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Jody Capehart – Providing Proven Guidance for Parents and Teachers
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Teaching Children How to Pray as We Honor the National Day of Prayer

Posted: May 1st, 2014

Prayer is an adventure—a life-creating, life-changing journey into a closer relationship with God. Prayer is the main avenue God uses to change us and to guide our lives. Richard Foster says it well—“prayer catapults us into the frontier of the spiritual life.”

As Christians, we know the importance of prayer in our own lives. But are we using  prayer as God intended it to be—the way to plug into His power in our lives? Corrie Ten Boom gives us a good word picture: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire”?

The Heart of a Child

The heart of a child is tender to the teachings of God and young children are eager to pray. Prayer becomes a spiritual security blanket where they learn to turn to God and trust in Him. Jesus is real to a child as they get to know Him as their friend first and then, their Savior.

Jesus Modeled Prayer

Jesus modeled prayer for us. Children need us to model prayer for them because that is how they learn best. Nothing is more effective than praying with and for your children each day. In John 17 we see the progression in prayer that Jesus modeled. He prayed for Himself—that He might bring honor and glory to the Father. Then He prayed for those closest to Him, the disciples. Finally, He prayed for all believers.

Jesus modeled prayer for us with what we call The Lord’s Prayer.

Partnership in Prayer

In the Bible, we read in 1 Samuel about a child, Samuel, who heard the voice of God. Yet he still needed the loving, encouragement of Eli to guide him and teach him how to obey what he heard from God. As parents and teachers, let us embrace the God-given partnership we have in training our children to hear and obey God. It is more difficult today because as a culture we are immersed in activity and our senses are saturated.

How, then, can we hear the still, small voice of God? How can we train children to listen quietly when we are bombarded in sound? We need to show them how to listen to the silence so they can hear God. We also want children to learn to pray scripture. A good way to achieve both may be to read Psalm 46:10 to the children and invite them to take the first part of the verse to pray quietly. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

How Should We Pray

Set aside time each day in your home or classroom for prayer. Begin by simply being quiet, helping children become comfortable with silence, to begin reflecting upon the presence of God, the person of Jesus, and  the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Give them a short Bible verse to reflect upon, or a quality of God, or something that Jesus said in His teachings. Or, you may want to sing a short hymn or song, and then ask the children to think about the words during a brief time of silence. Remember, the attention span of young children is short and so, keep the time for reflective silence short and age-appropriate. Perhaps 15 seconds at first, then 30 seconds, to 1 minute, and gradually add short increments of time as you see the children grow in maturity. After a quiet time of reflection, lead the children into spoken prayer.


In my book Cherishing and Challenging Our Children I share some specific techniques and examples. A simple one to teach children also serves as a reminder for adults.  That is:

“Wiggle our thumbs and say something in praise to Jesus.  This is our J.

“Wiggle your middle fingers for O for others and pray for others: family, friends, teachers, pastors, missionaries, etc.”

“Finally we wiggle our little finger for Y and Y is for you.  We pray for ourselves last.” (That can be confusing for little ones, so you may have to explain the “y” is for “u” which is how they will hear it.)

There is JOY when you remember to put Jesus first, the needs of others next, and finally, yourself. I must confess that I have to remind myself of this simple method on a regular basis as my prayers begin to sound like a “To Do List for God.” This system helps me to keep my priorities in order as an adult also.

Prayer Tree

To develop a deeper relationship with your class, I suggest making a PRAYER TREE. It develops during the school year as you watch it transform reflecting prayers that are answered with God’s sovereign “yes” or “no” at the bottom of the tree, and His “wait” remain on the tree branches. (Cherishing and Challenging Your Children, pages 159-160)

How Should We Pray for Our Children and Students

Of course, we should never forget the power of praying for our children and students. Teaching them can only go so far. Praying for them is a must.

Our hearts often feel burdened for the many things we want to pray for regarding our children and students. Years ago I made up a prayer card to guide me as I prayed for my children and later made copies for the moms at school and church. It listed requests such as to know Jesus as Savior, to be a prayer warrior, love the Word, to be disciplined, and more. I would add scripture verses, and other items of daily concern that I had for them around the concentric circles. For a class of children, I would copy them on paper and hole-punch to put into a binder. For my children, I copied them on smaller card stock to fit into my Bible. These cards became a record of the spiritual journey with a child. When a card or sheet was full, I would start another. (Put the child’s name in the center and a start and stop date for each one.) You may download this prayer card  to begin this spiritual journey of prayer.

Prayer Requests

I have also had my older students write requests on 3×5 cards. I found that often they felt comfortable sharing such requests with me that they did not want known to the class. Not only did this help me know what to pray for, but it also strengthened my relationship with that student as well as gave them more confidence in sharing their burdens and believing in the power of prayer.

