21 After-School Questions To Get Your Kids Talking

By Joshua Straub

A new school year not only gives our kids the chance to learn new things about the world around them, but also gives them opportunities to learn how to interact with the world around them. Whether you homeschool or your children go to public or private school, your kids’ budding brains are being stretched in so many ways — not just cognitively, but also emotionally and relationally.

As the guy who wrote a book on the importance of emotional intelligence in kids, I care more about my children’s character than I do about them getting straight A’s. I hope one day, when I’m old and frail, I can look back with fondness and pride on the legacy I’m leaving, knowing that my children love God and love all people.

But how can we know, today, what’s really going on inside the hearts and minds of our kids when all we receive in response to our heartfelt, “How was your day?” is…

“Good.”

So you probe, “Did you like it?”

Child: “Yes.”

At least it’s a start. You inquire further, “What did you like about it?”

Child: “I don’t know. Can we watch a movie when we get home?”

With this kind of exchange over time, it’s easy to cave to the movie and stop asking questions. That’s why we have to consider not just the type of question we ask but also the best time of the day to ask it. On the drive home, your child is likely tired and ready to unplug. With that in mind, consider asking the following questions at the dinner table, or when you tuck them into bed — which is often the most emotionally available time of the day for our kids.

21 After-School Questions to Get Your Kids Talking

  1. What’s one thing that really made you laugh today?
  2. What was your most favorite part of the day?
  3. What is one thing (subject, activity, etc.) you like/dislike about school? Tell me about that.
  4. What do you like about ________________ (i.e. your teacher, math, spelling, etc.)?
  5. Share one thing you know now that you didn’t know when you woke up this morning.
  6. Whom did you play with the most at school today? What did you do together?
  7. Who is someone you don’t like hanging out with? Why is that?
  8. Who is someone at school (or a friend you know) who always seems to do the right thing? Tell me about him/her.
  9. What is one thing you’re not looking forward to this week? How do you plan to make the most of it?
  10. Is there a problem you faced today that you solved? How did you solve it?
  11. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?
  12. Did anyone push your buttons today? Tell me about that. How did you react/respond?
  13. What is one thing you want God to help you with at school this week?
  14. What would you like to talk about tonight?
  15. Name one thing that happened today that you’re very thankful for.
  16. Is there a friend or classmate you have trouble getting along with? How can you be a better friend?
  17. Who is someone (a friend at school, a teacher, sibling, etc.) you saw act with integrity today? What did they do?
  18. What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with today? How did you get through it?
  19. What about school makes you happy?
  20. If you could change one thing about school, what it would be?
  21. What is one thing we can do as a family after school or on the weekend that would brighten your day?

Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is a speaker, author, and marriage and leadership coach. He and his wife, Christi, cohost the In This Together podcast and are coauthors of What Am I Feeling? and Homegrown: Cultivating Kids in the Fruit of the Spirit.

 

Let Them Be Bored

By Scott James

Summer is here and my kids have that wild look in their eyes. They are ready for high adventure, ready for freedom. They fly out the door in search of excitement, attacking the day with vigor and boundless potential. Ten minutes later, they’re back inside reciting what seems to have become their summertime motto:

“I’m bored.”

Seriously. What am I supposed to do with that? I’ll tell you what I usually end up doing — I become an activities coordinator, which basically amounts to me endlessly listing things to do in the face of children who insist there’s nothing to do. But no matter what I suggest or how egregiously I bend the screen-time rules, I only seem to exasperate their boredom more.

Eventually, I quit trying and just let them be bored.

Oddly enough, on the other side of a few minutes (or hours) of moping, they always seem to break out of their funk and reengage the day in fun and creative ways. Sometimes it’s the invention of a new game; sometimes they finally settle into that book they’ve been meaning to read. Whatever it is, when left to their boredom, they find a way past it and into new adventures. I can’t say for sure whether it was wisdom or just being fed up that led me to leave them be. Whatever my motivation, I now see that by being too quick to step in with a list of possible activities I was robbing them of the chance to flex their imaginations and work it out on their own.

