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Teaching/mothering tips

Renee Ellison's tools for effective teaching, and inspirational thoughts about being a nurturing mother.

Solidly and swiftly ground your children in apologetics

Sunday, 19. October 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Godless worldviews of all sorts currently rage in our culture.  Our children are relentlessly bombarded and profoundly affected by the cultural assumptions and presuppositions of these worldviews.  Children in godly families desperately need biblical apologetics clarified to them in easy terms to navigate this jungle of philosophies.  Ideas matterAll ideas eventually have consequences.  Teach your children these easy and well-aimed logical arguments against the absurdities of our day and these devious lies will lose their power over them.

Evolution:
We now know that creation actually began with information (codes), not lifeless matter flung about.  Codes and language cannot exist without intelligent design.  We’re told in Genesis that God created by fiat (the spoken word…language…code)—which is exactly what scientific studies now verify.  The DNA molecule and the microscopic life contained in a single cell all reveal vast complex information systems.  For proof, read: Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer.  It’s a 624-page science-based tome that silences evolutionists’ every attempt at rationalism.

Communism vs. capitalism:
Regardless of the theory of how superior communism is, as asserted by ivory tower professors in most every college in America, who claim that it is preferable to capitalism, look at the results of communism.  450 million individuals have been slaughtered by communist regimes during the past century.  Wherever communism has dominated, it has produced not only death, but enslavement and poverty.  People who find themselves living under such a system seek to flee it.  Why would you need to fence people in, as in the case of the Berlin Wall, if communism is such a superior system?  Superior for whom?  The Bible indicates that industry and hard work merit the rewards of profit and private property.  Fiscal rewards fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in a man.  Take fiscal incentive out of the heart of a people and you’ll have malaise overnight—i.e., the welfare state.  Every corporate endeavor taken over by any government fails as a fiscal enterprise—they all swim in debt.

Abortion:
A human being has 23 pairs of chromosomes.  22 are the same in both sexes; the 23rd set determines sexuality.  Nothing else on the planet that contains chromosomes switches to something else when its size changes. A small baby oak tree is still an oak tree; it wasn’t at first a tulip.  If a person asserts that the fetus switches from something else to a baby at some point, ask…
1) at what moment did it switch?  Let your adversary set the moment of life…they can pick ANY moment—once stated, then ask:
2) what was it five minutes before that?”
And then 3) what overwhelming chemical event caused that to happened ?  is it scientifically verifiable?

Homosexuality:
God is interested in infinite variety.  Consider the profusion of color in a hillside of flowers, and the profusion of language, as evidenced in the multitude of differing words contained in the Bible and in great literature.  The devil apparently prefers one color (black), and three or four cuss words that are used over and over and over again.  Profanity is not diverse—it is narrow.

The Lord defines boundaries.  Eventually the sea must stop and dry land appears; somewhere a man stops and a woman begins; biology has definition and limitations on purpose.  The devil is interested in only blurring boundaries,  wants sameness.  Unisex and its derivative philosophies are his inventions.  The Lord is interested in abundant procreation, whereas the devil pushes for singleness and isolation (i.e., have sex by yourself or in ways that produce no children).  If everyone were homosexual, the human race would die out. 

Hedonism:
The essence of the hedonistic worldview is that pleasure and entertainment are all there is and all that are worth pursuing.  But: what happens when your child or best friend falls ill?  Where do you fit that in such a worldview?  A person’s worldview should strive to address all of life’s possible circumstances better than any other worldview.

Existentialism:
Live for experiences.  Experiences and activities are the validating conditions of life and happiness for a person who follows this worldview.  So, what happens when a person becomes injured and can’t walk, is what they think not important?

Nihilism:
Life is meaningless.  Live for nothing.  The perfect state is nothingness.  All things are equal.  Most of the big name nihilistic writers committed suicide.  It fits.  Might not be the best way to “live.”

Pantheism:
God is in everything.  The problem with this worldview is that, one cannot be IN the table or the stars and be lord OVER the table or the stars at the same time.  It is a logical impossibility.  The very definition of a god is that that God is pre-eminent over something.  Eastern religions tout that you are that god—so, that must mean “you made yourself?”  Read Death of a Guru for a short treatise on the howling wasteland of eastern religious worldviews.

