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!

Getting Your Children Involved with Nature

Summer is the perfect time to get your children outdoors and involved with nature - luring them away from mobile devices, computers, and television screens.  In an excellent online article for The Washington Post, 10 Ways to Get Your Kids Out in Nature, and Why It Matters, author Lauren Knight explains why your children’s physical and psychological well-being will benefit in a myriad of ways by exploring nature.

It all starts with the parents, Ms. Knight writes.  If parents are enthusiastic and curious about nature, their children will be too.   Ms. Knight recommends to just “sit and observe” at a specific area.  Don’t have busy distractions.  I typically encourage in my blogs for parents to ask questions and not simply give children answers.  Help your children look at different aspects of nature, ask questions, and search for the answers themselves. 

Try an outing at a planetarium and then lay out on the open grass and gaze at the stars at night.  By first visiting the planetarium, you will get more information about the constellations and what to look for.  When gazing up at the stars at night, your child will have a better understanding and truly get to enjoy and appreciate such spectacular beauties.

Planting a garden is another way to enjoy nature.  From planting seeds to eating the crops, children can have a lot of fun.  Have your children assist in purchasing all the items you will need for the garden as well as planting and watering.  They will learn much more by doing than just watching.

There are many books that she recommends for children that involve nature.  Visit the website link below and see the list of books.  There are some for young children as well as older children.

Find out what outdoor activities are available in your community.  Summer is an especially good time for children to be outside and enjoying themselves. 

Please read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

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

Should You Take Your Child’s Friend on Vacation?

The summer months are quickly approaching.  What are your family’s summer vacation plans?  Often, parents with an only child consider bringing along their child’s friend.  Please don’t make this decision in haste or just because your child begs you to.  There is a lot to consider and here are a few helpful suggestions.

Who will pay the costs?  This is a very important issue that needs to be addressed with the other parents.  Gather all your information first – such as transportation costs, hotel costs, approximate cost for food, costs for renting equipment (such as swim or snorkel gear), costs for admission to various theme parks and movie theaters, etc.   You might initially think that there would not be much extra cost, but once you sit down and plan it out, the high cost may surprise you.  In the end, you may just decide to bear the entire cost for the friend to make this a more enjoyable vacation for your child. 

What will you do for discipline? Since your form of discipline for your child may not be what the other parents approve of, this is also a critical topic to discuss.  There should be clear guidelines established beforehand.  But, even prior to your discussions with them, how well do you know the child?  Is the child one who is well-behaved and respectful when in your company?  Is this friendship one that you as a parent would like to encourage?  As Christians, we should always be mindful of who our children are friends with and who can influence them.  1 Corinthians 15:33 states “Bad company ruins good morals.” (ESV).

What will you do in the event medical care is needed? Again, this needs to be planned out.  In the event of a medical emergency, you will need to have the authority to obtain and provide medical care for this child.  Make sure you have the legal authority to do so.   Often, a copy of the child’s health insurance card and a letter from the parents is enough. 

When I was growing up, I went on many trips with my best friend as she was an only child.  We all had a lot of fun, parents included.  But, that all stemmed from them knowing me and my parents well, as well as me knowing them well.  I felt comfortable being with them and was not a discipline problem.  It all worked out wonderfully! 

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Holiday Advertising Aimed at Our Children

I write frequently about helping our children to overcome the negative pressures that often surround them and try to impact them.  Christmas is a few weeks away and advertisers have been doggedly aiming advertisements at our children since at least October.  Here are some suggestions as to how to help your children maneuver around this bombardment, especially during the holiday season:

1.    Use this time as teachable moments.  We as parents will never be able to stop advertisers from advertising, but we can help our children understand what is happening through advertisements.  Oftentimes, we do not think about an item until we see an advertisement.  Then, we can get the feeling as if we cannot live without it!  Advertising is very powerful, so talk with your children about it and the purpose behind it – us spending our money!

2.    Teach your child to be a smart shopper.  Just because you see an advertisement of a particular product does not, in turn, mean that it is the specific product that you must purchase.  If your child does need a particular item or if you would like to buy an item despite of need, make plans about it.  For example, if you would like to purchase a small electronic notebook for your child, discuss it with her.  Research together the different brands and models available.  Compare prices, warranties and ratings.  Impulse shopping can become addictive so teaching your child to be a smart shopper from a young age will help her to grow into a disciplined shopper.

