and his disciples ate are not stated.  What is known is that foods such as date charoset and cholent were popular at the time and you can now find these recipes online. Your children can help you. Older kids can prep much of the food or assist with the cooking process itself. Younger children can be put in charge of the food display and be little taste testers too. While everyone is partaking in the meal, discuss the significance of the Last Supper in reference to the resurrection of Christ. What a great way to get the whole family involved!

4.    Resurrection. Now that you have shared the significance of the meal relative to His resurrection, discuss the resurrection itself. To make it a little more interactive, prepare certain discussion points with your children ahead of time. If there are guests over, consider playing a game at the end of the story using questions about details from it. Whoever answers the most questions correctly then wins the game and will get a prize!

These are a few suggestions that you and your family can consider in celebrating this most eventful time in Christian history, always remembering the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for us.

You can also check out my children’s book It’s Not About You, Mr. Easter Bunny- A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Easter, along with its coloring pages by CLICKING HERE.

The Importance of Teaching Civics to Our Children

What are our privileges, rights and duties as citizens in our democracy?  As a Christian, a lawyer and former judge, I believe that children should be taught more about civics so that they grow up with the knowledge of what our democracy entails and actively participate in our government. 

I have heard many judges from all over the United States lament the fact that people do not want to serve on juries.  It is like pulling teeth to have people serve. Yet, jury duty is a very important part of our civic duty.  Did you know that?

In an op-ed dated February 11, 2019 in the LA Times online, retired teacher Sandy Asper wrote about what she believed was the need to teach children not only social studies, but also a separate course about civics – what a good citizen should know and do.  She argued that just teaching children facts, such as when the U. S. Constitution was written and why it was written, is not enough to give them a full understanding of citizenship.   She wrote:

“It is incredibly important that students learn that what they think matters, and how to determine what they think by researching and learning.  It’s critical that they understand the importance of taking action and learning how to do it. It’s crucial to our country that students learn how to communicate; how to write letters, text, call, march, take part in elections, join, organize. In other words, they learn how to become an actual citizen.”

I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Asper’s view.  Moreover, I would add other subjects to teach within civics such as how our government is set up with 3 branches – executive, judicial and legislative - both nationally and locally,  and the important duty of serving on a jury. 

To raise children who are active in their community, we must teach them the importance of what it means to be a citizen.  Only then will we have more participation in what our government does and what it looks like.

Do You Know That Your Cell Phone Addictions Are Bad for Your Children?

I have heard adults complain a lot about their children being addicted to electronic devices, from cell phones to iPads to laptops and desktop computers.  Children seem to be constantly occupied by playing video games, or texting, or watching videos.  But, what about parents who are addicted to their cell phones?  Studies have found that parents’ cell phone addictions can be detrimental to their children.

There is a very interesting article online at the website for Psychology Today entitled, Turn Off That Smart Phone, Mom and Dad! It is written by Dona Matthews, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist who has also written several books about children and adolescents.  The article refers to five research studies which establish the damage that parents can do by being distracted on their cell phones and not paying attention to or communicating responsibly with their children. 

  • According to study #1, “moms on cellphones have children who are more negative and less resilient.” Children up to 2 years old were studied and researchers found them to be more distressed and less willing to explore their environment when their mothers were using cell phones.

  • According to study #2, “children feel unimportant, and have to compete with smartphones for parents’ attention.”  In an international study of 6,000 children ages 8 to 13, researchers found that almost 1/3 felt “unimportant” when their parents were on their cell phones during family times.  Over one-half of the children felt that their parents spent too much time on cell phones.

  • According to study #3, “distracted parental attention harms children’s social/emotional development.”  In this study done with rats, researchers found that those rats that were distracted mothers were “less predictable, less reliable, and less attentive (to their pups).”  The pups spent less time playing with others and ate less.  “The researchers concluded that fragmented and chaotic maternal care disrupts brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life: We need predictability and consistency for the emotional system to develop.”  The researchers are expanding their study and findings to include humans.

  • According to study #4, “cellphone use interferes with healthy parenting.” Researchers found that “kids whose parents were absorbed in their devices were more likely to act silly or be noisy. Many parents on cell phones were irritable and impatient, which only led to worse behavior.”

  • According to study #5, “kids feel sad, mad, angry, and lonely when parents use cellphones.”  This study was conducted on 1,000 children ages 4 to 18.  The researcher concluded that “parents should think twice before picking up a mobile device when they're with their kids. … We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don't matter, they're not interesting to us, they're not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”

This article also has links to many other articles and studies that establish the negative effects of parents’ cell phone use on their children.  The next time you are with your children and decide to answer a call or write a text, please remember that your children need your attention, care and love.  If the cell phone communication is not urgent, do not respond.  Better yet – turn your cell phone off and give your children your undivided attention!

