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3 Ways to Give Back On MLK Day

Posted on Jan 16, 2017 10:00:00 AM by Nikki Roberti Miller

Celebrate this Martin Luther King Jr. Day with your children in a way that reflects what he stood for: standing with and serving our fellow people. It’s not uncommon for us to volunteer or do charitable acts during the holiday season. But in the New Year, there Martin_Luther_King_-_March_on_Washington-RightsFREE.jpgtends be a lull in acts of kindness. While you have your children home from school on MLK Day this year, why not take the opportunity to instill a giving and serving spirit in them? Here are three ways to teach your children more about Martin Luther King Jr. and his “dream” while also following Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor.

1. Find a Way to Serve Your Community

Volunteer opportunities are always abundant in any community, but take a moment to pinpoint the needs that serve people different than you and your family. Find a soup kitchen that needs volunteers, bring baked goods and spend time with the elderly at a nursing home, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity or sort through the clothing donations with another non-profit. For a more low key and easy-to- do service project, pass free water bottles out to people at a safe park or mall on the other side of town.

Showing kindness to strangers teaches kids not to be closed off to those different than them and to be sensitive to the needs of others. MLK Day is a great time to get out there and serve where you’re needed most.

2. Find a Person To Give To

Giving to strangers is one of the most important skills we can teach our children. This MLK Day, have your children get involved in picking random strangers to bless. Maybe it’s buying the coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru or going out to dinner and anonymously paying for a family who seems to be having a rough day. Or, for a bigger project, take your children to the Dollar Store to pick out affordable necessity items like socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, combs and granola bars. Together, sort them out into large Ziplock baggies, roll them up and rubberband them so they’re easy to toss or hand off, and stash them in your car for easy access when you run into a homeless person begging on the side of the road instead of driving by.

Making giving to others more tangible than a monetary donation helps children associate value to the act while also making memories together as a family.

3. Find a Cause to Speak Out About

Martin Luther King Jr. was also known for his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. Teach your children about being involved in causes worth fighting for by spending your day off talking to them about the news and other issues going on in society today. Together, pick a cause they’re passionate about and brainstorm ways they can be involved. Look up your local senator’s contact information and have your child call or write a letter about the cause. If your child is passionate about the environment, find local clubs or organizations they can join to be a part of the change.

Finding ways to be involved in society on an ongoing basis prepares children to be lifelong servants and leaders in the community. Martin Luther King Jr. Day can be more than just a day for your children to be off of school. Make it a valued experience by teaching your children how to serve people different from them and set them up for a life as adults involved in the wellbeing of their local and national communities.

3 Benefits of Exercise for Children

Posted on Jan 10, 2017 3:00:00 PM by Amanda Khera

These days, it is rare to see a child without the glare of some kind of screen illuminating their faces. They watch TV while they eat breakfast, use their phones in the car, and type on computers in class and on their laptops at home. When they finally have free time, they peruse their phones again, watch even more television or play the latest video games. All of this time in front of an electronic screen totals to 6.5 hours a day on average, according to an article on BBC.com. But with all that time spent on electronic use, very little can be devoted to exercise, sports and outdoor activities. This lack of activity is one of the leading factors attributed to the rise in childhood obesity.

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According to an article on the CDC’s website, childhood obesity  (6-11 years old) has increased from 7% to 18% of children between 1980 and 2012 and it is still growing. It has even quadrupled in adolescent age group. Exercise is one of the key ways to prevent and minimize childhood obesity but it also has other benefits. As a personal trainer that hosted youth exercise classes, I have personally witnessed the benefits of children exercising. Here are the top three benefits to child exercise:

 

Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight

Exercise along with a healthy diet, is a great way to manage and maintain weight in children and adolescents. While it is important for children to be confident no matter what size they are, it is just as important that they are healthy. Child obesity can lead to an early onset of diabetes, heart disease, asthma and more.  Exercising even as little as 30 min a day can help to burn off the extra calories and to prevent diseases.

Maintaining a healthy body weight can also increase a child’s self esteem, keep their bones and muscles strong and less prone to injuries, and encourage better sleep patterns.

 

Real Life:

When I first started teaching my youth exercise class, I had a timid 11-year-old boy as one of my first pupils. He was nervous about going to middle school the following fall, because he was afraid his schoolmates would tease him about his weight and his asthma while in gym class. I worked with him 3 days out of the week throughout the summer and continued to see his self-esteem go up as his weight went down. He slowly came out of his shell and become our exercise class clown. When his first day of middle school came around, he said that he was able to keep up in gym class and made new friends that thought he was funny.

 

Motor Skills Improvement

Exercise can also help to improve motor skills. As children are growing, they are constantly learning how to coordinate their body movements as their body is continuing to grow. Think of how hard it was to catch a ball when it was first hurled in your direction. By exercising, they will be able to learn how each part of their body functions, strengthen the muscles involved and coordinate each movement. This will help them during that game of catch, picking up larger objects, and during arts and crafts time when fine motor skills are needed.

 

Real Life:

One of my youngest pupils in my youth exercise class was an 8-year-old girl. She was excited to exercise and to be just like her mother and father who were both bodybuilding competitors. I decided to see how good her motor skills were since she was coming to me at such a young age and had very little experience using weights of any kind. I had her throw a medicine ball in my direction and it just fell to the floor because she didn’t know how to coordinate her movements to propel the ball through the air. I worked with her for a couple of weeks and by our next check-in, she threw the ball so hard that my face was almost the target. Needless to say, I was impressed and was fully confident that one day she would be alongside her parents in a bodybuilding competition.