3.    For Christians, Christmas is the season for giving, as God gave His only son to us.  Stress that with your children.  Plan how as a family and individually you and your children can give to others in need.  What community organization needs your help?  Consider volunteering to help others as a family activity and something that you will do throughout the year.

To read more about this subject, please CLICK HERE.

Helping Your Children Become Entrepreneurs

We should encourage entrepreneurship spirit in our children beginning at a young age.  Children are very creative and having a dream to establish a business and be self-sufficient and successful are very positive goals.

My parents were small business owners.  I saw how they struggled to make ends meet when their business was established and then the benefits they reaped as the business grew.  After I graduated from law school and returned home to practice law, the seeds they had planted in me for entrepreneurship began to grow and I established my own private law practice.  My parents always encouraged me and my sisters to be self-sufficient and follow our dreams.

Later, as a mother with two sons, I hired them to work in my office to do general office tasks after school and on the weekends.  By working with me in that business environment, they were able to experience hands on training about what it is like to own your business and the dedication and hard work it takes to be successful.

Many children do not have the opportunities that I and my children had but parents can still open their children’s minds to the possible business opportunities that are available.   Children frequently ask for money so why not think about ways to help them earn money rather than just giving it to them.  If your children’s school has classes that teach entrepreneurship, encourage your children to take them.  If there are after-school activities and clubs centered on business ownership and development, again, encourage your children to participate.  

Of course, the typical business idea for children is the ubiquitous lemonade stand.  However, there are many websites that have ideas for children’s businesses.  At the end of my blog, I will give you a website with some very creative suggestions.

The key component is the parents’ involvement to help start and run the business, as children cannot possibly do it themselves.  Please do not start a business and then give up because you allow other tasks or activities to take precedence.   Many factors must be considered before starting a business with your children, including the time commitment involved, the availability of financing, and the general logistics of where and how it will be operated.  As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.  

Please visit this website for some business ideas for children: click here

Helping Your Children Find Hobbies and Sticking with Them

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Do your children have any hobbies?  A hobby is something that is done during their free time for fun and pleasure.  I hope that you did not answer that question with “Yes-they play video games”!  The absolutely last thing we should want our children to be doing during their free time is sitting and playing video games for hours on end.  

According to child development experts, hobbies are important for children for many reasons.  Hobbies help your children to develop creativity.  Is your child artistic?  Then, encourage him to draw and paint.  Several brand stores have huge sections devoted to art supplies.  Does your child enjoy taking photos with your cell phone?  Encourage her to continue to take photos and learn more about that art form.  There are many books that teach about how to take photos and to be very creative in doing so.  If her interest continues, consider purchasing a camera for her.  You can even show some of her photographs to her teacher and ask for suggestions of a club that she can join with like-minded persons.

Hobbies also can help develop skills that may lead to lucrative careers in the future.  If your child enjoys writing stories, help her to learn more about being an author and structuring her work.  It may be that you have a budding Pulitzer prize winner on your hands!

Hobbies further help children with developing intelligence.  For example, by sitting and putting together a jigsaw puzzle, your child will learn how to associate shapes with images as well as patience.  If your child enjoys reading, books will provide challenges to learn new words.  When your child encounters a new word, encourage him to write it down, find its meaning, and then use it in a sentence.  Review the word again with him each day for a few days to make sure that he continues to remember it. 

Lastly, hobbies give children a sense of accomplishment.  They have undertaken a fun task, stayed with it, and completed it.  Do all you can to have your children complete a hobby that they started.  The results can truly be amazing for them and you!

There are so many hobbies to consider.  One of the growing categories is rocketry.  Think about all the science involved with propelling a rocket.  Your children will be learning as well as having a fun time.

Please do not overburden your children with hobbies though. As I have written in prior blogs, your children need to spend time with you and other family members.  Adding too many activities to their schedule, especially during the school year can cause unnecessary pressures on them.

The list of hobbies is almost endless.  Don’t allow your children to waste their free time.  Hobbies will definitely allow them to continue growing and learning.

The Benefits of Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Young Children

The knowledge of the importance of sensory play for children has grown significantly over the years.   Sensory activities are those that stimulate one or all of the five senses - touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Young children, especially babies and toddlers, are constantly learning by utilizing their senses, which makes sensory play a great learning apparatus as well as a stress reliever.