Praying God’s Word for Our Children

Here are just a few of the many items we can pray for our children and students. There is great power in praying the Word and inserting the child’s name. For example, if you have a daughter who is struggling with gossip you may want to pray:

“I pray for _______ to know that without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.” Proverbs 26:20

If you have a child who is having trouble forgiving someone, you may want to paraphrase Ephesians 4:32 as you pray:
“I pray for _________________ to be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving______________, just as Christ God has forgiven him/her.”

National Day of Prayer

One way to teach our students and children—as well as remind ourselves—how to pray beyond our own needs is to be involved with the National Day of Prayer, which is May 1, 2014.  While every day should be a Day of Prayer for us, let us find special ways to honor this day in our home, work, church, and/or community. For more information on ways that you can be involved, visit the National Day of Prayer website.

May God bless your prayer life as you grow and deepen your walk in Him.

Great New Tech Article

Posted: March 14th, 2014

Here’s a link to my first Grace Academy’s Parenting With a Purpose blog. I was interviewed for some of this article, called “Raising Kids in a Tech-Drenched World (Part 1)“. Enjoy!

http://www.graceacademy.com/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=209227&type=d&pREC_ID=464323

Do Your Children Enjoy Each Other…Or Does It Seem Like They Just Fight?

Posted: February 14th, 2014

Somewhere in the top three concerns most parents have is the issue of how to cut down on the amount of fighting that goes on between siblings.

Some families have hoped that having multiple children will lead to increased social skills. And in some ways this thinking is correct, as siblings sometimes learn social behaviors that an only-child might not.

The issue is that not all of those learned behaviors are positive. In addition to good social skills, siblings also learn poor ones from each other.

WHY DO THEY FIGHT ANYWAYS?

Theorists have presented hundreds of theories attempting to explain sibling rivalries.

One of the more popular notions – that siblings fight to win parental attention – held sway for decades.

Now that theory has come under more scrutiny, as recent studies have uncovered that the desire to fight for parental love and attention is not as driving a factor as previously assumed.

Yes, some children struggle when a new member is added to the mix. That is undeniable. Also, some families praise children disproportionately, causing negative feelings of competition and envy.

But in the big picture, kids fight less over you and more over…stuff. As in, this is my stuff, and I’m not sharing with you.

The main issue now being examined is that of sharing. Territorial claims over coveted toys lead to more direct conflicts than any other…as you may already know all too well!

HOW WELL DO YOUR KIDS PLAY WITH OTHERS?

The problem in most cases is that a tone is set between siblings early on – a tone established largely by the older child.

If the tone is one of equality, understanding, and respect, you can consider yourself one of the lucky families in a very small minority.

Most of the time, however, the established tone tends more toward bossy and controlling. Especially in the early years, the eldest knows more and therefore “runs the show.”

What experts are finding now is that children’s relationship with their best friend is a good predictor of how they will interact with siblings.

For example, if they learn how to include others and how to handle conflict with fairness while listening to the other’s concerns, then they tend to take these skills into other relationships. If power games rule the day, it is extremely difficult for kids to do otherwise with their siblings, especially if they are the eldest and can exercise greater control.

There is an important difference, though, between these two types of relationships that also plays a decisive role: you can lose friends if you don’t treat them right, but siblings aren’t going anywhere.

Meaning, there is little incentive to change one’s behavior with siblings who will be there no matter what. While friends might move on if you’re not being a good friend, this opt-out clause is not available in sibling contracts.

That’s why it is possible for a child to play well with friends but still struggle with siblings.

HELP THEM WANT TO PLAY TOGETHER

One of the suggested strategies for handling this is to create situations for them to want to play together. The more a sibling views the other as an irreplaceable playmate, the more motivated they will be to handle conflict fairly, or else risk losing a valuable playmate.

In other words, the more they enjoy each other, the more they will treat each other similarly to how they treat their friends.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Theory is always easier than real life – especially if the tone has already become hardened between the two.

But don’t let that stop you. Instead, create situations in which the two are set up for success, not failure.

Now, this doesn’t mean you hover around constantly playing referee. Rather, it means you don’t set them in a room where there is one “best toy,” pray for their hearts to be changed, and hope they learn to share!

You might try introducing activities such as role-playing games where they each create a persona/character of their own invention that they enjoy and begin interacting together. Take ideas from each one and help them see how fun the other’s ideas are to try out. As they figure it out, step back and let them take over. Children’s imaginations don’t need your direction.

Will there still be conflict? Of course. Will someone try and take over the game? Inevitably.

But the more they learn to view the other as a friend and not simply someone whom they take for granted because they live in the same house, the more they will learn that they must make concessions in order to keep this valued playmate around.

That’s what many siblings discover later in life, and one you can help them get a jump-start in learning!

As our children were growing up, we watched them grow from being ‘just’ siblings to becoming true friends. Now as grown adults in their 20’s and 30’s they still remain close friends, choose to do things together, and communicate on a regular basis. It has been a joy to watch the process change and develop over the years.

