Emojis: Anger

I am super excited this week to be featuring my first GUEST BLOGGER! Lydia is the author of one of my favorite blogs on parenting and foster care, Because of His Goodness. (Like or follow page on Facebook. You’ll be encouraged, I guarantee it!)

As a biblical counselor and an amazing mama to her four (soon to be five!) adopted kiddos and mama to many more through foster care, Lydia has great insight and wisdom when it comes to helping kiddos (whether they’re ours or temporarily under our care) deal with strong emotions like anger.

So without further ado, 5 Questions & Answers to helping children with the emotion of anger…

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Bookworms: Goodnight, Gorilla

Okay, I have a confession. I don’t love Goodnight, Moon.

I know. HERESY. But I just don’t! My littles aren’t engaged by it. I’m not sure if it’s the odd colors, somewhat unusual vocabulary, or perhaps my own lack of enthusiasm spills out despite my best efforts… Or more likely a combination of all three. Despite its classic nature and wide-spread popularity, there is just no book-loving going on in my teacher soul.

But. I do LOVE Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann. A delightful little find I stumbled upon accidentally, I have now read it over and over – because even my youngest and lowest readers LOVE it too!

Why You Should Love It:

Simple, Repetitive Text: Told in comic-style speech bubbles, this delightful bedtime classic is simple, colorful, and predictable in all the right ways, making it perfect for the youngest readers. Children as young as two or three can “read” Rathmann’s brilliantly illustrated story of an absent-minded zookeeper whose animals follow him home for the night.  Continue reading

Bookworms: The Jesus Storybook Bible

Summary: The Bible is a storybook about Jesus, and every story whispers His name!

Why You Should Love It:

Truly a Storybook: Finally! A children’s book that presents the Bible as it is designed to be: one cohesive story of God’s redemption of His people. A true storybook. Sally Lloyd-Jones presents the Scripture as being a story, not a rule book or list of morals. Morals are great, and yes the Bible does have rules for us to follow. But Lloyd-Jones does well in communicating the main message of the Bible in kid-friendly terms: it’s all about Jesus, and “every story whispers His name.”

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Is My Child Ready for Piano Lessons?

August. That wonderful time of year where school and routine starts up again, and a lot of parents begin asking, “Should my kiddo do piano lessons this year?” Here are my three favorite tell-tale signs to look for when deciding whether or not your child is ready to take on the world of piano lessons:

Can your child read?

I’m not talking 300-page novels read, but I-can-read-short-simple-how-to-instructions type read.

Now I will say: Not all teachers agree on this one, and I do see some merit in starting earlier under very (VERY) special circumstances. But for the most part, if they can’t read the piano books’ instructions without lots of help, chances are you might be better off waiting until they’re a bit more independent before trying to commit to something like regular lessons.

Can your child sit still for periods of 15-20 minutes uninterrupted?

Piano lessons and practicing piano both require concentration and sitting still. If your little one still can’t sit in the same spot for a quarter hour, chances are they will have trouble sitting down to practice (or listen to a teacher) too.

Are you ready to hold their feet to the fire when they inevitably don’t want to practice?

Especially for young kiddos, piano readiness can sometimes be more about you as the parent than it is about your kiddo. It’s a fact of life that most kids at one point or another would rather [you name it] than practice. So you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to hold them to their commitment (yes, I consider taking lessons a commitment) – not just to attend lessons faithfully but also to practice faithfully (and correctly, I might add,) as that is where the REAL learning takes place.

Still not sure your current schedule or parenting style will support that level of structure? Might want to hold off a bit longer.


If you answered all three of these with a yes, then your child might be ready to start piano lessons! And of course, I happen to know a piano teacher starting up again this fall if you’re interested… [Send me a message via the Contact page if that’s you!]

If you still aren’t sure, I would say: WAIT. I’ve found that in most cases, students who wait to start until they’re truly ready can easily catch up with their similarly-gifted peers – and usually enjoy it more too (and therefore stick with it longer.) So don’t think you’re ruining their chances of success by holding off a bit until they’re ready.


Piano Teachers: Any other signs you ask parents to look for in preparing to start piano lessons?

Outliers: What Stats Say about Education Reform

I recently finished the book Outliers by bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell. Though it is not mainly about education, there are a couple chapters about educational phenomenons that I found extremely relevant to the discussion on American public school education reform. Gladwell’s insights lead two to counter-intuitive conclusions about educational reform:

More School > Better School

I know. Not what you’d expect.
And I think I died a little just typing that. But here’s the thing:

Gladwell follows the achievement gap between high, middle, and low socioeconomic backgrounds, specifically through a study done by Johns Hopkins University sociologist Karl Alexander tracking the progress of 650 first graders from Baltimore public school system based on how they scored on the California Achievement Test. In early years, achievement differences are negligible, but with each passing year, the gap between rich and poor widens.

An important statistic emerges when he examines specifically achievement over summer break: Continue reading

Resource Review: Smart Money, Smart Kids

Summary: Raise the next generation to win with money by following these practical strategies for teens and toddlers alike.

Relevant Subjects: Finances, Math, Economics, Character Development

I recently finished Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze. So. Helpful. (Like I-may-or-may-not-have-taken-5-million-notes kind of helpful…)

Dave Ramsey is famous for his radio show and anti-debt stance, and his daughter Rachel Cruze has joined his crusade to promote financial literacy. Regardless of your opinion on their approach to life and finances, this book on “Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money” is a helpful tool chalk-full of strategies for teaching kids of all ages to handle finances.

Though it is intended for parents, I found the principles very relevant for teachers as well. Financial education has proven to be a HUGE hole in our students’ education today. (It’s a little ridiculous that the average high school graduate can do complex algebra, but has no idea how to handle a paycheck…) Historically, personal finance has been the parents’ arena, but in recent years, teachers have been called upon to fill this gap in today’s common knowledge.