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Parents Should Monitor the Music Their Children Listen To

I saw this statement on the internet as I was researching the theme for today’s blog post - parents monitoring their children’s music - and thought it was an interesting perspective to write about to address this topic.  Proverbs 22:6 states that we parents are to, “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The subject about offensive music came up recently after a close friend of mine attended an exercise class at a sports facility in a large urban area.  Music videos were shown as part of the exercise experience.  My friend told me that the young instructor bragged about how her mother often attended her classes.  Unfortunately, my friend did not have a good experience - she was not only shocked by the extremely vulgar words in the songs, but also the dance moves in the videos.  Repeated curse words as well as sexually explicit language and dance moves were a part of almost every song.  As it turned out, the instructor’s mother did not attend class that day.   My friend commented that she believed the instructor’s mother would have been highly offended and embarrassed by the music had she been there.  She also questioned whether the instructor would have played these music videos with her mother there and sighed in relief that no men attended the class that day because she said she, as a woman, would have been embarrassed.

There can be no dispute that much of the musical lyrics today is filled with vulgar and sexually explicit language- especially in certain genres.  What should Christian parents do?  Parents must be vigilant, as they play a very important role in deciding what music their children listen to when at home.   I’m a firm believer that when children are in your home, they should abide by your rules.  Of course, teenagers especially will complain about peer pressure and fitting in with their friends.   But, you must set parameters and train up your child as you feel is right and godly.

I don’t believe that any parent would even consider allowing his child to have in the home any literature or videos promoting racism, pornography, or violence against women, for example.  So why would a Christian parent allow his child to have music that is laced with vulgarity and sexual explicitness?  Plain and simple – that type of music should not be accepted.

Talk with your children and explain why you are setting boundaries.  And, importantly, ask them whether they would play that type of music if you were sitting in the car with them or talking with them in their bedroom?  If they believe that a song would be offensive to you as a parent, then it should be offensive to them too!

Celebrating March as Women’s History Month

March is celebrated annually as Women’s History Month.  It began back in 1911 when the first international women’s day was held.  In 1980, President Jimmy Carter entered a proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as Women’s History Week to celebrate all the contributions that women have made.  Seven years later, the U.S. Congress passed a public law authorizing the president to declare the month of March each year as Women’s History Month.

The National Women’s History Alliance selects the theme each year.  For 2019, the theme is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence”.  This theme honors "women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society."

An excellent source of information about women’s history is www.womenshistory.org.   It has an enormous amount of information about events and also features articles, exhibits, and even has tools for students and educators.

I encourage parents to spend time with their children learning more about women in history. Perhaps consider volunteering at your children’s schools or at a community event to promote the importance of women.Women have played vital roles in our families, communities, and governments.Our children must learn more about the contributions of women to truly appreciate them.

Be Very Mindful of How You Speak to Your Children – Part 2

This blog post is part 2 of how we as parents should speak to our children. Part 1 can be found here. I love what this quote from Brooke Hampton says as to how we should speak to them – “as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth ….”  And then, based on what we say to them, their belief system in themselves is being created: “what they believe is what they will become.”

Proverbs 23:7 says that “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  A child often believes or thinks what he has been told, whether it is the truth or not.

As parents, we develop in our children what they will think about themselves.  If we notice and react to our children’s faults right away and then criticize or punish them, we are developing in our children the tendency to be critical about themselves.  Make a commitment to change that.  Actively look for what your children are doing right each day and praise them for it.  When the time comes that you will have to deal with something that they did that was unacceptable, the positive words will outweigh the negative ones.

When you are speaking words of kindness, encouragement, and love, make a point of stopping what you are doing and focus on them.  Have them stop what they are doing too.  Get their attention.  After speaking these words, observe what happens to their demeanor.  They will light up!  It’s as if the most important person in the world (well you are to them) truly believed in them. What could be more important?

Ask yourselves: aren’t your children, in fact, the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth to you?The answer is clearly “yes”.So let’s speak to them as they deserve to be spoken to!