Most translations quote Proverbs 17:17 as, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” However, I would also like to add the New Living Translation one for this blog. “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

Children Are Not Computers (Part 2 of 2)

Posted: February 12th, 2014

Part One focused on the problems that can arise from over-stimulating your child’s environment in an effort to maximize brain development during their early years.

The desire to increase your child’s intelligence is understandable. But it must be done so with proper understanding of what scientists are telling us about the early brain, rather than what marketers are selling us.

BRINGING THE SCIENCE HOME

For Part Two, I want to discuss the proactive but reasonable ways you can implement activities and enrich the environment for your child.

As you practice these things at home and seek out other activities to try, remember this: your child is not a machine. You are well-read and know they are not the empty vessels we once believed them to be. But neither are they computers that can be programmed with easy-to-use downloadable software.

Instead, children are organic creatures that require a rounded experience, not simply an intellectual one. They grow best from full experiences, which include emotional support such as love and encouragement as well as novel, pleasurable, and exciting experiences in combination with intellectual stimulation.

IDEAS TO TRY ON YOUR OWN

Here are some guidelines and tips for things you can try on your own with toddlers and infants:

  • Children need to be allowed to explore and manipulate. If they cannot yet walk, place toys just out of their reach so they learn to stretch and move to reach them. If they can walk, place items on shelves (rather than in big, messy bins) that they must remove themselves (and put back when they are done!). Give them toys they can stack, take apart, and manipulate in a hands-on way.
  • Children need to be allowed to take the lead. Follow your child’s interests rather than try to push them in any particular direction. Let them determine the action as often as possible. Your job is to facilitate, not dominate.
  • Children need to be encouraged. A loving and kind word goes a long, long way. As you encourage, please try to avoid blanket “you’re so smart/great/amazing” statements but instead do your best to make your praise specific. Especially focus on times when they must work extra hard to accomplish something. Tell them how proud you are of them for not giving up when it was hard. This will help build up their confidence for taking on new challenges and “getting back on the horse.”
  • Children need to feel safe. Yes, children like to explore. But they only do so when they feel their environment is safe. Your presence does go a long way, but take time to childproof the house, too, and offer regularity and predictability. It might be boring to you, but remember it’s not about you and this is what children need.
  • Children need to be engaged and interested. Not every activity will be a home run. But with some creativity and encouragement, you can make even the ordinary task come to life. Plus, as you let them take the lead, you will find the have great ideas for putting a fun spin on less exciting activities!
  • Children sometimes need a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes it will take a little time to get them interested. Try and model it once or twice yourself and show them how fun it is. Then step back and let them take over. If it never works, let it go. No two people are identical, so it’s ridiculous to think one child will love every single activity.
  • Children need repetition. You might not want to play peek-a-boo again, but guess what? They would love to play again! Repetition helps reinforce brain circuitry and builds confidence, and interactive games like peek-a-boo and patty-cake are a great way to connect before they are capable of conversation and even help build language skills.
  • Children need conversation. Talk to your child. Point out what you are doing. Sit still and watch together out the window, naming and discussing what you see. Do this even before they can talk. Once they can, have them point things out to you. And add variety to your vocabulary to help them build theirs – they don’t need ‘baby words’ 24/7.
  • Children need for you to listen. Even more important than talking to your children, you need to listen to them. Research shows that as babies begin to babble, a light reaffirming touch or short verbal response give them the encouragement to talk more, which has been shown to increase vocabulary and language skills. It’s not meant to be done all day long, but during those 10 minute bursts when babies start trying to converse. Don’t worry about whether you understand a word they say, either. Just let them know you like hearing them talk! And don’t stop that encouragement when they can talk. Keep listening with open ears whenever they need it!
  • Children need order. Children enjoy predictability, structure, and order. Sure, they instantly make a mess. But that’s not their preference. That’s exploration. But order helps make them feel safe and secure enough to attempt their explorations.
  • Children need novelty but not in excessive amounts. New toys are appreciated. But you don’t need a new one every day. And you don’t need them all at once. In fact, it’s best to introduce new toys amongst familiar ones.
  • Children respond well to color and soft music. Just as children can be messy, they can also be loud. Soft voices and soft music help keep them calm and focused. Music is not only good for the soul but is great brain food, too. And colorful bins and decorations provide interesting visual stimulus.
  • Children need downtime and rest. Constant brain stimulation is not what’s best, believe it or not. Instead, children need a healthy mix of stimulation, rest, and ‘normal’ play time. Have fun with them, provide free time for play, give them some ‘brain time,’ and then let them rest.

Dr. Healy recommends parents encourage “a comprehensive foundation rather than training specific skills.” Dr. Ken Robinson agrees, adding that the future may be quite different than the present. Therefore, we need to teach kids how to think rather than teach facts that might not be useful in 30 years.