Reincarnation:
This is the belief that we live in cycles and are re-born over and over again; you move up or down based upon what you did in the previous life.  This is why cows and monkeys are worshiped in India: they might be someone’s mother!  Ask a person who believes this, what would an ant have to DO to come back as a lizard?  And when would the ant know that his works were sufficient?  Conversely, the holy scriptures teach that “It is appointed unto man ONCE to die, and after that the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Humanism:
Assert something strongly enough and you can become it.  You are your own god, and by merely thinking it, you can defy the material order.  Really?  Does an Olympic athlete also become the world’s best chess player?  Do we have even one case of it?  How hard would a dwarf have to think to become a pole vaulter?  Can a woman give birth to a donkey?  Or a donkey give birth to a butterfly?  Can a person grow three arms?  …or pilot a plane if they are a three year old?  Come on—this is embracing an absurdity.  Colleges have become the high church of humanism.

Materialism:
“He who dies with the most toys wins.”  Wins what?  We’ve found, to our emptiness, that unbridled shopping results only in “licking the earth.”

Islam:
Look at the expression of it in the world.  Name the great inventions and discoveries that have been contributed to the betterment of all mankind out of this philosophy.  Take a jihadist or a member of Isis home to dinner.

So, what’s better as a worldview?
The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible helps us with this answer, which is summed up beautifully in the first question in the Westminster Catechism:
Q:  What is the chief end [purpose] of man?
A:  To glorify God and enjoy him forever!

Track saints throughout history who have done this and you find they lived lives in all manner of circumstances with inexpressible joy.  Fulfillment leaves tracks in the sands of history.

Bible art

Wednesday, 08. October 2014 by Renee Ellison

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There are two delightful color experiences a child can have that are derived from and reinforce the great truths of the Bible.  They are:
    1. Color celebrations around seven magnificent colored displays in the Bible (taken one per day) and
    2. Creating a Wordless Gospel Booklet.

Color celebration
There are seven notable places in the Bible where a lavish display of color is described.  To a child’s delight, he finds that God spills splendor over His truths.  To blend a child’s passion for color AND Bible themes together decks those themes with glory for remarkable lifetime “remembering.”  By DRAWING the simple outlines of these forms for your child to fill in, you DRAW wonderful attention to God!

If you are not so keen on your own drawing ability, you can order these coloring pages from us for $5 (includes postage).  If you do sketch them out, yourself, use an entire page for each drawing, making them quite large.

Children may use paints, colored pencils, markers, or crayons to fill them in.  (For more on that, see our recent blog post on preschool painting and coloring tips.)

Each piece produces a masterpiece—even when the child has very little drawing skill.  All he is really doing is filling IN color stripes or color blocks, while his brain takes pictures subconsciously of the truths contained therein. 

These are the colorful seven:
+ A rainbow
+ Joseph’s coat
+ The tabernacle drapes
+ The High Priest’s breastplate
+ The foundation stones/layers of the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 21:8-21)
+ A crown
+ A gem

Lay them in front of your child, one per day, and watch how MUCH you can discuss WHILE the child fills them in!  You’ll have a captive audience. 


Wordless Gospel Booklet
You can also make a little book of full colored pages (with no text) to express the gospel stages in a person’s life.  When finished, these are adorable and the children love to feel them, repeatedly look at them, and carry them around in their hip pockets to show their relatives and friends. 

The ideal size is made using 3X5 cards.  Attach two together with a strip of electrician’s tape or masking tape between them, leaving a 1/8th inch space (so that it folds easily) and continue to add a card until you obtain four interior surfaces (two cards side by side), and the cover and back binding (of a single card, each). 

Once your skeleton booklet is constructed, cover each full page with only one color.  The child may paint the pages, or he may glue colored construction paper to them.  But the most spectacular rendering is to use sticky-backed colored vinyl.  The use of this materials makes the book flash and sparkle with VIVID color.  (Obtain it from a local sign shop by asking for scraps of sticky-backed colored vinyl from the owner’s trash can).  You only need 5 X 6 squares of each in these colors:
+ black
+ red
+ white
+ gold
+ primary bright green (emerald color).  Use this last color for both front and back covers by applying it all in one piece by turning the little booklet face down upon the table to expose both sides of the cover.

