GIVEAWAY: Busting the Back-to-School Blues!

As the older kids head back to school, what can your littler ones be learning? With the items found in this giveaway package, you can teach your younger children more about manners and basic vocabulary, all with a focus on the Bible. Don’t miss out on your chance to take home these items; enter to WIN below!

August KTT Giveaway post

I Can Be Kind (Amie Carlson) is a Scripture-based children’s book centered on one aspect of kindness: manners.  Many parents are looking for fun, creative ways to teach their children polite behavior in a society where rudeness is often the status quo. I Can Be Kind is a great resource for parents, grandparents, and Sunday school teachers as they seek to develop these behaviors in children.

Bible Favorites (One Sentence Storybooks–Nancy I. Sanders) is a set of 10 delightful minibooks that will help beginning readers recognize basic vocabulary words while learning about 10 favorite Bible stories. These creative books teach reading by using repetition. The last word on each page is a  vocabulary word, for a total of four featured words in each minibook. The final illustration is always the complete scene of the story, giving an understanding of the sentence as a whole.

Kid Talk Tuesday Giveaway

Head to Tyndale.com to learn more about these and other children’s titles.

 

Five Ways to Stay Connected with Your Kids in the Back-to-School Season by Linda Howard

It’s that time again, already! The school year is starting, and with that comes homework as well as a plethora of extracurricular activities with school and church. Busyness can create chasms of separation in families when it is unchecked. It takes intentionality and planning to keep relationships strong and growing. As your family’s schedule fills up and everyone starts going their separate ways, what can you do to stay connected? Below are five ideas to keep your family connected through the whirlwind of everyday life. Implement these suggestions or use them as a springboard to come up with your own ideas for developing stronger family ties.

  1. Read out loud together for ten minutes every night. Reading aloud creates a safe atmosphere that fosters deeper conversations, increases everyone’s knowledge, and helps bond you together as a family. Take turns choosing a book to read so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy something they love.
  2. Eat together as a family as much as possible. You have heard this over and over, but it bears repeating. Families who eat together talk to each other more. Mealtime can be one of the most relaxing and connective parts of the evening. Use the time to find out what is really going on in your kids’ lives. Ask questions and listen, really listen, to their answers. You will grow to know your children even better than you do now.
  3. Take one or more of your kids with you when you run errands. There is always something to do—go to the grocery store or the bank, or take a meal to a sick friend. Invite your children to come along and help you. Give them a specific responsibility during the trip so they feel like they are contributing to the family. Take advantage of the time to ask them about their day and, once again, listen carefully to what they have to say.
  4. Set up game nights. Play board games, cards, hide-and-seek, or other games as a family. My grandkids love to play hide-and-seek in the house. They are still young, so the minute I say “ready or not,” they come running out of their hiding places, giggling, and jump on me. They are not playing the game “right,” and we don’t always play for a long time, but the time we do play together is precious and has already yielded huge relational dividends.
  5. Send notes in your kids’ backpacks or lunch bags. I used to put small notes for my daughter in her lunch. I would tell her I was praying for a test she had to take or that I was thinking about her and hoping she had a great day. I had no idea what those notes meant to her until many years later, when I was helping her pack for a move she was making with her husband and children. She was sorting through a box and pulled out all the notes I had written to her almost twenty years before. She kept those notes all through junior high, high school, college, and her marriage. What a blessing to me to learn that those notes were so important to her!

None of the things above are huge time investments, but they can have long-lasting positive effects on your family. Every family is different, so don’t feel constrained to the suggestions above. Think about what would work best for your family and start with one thing at a time. Your family will thank you for it, and you will love the relationships that grow out of your time together.


linda howard

 

Linda Howard is the Acquisitions Director for Children and Youth titles at Tyndale House Publishers. In her free time, Linda loves reading and spending time with her four grandkids.

Jaxon is 2! We’re celebrating by honoring the special ones in your life!

Not long into their pregnancy, Brandon and Brittany Buell were given the heartbreaking news that their son, whom they had already named Jaxon, had a rare condition called Microhydranencephaly (meaning that he was missing part of his skull and most of his brain), and that he would likely die in utero or shortly after birth. If he did somehow survive, they were told he would suffer from severe neurological problems, would likely be deaf, blind, and unable to sit up, crawl, or communicate. Terminating the pregnancy was suggested on numerous occasions, but the Buells refused, opting instead to “choose life.”