Remember, children are not passive machines that we add more files to; they are living, breathing creatures that develop in an organic, natural way – and each child has their own internal pace, so please don’t rush them. Let them enjoy life’s wonders while you enjoying watching them grow.

Children Are Not Computers (Part 1 of 2)

Posted: February 10th, 2014

For centuries, even the most brilliant minds mistakenly believed that children were little more than empty vessels that we needed to keep alive until we could begin to pour knowledge into their unformed minds.

Since then we have made tremendous leaps and bounds in unlocking the unparalleled power and activity of children’s rapidly growing brains and minds.

THE PROBLEM TODAY

Today I think we often make the opposite mistake: parents now want to do everything they can to try and maximize their baby’s learning potential, to tap into all the latest brain research so they can provide the very best ‘stimulation’ money can buy.

I believe the majority of these parents have their children’s best interests at heart.

But perhaps they have inadvertently made an error in their thinking: they’ve come to see their child as a kind of computer into which they can download as much information as possible, especially during those early formative years when children’s brains are more active than even an adult brain.

What happens is that parents end up over-stimulating their children.

In her book Your Child’s Growing Mind, Dr. Jane M. Healy states that she has encountered parents who attempt things such as “piping in voices or phonics lessons through a megaphone-like device attached to Mom’s tummy,” alphabet flash cards for babies, and 24/7 viewing of language videos.

I have previously written about the research and experiments that have come out demonstrating that language videos to do not help children learn to speak because human beings are hard-wired to learn from other people.

DANGERS OF OVER-STIMULATION

Dr. Healy points out a couple of other problems with this approach to parenting through over-stimulation.

The first issue is the reality is that the normal, everyday environment already provides plenty of stimulation for babies and young children. What might not be interesting to you – such as a slowly spinning ceiling fan or a kitchen light turning on and off – might be wildly fascinating to your child. And good for their brains!

This idea that we must super-size the environment to maximize brain development is simply misguided. That is why it is so important to do some research yourself and read what is coming out of respected scientific journals rather than react to every new trend that hits the market.

As you know, if it can be sold, someone will find a way to convince you that you simply cannot live without this latest-and-greatest, must-have item.

So don’t merely accept every statement about brain development as fact until you check it out yourself. You will find that the daily routine of reading aloud to your child, taking walks together, singing to your baby, talking together (even if they can’t respond verbally yet), observing you or the dog or siblings around the house, or even running errands — all provide more than sufficient stimulation for your child’s developing brain.

Your child needs nutrition, love, interaction, and safety. They also need time to rest.

In fact, research shows that it is during sleep that the brain moves experiences and information into long-term storage. Lack of sleep is actually becoming more and more connected to problems facing children today, such as obesity, learning problems, and emotional struggles.

HELICOPTER PARENTING

The second issue Dr. Healy discusses is the effect parents have when they are constantly directing the activities of their children rather than letting the child take the lead.

She writes, “Children with ‘pushy’ or over-controlling parents tend to have problems with motivation, discipline, and personal adjustment than those blessed with parents who can appreciate each stage of growth and follow the child’s lead in creating activities.”

Two of the most crucial things going on for infants is to learn to self-regulate and discover that they have agency – that their actions can produce results.

Both of these key develoments revolve around control, and if a child is never allowed to exercise some control, they are more likely to become passive, unmotivated, and apathetic, especially as they grow older and are faced with more and more responsibilities at school and later at work.

The more the parent interferes with, hovers over, and dictates the child’s decisions, the less that child will develop a natural, healthy sense of autonomy, motivation, and initiative.

As difficult as it is, as a parent you must sometimes step back and trust life’s experiences to provide for your child’s needs.

(I should point out that this is a lesson that continues to be difficult as your gets older, too. So try and learn the lesson early on!)

In Part Two, I will cover some simple ways you can stimulate the environment without risking the many negatives that come from over-stimulation.

ABC’s for Today:

  1. Allow  your child to spend time with you doing normal activities and talk as you do chores around the home, prepare a meal, do errands, and get dressed.
  2. Be careful to not over-stimulating them with too many toys and activities. Be aware that simply talking to your baby and child and providing eye contact is key to successful language development.
  3. Creative, open-ended play is more important for brain development than always having parent-led activities. Children find most everything interesting and don’t need to have expensive toys to challenge their minds.

Continued in Part 2: http://www.jodycapehart.com/children-are-n…rs-part-2-of-2/

    The Learning Feats of the Fetus…and Beyond

    Posted: February 9th, 2014

    Two recent TED talks shed some interesting light on a couple of fascinating questions: when does learning begin, and what do babies think?

    The answers given by both speakers present new scientific findings that not only run contrary to common sense but present conclusive evidence that the inner-life of babies is far more rich than we ever suspected, even 20 years ago, let alone 20 centuries ago!

    LEARNING BEGINS…WITH THE FETUS

    In the first talk, science writer Annie Murphy Paul presented details about all the many messages being sent to babies while they are still only fetuses.