Teach the child to memorize and say this little poem AS he turns the pages to show his friends and relatives:

My sin is black as black can be.
It will spoil heaven, said He.

So He covered it up with His own blood red.
He took my place on a cross and bled.

He made me all so clean and white—
Like a star I’ll shine, forever bright.

And go to live where streets are gold—
I’ll be with him for days untold.

And now I grow all strong and green,
Believing in Him whom I’ve never seen.

I feed on his Word to learn what’s right,
and rest in His promises day and night.

A list of the BEST Bible resources for young children

Saturday, 04. October 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Recommendations of the best Bible books for very young children

Before sharing my list with you, here some general comments about reading the Bible to very young children.

First:  You want to create a love of the Bible, not just knowledge of it.  To accomplish this, in the beginning, use the best illustrated children’s Bible versions that you can get your hands on.  Avoid scary or mean-looking versions or the other extreme of fantasy-type-Hollywood illustrations.  If you are deliberating between two versions, pick the one with the best pictures.  The pictures are educating the child’s right brain and hooking his emotions.  What those pictures portray is very important.

Second:  Do not be adverse to dividing the children’s Bible into four parts, and actually taking it apart at the spine and making it into four separate lighter book sections.  You would then take those loose pages to your local printer to have them spiral bind those four littler books with a little wire binding for each book.  This makes it easier to turn the pages, because they will now lay flat as you read them (the book doesn’t continue to flop shut) and enables you or the child to hold less weight in your/their lap.  It is worth it to do this to a book that you will use every day and perhaps over and over again with a number of different children.  If you buy the book used to begin with, the total cost of the book (including the added expense of the wire binding) is not much.

Third:  Consider finding and purchasing used children’s Bibles from thrift stores, second hand book stores, or Bookfinder.com or Abebooks.com online (the Amazon.com links below are just to help you start your search).  If and when you do so and the book is in your hands, try to smell older Bibles to be sure they do not have mold on them from having been in a person’s basement, for example, which makes reading them unpleasant.  Whenever you find a good children’s version, consider purchasing it so that you have plenty of Bibles to give away to children who come across your path.

Fourth:  Read the Bible to your child until he/she is able to read well by himself/herself—i.e. the child has been thoroughly trained in phonics (we offer you excellent resources for that).  Then he can begin to read easy versions and gradually work into more difficult versions over the course of his youth.  Teach him to underline verses in his Bible that strike him, personally.  Eventually he can write down one thought or one verse from his daily devotions in a little notebook that he keeps alongside his Bible.

Here, now, is a list of some different versions, with a note as to the best suggested use for each version.  The first one described below is especially useful if you only have a small amount of time with youngsters (for instance, you get to teach your pagan neighbor’s children and their parents don’t care what you teach them, or you get to spend a week with visiting unbelieving relatives’ children or grandchildren whose parents will let you read anything to them, or you have the opportunity to influence other children for a short duration), pour as much Bible into these children as you can in the time that you have spiritual influence over them.