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In Don’t Blink, Brandon and Brittany share the invaluable lessons that Jaxon—now approaching two—has taught them about the inherent value of every human life, the extraordinary power of faith, and the key to living each and every day to the fullest. Learn more about the book here – click here.

 

Jaxon is 2! We’re celebrating by honoring the special ones in your life.

Enter to win one of 3 great prizes:

  • Let us clean the house for you! A $100 Visa gift card toward the house cleaning service of your choice.
  • We’re honoring all the great work that the Ronald McDonald House does for so many of our precious children. We’re giving away a $100 donation to the Ronald McDonald house in your name!
  • Be one of the first to read Jaxon’s story! 30 lucky winners will receive a copy of Jaxon’s new book, Don’t Blink.

 

BdayGiveaway_DontBlink

Jaxon’s Birthday Celebration

Raising Kind Children in Today’s World by Amie Carlson

Boys playing in mini poolThe random acts of kindness movement is an attempt to show that there is still good in the world despite the sad headlines that bombard us daily. News stories about people paying it forward in drive through lines that go on for hours or someone giving a kidney to a stranger they met in a waiting room are especially popular during the holiday season. But no matter the time of year, hearing these stories warm our hearts and inspires us to be kinder humans in our everyday interactions – at the grocery store, to our servers at restaurants and to our neighbors.

Being kind is not something we are born with. It is a learned behavior just as prejudice or insensitivity is a learned behavior. Being kind to others is something we can start to teach our children when they are young. Here are some easy things you can do to instill kindness in your children, no matter their age.

Model kindness

  • Everyday situations give us opportunities to model kindness for our kids. You can show kindness in little things like smiling and thanking the checkout person at the grocery store and asking about their day or in more intentional things like mowing the neighbor’s lawn or bringing flowers to a neighbor “just because”. Remember that these little moments of interaction can make a big difference in brightening someone’s day. Use teachable moments to discuss how you are being kind or could have been more kind and be sure to praise your child when you catch them doing something kind without being asked.

Kindness Jar

  • Brainstorm a list of ways your children can show kindness to others. Write each idea on a slip of paper. Once a week as a family, pull a slip and be intentional about showing kindness. There are lots of great ideas on Pinterest or the internet that can help you if you get stuck but here are some ideas.
    • Write a letter or draw a picture for a friend or relative
    • Take out the garbage or clean something without being asked
    • Invite a friend over to play and let them choose the game/activity
    • Give a compliment
    • Give someone a surprise gift for no reason
    • Say thank you to someone who makes a difference – police officer, firefighter, doctor, nurse, teacher, soldier, etc.

Family Fun Night

  • Once a month or once a year, have a family fun night dedicated to performing random acts of kindness. This one takes some planning, but it is a fun way to share the joy of being kind and getting nothing in return as a family. There are lots of ideas on the internet but let your kids be part of the brainstorming and planning. They will learn from this just as much as doing the activities – you might be surprised at their ideas. Examples:
    • Anonymously pay for someone else’s meal (in the drive through or at a restaurant).
    • Tape a bunch of quarters to the inside of a washing machine at the laundromat with a note (this load is on me!). This also works at parking meters if you have access to those.
    • Bring sandwiches and Gatorade or coffee to a homeless person.
    • Leave money in your favorite book at a bookstore with a note, “I love this book, buy it for yourself and enjoy!”

Make a Kindness Mini-Book (starring your child)

  • Catch your child doing something kind and make a scrapbook out of it. Check out this post for detailed instructions.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started and there are a million different ways to show kindness. Start implementing intentional acts of kindness into your family’s everyday life and see what God can do to mold your child’s heart. And who knows – you might find yourself the recipient of an act of kindness yourself along the way.


The writer of this post, Amie Carlson, is the Product and Marketing Manager for Focus on the Family Kids/Media and Faith that Sticks at Tyndale House Publishers. Amie has also just written her first Lift-the-Flap Children’s book: “I Can be Kind: My First Manners Book”.

Amie Carlson 

The World as We Know It By Brittany Buell

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“Each moment in the life of a parent, with or without a child who has special needs, is a moment that can be used to teach, to serve, to love the lives we live, and to be thankful that we have been given the opportunity and ability to share this beautiful world with our children.”

