Bullying has Long Lasting Effects on Children

Despite the fact that bullying has been a topic of much discussion and intervention for the past several years, it continues to be a major problem in our schools.  Experts say that the long-term effects of bullying on a child victim can be very detrimental and last into adulthood.  And, the aggressor’s bullying can also continue into adulthood.

Many ailments have been connected to bullying, such as depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Inevitably, the child victim suffers from a loss of confidence.

The negative feelings associated with being a victim of bullying can lead to anger problems which may require therapy and medications.   Often, the child withdraws from social contacts, which then leaves him isolated.  It is critical to intervene as quickly as possible if this happens because isolation can lead to suicidal tendencies.

Interestingly, bullying tendencies as a child have been linked to sexual harassment as an adult.  A December 2016 study published in the journal Children and Youth Services Review showed that “43% of the children surveyed (from middle school to high school) had been the victims of verbal sexual harassment (including sexual comments, jokes, and gestures) in the past year.” One of the experts who was involved in the study said that the bullying tendencies associated with sexual harassment can have their beginnings long before the person becomes an adult: “Schools are breeding grounds for harassment of women.  What we see in college starts in K to twelve.”

To read more about the long-term effects of bullying, go to:

New Study Shows the Importance of Naps for Children 10-12 Years Old

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I have written before about the importance of children getting enough sleep.  

A recent study underscores how crucial naps are especially for children ages 10 to 12 years old.

The website Science Daily publishes the latest science research news.  On May 31, 2019, it published an article with the results of a study of 3,000 children ages 10 to 12 (4th to 6th graders) by the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Irvine.  The study’s summary is as follows:

Children who nap 30 to 60 minutes midday at least three times a week are happier, have more self-control and grit, and showcase fewer behavioral problems, according to new research. These children also have higher IQs and excel academically.

For children in grade 6, the researchers found the greatest impact academically.  One of the researchers commented: "Children who napped three or more times per week benefit from a 7.6% increase in academic performance in Grade 6.  How many kids at school would not want their scores to go up by 7.6 points out of 100?"

The article discusses the differences between the attitudes toward napping in the US and China.  In the US, napping is not encouraged as children grow older.  However, in China, napping is a part of everyday life from early childhood and even into adulthood. 

Incorporating naps during school time can be done.  Another researcher commented:  "The midday nap is easily implemented, and it costs nothing, particularly if accompanied by a slightly later end to the day, to avoid cutting into educational time. Not only will this help the kids, but it also takes away time for screen use, which is related to a lot of mixed outcomes.”

To read the entire study, please CLICK HERE.

What to do if Your Child is Struggling with Math

Many children struggle with learning math.  I admit that it was not one of my favorite subjects when I was growing up and I had to study longer for that class than for any other subject.  I still did well but it took me a lot of time to learn the concepts.  My two children differed – one was a natural math learner and the other struggled as I did.  For parents whose children struggle with learning math, here are a few suggestions.

First, understand that math skills are built upon each other or are cumulative.  If your child does not have a good grasp of the basic skills, it will be difficult for him to advance and learn new types of math.  This may lead to the child finding math boring or difficult, when in actuality, the child does not have a good understanding of the basics. 

Second, some children may have anxiety doing math.  So, it’s not as if the child does not understand math, but the child gets stressed when doing math problems. 

Experts suggest talking with your child’s teacher to find out what is happening in class and what you can do at home.  At the website www.understood.org, there is a list of things that you can do to help your child, from boardgames to books to free graphic organizers.  Visit the link below for more information.  Additionally, making math more multi-sensory has been very effective in helping children to understand it better. 

Third, if your child is still struggling, you may need to have him evaluated at his school for various disorders such as dyscalculia, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD.   Please don’t just have the attitude that “my child is just not good in math” when there may be other reasons for your child’s lack of performance.

Some people will say that “boys” are better at math than “girls” but there is no scientific study that supports this.    Both genders can learn and excel in math.

To learn more, please visit: Understanding Your Child’s Trouble with Math or Struggling with Math.

Teach Your Children Etiquette

Photo is from The New York Times

Etiquette is so important for our children to learn.  As a parent, you are probably thinking that they spend so much time at school learning various subjects, why should they now be burdened by learning proper etiquette? 

Etiquette is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a customary code of polite behavior in society”.  In essence, it means good manners.  We should all strive to teach our children good manners, for their benefit, our benefit, and society’s as well.