    + The Children’s Discovery Bible: Discovering God’s Word for the First Time (authors: Charlene Hiebert and Drew Rose; Chariot Victor Publishing, 1996) Your goal is to try to familiarize the child with all of the Bible stories as speedily as possible.  To do that, you have to find the easiest and most concise version you can.  In addition, you want to rivet the children’s attention upon what you are reading.  To accomplish all of this optimally, use this version.  Each page is 2/3rds picture and 1/3rd text.  You can cover all the Bible material speedily by dividing the book into the number of days you have with the child, making sure that you keep up with reading each day’s section each day, to finish the book in good time.
    + My Bible Friends (5 volumes; author: Etta B. Degering) This is a five-volume series with extraordinarily good illustrations.  The pictures are bold, very colorful, winsome, and old-fashioned.  Children love this introduction to the Bible.  They will beg you for more stories from it.  Beginnings are so important.  You couldn’t do better to begin introducing your children to the Bible than with this series.  It lays the best foundation possible. 
    + The New Panorama Bible Study Course  (author: Alfred Thompson Eade, 1947; look for a used copy of this one) This is a pictorial representation of the entire Bible that you can walk a child (or an adult) through in about five minutes.  It gives a wonderful survey as rapidly as possible, that one never forgets.
    + The Catechism for Young Children with Cartoons (2 volumes; Vic Lockman) This is an easy way to cover the 100 basic questions about Christian doctrine that need to be a part of every child’s spiritual training.  In the Puritan times instructors and fathers trained first graders with the questions from the Westminster Catechism, in not such a winsome fashion as this. Nevertheless, children learned them and recited them.  These little books simplify the process and are a real gift to modern families with young children who want to raise them solidly in the Christian life.
    + The Picture Bible (Chariot Books) This book is excellent for an older elementary student or a junior high student, on up in age.
    + The Bible Story (10 volumes; author: Arthur S. Maxwell) I have heard of a family who read through this series again and again for a total of eight years.  This special series beautifully shapes any home’s spiritual life.  Illustrators from over 11 different denominations contributed excellent artwork for the series.  The stories are captivatingly summarized.
    + Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories (5 volumes; author: Arthur S. Maxwell) Arthur Maxwell is a master story teller.  These stories are true, and point out some character challenge and victory in a little story the child can identify with.  His stories are gripping and keep the child’s interest at high levels.  They serve to shape the child’s own character in a happy way.

For further Bible reading:
Following all of this good biblical exposure, the child is ready to read a real translation of the scriptures himself, and continue into more and more difficult versions for the remainder of his life.  For an accurate translation, in good English that is accessible to most modern readers, you may want to consider the New American Standard Version.

Preschool painting and coloring tips

Sunday, 21. September 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Want less mess?  Want more results from your children’s or grandchildren’s experiences with color?  Here are a series of helpful tips for the best coloring solutions for young children.

Overview of choices for colored markers:
For little tykes…
For the little, little tykes I’d go with the Jumbo crayons put out by Crayola (8 to a box).  These are not to be mistaken for the Large ones; they are one step up from those.  They are super easy to handle, don’t break as easily as smaller crayons, last a long time, and deliver nice color.  Both the larger grip and the extra-vivid color of Jumbo crayons are far more satisfying than standard crayons.  Empty them out onto a washcloth and they won’t roll or make noise while the child uses them at church or wherever.

The only problem is they can’t be sharpened—they are too big for even the double holed pencil sharpeners.  To sharpen them, use a knife or razor blade.  Grab an old magazine, set it on a scrap of board, and razor-blade the tip into a wedge (like an axe head edge), catching the scraps on the magazine.  Forget trying to carve a point.  When the child needs a point, teach him or her to tip the crayon onto the end of the edge of the wedge and “presto” they have a point.

Store them in a mug or a jar.

When coloring, have the child first trace just inside the object’s lines fairly firmly with their crayons—making a dark colored line around the edge of the object—and then color the picture itself, lightly.  This produces a pleasing two-tone affair.  This technique also teaches the child to bend line to create shape—which is the beginning step of sketching.  Coloring the object inside, is then the child’s reward for the sketching.  Children may also trace the object while holding a coloring page up to a window first, and then color it in afterwards.  The point is to get the child sketching as young as possible.  This teaches keen observation of the real world.

For older toddlers…
If you use markers, it is managing the lids of marking pens that creates the mess.  They just require too much dexterity for the average little child.  Sooooooo—for those times when you want mess-less drawing time, or for car trips to town, when you don’t want ink all over the place—go with Crayola’s brand of watercolor pencils (or a small set of the more expensive Prisma’s colored pencils); both of these products lay down a thicker line than standard colored pencils.  Forget trying to use the watercolored pencils with water—instead, use them as is.  Normal colored pencils don’t give you a rich enough line or rich enough color.  Add pencil grips around all of these, if needed, as they are thin.

Neither crayons nor coloring pencils necessitate the parental oversight that colored marking pens require.  Less mess.  Less “oops.”  You’ll have no parental anxiety, and won’t have to watch the young artists as closely as when they’re using markers.