These activities encourage children to use different processes in their play, including motor skills, aid in their development of these skills, and refine their sensory thresholds, which basically means they give children information as to how they are affected by the things around them.  They also assist in helping them to understand their bodies’ reaction to certain stimulants.   What does a lemon taste like? What does squeezing this object do? What does spinning in circles for a long time do? Can I shake this and make a noise?  Why does it make a noise?  Sensory  play answers these and many other related questions your children may have.

Some fun (and relatively mess free) sensory play ideas are:

1.    Frozen shaving cream

2.    Homemade shakers (jars with rice, beans, nuts, or seeds)

3.    Lights and shadows (different light intensities and their effects on shadows)

4.    Homemade, edible finger paints

5.    Sensory bin (a large container -big enough for a toddler- and one that is inside and smaller containing different objects of varying shapes, colors and sizes. The big bin traps all the mess!)

Along with being a way for children to learn more about their reactions to different stimuli, sensory play can also provide a great deal of comfort.  Squeezing play dough or playing with shakers can be very cathartic, so keep them on hand for the next time your children need a quick source of distraction and comfort.

There are many internet sites with sensory activities.  Try this one to start as it breaks down sensory activities based on each specific sense that is the focus: CLICK HERE

What God’s Word Says About Being a Good Friend

I have written before about how to help our children choose good friends according to the Word of God.  I think that message is very important, but what is just as important and often overlooked, is what the Bible has to say about being a good friend.  Friends are a crucial part of our lives.  Having and being a good friend strengthen our lives and our walk with God.  These are a few ways your children can be good friends and have positive influences on their friends’ lives:

1.    Be there for your friend. We all go through rough patches that only a true friend could make better. The Bible talks about being there for a friend in times of trouble.  Being available, whether by phone or in person, and listening to them when they are distressed can be so comforting to them and lets them know that you can be trusted. It strengthens the bond of that relationship in a time that can tear many apart.

2.    Tell the truth.  We often want to spare our friends’ feelings, but sugarcoating a situation does nothing to help them in the long run.  We should be honest with one another because it is the only way to grow and better ourselves.  Of course, that does not give anyone the right to be mean or harsh.  I once heard someone say “honesty without tact is abuse,” and that is so true.  As a friend, your goal should never be to hurt someone’s feelings, but to help your friend progress in whatever aspect needs improvement. Give constructive comments rather than hurtful criticisms - the message will be received much easier.

3.    Spend time together. Between school, soccer practice, and chess club, our children can be very busy.  Yes, school and extracurricular activities are important, but just as important is spending time with their friends and truly enjoying their friends’ company.  Children have so much energy that they are bound to find activities to do during their time together.

Also, they should never be afraid of silence. Friends sitting in comfortable silence is an indication of the comfort between them. Being in that moment together can feel just as fulfilling as a day’s worth of exciting activities.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
— Proverbs 17:17

The Best Way to Prepare Your Children Academically for Preschool is by Reading

From the day of their birth, children are learning languages, and the words that they are exposed to for the first few years of their lives influence their language development and academic performance for the years to come.  When preparing your children for preschool, it is critical that you take time out of each day to read to and with them.

For generations, parents have read stories to their young children and for good reason - the developmental benefits are endless. The transition from daycare to preschool will be much easier when reading has been a part of their daily routine.  

When you read a story, don’t just read it quickly as if it is a task that needs to be finished right away.  Take your time.  Talk about the meaning of a word if it is a new word.  Encourage your children to look at the pictures on each page.  As a children’s author, I know the importance that not only words have on each page in a book, but also the pictures.  I hired a children’s artist to design and paint the pictures, according to my direction and input.  Pictures convey a specific message so I wanted to ensure that each picture told the message that I wanted the child to know and learn. 

In addition to looking at the pictures and discussing them, a parent should make reading fun by changing the intonation of his voice.  Also, if it is a woman speaking, try to speak as a woman.  The same thing if it is a man.  Make a silly voice if the character is a funny character.  I think you get the gist of what I am trying to convey. 

Try not to limit your reading times to bed time.  If there is a lull in the afternoon on a weekend, pull out a book to read to your children.   There should always be plenty of books in each room in the house.   Or, ask one of your children to find a book that you can read to them. 

We parents want our children to be prepared for preschool.  The foundation of literacy is the most important and lasting foundation that you can give them.