Stopping the “Summer Rust”: a Teacher’s Perspective by Stephanie Ingerman

Old School
photo source: Ryan via Flickr Creative Commons

Summer–we all love it and we all need a little time off. But your child can fall as many as four months behind in their learning during the short break of summer if we aren’t continuing to focus on learning. I affectionately call that the “summer rust.” So, how do you keep the rust from settling? There are plenty of great workbooks out there and even some great websites, but there are also some sneaky ways to add in some learning with things you are probably already doing.

Let’s focus on literacy first. If you read your child will be more likely to read. If your child is a hesitant or reluctant reader, read aloud to them or listen to audio books together, especially on those long road trips. When you are listening or reading be sure to ask your child questions about what they are reading or listening to such as, “What is happening in the story? Who are the main characters? What was your favorite part and why?” Encourage your kids to write about trips you have taken together in a journal or draw a picture and write a story to go along with it. Another idea we enjoy is to keep a correspondence journal where you write to your child and they write back to you.

Now for math! Have your children tell you what time it is on an analog clock. Allow the kids to help you cook, measuring the ingredients and noticing which amount is more. Identify, count, or sort coins after receiving change. Go on a shape hunt around your house or neighborhood. Lastly, play games! Games that involve numbers, dice, patterns, addition or problem solving will help your child keep those math skills sharp.

In addition to literacy and math I am hopeful you will explore with your children, take a hike, try something new, and genuinely enjoy one another’s company.

Stephanie Ingerman is an elementary-school teacher in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and a mom to two kids, ages 7 and 9. 

New & Upcoming Parenting Resources

teennotcrazy

Your Teenager Is Not Crazy by Dr. Jeremy Clark and Jerusha Clark – Although sometimes parents find their teens unrecognizable at best, they still are the same kid deep down. In this book, the Clarks guide parents to make the teen years a time of creativity and passion instead of fear and conflict. Release April 1, 2016.

 

spiritualchampions

Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions by George Barna –  Famed researcher Barna speaks to churches in this work on why children’s ministry should be of the utmost importance to the church. The author explains how to make a successful children’s ministry that forms “spiritual champions.” Released January 1, 2016.

 

inthearena

In the Arena by David Prince – Coming September 1st, this paperback will explore what sports means in Christian culture and how sports can be used for discipleship, parenting, and recreation.

Looking at the Beatitudes through the Lens of Parenting

Parenting and the Bible
source: MarcosReis07 via Flickr

John MacArthur wrote, “The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness.”

Parenting isn’t about feeling good all the time.

Make it that, and you’ll have kids who run the house and don’t understand the word no. Some of my best parenting moments are when I feel the worse, I think. Holding a screaming, flailing 5-year-old who is throwing a temper tantrum – when really I just want to shut her in her room and go eat chocolate cake. Taking a deep breath and explaining to my 3-year-old onemoretime that “I need” is not the way we start sentences to ask for things. Not biting back when my 17-month-old decides to gnaw at my shoulder.

Often parenting is going against my human nature and trying to latch on to my Jesus-nature instead, asking for His power to flood me. Because seriously, there is no way I can do this on my own.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus shows us a flip-flop view of His kingdom versus the world’s. He says, “You’re going to mourn. You’re going to be persecuted. You’re going to need to show mercy and peace and gentleness when you don’t want to. But I am going to bless you for it, and it’s how I am going to work through your life.”

How many times as a parent do you feel mournful? Poor in spirit? Persecuted, even, by your children or other parents? Jesus blesses that.

The Beatitudes are everything I want to be as a parent. Gentle. Peaceful. Merciful. Pure in heart. In my study Bible, MacArthur also writes that “gentleness is supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.”

I’ve seen a graphic around Facebook lately, with a toddler laying on top of his mama on the beach and the words, “You’re never going to be loved like this again.”

Until we see Christ, no one on earth is going to love us with the uninhibited crazy love of a toddler or preschooler. So let’s pour back that love, praying for the Spirit to fill us with mercy, purity of heart, gentleness, and peace, not giving up when we are mournful or feel persecuted or want to hide in our rooms and throw stuff at the wall.

In The Message paraphrase, Matthew 5:3 is, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”

Praise God and Amen!

Originally published on JessieWeaver.net. 