Coloring books:
When choosing coloring books, look for the simplest ones you can find; the ideal is one object, or person, per page.  I look for older half-used coloring books at thrift stores; I buy them inexpensively and then come home and photocopy only the best pictures from each coloring book.  I may only find five coloring book pages that I really like that make it into my master notebook.  The pictures have to be cleanly drawn and simple, and they must make me like them.  If an adult doesn’t like them, chances are a child won’t, either.  Look for and collect the best of the best.  You’ll use them through the years with all manner of children and perhaps with your own grandchildren down the road.

Re: Painting:
Purchase poster board paint—only $3 or $4 for 12 colors in a tray.  Screw the lids on tight and turn the whole tray upside down and shake paint into the lids.  Then turn the tray back uprightly and remove the lids and give only the lids to the child to paint from.  This keeps the rest of the bottles clean—no colors accidentally get mixed from an unwashed brush.  When the paint bottles are open now with no lids, I cover a piece of cardboard the size of the tray with plastic wrap—plop it on top of the tray’s bottles of paint, while the lids are off, to keep them from evaporating, and place a book on top of that for a tight seal.  When the children are done, I wash out the lids, throw away the plastic wrap, and affix the lids back onto their bottles.  I wrap a new piece of plastic wrap on the cardboard for next time and plop it all in a plastic storage box, all ready and clean for next time.

Set a wide-bottomed jar of water or cup of water on the table, and a piece of paper towel, for the child to use when cleaning his brush between colors.  A narrow-bottomed jar of water or cup of water will tip over too easily.  Make sure the bottom is at least as large as the top—if not larger.  Forget having the child attempt to paint real pictures with these paints.  They are always a disappointment and end up in the trash, because the child lacks the skill and ability to paint with that level of sophistication.  Instead, have him/her color stripes across a page, or balloons, or rainbows, or boxes; all such exercises are a color celebration.  The child enjoys the color for its own sake and the task of applying brush to paper—and that is enough.  Making a picture or a scene doesn’t matter at this age.  He will be progressively learning how to sketch through his coloring with crayons and colored pencils.

Steps for the process of teaching your child how to read

Saturday, 23. August 2014 by Renee Ellison

Image As we plow into the start of the new school year here, a number of you moms are beginning the reading process with one child or another. Feel free to forward this protocol on to other overwhelmed moms who would appreciate knowing how to launch their children into reading faster than normal.

Remember that you can teach a child to read any number of ways, but the process described here will get you there sooner.

You will need three things:
1) Our Teach Phonics Faster booklet and Phonetic Sound Visuals packet,

2) Alpha-Phonics by Samuel Blumenfeld (far better than 100 Easy Lessons and less expensive than scores of inferior phonics programs that cost an arm and a leg and that sell because of their bells and whistles), and

3) ACE's first-grade word building and math (12 paces of each).

You may skip ACE's kindergarten program entirely (it was designed for use in a classroom and is bunglesome and tedious) and not order ACE's entire first grade program at this time. Only purchase the First Grade Word Building and First Grade Math (12 pace booklets for each: 1001-1012). Finish those first and then go back and order the rest of the first grade paces.

Steps to success:
Read Teach Phonics Faster and conquer the Phonetic Sound Visuals packet first. Do not move beyond this step until the child can do them backwards and forwards and upside down. This gives you faster overall delivery on the entire "word attack" business later, because the child is not endlessly halting and tripping over this fundamental stage; they know it, cold.

Then begin Alpha-Phonics (if you want one that costs less, look for a used copy on Abebooks.com). Refrain from teaching any long vowel sounds, or any alphabet names, until after lesson 15; don't go there yet. After lesson 15 it is okay to teach the other things. And the easiest way to do that is to let ACE Word Building do that for you.

Before you begin using ACE’s Word Building paces, you (the mom) go through all 12 paces and put a post-it note (i.e. red flag) to cover any page having anything to do with a long vowel sound. After you finish using all 12 Word Building paces in this limited way (doing only the short vowel sound pages), go back through them and do all of the pages that you red-flagged. By then you will be past lesson 15 in Alpha-Phonics and the remainder of your phonics tasks will be learned easily, step by step, built on this super-strong foundation.