There are many excellent online articles about teaching etiquette.   Experts agree that teaching etiquette should start from when the child is young and learning to talk.  Simple words such as “please” and “thank you” should become a part of a child’s early vocabulary. 

But, etiquette is much more than just a few buzz words.  In an online article at townandcountry.com, etiquette expert Myka Meier lists 20 lessons that a child should know:

•The true meaning of etiquette is always to show respect and kindness to everyone around you.

•Use please, thank you, and excuse me every day.

•How to hold your silverware correctly.

•How to properly use a napkin to wipe your mouth.

•How to chew with your mouth closed.

•No elbows on the table.

•Never interrupt an adult when he is speaking to someone else.

•Never comment on someone’s appearance unless it’s to say something nice.

•How to give a compliment to someone else.

•How to write a thank you letter.

•How to help someone in need, particularly if he is less able than you are.

•How to introduce yourself and others properly.

•Be aware of positive body language and how to show it.

•Never call an adult by his first name unless the adult instructs you to do so.

•Always knock on a door before opening it.

•How to answer a phone politely.

•How to make eye contact when speaking to another person.

•Don’t point or stare.

•Always cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.

•How to invite someone to join a group if they are alone.

To read more, please go to:

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a9641056/etiquette-lessons-children/

https://www.thespruce.com/teaching-your-children-basic-manners-1216584

The Harmful Effects of Plastic on Our Children’s Health

More and more studies are showing the dangers that the use of plastic is having on our health.  As parents, our concern is the effects on our children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report and policy statement in August, 2018 detailing the hazards to our children’s health posed by chemicals in plastic and making recommendations to assist persons in the health field and parents as to how to reduce exposure to these dangerous chemicals.  It found that “food insecurity remains a substantial child health concern”.

According to the report, increasing amounts of diseases and disabilities are being linked to harmful chemicals in plastic.  For example, the chemical bisphenol A or BPA has been frequently used since the 1960s in manufacturing plastic but research has shown the negative health effects it has. “BPA has recently been banned from infant bottles and plastic beverage containers are increasingly designated as BPA free. However, BPA and related compounds are still used in polymeric resin coatings to prevent metal corrosion in food and beverage containers.”  Be aware that, even though BPA may not be used in the plastic of a specific item, there are closely related chemical alternatives now being used that show similar negative health effects. 

The report lists many other chemicals and additives in food that pose harm to children.  Please read it for a good understanding of how these chemicals are shown to negatively affect our bodies.

The Academy’s policy statement is very helpful as well as it contains many practical recommendations such as:

• Avoid microwaving food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic;

• Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher;

• Use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible; and

• Look at the recycling code on the bottom of products to find the plastic type, and avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols) unless plastics are labeled as “biobased” or “greenware,” indicating that they are made from corn and do not contain bisphenols.

One other practical recommendation is drinking tap water rather than bottled water.   As for us parents, isn’t that so much easier, as you simply have to fill a glass or bottle from the tap?

Unfortunately, it is predicted that the use of plastics will quadruple by 2050.  That’s a sad testimony for us!

To read the full report and policy statement, please visit:

Suicide - The Second Leading Cause of Death for Children & Teens

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, suicide is the second major cause of death for children and teens.  My blog this week is on this subject because I would like to educate more and more adults about this dangerous issue and help protect our children from the belief that suicide is a viable way to end their problems.

According to the Academy, young children who commit suicide typically do so impulsively because of negative emotions.  For adolescents, suicide is usually associated with depression and other factors such as bullying and exposure to violence.

Warning signs may start with a child saying such things as “I wish I was dead.”  The Academy urges us to be vigilant about all warning signs, including the following:  changes in eating or sleeping habits; frequent or pervasive sadness; withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities; frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, and fatigue; decline in the quality of schoolwork; and preoccupation with death and dying.

In an excellent online article When One Teen’s Suicide Turns Into a Cluster at the website www.thefamilycoach.com, Dr. Catherine Pearlman stresses the fact that too little is being done to effectively combat suicides.  For example, just having suicide awareness programs in schools is not enough.  She suggests some critical changes that individuals as well as a community as a whole should make to fully address the issues surrounding suicide.  These include:

1.    Parents and schools must stop putting so much pressure on children to succeed at all costs.        

2.    Schools need to stop sending grades to parents on a daily basis.

3.    Children should be taught that “perfect” is a fallacy and even the idea of striving to be at close to perfection should not be the goal.