Beyond stunting their imaginations and problem-solving skills, I think I may have been feeding into an unhealthy frame of mind as well. Their problem isn’t a lack of things to do; their problem is discontentment. If the Apostle Paul can sit in a prison cell and write, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself” (Phil. 4:11), then I think my kids can suffer through a lazy afternoon. Sure, I may have a fun suggestion every now and then, but if I continually cater to their fear of boredom then I may simply be validating their discontentment.

Paul’s point is that, in “whatever circumstance,” our contentment speaks volumes about our relationship with God. Sometimes, my kids’ boredom (and the whining that accompanies it) is an opportunity to point them toward the grace and contentment found in Christ alone. Other times, we go play a game together. Either way, these are the low-key moments of discipleship in which I’m striving to be faithful.

Scott James is a pediatric doctor and a member of The Church at Brook Hills. He loves helping families grow together in Christ and is the author of several family worship devotionals and children’s books. He lives in Birmingham, Ala., with his wife and four children.

This article appears in the Dad’s Life column of the June 2019 issue of ParentLife.

Got the Giggles? 3 Reasons to Fight Worry With Laughter

 

By Joshua Straub

Just the other night at bedtime our nearly 4-year-old son told me his favorite part of the day was when his mom threw a dirty diaper and hit me in the face. He said, “Dad, it really made me laugh.”

Getting our kids ready for bed, Christi and I got into a little battle with our daughter’s diaper. Before you judge us, it wasn’t a number two, and yes, it was wrapped. It ended in the playroom with me covering my head in fear of it actually coming unwrapped. The laughter filled our house.

To be fair, many nights are not like this. If you were to walk into our home during the bath/bedtime routine, you’d likely hear more frustrated end-of-the-day nagging than laughing. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you understand. Especially right now.

School is in session. So is soccer. Field hockey. Homework. Practices. Concerts. Performances. Church programs. More practices. Even more homework. Oh, yeah, and stress. Lots of stress.

So much stress that you may even be growing a bit angry right now — either at me for posing this irresponsible idea of having more fun, or at yourself for still reading this article. I get it.

One — if not both of you — works outside the home. If the other is home with preschool or homeschooled kids, your work is uncompromising. Once you’re all finally at home together at the end of the day…oh wait, there’s homework. And dinner. Do we have to feed the kids again?

Friends, the daily grind is real. But lying in bed with my son the other night reminded me that if we’re not laughing, we’re not living. We need to laugh more. Our kids need us to laugh more.

Here are three reasons why.

1. We’re teaching our kids how to manage stress.

Though it’s rarely discussed in parenting circles, one research study found that the second most effective parenting strategy behind love and affection was how we — parents — manage our stress. And by the way, behavior management (i.e. time-outs, etc.) was found to be a “poor predictor of good outcomes with children,” turning up seventh on that list.

In other words, the quality of our relationship with our kids, and how happy and healthy they become, begins not by how well we reward positive behaviors or use time-outs, but by how well we control ourselves.

Please don’t misunderstand me when I say this. Our child’s behavior matters. But I’m willing to guess there are more parents who, just like me, need to stop worrying so much about our child’s behavior, and start focusing on our own. Stressed parents raise stressed children.

As Landon reminded me the other night, they’re watching us.

2. We’re teaching our kids how to relate well.

As soon as Landon told me his favorite part of the day involved Christi and me chasing each other through the house with a soiled diaper, I went and got her so she could come hear it too. We sat on his bed together and legit belly-laughed.

I write often about the power of the marital relationship on our kids. Turns out, how well we get along with the other parent is the third most effective parenting practice. Yet, of the ten practices studied, it ranked eighth in parents’ list of actual abilities. How parents manage stress ranked dead last.

If how we manage stress and treat our spouse have more influence on our kids’ outcomes than even their education, behavior management, life skills, and safety, then perhaps it’s time we prioritize ourselves as parents. Prioritizing our kids over our marriage will wreak havoc on both.