So, in summary you can use ACE’s Word Building paces simultaneously with lessons 1-15 of Alpha-Phonics—by eliminating all the long vowel pages that you red-flag. But after lesson 15 of Alpha-Phonics you may go back to the beginning of ACE’s Word Building paces and do all of those pages as well. Continue with both Alpha-Phonics and the Word Building paces until you finish both.


ACE's math:
Full steam ahead—no prior prep needed. It'll do a great job for you. You can begin this simultaneously with our Phonics Sound Visuals packet—teaching reading and math right away, together, from the "get-go". If your child loves learning you can even do two sessions a day. Remember that teaching in short spurts is the key to early learning; always quit before the child wants to quit. You can always do another session later in the day, if the child is still eager.

General overview:
Here is the winning theory one more time: ACE will teach your children for you, and it will do it for you more easily than any other curriculum on the planet. On top of that you can waltz into your children’s academic world by teaching from any of your own passions at any time and in any way you so choose, on ideal days. On less than ideal days, however (when you don't have the energy or time—both are in short supply for typical moms), when you might be consumed with helping a sick child or prepping for company or simply getting dinner on the table and the laundry done in an orderly manner, instead of living in chaos, you want the children plowing ahead with self-discipline (“We do this every morning, whether mama is occupied with something else or not”). ACE will educate your children beautifully, but the more important thing is that ACE will train their character in subtle moral nooks and crannies all through the years—which is, after all, the grand prize for a Christian family smile. Further, if you'll read Arthur Maxwell's 10-volume Bible Story and 5-volume Bedtime Stories in the evenings, that will totally help to propel your child over into the Heavenly Father’s forever kingdom. These choice pieces of early literature shape the home like no other.

Help! What do I do with my toddlers all day long?

Monday, 28. July 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Many moms are so exhausted, and so taxed for time, the last thing in the world they want to do is play the game or make-believe that their young child wants to play.  And to compound the already existing problem, if we overlay the dilemma of the different interests of the two sexes, in what they like to do, it can get doubly frustrating.  Fathers often disdain playing dolls with their toddler daughters, and mothers often don’t enjoy playing with trucks.  So are we at an impasse with our offspring?  Gratefully, no.  Here is an easy fix that will please everyone.  This is a radical new way to look at play.  Here it is in a nutshell.  Instead of you playing with your children, have them play with YOU!

How does that work?  Just this way: in all of your undertakings, always be mindful of preparing a little companion job to be done by your toddler right next to you. That’s the winning formula!

For example: If you are scrubbing the kitchen floor, give them a little plastic bowl of water and a rag and have them wipe the fronts of the lower cabinets.  It won’t hurt the cupboards in the least and it will not matter a whit if they do a good job or a bad one.  The important thing is that you are together with your child, sharing cheerful conversation while they catch the “work ethic”.  Working with your child in a positive atmosphere results in a very satisfying and progressive life for everyone involved.

Here’s another example: If you are doing dishes, fill the second sink with warm water and let your child stand on a chair or stool and play in the water with their hands with whatever (even the silverware), while you proceed to do your job, just as you normally would.  Or fill a plastic tub with water next to you on the counter for their play area.  They may want to wash some of their own toys there, while they are with you, next to you.  Or they can wash cups (for example).  Or while you’re doing the laundry, set your young child on top of the dryer and have him or her pour in the detergent which you measure; the child can stir the clothes with a wooden stick.  Afterwards, have the child match socks and/or help you fold the clean clothes.  Also, include your little ones in as much cooking as possible.  The key is to spend the day getting in as much relational time as possible in and around all of the projects you are already needing to undertake.

In addition to sharing life with your child in this way, also read to your child and take a good long walk each day, to round out the day nicely.  There is nothing so soothing and so bonding for a child as hearing a parent’s voice reading, while snuggled in at their side.  You can do this several times a day.  In choosing reading material, avoid choosing drivel and fantasy as much as possible.  Instead, focus on Bible reading, bedtime stories that show godly character, and missionary biographies.  Drain these three choices dry, logging in thousands of hours over these good materials, and this will shape your child in ways that you will never regret.