4.    Schools need crisis intervention plans as well as prophylactic plans for addressing suicide.

5.    Parents need to assume that their children are exposed to many risky things, such as drugs, alcohol, vaping, sex, porn, violence, social isolation, bullying and much more.  “Talk to your kids even if they don’t talk back. Talk in the car, over dinner or at night with the lights out before bed. Text these conversations if that’s the only way. Have the conversations before you think you have to. Your kids are going through so much more than you think. Get in there and help them.”

6.    Love your children no matter what.

No longer should we downplay our children’s suicidal tendencies.  Vigilance is key.

To learn more, please go to the following links:

Flying Kites Is Great Family Fun

I have very fond memories of flying kites with my late husband and sons when they were growing up.  Sometimes, we purchased all the different parts to decorate and make the kites ourselves, while at other times, we purchased very fancy and colorful ones that were already made.  

No longer are kites just of one simple shape with one line.   Because of modern technology, kites now come in many different sizes and attractive shapes, such as birds, insects, and planes.  Many have up to four lines to fly them.

Not only does flying kites as a family build family bonds and gets your children outside to enjoy their surroundings, but they are also teaching tools for science lessons.  Help your children learn what makes them fly; what makes them turn and twist; and what allows them to come back down.  All these are fascinating science facts and your children will be learning as they are playing!

Kiting is also a wonderful hobby.  There are kite sport groups, kite aerial photography, kite festivals, and different types of games to play with kites. 

I truly hope that you are encouraged to make kite flying a regular family activity this fall.  I have never flown a kite with four lines and that would be indeed challenging!

For more information, read the articles at:

Eating a Healthy Breakfast is Connected to Good Academic Performance

The beginning of a new school year is always challenging for parents and children.  We parents usually have different concerns than our children as we center our attention on how to assist them with doing well in all aspects of school.  Yet, we share with them the goal of good academic performance.  Science has shown that a child who starts the day with a good breakfast is already leaps ahead in performing well in school.

According to an online article on the website for the National Center for Biotechnical Information/National Institutes of Health, the importance of a healthy breakfast cannot be overstated yet it is the most frequently skipped meal, with 20% to 30% of children skipping it.

Studies “generally demonstrate that eating breakfast has a positive effect on children's cognitive performance, particularly in the domains of memory and attention.” Children who eat breakfast have an increase in cognitive performance, meaning an increase in attention skills so that they can perform their lessons well. This also translates to an ability to attend school regularly and remember information that is taught.  Additionally, their behavior in class is dramatically affected because they can concentrate better and perform the necessary tasks.

It is important for us to understand that children’s brains are developing and are different than those of adults.  The article points out that children have a higher brain glucose metabolism than adults.  “To maintain this higher metabolic rate, a continuous supply of energy derived from glucose is needed, hence breakfast consumption may be vital in providing adequate energy for the morning.”

Not only does breakfast assist a child academically, but it also helps the child to maintain proper body weight.  Children who skip are more likely to be overweight and not eat healthy snacks or satisfy the recommended daily vegetable and fruit intake.  Not surprising is the connection between skipping breakfast and “risky behaviors” such as smoking and experimenting with alcohol and drugs.

Plan for healthy breakfasts ahead of time.  Make them easy and fun.  There are plenty of books and online articles with suggested recipes.  Give your children the important start for their school day and help them reach their goals of academic success.

To learn more, go to:

Dads Teaming Up to Make a Difference in the Lives of Their Children

Photo of New York City Dads Meetup Group

Photo of New York City Dads Meetup Group

All across the country, dads are joining together to seek guidance and learn from each other, all with the goal of becoming better fathers.  It’s such a wonderful thing to see!  One group that has made impressive strides is 4 Your Child, a project of the University of Kentucky’s School of Social Work.  Since the program started in 2015, it has helped 900 dads to become better fathers.

Professor Armon Perry and his team are the power houses behind the project.  According to the project summary on the website, research “has concluded that factors such as fathers’ parenting skills, co-parenting relationship quality, and socio-economic status all impact fathers’ ability to contribute to their children’s growth and development.”  The project aims at providing non-custodial fathers with “a comprehensive, solution-oriented program featuring group-based parent education and individualized case management to help them achieve financial independence, increase their parenting skills, and develop a co-parenting alliance.” 

According to a recent article in usnews.com about the project, dads receive parenting-related classes over a period of 28 weeks through workshops that help them develop better skills in communication and conflict resolution.  After completing these classes, the men are eligible for 6 months of further assistance from various professionals.  The goal is to develop men who will be not only good financial providers for their children, but also have better relationships with both their children and the women who are the mothers of their children.