Christi and I have a date every week. Sometimes, we have to be super creative to make it happen. But it’s when we don’t that we’re tempted to use the wet diaper more as a weapon than a toy.

As our mentors Dave and Claudia Arp tell us, “Your kids will wait while you grab a few moments to work on your marriage; but your marriage won’t wait until your kids grow up.”

3. We’re teaching our kids what really matters.

Picture yourself sitting around the dinner table 25-30 years from now with your kids’ families, your grandchildren begging for stories. What we won’t hear from our own kids is how well we kept the kitchen clean. How we successfully had them in bed by 7:30 pm every night. How we taught them never to splash the water out of the bathtub. In fact, I don’t even think they’re going to mention the 105 percent they got on the spelling test.

Instead, we’ll hear about the moments that brought laughter. Mom and Dad’s diaper fight through the house. The time the whole family got caught out on a walk and decided to just dance in the rain. The time we stayed up past bedtime to play games as a family. The camping trip. The pancake dates. The leaf piles in the fall.

Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life…which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:25, 27).

And if I may, parents, “Which of you by being anxious can add more joy to the moments he shares with his kids?”

Let’s worry less and laugh more.

Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is a speaker, author, and marriage and leadership coach. He and his wife, Christi, cohost the In This Together podcast and are coauthors of What Am I Feeling? and Homegrown: Cultivating Kids in the Fruit of the Spirit.

This article appears in the May 2019 issue of ParentLife.

Is Your Child Anxious?

By Dixie Walker

What is that all-consuming, dreaded “something” for your child? You know — the thing that starts your stomach churning and palms sweating at the first thought of it coming up on your agenda?

My number one dread in life has always been flying. I absolutely hate it! So, when I know of a trip coming up when I’m forced to fly rather than travel by ground, my symptoms of anxiety start revving up with great intensity:

  • Fearful thoughts
  • Sadness
  • Nervousness
  • Discomfort internally
  • Sweaty palms
  • No desire to discuss the upcoming trip

It’s no surprise then that apprehensions of many types are an issue for many people — including our kids!

Anxiety defined

True anxiety actually goes beyond the “normal” state of being worried. It would be typical for your child to worry about the results of an important test in school. Or having to stand in front of classmates to deliver a presentation. It’s not unusual to be afraid of frightening things like tornadoes or snakes. But when our worries and fears begin to affect our ability to function in our daily lives, it’s likely anxiety has taken over.

According to anxiety.org, some common symptoms related to anxiety include:

  • Excessive, irrational, or uncontrollable feelings of worry and dread
  • Sensations of panic and uneasiness for no apparent reason
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Ritualistic behavior
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle tension
  • Inability to remain calm
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Stomachache

If you think your child — or yourself — is struggling with anxiety, consider these coping methods to help (adapted from a list by Psychology Today):

Make a problems list

Form a list of specific problems/fears to overcome. Then break each problem down into a series of tasks, and rank the tasks in order of difficulty. Attempt the easiest task first and keep on returning to it day after day until you feel fairly comfortable with it. Give yourself as long as you need, then move on to the next task and do the same thing, and so on.

Use relaxation techniques

One common and effective strategy, called ‘deep breathing,’ involves modifying and regulating your breathing:

  1. Breathe in through your nose and hold the air in for several seconds.
  2. Then purse your lips and gradually let the air out, making sure that you let out as much air as you can.
  3. Continue doing this until you are feeling more relaxed.

A second strategy that is often used together with deep breathing involves relaxation exercises:

  1. Lying on your back, tighten the muscles in your toes for 10 seconds and then relax them completely.
  2. Do the same for your feet, ankles, and calves, gradually working your way up your body until you reach your head and neck.

Other general strategies your child can use for relaxing include listening to classical/instrumental music, taking a warm bath, reading a book, chatting with a friend, or playing sports.