 

Interpersonal Communication

Exercise is an excellent way to increase the interpersonal communication skills of your child.  This is especially true when it comes to team sports. When your child plays on a team, they learn how to communicate with their fellow team members, work out disputes, work together to score a point or a goal and how to use helpful critiques to their advantage. These interpersonal skills can be used on or off the field/court and will make them better communicators in school, at home and for the future.

 

Real life:

While teaching my youth exercise classes, I wanted to encourage teamwork in the group. So one half of our hour-long sessions were spent lifting light free weights and performing other circuit workouts, and the other half was devoted to playing some kind of sport. My class loved practicing volleyball. We did not have a net at the gym, but we would go to a grassy area behind the gym, stand in a circle and see how many times we could keep the ball in the air.  In order for the ball to stay in the air, and for my students not to run into each other, they had to communicate with each other as to where to stand, who should get the ball and who would receive the next pass. At first, it was chaos, but as they learned to work together, the ball spent most of its time in the air. The children eventually came together and became friends outside of the class.

 

The Challenge

Now that you know the benefits of exercising, there is still the hurdle of getting your child to actually exercise. This can sometimes be a challenge because, let’s face it, phones, television, video games and computers are fun. So here are some ways to encourage your child to exercise:

 

Ways to Encourage Exercise

  1. Sign them up for a school sport that will get them moving and that they will enjoy
  2. Join the local pool club for fun and swimming in the sun
  3. Go on family hikes around your local and national parks
  4. Sign them up for the kid exercise program at your local gym. Trainers who teach these classes combine games with exercises to ensure that your children are having fun.
  5. Have them help out with yard work
  6. Get them involved in karate or tae kwon do classes. They will get a real kick out of them.
  7. Go on a bike ride around the neighborhood
  8. Invite the neighborhood kids over for a game of capture the flag or the classic game of Tag

The most important thing to remember is that EXERCISE CAN BE FUN. Encouraging your children to stay healthy and active through exercise and sports will set them up for a great future.

3 Ways to Refocus Commercial Christmas Traditions on Christ

Posted on Dec 22, 2016 11:43:34 AM by Nikki Roberti Miller

In this age of commercialism, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the focus of Christ in

Christmas for our children. From all the presents to Santa Claus on every corner, it can send a

confusing message. Here are three ways to refocus common commercialized traditions back onto the real reason

for the season.

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Makeover #1: Commercial Advent Calendars



Counting down to Christmas is fun, especially if you get a chocolate each day like many favorite

Santa-themed advent calendars. But why not take it a step further? Make or purchase a reusable

advent calendar with slots that will fit a piece of paper. Each day, your child can read a verse

about the Christmas story leading up to Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25th. It’ll be a favorite tradition for

years to come. Here’s a list of verses to get you started.



Makeover #2: Elf on the Shelf



It seems like everyone has these “toys” nowadays, and for younger children, it’s hard not to feel

left out when everyone else has a “Mr. Jingles” who moves every night before they wake. But it

doesn’t have to be a “Santa spy” tradition like many make it out to be. Why not turn the old-

school elf into a “kindness elf” that leaves messages to your child about how to bless others as

God has blessed us this Christmas season? Or, look into the Christian version of Elf on the Shelf,

“The Christmas Angel” which leaves a message for your child each day on how to show love to

others.



Makeover #3: Santa Claus 

 

Whether Santa Claus is a tradition your family loves or something you all choose to stay away

from, there’s no denying it can be a sticky situation for all involved. On one hand, you want to

instill truth into your child and teach them how to have unwavering faith in real things like our

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. On the other hand, you may not want them to ruin Santa Claus for

other children who believe or even deprive your children of a tradition you loved as a child.

One way to eliminate the drama is to tell the historical story of the real Saint Nicholas, a

Christian who believed in giving to those in need, just as Jesus taught us. Explain that the

tradition of Santa Claus originated from his kindness and then read passages in the Bible together

about how we are to take care of others in need as well (for example: Proverbs 19:17, Hebrews

13:16, Acts 20:35). Together you can get excited about “being” a Santa Claus this Christmas

season.

Have your child pick someone they know that needs something and then help them

deliver it anonymously. They’ll get a firsthand experience of how it’s “better to give than to

receive” while also making the Christmas season more special than ever before.

3 Ways to Afford a Christian School Education

Posted on Jul 19, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

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A Christian school education is a sound investment that can prepare a child both academically and spiritually for life.  Unfortunately, while many parents may dream of sending their children to a Christian school, finances may prevent some from even considering this educational option.   By doing some homework, these families could discover ways to obtain the necessary funding to make the cost more affordable and the dream of a Christian school education a reality.

If you are considering a Christian school education for your child but are concerned about the cost, here are three options to explore:

School Tuition Assistance and Discounts

To help families afford the cost of attending, most Christian schools offer various discounts, such as early registration, multiple-child or multiple-year enrollment incentives.  Ask the schools in your area what types of discounts they offer to determine which discounts you might be able to take advantage of.

Many schools also offer needs-based financial assistance.  Those interested in participating in this type of a program are typically required to apply by a specified date and provide financial information in order for the school to determine financial need.

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Grants and Scholarships

Conducting online research may uncover leads for grants or other awards you could apply for to help finance the cost of tuition.  Entering a phrase such as  “private school grants” or “private school scholarships” could bring up possible options or provide the initial information needed to further guide your search.  

Family and Friends

Lastly, prayerfully consider asking family and friends to invest in your child’s future by offering financial support.  In addition, check with your church to determine whether they can provide support as well.

Don’t let the cost deter you from considering a Christian school education.  If this type of an education is a priority for your family, prayerfully considering and working through these options may help your dream become a reality.

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