Family Friday Links 4.19.19

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Happy Good Friday.

Here’s what we’ve been reading online this week.

Scott Kedersha recently shared his biggest struggle as a parent. He laments, “The biggest mistake I make as a dad is when my behavior matches the behavior of my children.” He goes on to list ways in which we as parents can better respond. This is s worthwhile read for any parent.

Rob Fattal had post on Gospel-Centered Discipleship discussing leadership. He starts the post out this way, “Leadership is a tough concept to grasp, especially for those that are in or aspire to leadership positions.” If you are in a leadership or hope to be one day read this post; it will help you rely on the Holy Spirit as you lead.

Bryan Loritts had a post on discipleship. He says, “Distilled to its essence, disciple making rests on four pillars. In order for a church leader to effectively make disciples, these four pillars must be present—and strong—in their own spiritual lives and outward leadership: ...” he goes on to list the these four pillars. If you’re either a parent or a pastor this list will help you disciple better.

What have you been reading online? Leave us link in the comment section and we’ll try to check it out.

Family Friday Links 4.12.19

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Here’s what we’ve benefitted from online recently:

Our friend Sam Luce had a post entitled “Why Parents should Have Favorites”. He says, “The reason that most Christian parents don’t believe in favorites is that they believe that God loves the whole world in the generic sense. They don’t understand that they are loved in a very specific sense.” This is an important distinction that needs to be made as well as a message each of our kids needs to hear.

Sam Rainer had a post that makes a distinction between church tolerating kids and embracing them. The post lists 6 things an embracing church understands about kids. This is a good list to be used for the purpose of evaluation and improvement. It’s a solid list worthy of your time and consideration.

Sarah Frazer had a post on Gospel-Centered Discipleship entitled “The Secret Discipleship Tool You Already Have”. It should be no secret what the tool is: “Prayer is the secret discipleship tool we already own.” She explains why she says it secret. This is a tool that may go unnoticed by those who were are seeking to disciple, but not by God who empowers it.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.

Five Strategies for Creating Inclusive Classroom Environments

April is Autism Awareness month. Even if your church has a thriving special needs inclusion ministry, navigating a classroom environment that includes both typically developing children and those with intellectual or developmental disabilities can be tricky. What can we do to make the classroom environment inclusive for all children? Here are a five strategies.

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(1) Post a visual schedule and clear expectations for behavior. A visual schedule with includes a list of written activities represented in picture form that can be taken out of sight as they are completed. Children can be given ten, five, and two-minute warnings before each activity changes, especially when the transition in schedule involves leaving the classroom. These cues along with the simple verbal cue, “What’s next?” can be used to signal that it is time to look at the schedule and transition to the next activity.

Visual behavioral expectations such as the “Give Me Five” strategy in the illustration above can also be used to gain the children’s attention. Our leaders say, “Give me five!” and hold out their five fingers. The children should respond by listing expectations with exact wording from the board.

(2) Structuring your classroom environment for success. It is helpful for classroom teachers to make sure there are hands on materials for the lessons and that the toys in the room are organized and appropriate for indoor play. Sometimes the environment can be adapted in ways that help all kids focus. In preschool classes, for example, sheets can be used to cover toys during lessons or you can use a rug or corner to identify a visual area for circle time. It can also be helpful to use a wiggle seat for kids who have trouble sitting still or a visual time timer for kids who need a little extra help with the schedule prompts.

(3) Give the kids direction by communicating the “what” and “why.” It is better to say, “It’s time to go to worship, because we love to sing to Jesus together” than to ask, “Do you want to go to worship?” It’s helpful to avoid implying that there is a choice when there is not, as this could set the child up for confusion and possibly a power struggle.

(4) Connect to redirect. This strategy is adapted from The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. They encourage parents and teachers to engage with children as a way of earning their rapport before redirecting their behavior. This strategy is particularly important for kids who have experienced trauma and associate authoritative commands with danger.

A teacher might say, “Oh wow, those Pokemon cards are REALLY cool! Right now we are worshiping and we want everyone to be able to pay attention. It’s time to put up the cards now, but we will have some free time at the end of class to look at them.”

(5) Offer choices that ensure follow-through. Finally, it’s helpful to give the child some power and choice in how they want to participate in the class. But it’s important that these choices ensure the child will continue participating. You might offer a choice such as the following: “Do you want to sit with me or the class during worship?”

Utilizing strategies like these can help your classroom to be inclusive for all children. Try them out and be a part of helping your local church fling wide its doors for people of all abilities.

Family Friday Links 4.5.19

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Here’s what we’ve been reading online this week:

Brad Wetherell had a post on biblical mediation. This is an important topic that most of us struggle with. The post reads, “True blessing is not found in the kind of personal mindfulness so popular in our world today. True blessing is found in biblical meditation.” He goes on to list suggestions on how this can be done effectively. This is necessary read for any Christian.

Greg Baird had a post on messages that matter in Children’s Ministry. He lists 7 messages that should be clear to the whole church as far as Children’s Ministry is concerned. This is a helpful list for leaders and pastors to be thinking and working through.

Scott Kedersha had a guest post on the All Pro Dad site on messages our sons need to hear before they become a man. He concludes the post with this warning, “The time is limited and the opportunity is great.” The post lists 4 “gifts” parents (especially dads) should be giving to their sons.

What have you been benefiting from online recently? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.