Implement simple lifestyle changes

These might include:

  • Simplifying life beyond the necessary (school, church, family)
  • Having a schedule and keeping to it
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising regularly (for example, walking, swimming)
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Taking time for enjoyable activities
  • Connecting with friends to share thoughts and feelings

Seek help

If your child continues to suffer with severe anxiety despite implementing some of these measures, you may want to seek help through a Christian counseling center. You can check with doctor offices or churches in your area for local centers.

Dixie Walker is a freelance writer of Christian family ministry resources. She and her family reside in Nashville, Tenn.

This article first appeared under the title “Put Your Child’s Anxiety to Rest!” in the April 2018 issue of ParentLife magazine.

 

8 Weekly Prayers To Pray for Your Kids While They’re at School

By Joshua Straub

I genuinely believe there is no greater parenting technique than to pray boldly for our kids.
For many of us, sending our children back to school can feel like an emotional roller coaster ride. Fears and questions concern us. Will they make friends? What challenges will they face? Who will influence them? Can they keep up academically?

If you homeschool, your fears about your kids may be a little different, but are no less valid or worrisome.

The reality is that God gave us our kids to steward well. God chose you to raise your kids. I think that’s incredibly generous and really cool of Him. It’s also humbling.

That’s why we need God’s help.

Whether you homeschool or send your kids off to school, here are some prayers you can regularly pray for your kids each day this coming school year.

Monday: Father, though grades matter, I pray that you instill in my children a love for learning. Give them wisdom, insight, and understanding above all else.

Tuesday: Dear God, surround my children with friends, mentors, and loved ones who champion and affirm their worth, strengths, and gifts. Place people in their lives who love them dearly for who they are.

Wednesday: Father, help my children to be honest, hard working, rested, patient, faithful, empathetic, and kind. (Insert your own values into these prayers for your kids. You can pray a different value for your kids each week as well).

Thursday: Dear Lord, instill in my children the courage to do the right thing, even in the face of being unpopular or being picked on for it. Give my children the call and resolve to be kind and strong, and to walk confidently in Your love for them.

Friday: Father, your eyes are looking throughout the earth for a heart that is completely yours. I pray for these hearts for my children. Woo them to be undeniably in love with you.

Here are a few extra I pray regularly as well:

A prayer for character: Dear God, develop my children’s inward character. Help me to show my kids, by how I live and teach, that I value it more than outward success or the accolades of others.

A prayer of lovingkindness: Father, whether it’s a word of affirmation, helping with a task, standing up for someone, or giving a gift, help my child to show someone they’re valuable today.

A prayer for good belly laughs: Dear Lord, I pray for a belly laugh today for my children. Teach them the value of having fun and laughing hard. And, Lord, do the same for me.

Tell us, what prayers do you regularly pray for your children?

Joshua Straub has two cherished roles—as husband to wife, Christi, and dad Landon and Kennedy. He serves as Marriage and Family Strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources and leads Famous at Home, a company equipping leaders, organizations, military families, and churches in emotional intelligence and family wellness.

This article appears in the September 2018 issue of ParentLife.

Bold Middle School Faith {Bible GIVEAWAY}

Bold Middle School Faith
photo credit: Lauren Macdonald via Flickr Creative Commons

Tweens feel like they are in a constant state of change. And they’re right. With all of the adjustments they go through physically, mentally, and emotionally, nearly every aspect of their lives is changing! If you know anything about middle school, you know it can be a pretty tumultuous time. Sometimes friends embarrass each other on purpose because they think it’s funny. Gossip and B.O. abound. Blending in is a survival tactic. First crushes develop. Things get plain awkward, scary, and upended at this age. Most who survived middle school would never willingly return.

Could you imagine if you knew then what you know now—about the Bible, God, faith, and prayer?

You may have heard about God’s unconditional love and His faithfulness back then, but the longer we walk with God, the stronger our faith becomes. Chances are, you’ve learned to depend on God much more as you’ve seen His faithfulness and consistency play out in your life. Most likely you’ve learned to extend grace to others more freely as you’ve experienced God’s mercy and unconditional love firsthand.