Things to do With Your Children to Celebrate Black History Month

The month of February is designated as Black History Month or African-American History Month.  It began as a week-long celebration declared by historian Carl B. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1926 for the week of February 12.  In the April, 1926 edition of The Journal of Negro History, Woodson argued that the perpetual study of the Black race was critical for its survival and prominence:

“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated. The American Indian left no continuous record. He did not appreciate the value of tradition; and where is he today? The Hebrew keenly appreciated the value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, therefore, he is a great factor in our civilization.”

Initially, the celebration had little support.  However, as years passed, it gained momentum, until ultimately in 1976, when President Gerald Ford gave the presidential stamp of approval for a month-long celebration.   Today, a month is set aside annually to celebrate Black history not only in the United States but also in Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

As my blog is geared toward children and literacy, I would like to encourage parents, teachers and others to spend time helping children to learn more about Black history and all the accomplishments that African-Americans have made.  There is quite a bit of information on the internet and specifically for children, I enjoy the Reading Rockets website because it has a variety of information to assist children in learning – from children’s books, events, television and internet programs to online guides and much more. 

Please spend some time on the website to decide what you will plan and do with your children.  Make a commitment to help your children grow in knowledge, understanding, and appreciation.  

For more information, please CLICK HERE.

Be Very Mindful of How You Speak to Your Children – Part 1

I have always profoundly believed that we parents form the foundation for the way our children view the world and themselves.  Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has the power of life and death.  When you speak to your children and about your children, what do you say?

The quote for today’s blog from Peggy O’Mara rings so true to me.  The way we talk to our children does, in fact, become their inner voice.  How else can children know how others view or describe them except by hearing it first from their parents. 

From my own personal experiences growing up as a child, I know that what my parents said about me always resonated in my head.  I was often described by them as being “shy”, “quiet”, and “smart”.  Whenever I was introduced to an adult, my parents would use those three words to say something about me.  I grew up with those words ringing in my head.  Now, as a mother of two sons, I understand the power of any sort of “description” I speak of my sons.   I have tried very hard to only speak positive words.

In my professional career as a judge who presided over many juvenile delinquent and juvenile offender cases, I heard the demeaning words that parents would often speak about their children to me in court, and usually, these juveniles were young men.  As their parents told me derogatory things about them, the young men would just stand with their heads down, ashamed and not knowing what to do.  But, I knew that their parents’ criticism and derogation did not just start then. 

Are you speaking words of encouragement and hope to your children? Even in anger, we parents can lose control and say mean things.  Once these words are said, though, it is hard to forget them.  Develop the habit of pausing before you speak.  This will allow you to gather your thoughts and control your tongue.

I encourage you to talk to your children with positive, supportive words.  Help strengthen their inner voice so they develop faith in themselves and truly love who they are. 

Explaining Politics to Your Children

It’s February 2019 and already activities are gearing up for the presidential election in November 2020.  At least two persons have launched their presidential bids in the past two weeks.  Soon, more and more people will announce.  I believe that now is a key opportunity to begin discussing with your children what is happening in the political arena and take civics more seriously.   Your children will certainly hear statements made outside the home about various politicians, so why not have them engaged at home first so that they can understand the issues involved in the various campaigns and positions of each politician and political party better.

You may be wondering whether your children are even interested in politics and I think that you will be pleasantly surprised that many of them are.  In an interesting article online at kidshealth.org entitled Talking Politics: What to Say to Your Kids, the results of a survey conducted by it of more than 2,000 children and teens throughout the United States were revealed.  “A whopping 75% of kids and 79% of teens answered ‘yes’ when asked whether they thought that the outcome of an election (presidential) would change their lives. Nearly half of teens surveyed said that they believed they'd had at least some influence on their parents' choice of candidate.” 

The article strongly supports talking with your children about their viewpoints and not being critical of what they have to say.  Provide them with information and discuss various sides of an issue.  This will help them become more analytical and not just rely on a friend’s opinion but actually be able to question why someone has such an opinion and voice their own opinions with confidence.     

The coming presidential election is a hot topic and the more your children understand the issues, the more they can actively participate in discussions and enjoy the learning process.  They may even want to participate and help a candidate.  And, most important of all, when they turn 18 years old, they will want to register to vote because they know their vote matters.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Encourage Your Children to be Good Sports and Humble Winners

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself.

                                                                                                Philippians 2:3

I’m a big promoter of children participating in sport activities as there are so many benefits for them.  And, I’m a mother of an athlete: my oldest son played many different sports, including basketball on his high school team and on a Division 1 college team.  Sports, of course, are competitive and typically there will be a winning team and a losing team.  How your children respond is important – whether they are part of the winners or losers.