This program is very impressive and should be a model for others throughout the country.  It is funded by a federal grant and similar programs in other states should be able to be funded the same way. 

To learn more about 4 Your Child, CLICK HERE.

How to Talk to Your Children About Immigration & What is Happening at the US Borders

The news media has been replete with stories of the sad situation with immigrant families at the US borders, especially what has been happening with children.  One very sad recent story was about a father and daughter who drowned while attempting to cross over the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Texas.  It is very difficult for children to comprehend tragic news and the controversial situation with immigrants does not appear to have any resolution soon.  As a parent, you have a responsibility to assist your children to understand what is happening as well as to make sure that they are getting information from reliable sources and not “fake news”.

There are many articles on the internet with advice to help parents.  Of course, the recommendations center on talking with your children based on what is age appropriate for each of them.  One expert suggests that parents should start with discussions of family history – where did various members of your family come from?  How did they get to the U.S.? Why did they leave the countries they were from?  I think this is a wonderful suggestion as it helps children to understand how their own family members were involved with immigration.

Reading and discussing books about the history of immigration in the U.S. and the struggles that individuals have gone through are also good ways to learn about what has happened in our nation’s history and what is happening now.  In the links below, books for children of all ages about immigration are suggested.

Raising compassionate and intelligent children requires that they be informed as best as possible about what is happening with immigration in our country.  They will likely hear the news from someone else, so as a parent, talking with them and helping them to understand the issues involved is critical.

For more information, please visit these websites.  Please also note that although I have these websites listed, I do not agree with everything they say, but they are, nevertheless, good sources of information.

Children and Friendship Drama – Should Parents Get Involved?

It’s back-to-school time with children returning to school.  There will be old friends for them to laugh and talk with and new friendships to build.  Of course, there will be times when there are squabbles.  What do you as a parent do when your child comes to you with a complaint?  You likely remember the times when you were a child and what happened to you.  Perhaps you have upsetting memories of quarrels that you do not want your child to experience.  Some expert advice can help you now that you are a parent to handle these squabbles.

Many experts agree that instead of going immediately to the other child’s parents to lodge a complaint, there are several other actions that you can take.   First, listen to what your child has to say.  Ask questions.  Be empathetic to what your child has experienced. Try to get the full account of what happened.

Second, encourage your child to standup for herself.  After finding out what happened, ask your child “Did you stand up for yourself?”  This does not involve your child saying anything that is rude or derogatory but does involve her not putting up with someone else’s bad behavior.  Try role-playing with your child so that she can learn how to react and respond differently in the future.  You should not be the one fighting your children’s battles for them unless it is necessary.

Third, help your children learn the differences between healthy and unhealthy friendships.  Ture friendships are built on trust and respect.  When a “friend” crosses the line, your child should know what to do. 

Fourth and perhaps most important, be there for your children to talk to.  Let them know that you are always available to talk and help them understand what has happened and not be judgmental.

For more information, please visit these websites below:

Tweak Family Recipes to Make Them Healthier

Many of us have family recipes from grandparents, uncles, aunts or other relatives that have become family traditions.  Unfortunately, most are filled with unhealthy ingredients – lots of oil, butter or sugar, just to name a few.  Preserving these recipes are, nevertheless, important for us as part of our family heritage.  I have written before about having children assist with cooking meals to encourage more family bonding time and as well as for them to read more as they learn to follow written recipes.  Today, I would like to discuss teaching your children healthier options for recipes as part of your family cooking experiences.

On his website, Dr. Joseph Galati, founder of Your Health First Education, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide education and support to the public about nutrition, has an article Tweaking Grandma’s Recipes: Healthy Substitutes, which has many suggestions for substitutions.  For butter, oil and margarine in recipes that involve baking, he recommends using applesauce or mashed fruit. For frying, grilling or sautéing, he recommends substituting one-half with olive oil or coconut oil.  For regular sugar, try substituting one-half with locally sourced honey.  For brown sugar, he suggests adding 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the honey.  For mayonnaise in recipes, substitute plain yogurt.  On a sandwich, try pesto or drizzles of olive oil.  Dr. Galati has many more recommendations and I encourage you to read his entire article.

Traditional family meals bring families together to continue bonding and building life-long friendships.  Substituting more healthy ingredients will keep these traditions alive and be teachable moments for your children.  