    The most interesting fact? That these messages are being received. And these messages we send that they receive are already forming the types of adults they will become! Amazing, isn’t it?

    I recommend you watch the video, but a few examples will show you how important this period of development is.

    The study of fetal origins, which emerged only a couple of decades ago, has found that life is deeply affected by the time spent in the womb.

    This may not be news to some mothers, but a baby develops a preference for its mother’s voice while in the womb. What might surprise you, even you mothers, is that not only that, but babies have even displayed preference for certain sounds, such as theme songs of shows women watched regularly!

    Also fascinating, babies will cry in the accent of their mothers’ tongue. So French babies end their cries with a rising tone while German babies descend. Again, how amazing that the mother and child are so connected even before birth!

    And not only do babies show preference for sounds heard during their time in the womb, but they also display preference for the foods the mother eats while pregnant. The mother is literally teaching her child about her culture’s language and taste preferences before birth ever occurs.

    Important to note is that babies can also be negatively affected by certain circumstances while in the womb.

    Babies born to mothers who lived through what is known as the “Dutch Hunger winter” later displayed higher levels of obesity and heart problems.

    Babies born to NYC mothers who were pregnant during the September 11 attacks showed affects of their mother’s post-traumatic syndrome, which was sometimes passed down to the child.

    The findings of the study of fetal origins clearly show that we are learning about the world before we ever enter it, a fact that, to me, has important consequences that need to be seriously considered when thinking about getting pregnant. The choices we make have real connections to a real human being, so we must not take our responsibility lightly.

    BABIES CONTINUE TO LEARN AFTER BIRTH

    Of course, you probably already know how much children learn. But you may not have given much thought to how much they learn while they are still babies.

    Allison Gopnik, whose studies I have mentioned here before, has explored the richness of the prolonged period of childhood that only we as human beings experience.

    In fact, there is a direct relationship for all species between the length of childhood and the size of the species’ brains and the complexity of their intelligence.

    Humans, of course, have the greatest of all intellectual capacities. Consequently, we have the longest childhood.

    Where we went wrong in the past was assuming that babies are essentially empty, unfilled vessels that needed us to keep them alive until they were old enough to pour knowledge into.

    We now know how profoundly wrong we were for centuries about babies’ capacities.

    BROCCOLI VS GOLDFISH

    One study by Gopnik wonderfully illustrates how much a baby can change in only a short three-month span of time.

    She did a study comparing 15-month-olds to 18-month-olds in which the children were presented a bowl of broccoli and a bowl of delicious goldfish crackers. Of course, not surprisingly almost all children prefer the goldfish.

    What interested Gopnik was whether children could understand that another human being had a different preference from theirs.

    To test this, she would vary her response to trying out the different foods the children had been presented. Sometimes she would act as though she loved the goldfish but disliked the broccoli. Other times she would do exactly the opposite.

    After clearly displaying her preference in front of the babies, she would ask them to give her some, not indicating which one she wanted.

    Almost every time, the 15-month-olds would give her what they preferred, regardless of which one she had indicated she liked.

    In contrast, the 18-month-olds almost always gave her what she professed to enjoy most, even if it was different from what they preferred.

    BABIES AS SCIENTISTS

    Again, how amazing are children? How incredible it is to see such a huge developmental milestone achieved in such a short period of time. And so universally, too.

    What Gopnik found is that babies achieve these milestones in a similar way to how scientists work: by testing and retesting theory after theory.

    This means they are not merely passively taking in knowledge that we pour into their young minds. Instead, they are forming ideas about the world and then seeing how accurate those ideas are.

    Of course, they cannot put these ideas into words, even when they acquire language. But the process is happening nonetheless. So while they might not be able to explain all that they are thinking, it would be preposterous to conclude that that meant nothing of real importance is going on inside those brains.

    In fact, Gopnik argues that it is the complete opposite: babies’ consciousness is expanded, the same way ours is when we are in a new environment or a new situation.

    She makes the analogy like this: a baby’s consciousness would be like ours if we were in Paris for the first time and fell in love after taking five espresso shots!

    My purpose in combining these two scientist’s findings is to again bring attention to the richness of childhood – not only when they start talking or when they are born – but far sooner. The unique journey of human life begins while still in the mother and has achieved more than we are even aware of still today before the first word is spoken or letter written.

    Childhood is a time unlike any other, and so we must protect it and allow it to last as long as it needs to develop fully its beautiful richness.

    Psalm 139:13-17 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordined for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

    Originally published on 8 December 2011

    The Real Power Behind the Common Core

    Posted: January 31st, 2014

    When you begin to study the Common Core and shake your head and ask yourself: “Can this really be happening? How can we stop this? Who is behind this? What can be done? Can any institution of learning be immune to its influence?”

    Back to the last question: Can any institution of learning be immune to the power of the Common Core even if you are not using any of the curriculum or following any of the standards? This is the frightening answer: “No.” Not private or charter schools, or even homeschoolers. We are painfully discovering this at Grace Academy of North Texas where I serve as Head of School.