When living in the world of parenting a child with special needs, life can become a bit stressful. Being an adult, a mother, and a wife is already difficult enough, especially in today’s society where lines are constantly blurred as to what living a Christian lifestyle means and entails.

On top of trying to live a life for God, add the pressure of sustaining a successful marriage, working a job, doing daily household chores, and keeping up with the tasks of life in general, and things can quickly get overwhelming. Additionally, toting the weight of caring for a terminally ill child, with a diagnosis so rare that the doctors and medical professionals who treat your child have not yet seen another case where a child lives long after the pregnancy, let alone to his second birthday, and that certainly equals a daunting set of circumstances to face every day. Long days in the hospital or at doctor’s appointments sometimes feel like wasted time, because no one truly knows your child the way you do.

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Don’t get me wrong, doctors are fantastic and should be credited for all their years spent learning their specific field of practice, and they should be appreciated for having the ability to save your child’s life in the blink of an eye. However, coming from a mother’s perspective, no doctor or nurse can ever replace the nurturing, loving, natural instincts that come from a child’s own parents.

As a parents, you know exactly what time your child will wake up in the middle of the night, and you know when your child is about to have a seizure even before they do, because you have memorized that frightened look that suddenly appears on their face. With every sound your child makes, you have the ability to know if they are happy, sad, upset, in pain, or require quick dialing of 9-1-1.

As if being an adult isn’t demanding enough, parenting a child with special needs raises your stress levels even higher. How on earth is it possible to still have the inner strength to walk around with a smile, knowing that just around the corner a seizure or emergency room visit awaits?

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Think about trips out in public, perhaps to the grocery store. Have you brushed shoulders with a family who has a child with a disability? Have you noticed the way that family was acting? More than likely, on the outside you will observe a mother or father who displays a smile. You will witness a family that finds a way to turn a challenging trip to the store into an obstacle course in the car buggy, turning every corner as if they are in a high speed race alongside the most famous NASCAR driver.

Why?

How?

And what is the point?

The point is actually quite simple. The world of parenting a child with special needs introduces you to new focuses and priorities, and nothing in the world matters more than making your family happy, no matter what it takes. Not only do you learn that there is no reason to begin the day with a negative outlook or expectations, but you don’t have that choice anyway. You’ve already made the decision to love your child unconditionally, regardless of health concerns or limitations that may arise, which means you choose to celebrate and cherish life every day. Your mental state has been altered in a way that can no longer withstand the capacity to look at life’s daily tasks as an annoyance. You may be tired and overwhelmed and heartbroken that your child endures what they do every day, but overall your focus and priority is on keeping your family happy at any cost.

We once looked at the trip to the grocery store as just another errand filled with frustrations like getting stuck behind slow drivers, hitting every red light along the way, waiting behind shoppers clogging the aisles, and choosing the wrong checkout line, which ends up feeling more like you’re in the wrong lane of a barely moving traffic jam. Now, after living the life of a family who has a child with special needs, we view our trip to the grocery store as an opportunity to teach our child. We teach peace by not yelling at every car or red light along the way. We teach reading by browsing the food labels on the items we’re purchasing and will be fueling our bodies with. And we teach about using our imaginations as we transform a boring old shopping cart with a squeaky wheel into a super-fast race car on its way to the finish line.

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Each moment in the life of a parent, with or without a child who has special needs, is a moment that can be used to teach, to serve, to love the lives we live, and to be thankful that we have been given the opportunity and ability to share this beautiful world with our children. Our children already go through so much, and the last thing they need in their lives are stressed-out, overwhelmed parents. What they truly need are God-fearing mothers and fathers who use the little moments in life to show love, compassion, and most importantly, patience. This will teach our children, our future generation and our future leaders, how to live well in an often materialistic, tragic, and fast-paced world.  This will teach them to appreciate a fulfilling, happy, and peaceful life.

 

buellsTo read more about the invaluable lessons that Jaxon has taught Brittany and Brandon about the inherent value of every human life, the extraordinary power of faith, and the key to living each and every day to the fullest, please read Don’t Blink (Tyndale House Publishers), available online or at your local bookstore.

Brandon and Brittany Buell are the parents of Jaxon Emmett Buell and the founders of the Jaxon Strong Facebook community and the Jaxon Strong Foundation. Their story has been featured on Nightline, Today.com, CNN.com, the Huffington Post, and hundreds of other media outlets around the world.