To read more, CLICK HERE.

Be Sure to Have Your Children Vaccinated in Time for the Coming School Year

Are your children up to date with their vaccinations? As the new school year is about to begin, it is critical for us as parents to make sure that our children have the required vaccinations.  We should prepare them for that day as well.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has established five important reasons for children to be vaccinated as follows:

1.    Immunizations can save your child’s life;

2.    Vaccinations are very safe and effective;

3.    Immunizations protect others whom you care about;

4.    Immunizations can save your family time and money; and

5.    Immunization protects future generations.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention also has a website page with information that will assist parents with preparing their children for vaccination day.   It suggests to pack a book or a toy for a young child to comfort him.  With older children, speak to them about the importance of vaccinations and be honest with them, letting them know that shots do sting a bit, but only for a while. 

Please do prepare your children for that visit.  I remember one visit with my youngest son James when he was about 5 years old.  My late husband and I took him to the pediatrician for his usual annual checkup before school started but unfortunately, we did not prepare him for the visit.  Unbeknownst to any of us, he had to get not just one, but several shots during that visit.  After the first shot, James jumped off the examination table and ran and hid under the doctor’s desk, crying.   We all finally made it through the rest of the shots, but it was truly an ordeal.  Needless to say, that was the most memorable visit to the doctor that we ever had with him!

The bottom line is that vaccinations are crucial for your children’s good health and must not be overlooked.  Planning and preparing for that day will help everyone to get through it.

Read more by clicking one of these links:

Help Your Children Build Their Social Skills

It’s summer and your children should be out meeting new people and working on their social skills.  What can parents do to encourage their children to become more social?  Telling them “Go out and make friends” just doesn’t do it.

I recently came across an article entitled Social Skills Activities for Children and Teens: Evidence-based Games and Exercises by Gwen Dewar Ph. D. at the website below which contains 17 social activities for children that all derive from research.  Dr. Dewar states that “to develop and grow, kids need first-hand experience with turn-taking, self-regulation, teamwork, and perspective-taking.”  She presents many wonderful ideas for activities for your children, from toddlers to teenagers. What I like so much about this article is the amount of research that she references to support the suggested activities.

One of the interesting activities is to help children learn how to read facial expressions better.  People who read expressions well have been found to be more helpful towards others.  Dr. Dewar provides a separate link to another online article on facial expressions and that article delves more deeply into why having children learn to read facial expressions is important in developing their social skills.  There is quite a bit to learn!

Another interesting activity (remember that there are 17 in all!) is to have children read a story with emotional content and then ask the children to talk about it.  Dr. Dewar concludes as follows based on the research: “When kids participate in group conversations about emotion, they reflect on their own experiences, and learn about individual differences in the way people react to the world. And that understanding helps kids develop their ‘mind-reading’ abilities.”  At the same time, children learn about their emotions and the emotions of others.

I suggest that you read the entire article and then select an activity to do as your and your children’s schedules permit.  There is a lot that they can learn and have a fun time as well.  

For more information, please CLICK HERE.

Spend the Month of July in Space Exploration with Your Children

Starting on July 16, NASA has a series of scheduled events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.  This is a wonderful time to introduce your children to or expand their knowledge of the history of space exploration and NASA’s plans for the future.  NASA’s website has a wealth of information specifically for children.

The events commemorating the 50th anniversary range from interviews with past astronauts to discussions of the agency’s future plans.  Please visit the website below to get all the information and how to participate in or just view the events.

On another section of its website, it has information about its plans for the future, which it refers to as “Moon to Mars”.  Specifically, its plans include the following: “Working with U.S. companies and international partners, NASA will push the boundaries of human exploration forward to the Moon and on to Mars.  NASA is working to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon within the next decade to uncover new scientific discoveries and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.”  It states that the missions to the Moon and Mars are intertwined as the Moon will be an experimental area and stepping-stone for eventually traveling to Mars.  There can be no doubt that the mission to Mars will be challenging, as it is a 34 million mile trip to get there.

NASA has dedicated a portion of its websites to students, whom it refers to as the “Next Generation of Explorers”.  A considerable amount of information is provided in a child-friendly format. There is even a link to NASA’s Kid Club with games for children to play, from test driving a machine on Mars to a printable puzzle booklet.  

This month is a unique opportunity for children to learn more about space exploration and exciting plans for the future.  You might even learn a thing or two as well!

Please visit:

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!

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. 

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