Children’s attitudes toward sports and winning come, in most part, from their parents.  When you are watching a game on television, what do you say about the competing teams and their players? When you watch your children play a sport, what do you say about the same things?  As a mother who attended her son’s games, I can attest to the fact that many parents are at the sidelines saying  encouraging words to  their children and fellow team members but others make very derogatory statements.  Some verbally attack the referees, calling them all sorts of names, while some criticize the opposing team’s members as well as their parents.  I live in a small community so allegations can run rampant of referees being biased because they have favorite players or teams. 

Be mindful of what you say to your children about their performances and what happened during a game.  Encourage them to analyze what they did to play well and how they can improve their skills.  Discuss how their team can do better as well as what the opposing team did well and vice versa.  Be respectful to them, their teammates, opposing team members, coaches, and referees.  If coaches do not have team members shake the opposing team members’ hands after a game, have your children do that.  It represents respect for the sport as well as the persons who played.

There has been a recent trend to have all children participating in a sports competition be designated as “winners”.  I understand the reasoning behind this, but do not believe that it teaches children about reality.   In life, there will always be winners and losers.  How your children react when being in each group is an important part of their development.

Good sportsmanship must be valued and taught.It is an integral part of being a godly, respectful person.

Teach Your Children About Martin Luther King, Jr.

This Monday January 21 is celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday.  As children will be home from school, I encourage parents to spend time teaching their children about this icon of the civil rights movement. 

To assist you, I have searched the internet and can say that there is an abundance of information about him, but I would like to focus on what is available specifically for children.  At the end of this blog is a list of websites where you can find a plethora of information, including books.   PBS.org has a list of 17 excellent children books about him and others involved in the movement, such as Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges, a 6 year-old heroine who was the first to integrate a New Orleans school back in 1960.  Spend some time with your children going to a book store to purchase a book or to the public library.  Once your child has a book, sit down and talk with him about it.  Ask questions.  This period of time is of such importance in our history.  You may even learn something new!

The Today Show just posted on its website an article about helping children to learn about King.  Depending on your children’s age groups, there are suggestions as to different types of discussions regarding the various people and issues of the time.  Several short videos are also provided on the webpage that share more interesting facts.

Additional recommendations can be found at the website care.com in an informative article about King.  Consider having your children participate in an art project or volunteer activity all about King and the movement.

Writer Erin Dower provides principles to talk about with your children in the online article 8 MLK Jr. Values to Instill in Your Kids.  I like this article because it gives simple yet profound values taken from King’s life and discusses how children can incorporate these values into their own lives. 

There is so much information available about King and the civil rights movement.  Please enjoy a relaxing day off on Monday, but also include time to help your children learn more about him and the immense reforms that came about because of his leadership and dedication.

Detecting Reading Problems in Your Children

In my blog, I write frequently about the importance of children reading from a very early age.  My mother taught me to read from a very early age.  When I was just 3 years old, I could read basic words.  When I was 4 years old, I was more advanced in reading than children in first grade.  My mother begged the administration of a small private school to admit me and after they tested me, they agreed and enrolled me into first grade.  But, what happens if you notice that your child is not learning to read as you had hoped?  What should you do?

In an excellent online article, author Melissa Taylor writes about 7 Early Signs Your Child May Have A Reading Issue.  This article is very helpful and I will briefly discuss some of the points she raises.  She stresses to have your child taken to a specialist as early diagnosis of any issues is critical to your child’s development.  Here are the 7 signs:

1.    Your child does not remember basic letter sounds, such as /a/ as in apple.

2.    Your child confuses letters that look-alike, such as “d” and “p”.  It is common for a young child to do this but as the child grows older, this confusion should not continue.

3.    Your child has a problem rhyming simple, basic words such as “mat” and “cat”.

4.    Your child does not remember easy sight words such as “a”, “her”, “to”, etc.

5.    You child does not pronounce the ending of some words, such as “-ing” or –“ed”.

6.    Your child has a poor memory and does not remember a recent book that was read.

7.    Your child misspells the same word throughout a document.  For example, she may write the word “because” in one paragraph and spell it correctly, but later in the same document, she misspells it as “beacuz” or “bekus”.

Other experts refer to your child’s vision as a possible issue.  Consider taking your child to see a physician to get his sight tested.

It’s important to not just sit back and believe your child will “grow out” of a reading problem.   Speak with her teachers and physician and seek assistance.  When there is early detection of a challenge and assistance given to help your child overcome that challenge, your child will definitely thank you.

Ms. Taylor has links to other websites in her article to further help you.  You can read her entire article by clicking here.