So without further ado, here are my top three points from #1 New York Times Bestseller Smart Money, Smart Kids:

Economics: Work-Money Connection

We want to raise the next generation to be productive members of society, capable of providing for their own needs, as well as contributing their talents to better society as a whole. One simple way to do this is to help our kids learn the connection between work and money.  Ramsey and Cruze lay out a practical timeline of how and when to help kids make this connection. Their strategies help reinforce, in age-appropriate ways, the real world reality that diligence is rewarded, and laziness leads to poverty. Like I said: So. Helpful. Continue reading

5 Must-Have Websites for Teachers

Technology. Love it! Hate it.
Why love it? It makes learning fun, and you can use it to delegate and simplify your life.
Why hate it? Because 1) it doesn’t always work, and 2) it’s ALWAYS CHANGING.

In fact, I hesitate to even write my current recommendations on this topic because it seems like teachers are constantly discovering new and better ways to use technology to share ideas, to seek unique funding, and to make learning fun… But I am a big fan of using technology to improve functioning in the classroom, so I’ll give it my best whirl. And the best part? All of the following websites are FREE. So in no particular order… My top 5 recommendations for teaching websites:

Teachers Pay Teachers

Why: I have JUST started moving more towards being a seller than a buyer, (check out my brand new store!) but this site is wonderful whether you want to make some extra $$ selling your own stuff or you need to quickly get someone else’s. (Because you forgot. Or you procrastinated. Or your brain is just dead. Or if you’re like me, all of the above.)

How It Works: Create an account and get searching! Type a subject area or keyword into the search bar, and download printable lesson plans, activities, worksheets, you name it! Some stuff is free; some isn’t. But it’s all uploaded by teachers for teachers. Amazing.


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Teacher Gifts: Do’s and Don’ts

With another teacher’s appreciation week under our belts and the end-of-the-year celebrations fast approaching, I figured a post on what to get that oh-so-special teacher in your life might be in order…

SIDE NOTE –  The very fact that you are getting a teacher gift merits a pat on the back. So good for you! And if you’ve ever given something on my “Don’t” list, don’t freak out. Obviously, every teacher is different. These are just my personal suggestions, so as always, take them with a grain of salt.

So without further ado, here’s my top 3 Teacher Gift Do’s and Don’ts for the awesome educator in your life:



#3 – Scented Things: Lotion, Soaps, and Candles – Oh My!

Everybody loves to smell good, right?! And what better way to help your child’s teacher cope with all the stinky sweaty child smells that accompany the average classroom?

HOWEVER. While well-intentioned, you probably have no idea what scents a teacher loves (or hates…) Sadly, that lovely scent you just adored might activate her gag reflex… And as much as I loooove a good candle, most teachers aren’t allowed to burn them in the classroom due to fire codes. So unless you happen to know EXACTLY what scents he/she likes, steer clear from all things smelly.

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Questions Every Teacher Should Ask in an Interview

In my last post, I discussed some advice for those hopefuls looking for teaching jobs. One of my number one pieces of advice was to ask a lot of questions – because it’s not just you who’s on trial in that room! As promised, here are some questions that might prove helpful in determining if a school is right for you…

#1 – Curriculum

What curriculum do they use? Will the administration allow me to adapt it to fit what I perceive as being the needs of my kids? Do they encourage individual curriculum mapping or do all teachers work at the same pace through a pre-determined scope and sequence for the grade level?

This is a big one. The right curriculum can make or break the start of your first year – when you have no idea what you’re doing. As a teacher, you should be ready to adapt whatever is given to you, but it sure helps to start with some good basic bare bones. But of course, no matter how good a curriculum is, adaptation is going to be your bread and butter. You want a school that supports you in taking a good basic product (hopefully) and tweaking it to meet student needs.

#2 – Professional Development

What professional development opportunities do you provide for your staff? Do they plan specific times for me to visit other classrooms? How do they provide ways for colleagues to share ideas and evaluate each other in a constructive way?

I’ll confess. I asked this question too. But it was because I had been told it sounded good to administrators, not because I actually felt I needed to know the answer. Allow me to let you in on a secret – you need to pay attention to the answer. Being a teacher is as much about you learning as it is about the kids. The best schools provide practical ways for teachers to learn from each other. Continue reading

Looking for Your First Teaching Job

Congratulations. You did it. Finally. After what felt like an eternity of studying, writing, and student teaching, you graduated with that seemingly-elusive teaching degree. You can now add those gleaming credentials to your resume. But as soon as the graduation jitters and excitement die down, a new challenge looms: landing your first teaching job.

This month always brings back memories of that first summer out of college – the excitement, the stress, and the ever-present fear that after all that work to earn my degree, I would never find the right job.

As open season of teacher job hunting begins, allow me to encourage prospective teachers with few things to keep in mind during your time in the interview boxing ring…


#1 – Sell yourself. But make them sell themselves too.

My professors at college prepared me well that in job-hunting, you have to work to convince the person behind the desk you are worth the risk. It is true that whoever hires a first-time teacher does so at their own peril, as neither they nor you can possibly know for sure what kind of teacher you’ll turn out to be, even if you do look amazing on paper. However.. Don’t be afraid to evaluate each opportunity honestly.

You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Ask a lot – and I mean a lot – of questions. (If you need ideas, watch for my next post…) Listen carefully to their answers. Be honest with yourself about the merits of the position. And don’t be afraid to turn them down if it doesn’t fit your needs. You’ll be throwing your heart and soul into this place every day for the next year. You want to be sure it’s where you want to be.

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