    Why? It is because The College Board has aligned with the Common Core. Why is that alone so powerful? Simply this, it is because students applying for college go through the College Board. If the questions on the SAT and ACT are aligned to the Common Core, this will have a trickle down effect on the scores and, finally, the curriculum. Are those who choose not to teach their students this Common Core Curriculum ‘forced’ to compromise their integrity simply to help their students get the necessary test scores to get into the colleges and universities of their choice?  There’s a conundrum for you.

    Whoever controls the testing controls the curriculum. Who wants to teach ‘class in a box,’ especially if that box is filled with untruth? Be aware that people on the committee who developed the Core Curriculum were directly tied in with companies who publish testing. These tests include series of tests such as: Redistep to the PSAT, to the PSAT/SAT, to the SAT. The other series is Aspire/Explore to the PLAN to the ACT. These are the tests that the College Board uses to determine who gets into what colleges and universities. They are now “directly tied into the Common Core Curriculum.”

    As you try to purchase almost any curriculum today you will find it stamped with “Common Core” on it; yes, even that one you ordered last year that was not linked to the Common Core.  As Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson both stated, “The aim of education is happiness.” As Dr. Terrence O. Moore states, “There is no happiness in the Common Core.” The virtues of truth and knowledge have been eclipsed with the Common Core.

    What is the answer?

    1. Get involved! The power of the so-called Suburban Moms is working. The passion and power they are yielding to protect the minds and hearts of their children is producing results. Go Moms!
    2. Push for School Choice where we can have more opportunities to create schools that follow the traditional methods that we know are tried and true.
    3. Write letters and attend meetings where your voice can be heard.
    4. Donna Gardner shares in Education Policy Commentator Education Views: “One Persistent Citizen Patriot Can Make a Difference.”  Henry W. Burke is a citizen of Nebraska and has been an advocate since 1997 for good English/Language Arts/Reading (ELAR) Standards. He has testified before the Nebraska Board of Education numerous times and each time has “done his homework.” At the October 4, 2013 NBOE meeting Mr. Burke succinctly articulated the reasons why the state should avoid the Common Core Standards. He testified again on November 8 and also December 6, and you can find and watch his presentation.

    Yes, we must individually and collectively do something!  As was wisely stated, “All that is needed for the forces of evil to succeed is for enough good men to remain silent.”

    A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core

    Posted: January 29th, 2014

    Dr. Terrence O. Moore wrote an excellent book, The Story-Killers: A Common-Case against the Common Core which is a must-read for every parent and teacher in America.  He addresses how the Common Core is destroying the minds and souls of our young people.

    The rhetoric given to us about the Common Core Standards is that they will prepare our students for college and career readiness and a 21st century global world. As Dr. Moore presents, if these standards are to prepare our students for college, then shouldn’t we be hearing from colleges and schools about what is needed? Apparently college presidents have not been consulted nor have the standards been tested out in any school to see if they do actually prepare students for college.

    What’s In and What’s Out

    Mr. Moore cites many examples about what is in the Common Core that are either erroneous or superfluous. Here are just a few of the teachings that are in the Common Core that are simply not true:

    1. Incorrect information about the founders of our country.
    2. The constitution is ‘evolving.’
    3. Science presents evolution as truth.
    4. Historically incorrect information about who actually initiated the bringing down of the Berlin Wall with those famous words on June 12, 1987, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!But now in the Common Core, this truth and the reality of the newscasts are ignored because it is stated that it was Mr. Gorbachev who initiated the bringing down of the Berlin Wall.

    Sadly, great teachings that our students do need are left out, such as:

    1. The only mention of WWII is the destruction of Hiroshima; nothing about the horrors of the Nazis and other precipitating factors leading up to it.
    2. In Geometry, the proofs are left out. What? Does that mean we have been doing geometry wrong for 2,000 years in using such concepts as the Euclidean Proof?
    3. In English:
      • The teaching of the great classics in literature
      • Plato and with it the Socratic Method
    4. Truth, Knowledge, and Virtue

    Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson both wrote that the ultimate aim of education is happiness, and as Dr. Moore presents, “There is no happiness in the Common Core.”

    You can watch videos of Dr. Moore speaking on the topic here and also here.

    Discipline By Design Series- Part 4 of 12 – Disciplining with Multiple-Intelligences

    Posted: December 27th, 2013

    Last week we discussed some negative forms of discipline that we want to avoid. This week we will focus on positive ways to discipline by utilizing a child’s personality through the concept of multiple-intelligences.

    Both the classroom and the home are mini-societies in which we need order and an environment that fosters respect for each other’s differences and a willingness to facilitate each other’s successes.

    The concept of multiple intelligences, first developed by Dr. Howard Gardner, helps us see that there are different ways of being “smart.” When children are learning, interacting, and being disciplined through their intelligence strengths, they can achieve optimum success.