Remember that the Lord chose to be with His disciples as much as possible, to good ends.  So let us emulate the best.  With such choices, our families will be relieved of the tyranny of our culture’s over-dependence upon providing endless entertainment for our children, often to a vain and worthless end.

The key to a child’s heart is your attentiveness

Monday, 30. June 2014 by Renee Ellison

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The best way to achieving closeness with your children, especially within larger families, is to keep rotating children in your mind’s-eye focus.  Go through them all, giving away your time, your life, your conversation, your listening ear, your involvement in their wee projects, wishes, and aspirations, and then start all over again at the top of the list.  This is what Charles and John Wesley’s mother did with 17 children; their mother continually rotated her focus.  As a result of that focused, attentive training, those two sons influenced all of the known world.  Deliberate attentiveness is the key to your child’s heart, and also is the key to drawing his affections toward you.

Since your time is limited (whose isn’t?), be keenly conscious of using that time well.  Don’t choose that time to be preoccupied.  The opportunities to influence a childhood slip through the hour glass all too quickly.

Remember, too, to see your home life through your children’s eyes, and aim to bring them happy memories of your life together.  These memories will live on with them, just as your own childhood memories are fixed in your spirit.  Always aim at making these memories and improving them.

You are grooming the character of your own forever-friends.  You will live with their character, so make hay in that department while they are still pliable.

I heard this quote years ago and clung to it in my own parenting.  “Love your children as if you won’t have them next year—but train them as if they won’t have you.”

Pitting an adolescent against his better self

Friday, 20. June 2014 by Renee Ellison

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The name of the game in training adolescents over any matter is to pit them against themselves—removing yourself as much as you can out of their boxing ring.  How?  By continually showing them how they really box with only themselves, because they will increasingly have to live with their own results.  Your goal is to help young people progressively internalize godly convictions, so that they want to please God (not you) by their daily choices.

Try to show them that if they will do this current thing which you request, it gives them an edge over their peers, or competition, or helps them have a faster head-start in life, or helps them choose their long-term self over their short-term self.  Seek to show them that you are restraining them or directing them in certain directions for their own advantage.

If you are really having a rough time with your adolescent you could try a little reverse psychology.  Tell them it would really be far easier for you to just lay down on the job and let them do “whatever”.  Tell them, “After all, I already have a good reputation.”  “I already have a paid-for house.”  “I already have an education.”  “My life is already set.”  “It is YOUR LIFE that YOU will have to live with!”  “Just tempt me!”

You might have a discussion sometime with your adolescent about what it takes to build an outstanding reputation well.  Spend some time explaining that a reputation is a fragile thing; it is far-reaching in its implications.  Explain that you build it day by day, action by action, and you can never get it back to rebuild it differently, if you happen to muff it up.  Explain that it is not just who you know but it is who they know that you really display yourself in front of, because once a reputation gets out there in the big wide world—it soon becomes irretrievable and widespread.  Your reputation flies out of the box in a hurry—like down feathers sprung from a pillowcase on a stormy day.  If it goes bad, you cannot recall it from the four winds. 

You could tell your son or daughter, for example, “Someone you work for might know someone else whose job offer to you will really give you the good breaks in life, later.  It is not just the people you see, but the people they are related to and know among their friends where there may be the very girl/guy whom you will marry, in the future.  Others simply may not recommend you, if they don’t like what they see now, regardless of what godliness is in your heart in the future.”

When adolescents see that they stand to lose real gold in their own lives, they look at your directives more seriously.  Self-interest is a driving force.  Therefore, you constantly have to paint the long-term self-interest in living color. Convince your child that he is building something here: building something that is irretrievable and terribly important for him.

Wrestling with clothing choices for young adults

Friday, 06. June 2014 by Renee Ellison

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Clothing selections are a powerful means of identifying with God’s kingdom or the enemy’s kingdom.   Identity is the key.  The origins of clothing fads and designs are important indicators of which kingdom.  Some current styles of clothing originated with gangs in the inner city; marketers took those ideas and sold them to the middle and upper-class culture, making it, for the first time in history, popular to dress “down.”  Other choices, for example skinny jeans, have been popularized by rock stars.  Alarmingly, skinny jeans can be bad for a guy’s health in the genital area, in addition to the godless emotions they evoke from others.