Gentleness by Jessie Weaver

Around this time seven years ago, I had my first-ever contraction. It was the night before my due date, and my mom, husband, and I were hanging in our condo’s living room, watching an Indiana Jones movie. I don’t remember one scene of the film, but I remember the sudden knowing, the realization that ah, this was what a real contraction felt like. I had worried I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a real one and a Braxton-Hicks, but I knew instantly.

(Note to my pregnant friends: if you start having contractions, guzzle a whole lot of water and see if they keep up. I had aggravated labor due to dehydration and thus it was a mere 36 hours later that I finally gave birth to my beautiful daughter.)

baby Libbie

On Tuesday, it will have been seven years since this girl came into our lives. She’s a first-grade fireball, a rule-follower for others and a rule-stretcher at home. And oh, I wish my 26-year-old self knew what I know now about parenting.

Not that I know a lot. But I do have seven years and three children worth of experience. Not to mention in those seven years we moved to a new city, my husband went from being a student to a teacher, we’ve lived in four different homes, and we’ve gone through a foreclosure that broke and put back together our hearts.

What I wish I could tell that younger Jessie laying on the microfiber couch and thinking finally! is this: they say love covers a multitude of sins. And it does. But love takes many forms. And let yours be a gentle love.

I think of a few ways I disciplined my tiny girl that now seem simply ridiculous. Because she could talk very well, I think I treated her as older than she was at times. I look now at my 2-and-half-year-old “Toddlerzilla” and think, I never would have disciplined him in _______ way. What was I THINKING with Libbie?

In the book Love and Respect in the Family, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs proposes that parents long for respect while kids just want love. And also we often misinterpret their simply childish behavior for disrespect and discipline it as such. When really … sometimes kids are just kids. And we are there to teach them how to be more mature, in time and in a godly manner.

My biggest parenting regret is the many, many times I have parents from my first response instead of stepping back, saying a prayer, and “trying a little tenderness.” Living in guilt does no good, though; all I can do is move forward, ask for forgiveness, and keep praying and practicing gentleness every day.

Libbie Easter

Jessie is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, editor, and social media-y person. She writes at JessieWeaver.net, is the manager of ParentLife Online, and curates for ForEveryMom.com.

Equip Yourself for the High Calling of Raising Kingdom Kids by Dr. Tony Evans {GIVEAWAY}

Raising Kingdom Kids

In the Evans’ home, we took the idea of raising kingdom kids seriously. But sometimes, we got distracted.

I remember when our kids were small. We took them to Disneyland and experienced the sights, sounds, and excitement of all that makes it wonderful.

We were looking around and enjoying ourselves. But somewhere between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, we lost track of our youngest child, Jonathan. I looked up, and I couldn’t find my son.

Panic set in, because there were thousands of people all over the property. And so we began a search for our son. We looked and looked. We fanned out, and we couldn’t find him.

Minutes went by; it seemed like hours. Our child was lost, and we didn’t know where he was. We called security to help us find Jonathan. I don’t really remember how long it was before we located him. He was looking in one of those windows, at all of the fancy stuff–the prizes and glitz and glitter. It’s surprising how some of that plastic, under just the right lighting, can become so alluring.

We all too easily become distracted.

We had lost track of him because we were looking at the things around us, too. He had become distracted. I had become distracted. We had become distracted. In the midst of enjoying a blessing for our family, we lost each other.

We did everything we could to locate him. When I found him, I hugged him (even though a part of me wanted to spank him). But I hugged him because of the joy of finding a child that was lost.

Our world today distracts children from parents and parents from children.

We are in a kingdom today that has plenty of distractions. These distractions have caused us to lose our children.

This earthly kingdom is set up to distract parents from children and children from parents. Parents are distracted by work, career, entertainment—even church can sometimes shift our focus from what we as parents ought to be doing. Our kids are distracted too. Online media, peer groups, social pressure, and entertainment vie for the attention of our kids.

Distracted parents produce children with a weak faith.

The result is a distracted family, acting separately, living anything but in unity, and treating this dysfunction as the norm. And then we wonder why our kids grow up with a weak faith.

Kingdom Parents have the high calling of raising kingdom kids.

Parents, you have been called to raise kingdom kids–in God’s kingdom. Kingdom parenting isn’t perfect parenting, it’s purposeful parenting, helping children learn to live under God’s divine authority, both today and in the future. I am here to assure you that you are equipped with everything needed to accomplish this high calling. I know this because God chose you to be parents.

