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Navigating Your Child’s Education:
A Blog for Parents

Ages 3-K

All the Feelings

“Don’t be sad.”

“You shouldn’t feel scared.”

“Stop being angry.”

“You don’t need to get your feelings hurt over it.”

“You should be so thankful.”

It’s not uncommon to hear parents addressing their children with comments or corrections involving how a child should or should not feel. This is especially true with emotions many deem “negative” such as hurt, fear, anger, and sadness. Though these admonishments may be well-intentioned, I believe they miss the mark on what human beings are supposed to do. We are, by our very nature, highly emotional beings capable of experiencing a broad range of sentiments. If children are consistently taught to ignore or squelch “bad” emotions, they will likely be unprepared for life. A healthier, more holistic approach is to empower our children emotionally by teaching them to experience and express a wide range of emotions, and help them learn to regulate their emotions when necessary.

Emotional empowerment has five primary stages. Parents can practice each of these stages with their child no matter the child’s age. These are fundamental skills that everyone needs. Developing the ability to identify, express, and regulate emotions is a life-long process, one in which there is always room for growth and improvement. As such, parents can serve as models for their own children as every member of the family seeks to grow and mature.

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Intentional Parenting

Early one Monday morning as a principal, the Holy Spirit grabbed my attention. It was a Monday like any other during that season of my life. I went into my school's staff lounge to place yellow slips into the mailboxes of teachers that had not yet submitted their lesson plans for that week. I'll never forget: as I placed a yellow slip into one math teacher's mailbox this particular morning, it was as if the LORD stopped me and said (though not audibly), "Larry, where is your plan? You want your teachers to have lesson plans, but where is your plan for your own life, your spiritual development, your marriage, your parenting, and the discipleship of your own children?"  

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Seven Small Books with BIG Ideas

Not all picture books are created equal. Though I cannot claim as many years of parenting as others can (currently in my eighth year of parenting littles), I have had enough time and experience to develop strong opinions about picture books. I've read some with my kids that have wonderful illustrations, some that teach history, others that promote diversity, and still others that foster friendship. Kids' books range from informative to artsy, serious to silly, heartwarming to thought-provoking. There are lots of amazing picture books, and there are also some I would (personally) place in the "not so great" category for one reason or another. 

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Grades 1-5

Spice Up Summer Reading

It may sound ironic, but the summer months are some of the most important in the school year. You read that correctly: the summer months play a vital role in a student's academic momentum and growth. According to data collected in 2020 through the MAP Growth assessments, students in 3rd to 5th grade lose an average of 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading over the summer months. Young elementary students are also, and perhaps even more so, at risk of suffering the "summer slide" because they are earlier in the development of their academic skills. 

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Why is Good Friday good?

When it comes to Holy Week and Easter as believers who are adults, we can have a good understanding of the events that lead up to Resurrection Sunday from our reading of Scripture and listening to Bible teaching over the years.

We are able to grasp, at least on some level, Jesus' words, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen!” These words, found in Luke’s gospel, are what the two beings dressed in white stated to the women who ventured to the grave that third morning after Jesus’ crucifixion. This is a passage that all believers in Christ should get excited about as His resurrected life means life for us. 

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Weighing Educational Options: A Homeschool Mom's Perspective

I know that there are many parents that weigh educational decisions heavily. Nowadays, there are so many factors to consider as we seek to make the best schooling choices for our children. For many, there are myriad opportunities--private schools, public schools, and robust homeschooling options.

In my own experience of homeschooling my six children and then each of them attending private school for eighth grade through high school graduation, I can honestly say that I loved our family, loved our homeschooling experience and loved our private school experience. The following are a few thoughts on this topic from my own journey.

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Grades 6-8

Hurt, Healing, and Hope: Mental Health Among Today's Teens

In 2018, a global study was conducted in several countries around the world to assess the mental health of incoming college freshman. Based on data collected and analyzed in this research project, the American Psychological Association reported that one in three college freshman "report symptoms consistent with a diagnosable mental health disorder." While their findings are alarming, they are not altogether surprising. 

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Healthy Relationships in Middle School

According to an article in Medical News Today, there was a new study posted in the journal Child Development that shows "teenagers with close friendships tend to be more adaptive to stress, report being happier due to an increased feeling of uniqueness, and are likely to do better academically. Additionally, they have high self-esteem and are more assertive." This probably isn't earth-shattering news to you, because I'm sure adults could say, "SAME." Human beings have a better quality of life, feel more hopeful, connected and a sense of purpose when they are in healthy relationships--romantic, family, friends, etc.

Over the last five years, I've had the honor to work with youth who have been victims of human trafficking, and a key to both helping to prevent victims and a key to healing is healthy relationships. It's such a significant part of our lives, and yet is also one of the most complicated and potentially hurtful parts of our lives as well. My hope is to talk a little bit about what healthy/unhealthy relationships have to do with human trafficking and how you, as a parent, can engage with your teen on this topic.

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The Power of Story for Middle Schoolers

Margaret Peterson Haddix is a New York Times best-selling author for children and teens with over 40 published titles. In a recent interview, she shared these reflections on the power of story for young people, the appeal of dystopian tales for young minds, and encouragement for parents as they navigate tough topics in reading with their kids.

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Grades 9-12

Teens and Cancel Culture

The term "cancelled" is quite common in American culture nowadays. It no longer refers to things like a TV series that has run its course or a meeting that is not going to take place--it's frequently used to describe a person of influence or an organization that has been publicly called out and outcast for (perceived) wrongdoing. It could be as simple as one bad tweet or comment, either past or present, but the effects can be catastrophic. Celebrities can all but lose their careers, and companies can suffer extreme economic impacts. The phenomenon of being "cancelled" is not necessarily a new one (think: McCarthyism from the 1950's), but it has certainly become a widespread and accelerated experience largely thanks to social media.

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Teens and Healthy Relationships

According to an article in Medical News Today, there was a new study posted in the journal Child Development that shows "teenagers with close friendships tend to be more adaptive to stress, report being happier due to an increased feeling of uniqueness, and are likely to do better academically. Additionally, they have high self-esteem and are more assertive." This probably isn't earth-shattering news to you, because I'm sure adults could say, "SAME." Human beings have a better quality of life, feel more hopeful, connected and a sense of purpose when they are in healthy relationships--romantic, family, friends, etc.

Over the last five years, I've had the honor to work with youth who have been victims of human trafficking, and a key to both helping to prevent victims and a key to healing is healthy relationships. It's such a significant part of our lives, and yet is also one of the most complicated and potentially hurtful parts of our lives as well. My hope is to talk a little bit about what healthy/unhealthy relationships have to do with human trafficking and how you, as a parent, can engage with your teen on this topic.

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Banned Books and Teens: To Read or Not to Read?

A school board in southeast Tennessee recently decided to remove the Pulitzer-prize winning Holocaust graphic novel "Maus" from its language arts curriculum, deeming its content unsuitable for eighth-grade students. Another local school district outside of Nashville decided to remove the book "Walk Two Moons" from its elementary curriculum following parental complaints about its content. These two decisions have received national attention, stirring controversy about what content is appropriate for students to read, when, why, and who is responsible for making those decisions.

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