With the arrival of Teacher Appreciation Week, I thought I’d offer a set of nine ecards to send to/share with friends and colleagues. [I’ve added a slide with three suggestions for how you can use them ‘out of the box’.] Sample below.
Today is May 1st and that means it’s Lei Day in Hawaii. I lived in Hawaii for two years while I was in High School and that’s how I discovered this wonderful tradition!
Moving, for me, was difficult. I had gone from Kindergarten through 9th grade in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO. It wasn’t a very diverse place.
Also, I had made the Cheerleading Squad and was voted to be Captain. And I had fallen in love for the first time. My life was finally looking up after the awkward years of middle school.
But, then, I was whisked away (far away) to Hawaii which, to any grown up, seems like a dream but, to me, a shy teenager, I was scared out of my mind.
I hadn’t had to make new friends, like ever. In fact, when new students came to our school, I had just ignored them. I had no idea how they might have felt. But, now, I was the new student. I was pretty sure I would be ignored.
Thankfully, I made a friend (she was also new to the school) the first day and we’ve been friends ever since (that’s 37 years now)!
Fortunately, I was also a swimmer so I joined the swim team. The season started in October so fairly soon after school started, I was part of a group and felt like I fit in.
Now, as a High School Guidance Counselor, I feel for students when they are new. Some take it like I did, upset and scared, but others embrace it and are happy for a new start. I’m always surprised at the happy ones because I never knew there could be a different feeling towards a move or a change. Perspective matters.
So, my first Lei Day was special because I didn’t know about it at all. My friend got me a lei and I wore it proudly all day. It smelled heavenly. Everyone in the whole school had on leis. It was magical.
There’s nothing like the scent of a beautiful flower to lift your spirits and make you feel loved.
Maybe that’s why I use flowers in my books as a symbol of hope and love. Because, just like flowers, I believe if we are living our passion, our authenticity, we are releasing an uplifting scent of hope and love to the world. That scent travels far and wide and encourages others to live their passion and to be authentic also. Increasing the hope and love in the world.
The old saying, “bloom where you are planted” is meant to encourage us to accept where we are at but I believe the most important part of that sentence is the word “bloom.” Let us all bloom, find our voice, and give our self to this world.
Lilacs have a wonderful scent. They have come to represent my company, Lilacs in Literature, Growing Children with Character. I want to encourage children through literature to be the best they can be so they can grow up to be passionate and authentic individuals so they can give the gift of themselves to the world and make it a better place.
So, Happy Lei Day and here’s to blooming into our passionate, authentic selves!
Do you have a child that struggles with a physical, mental or emotional challenge?
Do you wonder if your child will have difficulty learning?
Are you worried that other children will pick on them?
These are real concerns and maybe you’re wondering how you can empower them to overcome.
Well, these are the issues that Gloria in the delightful children’s chapter book, Gloria and the Unicorn, faces. Listen to her story and maybe you’ll decide she can help your child.
Gloria’s birth was difficult because her mother was dying and Gloria has to be pulled from the womb leaving Gloria with a droopy face on one side.
Her father is so mired in grief that he can’t take care of a newborn, so he gives her away to a children’s home.
The owner, Miss Libby, lovingly takes Gloria in but when it comes time to go to school, Miss Libby’s fear gets the best of her. Miss Libby chooses not to send Gloria to school. Gloria comes to believe she’s unlovable.
She longs to be like the other children in the home and learn to read.
Then, a kind unicorn named Sir Louie shows up to help.
Who would have thought that their friendship would threaten some evil wizards?
Come along on their journey as they fight evil and empower children everywhere that they, too, can overcome.
I was reading a blog by Edmentum ( a blog about Educational Issues) called ‘By the Numbers; Why Early Literacy Matters’ and it gave some startling statistics such as the following:
“1 in 6 children who are not reading proficiently in 3rd grade do not graduate from high school on time –4 times greater than the rate for proficient readers1″
However, if you do this, you can make a major difference
“Children who are read to at least 3 times a week by a family member are twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading as compared to children who are read to less frequently1″
Reading is necessary in our world. Reading and writing is a large part of how we communicate, especially in our digital age. If you can’t read and write an email, read Google searches and put together a PowerPoint, you are at a serious disadvantage.
Don’t let your child be that 1 in 6 that isn’t reading proficiently by 3rd grade and then not graduate from High School on time. I’m a High School Guidance Counselor and I can tell you firsthand how disheartening it is to have to tell a parent or god-forbid a grandparent that has traveled from afar for graduation that their child isn’t graduating. I have sat across from these family members and the tears have flowed down their faces.
You can make a difference and the answer is simple–read with your child. Start early and make it a special time. Pick a comfortable place (a lot of people choose the child’s bedroom, but it could be a comfortable chair or anywhere); have a small library of books (or go to the public library and have your child pick out several for the week) that the child can choose which one they want read to them; and read aloud. Change your voice for the different characters; have your child follow along with their finger pointing to the words and even sounding them out with you; and ask questions about the story to allow the child to think about and process the story.
This is a fun time, a special time that will build your child’s reading skills and vocabulary and will provide you and your child with wonderful memories.
I haven’t written from my heart in awhile, but I’d like to share an excerpt of my life with you today.
When I was little, we had a cow pasture behind our house. It didn’t belong to us, but the fence that separated the pasture from our land ran along the edge of our backyard. I loved seeing the cows grazing on the sweet grass while the sun dipped behind the hill they stood upon. Something about this picturesque scene gave me a sense of peace.