    (Over the years the list of multiple-intelligences has expanded to include some types not listed below. I chose to focus on the original seven here, but if you’re interested, you can research more about them on your own and apply the lessons outlined in this list.)

    1. LINGUISTIC INTELLIGENCE: WORD SMART

    Linguistic children like words. When given a choice to use this strength, they can employ “self-talk” to train themselves into more positive behaviors.

    Explain to the child WHY we don’t accept a specific behavior. When the child is tempted by an unacceptable action, give her a positive alternative.

    Collectively come up with a short list of reasons why we do a certain activity in a positive way. Let the child create three fun words that rhyme with the positive behavior. Suggest that she recite these rhyming words to herself when she feels tempted to try the more negative route.

    As stated in the previous post, I want you to think through some questions about each type of child and situation. Again, don’t be afraid to struggle, because the most lasting lessons we learn are from the ones that require the most effort.

    How would you employ this approach with a word-smart child who is teasing another child about weight?

    2. LOIGICAL MATHEMATICAL INTELLIGENCE: LOGIC SMART

    Logical Larry may give you a hard time at home or in class, especially when he is in the middle school years!

    When you tell him to do something, he wants to know  why . The temptation is to say, “Because I said so. That’s why!” However, Logical Larry will not be moved by this argument and will continue to act out until someone respectfully gives him an explanation.

    Discuss the situation with him in a calm manner either immediately or when you get a chance. Tell him the reason for the rule, why he has to follow it, and what will happen if he chooses not to follow it.

    These children are rarely discipline problems if the rules and consequences are clearly stated and consistently enforced.

    How would you employ this approach with a logic-smart child who stubbornly refuses to play with other children outside during recess or after school in the neighborhood because they don’t like playing the group games the other children enjoy?

    3. SPATIAL INTELLIGENCE: PICTURE SMART

    Picture Patty can cause discipline problems. She may not do well in school. She may do poorly on tests. Children like Patty often have behavior problems because they think in pictures that are global (right brain) and concrete (the need to see and touch).

    A picture-smart child doesn’t easily see the pattern when it is only presented in words on paper. Picture Patty can often draw a concept with perfect understanding, but she may not get good grades on objective tests.

    When students like Patty are asked to process information in a structured, abstract way, their brains don’t “get the picture.” They may feel stupid and inadequate as a result. When this happens, they may channel their energy into misdeeds instead of focusing on the task at hand.

    Use these strategies with disciplining picture-smart kids:

    • Since they think in pictures, help these students see the “big picture.”
    • Show videos that depict the character qualities you are teaching.
    • Replay the discipline scene and pretend it’s a sitcom. Have them create a new ending.

    How would you employ this approach with a picture-smart child who absolutely does not “get” long division and thus disrupts class during every long division lesson?

    4. BODILY KINESTHETIC INTELLIGENCE: BODY SMART

    Once again, if we only ever ask these children to sit still, listen, and then write out answers to questions, they will fail to reveal how smart they truly are.

    They often cause discipline problems, until you let them  do something. Body-smart children aren’t easy to manage, but they can be managed if we work with their need to move, both at home and in the classroom.

    Imagine that you want to teach mapping skills and topography concepts to middle school students. Your body-smart students are throwing paper wads during the mapping exercise. How could you better teach mapping and topography to body-smart students?

    5. MUSICAL INTELLIGENCE: MUSIC SMART

    Signs of this intelligence often surface sooner than signs of other intelligences – sometimes as early as age four. In these kids, music ability seems to bubble up spontaneously, often without formal training.

    Try the following strategies at home or in class with music-smart kids, then come up with some of your own:

    • Let them use headphones and listen to music as they read and study.
    • Allow them to sing their rules or facts they need to remember.
    • Let them come up with a song for classroom or home procedures that occur regularly, like cleaning up or transitioning to something new. You will be amazed at how well children will respond to a song that is age appropriate to get through the more mundane, everyday tasks.

    Come up with two more on your own. Then answer this scenario: How would you harness this intelligence in a child who hates to read?

    6. INTRAPERSONAL INTELLIGENCE: SELF-SMART

    These kids may be loners. You may have difficulty persuading them to participate in group activities. These children respond well if they feel you have respect for their individual styles. They enjoy talking with you one-on-one outside the classroom.

    Use these strategies with self-smart kids:

    • Give individual attention.
    • Use individualized behavior contracts.
    • Don’t pair them up with active talkers to help them come out of their shells. They like being quiet!

    Imagine that you have a self-smart child who refuses to participate in group-learning activities, especially those where the group creates a project and gets a group grade for it. His complaint is that he does all the work and the others benefit from his effort and get a good grade. How would you handle this situation with a self-smart child?