Imagine if your middle-schooler’s faith was resilient and flourishing at this young age!

What would happen if your middle schooler prayed more faithfully? worried less? trusted God more? navigated friendships and hurtful or humiliating situations with more grace, care, and understanding? What if your middle schooler had bold faith?

Each one of us is on our own journey. Our particular paths may look different, but as Christians we are all seeking to follow Jesus every day of our lives. We are continually gaining new perspective on life and faith and seeing more clearly our purpose here on earth. To walk with God is to be in a constant state of change, not unlike middle school. The minute we become stagnant in our relationship with God, our growth suffers.

How can we help tweens fully embrace their faith in God and live boldly?

The Bible is God’s love letter to us. Every word in it was written just for us. God speaks to us through the inspired words on the pages of Scripture, and the more time we devote to reading God’s Word—the Bible—the stronger our foundation will be.

One of the most significant influences in your child’s faith is you. What are they learning about God by observing your actions, your words, and your prayers? Do they see you reading your Bible? praying? depending on God in tough times? modeling bold faith?

Practical ways to encourage middle schoolers to be bold and courageous in their faith:

  • Model it for them!
  • Pray and ask God for wisdom and insight into how you can encourage and deepen your child’s faith.
  • Seize the big and small opportunities to encourage your child’s relationship with God each day.
  • Reflect on ways you can help them notice and discover God working in their lives.
  • Talk about what they have read in their Bible, then explore how God might be speaking to them each day through their Bible reading.
  • Discuss ways to apply the Bible to their own life in specific situations they are going through currently.
  • Talk about what God is doing in your life. Share ways that you personally are depending on God, or ways that your family is.

As we teach middle schoolers to always trust God—even when things get hard at school, with friends, or at home—they can develop a faith that withstands the trials. God loves them as much as we do—and way more! God speaks to them through his Word, and he speaks directly to their hearts.

Faith becomes real for kids when it connects with their world, and the New Living Translation is great for tweens because it is so easy for them to understand. The language isn’t archaic or difficult, which can cause barriers to understanding and application. Instead, they can glean more from reading their Bibles with confidence. When tweens read the Bible and understand what it says, God can work in their hearts!

Girls SlimlineGuys Slimline

The Girls and Guys Slimline Bible covers were designed just for tweens! In fact, they were chosen by a focus group of tween students! The Bibles also include a dictionary/concordance to help tweens look up key words and find passages on subjects they are interested in, full-color maps, a matching ribbon marker, and a presentation page. The extra-special Girls Slimline Bible has a BOLD FAITH theme on the back cover and endsheets, and the cover is made of soft, bright neon material with a glittery silver lining around the edges! The Guys and Girls Slimline Bibles make great gifts for the tweens in your life! Be encouraged as you begin (or continue!) the exciting and joy-filled blessing of walking alongside your tween on their faith journey through middle school and beyond.

Want to win a copy of one of these Bibles for a tween in your life? Let us know in the comments whom you would give it to and whether you’d want the Girls or Guys version! We will choose a winner from the comments on November 15.

Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winners: Debbie, Angela Barnes, Ken Ohl, Marianne Sandling, and Charles-Linda Bradshaw.

More for Girls Only {GIVEAWAY}

More for Girls Only

Young girls today live in a world that’s changing so fast their parents can’t keep up! How is a girl to process all the advertising, broadcasting, entertainment, and social media out there? And how is she to think biblically about this constant barrage of messages, many of which come from her close friends?

Girls need help finding their identity in Christ and modeling their behavior after Him rather than after media stars, sports figures, or popular kids at school. But parents need help getting the message out, and Tyndale has just the resource to help! In a broken and sexually charged culture, girls often find their parents’ Christian values attacked and minimized. Glamorous people model lifestyles in direct opposition to what they hear at home and in Sunday school, and many girls lack strong role models.