When I was going through my tumultuous teen years, there were nights I couldn’t sleep. I would get up and go to the kitchen window that looked out over the pasture and pull up a chair. The full moon would shine on the scene, now empty of the cows. We had a weeping willow just outside the window. I loved that weeping willow. It would sway in the gentle breeze while I sat staring out into the night.
This simple scene would calm my thoughts and lull me back to sleep. Because of this experience, I love the country life and country music. I know I’ll lose some readers here, but the peaceful, clean-living, hard-working country folk are the ones I want to emulate the most.
I grew up in St. Louis, MO. My life was anything but peaceful. We lived in a busy suburb. There was school, self-centered boys, catty girls, peer pressure, and trying to fit in raking through my life when I walked out the front door. But, when I walked out my back door, there was no one, just a beautiful scene and sweet cows to greet me.
I love the country life!
What about you? What brings you a sense of peace in this chaotic world?
This week’s blog post is brought to you by our favorite School Psychologist, Dr. Valerie Allen.
Young children are resilient. They pull themselves up from scrapes and bumps. They recover after teasing and insults. They smile again after life’s emotional ups and downs. Children are concrete thinkers. Young children do not usually project the immediate problem onto future events and all the “what ifs” and drama that go with tomorrow and the day after. They tend to deal with events in the here and now.
Parents can support their child’s natural ability to start over, by encouraging them in the following ways:
Adaptability. Children need to be socially responsive. They need to be flexible and develop the ability to adapt to change, “to go with the flow.” They should be able to take things in stride and not overact or get overwrought in response to a change in plans.
Reflection. Children need to develop a higher tolerance for frustration. They need to know their emotional trigger points and understand what sets them off. They should avoid frustrating situations, consider alternative reactions, and minimize the outcome.
Problem Solving. Children should learn to consider alternatives and make choices. They need to seek solutions and view problems as opportunities to be creative thinkers. They need to feel secure enough to avoid “finger pointing” or the need to blame others.
Self Esteem. Children need to develop “self-love” and a “can do” attitude. They need opportunities for self-efficacy experiences to build self-confidence. They need to understand we all make mistakes and things often don’t go as expected. It is not the problem, but how we handle it, that validates us as worthy individuals.
Optimism. Children need to have a positive worldview. They need to have a good feeling about themselves, others, and life in general. They should be future-directed. They should start each day with the expectation of success and live life accordingly.
Warmth and Affection. Children should feel comfortable with a demonstration of affection to and from others. They should be able to give and receive hugs and kisses in socially appropriate situations. Physical touch should be a positive and loving gesture, an indication of caring.
Responsibility. Children should be dependable. They should learn to follow up on tasks and promises. They need to know that others are counting on them. This validates their need to belong, to gain acceptance, and feel significant.
Social Involvement. Children should be involved in their community. They should extend themselves through social activities and service clubs to friends, neighbors, and relatives. Their involvement needs to extend beyond their peers, to family support, and community activities.
Learning Experiences. Children should enjoy learning. Formal education should be viewed as an opportunity for growth and enrichment. Casual learning takes place in day-to-day experiences which provide youngsters with practical knowledge of the world around them.
It has been said that the only certainty is change. We must be able to adapt for physical, mental, and emotional survival. Encourage your children to accept themselves and live in harmony with the world around them.
Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She presents seminars for parents and professionals in the field of child development and has published two books for children: “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends”. Oh yes, she has also raised six children!
Dr. Valerie Allen
Licensed School Psychologist ~ Rehabilitation Counselor
(They are called ‘Vault’ because they are secret!)
I absolutely love Natasha Daniels from AT, Anxious Toddler. She is a Child Therapist and is doing a great job keeping up with the technology that our kids know about but we don’t.
Here’s a great article of an App you need to know about called Secret Vault Apps. You may or may not have heard about this little app but it comes in all sorts of varieties in order to appear as one thing (say a calculator) when really what’s hiding behind it, after you put in a password, is a photo of your child that they don’t want anyone to know about, especially you. Scary? You bet!
You may think your child wouldn’t do this or that they are too young, but Natasha says children as young as 10 have come in to her office and told her about this secret app. Other children may be asking for these photos and since it may appear to your child that ‘everyone’ is doing it, they play along. Children do not even think about how this could affect them. It’s up to you as their parent to find out about this technology and snoop on your child’s phone in order to deal with it head on.
Natasha tells you the full story and how to find out if this app is hiding on your child’s phone plus she gives some helpful tips for keeping your child safe.
Looking for a classic poem for Mother’s Day? Look no further. Whilst sentimental rhymes and rather sappy doggerel fills many a Mothering Sunday greetings card, these ten poems represent some of the best statements about mothers and motherhood ever written.
Ann Taylor, ‘My Mother’. Ann’s sister Jane Taylor (1783-1824) is best-remembered for having written the words to the children’s rhyme ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’, but this poem, written by Ann, is also well-known and has been much imitated and parodied. It takes the form of a question-and-answer back-and-forth where the answer is always ‘my mother’.
John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Tribute to Mother’. In this short poem, the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92) recalls the time when he was a small child and sat beside his mother’s knee. The poet’s mother restrained his ‘selfish moods’ and taught him a ‘chastening love’.