Books that Encourage

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No matter where you are in your life right now, whether you are going through a hard time right now or in a good space, reading the right books can uplift, encourage, inspire, motivate, and even transform.

Books That EncourageThese books are ones that can minister to a weary heart and bring comfort on hard days. I have found encouragement from some of these books while others are ones that I have yet to read but friends have recommended them and said that they have been helped and strengthened by them.

Join me this month as I share ways to help you move towards the life you want to live. Join me in the challenge. Ready to jump off the cliff?

31 Days Towards the Life You Want

Books for Kids About Liking Who They Are

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Self-esteem is a word that gets thrown around fairly liberally, but it is important for kids to learn to embrace their uniqueness and to like themselves for who they are. They get so many messages from the media about having to aspire to some sort of unattainable perfection that it is important that we counter that with our own message about them being good enough just the way they are.

These messages can be even more important for kids who may feel different because of a special need or a visible difference such as a hearing aid, scarring or being significantly larger or smaller than same-age peers.

Books for Kids About Liking Who They Are

I often use books in helping me reinforce the values I am trying to teach my kids. Here are some books that help teach kids about being okay just being themselves:

A Bad Case of Stripes – This is one of our all-time favourite read-alouds! We’ve even done some really fun activities to go along with the book and help cement the concept of being who you are.

A Bad Case of Stripes ActivitiesSpaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun – This is a neat book because it lends itself to discussions on bullying, family traditions and embracing your uniqueness. Essentially, it’s a book about having the courage to be who you are, presented in a way that kids can easily understand and relate to.

I Like Myself – This is another family favourite. What parent doesn’t want their child to be able to say they like themselves?

You are Special – The underlying message in this book is that God cherishes each of us, exactly as we are, regardless of how the world perceives us or of how others treat us. It’s a long book for a read-aloud so you may want to break it into parts. Another book by the same author (Max Lucado) called If Only I Had a Green Nose reminds kids that they are created as unique for a reason.

I Love My Hair – This book obviously doesn’t apply to all kids, but if you have a daughter of African descent who struggles with liking her hair, this book is awesome! It has helped Dancing Queen to feel like her hair is another part of herself to be celebrated, not hated.

The Dot – “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” This book helps kids discover their talents and encourages them to follow their own path.

The Skin You Live In – This is a great book about diversity and self-esteem. It is simple enough for even young children.

The rest of the books in the list above are not ones we have read yet but they seem to be ones that teach the same lesson. Are there any that you would add to the list?

Homeschooling Made Simple

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I am about to embark on my 15th year of this incredibly difficult and rewarding journey called homeschooling. Even though I am what many would consider a veteran homeschooler, it seems that the longer I do this, the more I realize there is for me to learn.

But homeschooling doesn’t have to be complicated and one of the best ways to simplify it is to ask others who have walked this same road to share their experience.

Homeschooling Made Simple

There is a new resource for homeschool moms that I am really excited to be able to share with you. It’s an ebook written by 55 homeschool moms on 103 topics related to homeschooling and it covers every question you’ve ever asked and many that you hadn’t even thought to ask!

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas is 562 pages…that is not a typo…562 pages packed with information. I know that for some of you, well let’s face it, most of you reading, you don’t have time to read 562 pages, but the great thing about the book is that it’s divided into sections and then subdivided further into chapters so that you can read what’s relevant to your situation or what interests you. As an example, if you are the mom of an only child, you likely won’t need to read the chapter on homeschooling a large family. Conversely, if you have many children, you can skip the chapter on homeschooling an only child.

The book addresses homeschooling from preschool through to college, with specifics about each of the stages. It also has all the subjects such as language arts and literature, history and geography, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) covered and then each is further broken down. There are also subjects such as Bible, learning a second language, phys. Ed., music, and art.

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas offers practical information such as keeping babies and toddlers occupied during homeschooling or easy dinner options for the busy homeschooling mom. It also has a lot of chapters on more obscure topics such as:

  • how to use postage stamps for learning
  • teaching history with American Girl Dolls
  • how to start a homeschool book club
  • learning from video games
  • homeschooling the bipolar child
  • carschooling: teaching on the road
  • how to teach with Lego
  • teaching a subject you don’t love
  • muffin Mondays (learning with muffins)

Have you ever wanted to get answers from other homeschoolers to your burning questions? Here’s your chance! Just grab a cup of tea or coffee and sit down with this book!