At a time when “truth” has become subjective, how’s a girl to find her way? If you’re looking for relatable scenarios and scriptural advice to point your daughters or granddaughters or nieces or friends in the right direction, Carolyn Larsen’s More for Girls Only! Devotions is a must-read, serving as a light to guide young girls as they learn to make good and wise decisions. Girls will learn not only how to be a caring person, modeling the love of Christ, but how to pursue God in every aspect of their lives. Who doesn’t need that?

More for Girls Only! Devotions introduces real-life situations and looks to Scripture for answers while also offering a call to action for readers to put into practice. Here’s just one example: Kylie is certain she will get the solo in the upcoming end-of-the-year school choir concert and lets everyone know it. But when her friend Maria suggests that Shauna might be chosen, Kylie brags about her own abilities while putting down Shauna’s voice, sending Shauna from the room with hurt feelings.

The author asks readers to consider honestly how often they promote their own gifts while neglecting the gifts of others. A sample quiz is provided so readers can take a personal inventory and look at their own willingness to build others up. The author offers suggestions for ways to show care to friends—such as paying a compliment to someone every day. At the end of the devotion, Scripture passages reinforce the lesson—“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Other examples of topics include handling advice from adults; seeking after inner beauty—like kindness and caring—rather than up-to-date styles; putting God first, even above passions like sports; learning to pray for those who are mean to you; asking God into every situation through prayer; remembering to be thankful; serving others. These devotions will teach girls how to grow in godly character in all areas of their lives, becoming testimonies for Christ to everyone around them.

We’ll close with two meaningful and powerful quotes included in the section on forgiving those who mistreat you:

  • Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die. —Anne Lamott
  • Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? —Abraham Lincoln

Aren’t those powerful lessons every girl (and person) needs to remember?

______

Want to win a copy of More for Girls Only! Devotions? Enter using the Rafflecopter below. We have five copies to give away.

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5 Educational Websites for Summer Learning

Are you out of school yet? It feels funny to ask that, seeing that my daughter’s kindergarten year ended on May 18. But I know most schools get out later than that. I didn’t graduate until June 16 in Virginia, where we had the no-starting-until-after-Labor-Day rule.

I’m sure, like me, you don’t want your child’s reading level to go down during the summer, not do you want him or her to stop learning. But how do you make it fun? There are a million great ways (I highly recommend I Can Teach My Child if you have a toddler/preschooler/kindergartner). And one tool we use at home is our basic desktop computer.

While I certainly don’t want to fry my kid’s brain with screens all the time, she is allowed to use the computer a couple times a week for a half-hour or so. We are pretty insistent that she stay on educational sites, despite her new interest in finding URLs on brochures and wanting to visit the “Lego GIRLS” site. (Bleccch.)

Here are some of our favorite sites and some others I’ve seen highly recommended.

abcmouse_classroom

ABCMouse.com (paid) – ABCMouse is an “interactive classroom” for kids ages 2 through 7. Our kids started using it about age 4, when they could control the mouse. It teaches basic reading and math skills as well as offering simple lessons on animals, space, and more. The learning path has 6 levels, going from pre-reader to kindergarten levels. My daughter is 6 1/2 and can read well, but she still enjoys the lessons, earning tickets, and playing around with the different features. It’s about $8/month, but you can try it out on a 30-day trial.

reading-eggs-screenshots

ReadingEggs.com (paid) – Reading Eggs is a service we were gifted through my daughter’s school. Its curriculum is a little wider than ABC Mouse, spanning ages 3 to 14. Through Reading Eggs, kids can work on letter sounds, sight words, spelling, and a bunch more! Like ABC Mouse, there are levels that you move through and receive “golden eggs” as prizes, making it feel like a game. The cost is about $50 for 6 months or $59 for a year, with a 2-week free trial.

pbskids

PBSKids.org (free) – Since we don’t have cable, my kids are pretty familiar with the beloved PBS characters: Curious George, Cat in the Hat, Daniel Tiger, Sid the Science Kid, the Wild Kratts … need I go on? On the PBS Kids website, little ones can play games related to the series, as well as watch short videos or print out pictures to color or activities to do. My kids especially love the “pipe game” from Odd Squad, which helps with spacial reasoning.