Sure, you will get distracted once in a while. But kingdom parents will regain their focus on what really matters–advancing God’s kingdom in your immediate realm of authority, which begins with your family. Wherever you’re starting, it’s just the right point to say, “Okay God. Starting today, I’m about your business of raising kingdom kids.”

Raising Kingdom Kids

Raising Kingdom Kids Group Video Experience: Giving Your Child a Living Faith is a powerful tool created by Dr. Tony Evans. Based on the top-selling book, Raising Kingdom Kids, this multimedia package is designed to equip parents to advance God’s kingdom in their own family. It is great for individual, small groups, Sunday school classes, retreats, and church outreach events.

WIN a copy of this video experience from Tyndale House and ParentLife Online! Just use the Rafflecopter widget to enter. We have FIVE copies to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dr. Tony Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, former chaplain of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and present chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on nearly 1,000 US radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit TonyEvans.org.

An Artist, A Friend

This past Friday I went with some of the other moms from my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group to a painting class. You’ve probably seen pictures on Facebook of these classes; everyone paints a version of the same picture. The teacher has a starting image, then paints alongside you, guiding you but also letting you get creative with the base image.

paintingclass

 

That’s me on the far left. And I LOVE my tree.

But what I loved more was being with friends for a couple of hours. We talked about sewing and crocheting, cruise trips and beach vacations, potty training and sleep schedules, and a couple things that are too darn weird and/or gross to disclose here. (I blame Stephanie.) We joked with the artist, maybe drove her crazy with our different attitudes toward our paintings.

It always does my heart good to be in the company of other women, especially without my kiddos. I adore my kids. But I am with them almost 24/7 some weeks. I need some kid-free time occasionally to remember how to be ME. Just like we’re advised to still date our spouses once we have kids come along so we can remember how we function as couples, having time with friends reminds us that we are all women. Not just moms.

I wasn’t sure I’d really enjoy the painting part of the evening. I didn’t especially like the painting we were going to paint. When we decided to switch at the last minute, I knew I would at least like the finished product. But I was sure my artistic skills weren’t up to par.

I found something in me releasing, though, as I started with the beautiful sunset sky. I wanted the lightest of colors, the biggest swirls, and whimsy. I wanted my tree to dip and dive, I wanted a rolling hill, I wanted to feel my picture. I was brought back to memories of oil pastels and watercolors, painting at our kitchen table in Richmond, Virginia, as a child and teen.

I draw badly. But my painting, it’s not too bad! I loved glimpsing the creative side of myself. Usually my creativity is expressed in writing, and it’s nice to delve into a different branch every once in awhile!

So I remembered Friday night not only that I am a woman and a friend but also that I am an artist. Someone who loves to create. We are multi-faceted people. God created us that way! So take some time, as we end the week and get into the weekend, to remember you are more than a parent. Parenting is of utmost importance … but you are other things, too. And that is wonderful.

Hello, Mornings?

Power Buzz
source: sea turtle via Flickr

I really like to pretend that waking up before my kids doesn’t make that much of a difference.

I have three kids 5 and under, I say! I am tired! I need every bit of sleep I can catch! And I do think it’s true that when the baby isn’t sleeping through the night, I needed to try to catch up on sleep in other places. But now he is, for the most part. {Although the last two nights my 3-year-old has been up twice and my 5-year old once … but that’s not the norm.}

Last night I set my alarm for 5:30 and went to bed about 9:45. I had a 5 a.m. wake-up call from Joshua, and just went ahead and got up at 5:15 after I nursed him. And now, at 7, I’ve had some quiet time with God, showered and washed my face, dressed, had something to eat and two cups of coffee, and am writing a blog post. I feel completely different than I do when I let my daughter wake me up at 7:00 and growl at her to go ask her dad for breakfast.

I still need to figure out where to fit in exercise. I probably need to eat a healthier and more complete breakfast than an apple and cheese. But it’s a giant start. Feeding my brain with positive messages from the Bible before I start anything else makes such a difference in my day.

There’s a whole, well, movement on Twitter about Hello Mornings, a challenge to get up before your kids and study the Word. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for a place to start.

Do you get up before your kids? Have any tips and tricks to share?

Jessie Weaver When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three kids 5 & under.

Teachable Moments by Jessie Weaver

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Some days, I think I might actually have this parenting thing somewhat under control. (Then something happens like I trip over the trash can lid that’s on the floor and bang my baby’s head onto the corner of the china cabinet, and I change my mind.)