    7. INTERPERSONAL INTELLIGENCE: PEOPLE SMART

    Students who are people smart have great people sense, and discipline can be accomplished through developing relationships with these children. They respond well to a town hall-type class meeting. These kids like to see the people part of discipline and readily respond accordingly.

    Use these strategies with people-smart kids:

    • Let them participate in peer-group mentoring or counseling.
    • Teach them concepts of mutual respect.
    • Listen to their insights concerning classroom issues.

    How would you employ this approach with people-smart children to get them to quit teasing others?

    We’re one-third of the way through! I’m glad you’re going on this journey with me to becoming a better disciplinarian. You might not like the sound of that title, but I promise that as you begin to incorporate these practical strategies, you will see that having discipline in place allows for all the good stuff to stand out!

    Originally published 13 March 2012

    Aggression, Bullying, Conflict Resolution, and Discipline

    Posted: December 26th, 2013

    This post originally appeared in 380 Guide‘s recent publication.

    At first glance, these A,B,C,D’s aren’t very cheery; in fact, they could be perceived as downright depressing. Just reading these words might make you want to go back to bed or find a fairy tale version of parenting in which you know the ending will be “and they lived happily ever-after. The end.” Then you can exhale.

    As I tell my parents at Grace Academy of North Texas, life today in the parenting lane is fast. So let’s find some defensive driving tips for handling aggression.

    AAlertness, attention, and awareness. As a parent, you have to be alert to the dangers of the potential aggression coming at your child. Before you pull on your Momma and Poppa Bear gloves and get ready to fight, let’s assess them.

    • Aggression abounds in our culture. Pay attention to the messages your child may be getting from television, commercials, video games and even friends.
    • Be alert and establish a bully-free environment in your own home by cultivating a spirit in your family that says I love you, trust you, hear you, value you, respect you, believe in you, and am here for you. I want you to feel safe.
    • Set a zero-tolerance level on bullying by holding your child accountable for offensive behaviors, enforcing appropriate repercussions related to offenses, and providing opportunities for your child to make restitution.
    • Monitor aggressive video games, movies and television programs, social relationships, music, and music videos.

    B: Bullies, Bystanders, and Bullied. There is an excellent book, The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander by Barbara Coloroso. I heartily recommend it for parents. Sometimes we are so busy looking for the big bad bully who might hurt our child that we neglect to look in our own backyard. Of course, we are sure our child could never be the bully. This book gently helps you look for signs in case it is your child. Gulp. I know, time to get another cup of coffee.

    But, bystander. This is the one we tend not to think about: the child who stands by and lets another bully a friend or get bullied. This book addresses the signs and what to do about it.

    And, of course, the bullied – every parent’s worst nightmare. What to do, how to handle it and where to go for help: June Hunt and I address the complexities of this issue in our book Bonding with Your Teen through Boundaries.

    C: Connections, Communication and Conflict Resolution. Everyone wants to feel connected – it is one of our primary needs. So, we communicate. And because we are human, we sometimes have conflicts. It’s a conundrum.

    Communicate with your children; the dinner table is a good place to start this dialogue. Allow each person to share about their day – the highs and the lows. Encourage your children to be detectives. “Look for ways in which television, commercials, billboards, video games and even your friends, tried to get your thinking to go a certain way. What did they want you to think? Do you actually agree with it?  What do you believe? Why?” You want children who have convictions and can articulate what they believe.

    Conflict resolution is a life skill. If we teach it to our children when they are young, we can help them not to resort to being a bully with their hands or words, in order to get what they want.

    D: Discipline, Decide, and Determine. Oh dear, there’s that pesky word…discipline. That’s the part of our parental job description we would like to skip right over, isn’t it? But when we decide to establish boundaries with the issues that are important, and determine consequences for crossing over those boundaries, parenting can become more joyful.

    Let’s say that your little cherub has decided to be a little bully with his fists or her words. Or, you discover that your teen is using the computer or cell phone to ruin someone’s reputation via cyberspace. These actions require strong responses on your part – not emotional reactions, but carefully thought-through responses.

    ―   Decide on a consequence for each that is related to the deed. The purpose of a consequence is to retrain the brain and transform the heart. For the little one who used his fists to get a point across, he can now find three ways to use his hands to help, serve, and love that person.

    ―   For the little darlin’ who used her words to gossip and malign, she needs to go out of her way to use her words to encourage and edify that person.

    ―   The teen needs to know that you will have a “Sherlock Home”: you will inspect what you expect. Cell phones, texting, and computer trails may be followed at a moment’s notice. But more importantly is the heart. Help your teen move to sincere repentance and restitution with the other person.

    Be a proactive parent. Model to your children and teens by showing them kindness, being considerate, expressing unconditional love, and listening attentively. Establish boundaries that are defined, fair, clearly communicated, and consistently enforced in a respectful manner. Create a home in which you are attentive to aggression, establishing boundaries, teaching communication skills, and providing desirable discipline. You can do it, one step at a time…A-B-C-D!

    Originally published 31 March 2012