DiscoveryKidsPuterbugs2

Discovery Kids (free) – Is your child obsessed with dinosaurs? Space? Sharks? Discovery Kids might be a good site to visit, then. There are games that vary from building a roller coaster to exploring volcanoes to virtual jigsaw puzzles. The “Puterbugs” system jumped out at me – a game focusing on teaching typing alongside reading, writing, and math.

superbook2

Superbook (free) – Looking for something to enhance spiritual learning? Based on the CBN series Superbook, this site has games, videos, a virtual Bible with daily “challenge” and character discovery, trivia, and more. Kids can even submit their prayer requests. For fun, I tried out the Bible Brain Busters game. Definitely suited for older kids (because you need to read and answer fast), some of the questions were funny and some tricky, but they will definitely learn something. Mom and Dad might enjoy quizzing each other, too.

Do you have any favorite websites for kids’ learning?

Scripture Chair

Surround your child with God’s Word in a unique way. Have her help you paint an old wooden chair with several colors of paint. Use a paint pen to write favorite verses on the chair. Offer a reward if your child memorizes all the verses on the chair.

scripturechair6_13

Kristen White loves playing and praying with her husband and four kids in Shelbyville, Ky., where they attend First Baptist Church. Catch some encouragement on her blog at www.womenwithroots.com.

 

 

 

 

 

KISS (Keep It Seriously Simple) by Lou Ann Davison

IMG_2862.JPG
source: ademrudin

Do you ever feel like your life is more complicated than you wish it were? Are you used to having way too much “stuff”? Your children may feel the same way. They are often the targets of marketing campaigns that are aimed at convincing them that happiness comes by buying whatever product they’re pushing. Today’s kids need to learn to tell the difference between needs and wants. They need to be taught how to appreciate and express thankfulness for what they have, rather than always longing for what they don’t have.

As parents and teachers of preteens, you need to look for every opportunity to drive home the facts about the issues described. Sit down with your preteen sometime and leaf through a catalog from a store. Have him point out things he thinks he would like to own. Then talk about whether or not that item is a need or a want. Explain the difference simply by pointing out that needs are the essential things in life, while wants are not that important.

If your preteen insists that an item is “essential” to him, perhaps instead of agreeing to buy it for him, challenge him to save his money to buy it himself. If it takes him a long time to earn the money, chances are he will change his mind about the item being so important to him and decide against buying it.

Another activity is to look for opportunities for your preteen to be involved in a mission project. Perhaps your church offers ways to help people in your community who are less fortunate.

A group of fifth graders developed a new appreciation for the food their parents provide for them by helping out in a food pantry. They never really thought about that there were many people in their community who could barely scrape by and feed their families. Children’s hospitals, children’s homes, and other facilities that take care of children often have “wish lists” available for the asking. Your preteen would enjoy filling some of those needs. Allow him to actually purchase the items, box them up, and mail them himself. Point out to him that he can be assured that his generosity will bring a smile to some child who may not have a lot to smile about.

Helping your child see the world in this way opens up a whole new thought process for him. He will hopefully become less demanding of “stuff” for himself and realize that true happiness comes by giving of himself to others.

The Bible has a lot to say about living in this way. A few scriptures to share with your preteen are: Matthew 10:8; Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Acts 20:35.

Perhaps as you focus on teaching this all-important lesson about “simple living,” you will realize you need to make some changes in your way of life, too. What better way to drive home this lesson than to model it for your preteen!

Lou Ann Davison is a retired elementary teacher who enjoys substitute teaching, tutoring, and spending time with her five grandchildren. She is a member of the First Baptist Church in Marvell, AR.