All of us are familiar with modesty issues created by dozens of clothing choices made by adolescents.  But let’s look at some further challenges that just this one specific clothing choice creates, as an example of how far reaching all kinds of clothing issues can become.

Let’s briefly consider the problems of allowing your young adult to wear tight pants.  “A recent study by Korean doctors suggests that skinny jeans can cause Varicose veins.  Among men, tight trousers may also cause dyspermia due to overheating of the testes.”  A further report states that “according to a new survey of 2,000 British men, tight-fitting jeans can cause urinary tract infections, twisted testicles, bladder weakness and long-term health consequences.”  A third news article reported, “Twisted testicles is a serious condition that occurs `when tight trousers prevent the spermatic cord from moving freely, meaning it twists and leads to testicular torsion which cuts off the blood supply requiring immediate surgery to prevent a gangrenous testicle,’ noted the report.”

Some religious groups have serious concerns about tight pants.  Some Middle Eastern Islamic groups disapprove of tight trousers, because they are considered immodest, overtly sexual, or a threat to local traditions.  In Saudi Arabia, the police are instructed to arrest teenagers who dress this way because the tight jeans are seen as un-Islamic and, when worn by men, a sign of homosexual leanings.  In the Gaza strip, Palestinian youths caught wearing skinny jeans have been arrested and beaten by the police, and have been forced to have their hair cut.  In Sudan and Iraq, young men and women have been imprisoned, raped and even murdered for wearing them. (Source)

These quotes show that clothing is “read” by all sorts of cultures and ideological persuasions.  It is important to get our youth to understand that.  Even when someone beholds them from far away, across a street or park, their appearance visually declares their ultimate allegiance to some world-view.  Clothing is a vital issue, not a peripheral one (as our culture has tried to persuade us by using the phrase: “Pick your battles”).

Clothing choices, really, at their root, are an extension of the heart. When godly youth counselors set out to reform troubled youth in rehabilitation houses, they often begin by changing their clothing and music.

Business people know the importance of dress. In fact, clothing standards are often built right into their training.  Realtors dress to the nines, even in showing houses to a bum client who may himself be dressed in shabby clothing, because the agent realizes that some acquaintance of the bum might be the one who buys the property!  The bum’s relative might even have just received an inheritance, etc.  A real estate agent’s clothing is the primary advertising that can be read by the client.  After some reflection we find that this is true for all people in business, and in society.

I dress professionally, for example, even for tutoring six little unseen, hidden-away children of one family, out in the county.  Why?  I wear a blazer every day so that I look official, like an expensive tutor from London.  It helps me carry authority with them beyond what they are likely to see of their neighbors, for example.  When I arrive, something arrives with me—advertising—and my clothing says “I mean business; this is important work; this is so important, it is worth dressing up for, and now you as a child have to deliver!”

So when guiding your young people in this area, bait your son or daughter with making himself/herself irresistible and important to people, rather than settling for just being one of the current pop crowd. Awakening their long-term self-interest and reputation can help sway them to understand the significance of their clothing choices for their own future.

Further explain, “If you appear to be one thing (belonging to the world) but think you actually belong to a different kingdom, godliness, it can be missed by others, just by their observing a simple thing like dress.  Every detail of our life points to one kingdom or another.  People—even the stranger—read details.  So, by your dress whose kingdom are you advancing?  Your Creator’s, or the devil’s?  Whose agenda, really, your own as a child of the King’s, or a magazine’s?”

And so we see, in conclusion, that you do well to wage the battle when your young adult challenges your biblical standards for his clothing.  Persevere.

Six math ditties for conquering problem facts

Tuesday, 22. April 2014 by Renee Ellison

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The following six multiplication facts seem to be recurring multiplication challenges for many young children. Learn these ditties and the problem is solved. For more easy math solutions order our Kindle e-book: Teach Math Faster.

6X6 picked up sticks;
their total number was 36

7X7 make friends so fine;
last time I counted, they had 49

8X8 fell on the floor
and when they got up they were 64

6X7 were oh, so blue—
could only count to 42

6X8 went on a date
and then got married at 48

7X8 were in a fix
until the age of 56