Big Book of Homeschool IdeasWhether you are a brand new homeschooler and not sure where to start or a veteran homeschooler who may be in a season of discouragement or doubt, this book is what you need.

There is also a large section on Special Needs including a chapter written by me on Homeschooling a Child with Sensory Issues. If you are a regular reader of this site, then there may not be much in that chapter that is new to you, but there are other chapters which will be relevant to you and there may even be a few nuggets in my chapter that will be beneficial.

Many of the other authors of this book are women who I admire and respect and whose information and expertise I trust. There are literally hundreds of homeschool years represented collectively!!! 

Big Book of Homeschool IdeasBuy the book by clicking on any of the images above or by clicking this link. It is available to view on any computer or mobile device including your Kindle or other handheld reader.

Resources to Teach Kids About Emotions and How to Manage Them

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For some children, learning about emotions comes fairly naturally but for others, feelings are a bit of a mystery. There are many resources available that can help teach children not only what emotions are, but how to manage them.

Resources to Teach Kids About Emotions and How to Handle Them

Emotional intelligence is a skill that requires as much intentional teaching as subjects such as math and language arts.

Whether your child struggles with learning about feelings due to autism/Aspergers, boundary issues, attachment issues (or full blown RAD), learning disabilities, or just their young age, these resources are a non-threatening and often fun way to improve their emotional IQ skills in the home or the classroom. They can also help them learn to express their feelings effectively and give them more confidence.

One of our sons has Aspergers (a form of autism), so identifying and understanding emotions is a challenge for him. We have worked with him extensively on this including using books and things such as emotion cards (click that link to read how we use emotion cards with him).

Two of our kids have attachment issues which also lead to difficulty understanding appropriate emotions and trouble managing their feelings, boundaries and behaviours. I find with them that certain books have been excellent in allowing them to express where they are at emotionally that day or even in helping them to find new strategies to deal with their emotions.

Books can be a great way to help children learn to not only be able to identify and talk about different emotions, but even give them ideas of how to better manage their emotions. We use books for teaching tools on a regular basis and particularly those that facilitate discussions about feelings.

I often expand the books into discussions, crafts and activities. For the book Today I Feel Silly, we did a craft and I printed out emotion cards for us to do exercises with.

The book How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad has recently become a favourite of ours because it has been a tool for helping our kids to identify how they (inappropriately) manage their anger and give them new skills for managing their anger more appropriately in the future. It plays out many different ways that “a dinosaur” might say that they are mad such as slamming doors, ignoring their parents, or pretending they don’t care. These scenarios are an easy way for me to ask my kids which one of those pages is most like the way they behave when they are feeling angry. They have actually been able to identify themselves quickly and have even laughed about how accurately the book describes how they react. The book ends by showing more appropriate ways the dinosaur could show his feelings or make amends for his poor reactions. We then talk about this and they identify how they would really like to react next time they are struggling with anger. I have even given them some role play scenarios to act out and practise their responses.

There are other tools available for teaching children about feelings, from charts and reminders to games. As mentioned above, we regularly use the emotion cards to help our son Einstein to identify feelings and to become more at ease with talking about them. We also use the scenario cards they contain with him and with our daughter who suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to prepare them for upcoming events or things they may encounter.

We like many of the other resources here as well including the posters and feelings mood magnet (it is easier for my son Snuggle Puppy to move the magnet to show me how he is feeling than to tell me in words). The visual cues help kids identify their feelings.

As a family, we also find specific board games are a good way to work on this skill without singling out the kids that most need work in this area and making the learning fun.

The most effective thing we have found to date for managing high emotions such as anxiety is the anti-anxiety kit we created for our daughter. It is very easy to make your own and I have included printable relaxation prompts with the ability to personalize for what works best for your child. Our “calm down kit” continues to be extremely effective at not only diffusing meltdowns, but at helping Dancing Queen to learn to better manage these episodes on her own.

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