My daughter, Libbie, who’s 3, has been running a fever for the past day and a half, so we’ve had a lot of time at home. During a better hour this morning, I offered to let her do one of her favorite activities: paint.

“Will you paint WITH me, Mommy?” she asked sweetly, the dark circles under her big blue eyes making her look even more pathetic. I agree, and she instructs me on where I am to sit, that I need a separate page of paper, where to put the water, what colors to paint. While she makes, well, a big purple watery mess, I use half my brain to paint a simple rainbow.

 

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As soon as she deciphers its shape, Libbie exclaims, “It’s like Noah!” And I beam. Because somewhere in there with the (somewhat correct) words to “Jingle Bells” and ways to annoy her baby brother, she related rainbows with the Bible.

So while we paint, I simply retell the story of Noah’s ark, illustrating my story as we go. She wants me to paint Noah and people and animals, so I craft a few flying birds and a bear with my big sponge brush. They look ridiculous, but I don’t care. Because we’re learning and having fun.

Being a stay-at-home mom is all about these teachable moments. They make it worth every tear, coupon, and suppressed scream.

Originally published January 11, 2012. Which means, BTW, that the fever my daughter had was the start of her lovely battle with pneumonia! Agh!

Jessie Weaver When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three crazy kids (ages 5, 2, and 7 months).

Special Needs Parents Need Friends by Ellen Stumbo

Did you know that many parents of kids with special needs feel lonely?

Because of their children’s needs, some special needs parents feel isolated. That birthday party everyone is invited to? Maybe the child has significant sensory processing issues and cannot handle the noise or large crowds. That Bible study at church that takes place during the children’s  program? The special needs mom needs to stay with her child because there isn’t a trained volunteer to help with her child’s needs. That playdate at the park where the moms chatter while the kids play?  Not gonna’ happen! Most likely the child needs help to climb on the special equipment, and there goes the adult interaction.

Parenting a child with special needs can be exhausting. Sometimes, it is easier to stay home. The thing is, special needs parents need friends. They need someone to talk to and someone to laugh with. God created us to be in relationships, we are not meant to do life alone.

What can you do to reach out to a special needs parent?

First, get to know her family and her child with special needs. Can you babysit for an hour or two so mom and dad can go out on a date? Maybe a late-night-date after the kids go to bed?

Initiate the relationship. You can ask, “I would love to get together with you, is there a time or day that works for you?”

Plan playdates around the abilities of the kids with special needs. Maybe a playdate at a park won’t work, but the special needs parent might have some suggestions for fun activities that work for her family.

Call. Just pick up the phone and call. It is amazing how something so simple makes such a big difference. Let your friend know that you are available to talk. And you don’t have to talk about special needs! Just chat about the weather, about the conversation you had with your brother, or about the embarrassing situation you had at the store. Just be a friend and reach out.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Pregnant Parenting by Jessie Weaver

Being pregnant is not my talent.

I am a great newborn mother. I nurse with ease, love to snuggle, and deal relatively well with little sleep. I know many parents don’t care for the infancy stage, but I LOVE it. I am always happy to just hold a baby.

But pregnancy does not agree with me. I haven’t had scary pregnancies, or bedrest, or premature births. I just spend nine months sick, exhausted, in some sort of back pain, with severe acid reflux. I like baby kicks … but that’s about it.

So now, in my third pregnancy, I am trying to find ways to be a decent mother while getting through another 9-month period of The Grumps. Here’s a few things I’ve come up with.

Let It Slide

My main job is to take care of my kids and make sure they are eating, sleeping, and breathing, right? If I have to turn to Chef Boyardee instead of cooking from scratch, it’s OK. A little extra TV won’t kill them. Making sure they – and I – get some fresh air is a good goal for the day.

Housework is not my priority, and I will do what I can when I can.

Snuggles

I’m spending extra time cuddling the little ones. Today my almost-4-year-old daughter and I gave up naptime to watch a movie and snuggle. She was thrilled with the one-on-one time, and I got to lay on the couch and still be an awesome mommy.

Reading

One thing I can do quite efficiently while hardly moving is read my kids piles of books. We read, talk about pictures and stories, and make up new stories. They are really into coloring, so any related coloring activities are good, too!

 

Your turn: What’s your secret for when you are too tired/sick/pregnant to parent as you normally would?

Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and two kids (1 and 3) plus one on the way!