How to Lead Better in This Phase—Starting Now!

Whether it simply lurks at the back of your mind during infrequent moments of insecurity or it keeps you up at night, you probably worry at times that you don’t measure up as a leader. You see social media posts from peers and experts that are “killing it,” and you silently wonder when (or if) you’ll ever reach that level of success.

You’re also reminded daily that people count on you. You want to lead better, do better, and be better for them, and for yourself. You know that time is passing quickly, and the children, teens, volunteers, or staff that you lead are looking to you for answers. But sometimes the words or knowledge fail you.

And sometimes it’s all just a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? You want to appreciate the people around you today, because they’ll transition or graduate to the next phase of life soon. But how do you invest in them, and yourself, without shirking your other responsibilities? Continue reading “How to Lead Better in This Phase—Starting Now!”

8 Do’s and Don’ts for Interacting with High Schoolers on Social Media

Social media is the place where all the world’s a stage and you—a grown adult—find yourself playing understudy to the next generation. Hey, we get it. As soon as you get a grasp on Facebook or Instagram they announce another big change. And new social media platforms are popping up all the time.

You might be tempted to just stay away from social media, but then you’d miss out on some big opportunities for connection.

Related Reading: 3 Ways to Help High Schoolers Relate to God 

If you want to grow in relationship with your teen, you have to be willing to meet them when, where and how they need you. That includes social media. But before we can tackle how, we need to start with why.

Why do teens love social media?

Today’s high schoolers are busy. Sports and extracurriculars, AP courses, after-school jobs, internships, volunteer activities and SAT prep more-than fill up a semester. A scroll through Instagram gives students a chance to relax, breathe and maybe even laugh a little.

Social media isn’t just a means to community in the eyes of of a teen. It is community. When you choose to value community on their terms you set yourself up as a guide for positive social media experiences.

So we’re here to offer you a few do’s and don’ts for the road ahead. Continue reading “8 Do’s and Don’ts for Interacting with High Schoolers on Social Media”

6 Ways To Embrace The Physical Needs of a Toddler

Toddlers get a bad rap. Sure they whine and throw tantrums. But can you blame them? There’s a lot going on in those pint-sized bodies.

By age two your little one will grow to half their adult height—something they’ll spend the next two decades reaching. And their shape will morph from one designed for doing a whole bunch of nothing to one that can crawl, walk and run.

With the world at their fingertips, there’s still so much they can’t do. That’s where you come in.

Your Toddler’s Physical Needs

Toddlers bring to us four basic physical needs: independence, affection, rest and wide open spaces. Your toddler probably isn’t even aware of these longings. But now you are.

So let’s break it down, shall we?  Continue reading “6 Ways To Embrace The Physical Needs of a Toddler”

5 Things All First Graders Have in Common

Enter a room full of six- and seven-year-olds and you’re bound to spot one thing right away: the cute little gaps of kids who whistle while they talk. Forget calling it first grade. This is the Missing Teeth Club.

And the similarities don’t stop there. Here are five things all first graders have in common and what you can do to leverage this phase of life.

1. First Graders Talk Nonstop

With this group, breath takes a backseat to words. They say what they think and they talk without thinking. And then, only when absolutely necessary, they gulp in some air and start again. This pace of conversation leads to lots of laughs and . . . maybe some embarrassment too.

Related Reading: Important Mental and Physical Changes That Happen at Every Phase

What you can do: Make the most of your time together by leaving room for informal conversation—just let those kids ramble. You can figure out a lot about their life just by listening.

2. First Graders Love to Learn

Oh the wonder of letters, numbers, shapes and colors! These kids are writing names and tying shoes with determination. The ability to really focus in on an activity longer than ever before (we’re talking 15 minutes here, so don’t get any wild ideas) means challenges are simply a platform for discovery and growth.

What you can do: Engage your budding scientist by giving concrete examples during teachable moments. First graders genuinely desire understanding and soak up information like a sponge.

3. First Graders Need Structure (and boy, are they getting it!)

If kindergarten was a toe in the water, first grade is a jump off the diving board. School schedules mean less time for play, more early morning alarm clocks and a higher demand for focused attention. Thankfully, six- and seven-year-olds find their sweet spot in routine.

Related Reading: 3 Questions Every Elementary Schooler is Asking Themselves

What you can do: Encourage a solid 10-12 hours of sleep each night and some predictability during the day. Weekends offer the perfect opportunity for regularly scheduled time together. Try Saturday morning donuts or Sunday afternoon walks.

4. First Graders Crave Fun

Kids will be kids, the saying goes. And what a beautiful truth. Kids need room to run, a place to be loud and the freedom to act a little crazy. First graders are no exception. These are an optimistic, happy bunch, floating from play group to play group and finding all kinds of ways to use their imagination.

What you can do: Motivate your first grader by playing on their level. Let loose. Get goofy. The key to coaching moral abilities isn’t always hidden in heart-to-heart moments. It’s found in fun. That’s because first graders more easily express themselves through play.

Related Reading: How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends 

5. First Graders Want Your Attention

Those big, toothless grins tell us only half the story. While our first graders are a fun-loving crew, they’re also desperate for attention. The smiles of these little people-pleasers shout, “Hey! Look at me!” in a room full of competition.

What you can do: Answer the call by giving your undivided attention freely and as often as possible. Be proactive. Encourage your first grader at every turn and offer help when needed. You can instill purpose and capture their heart as you foster growth through relationship.

Life with a first grader is talkative, energetic and fun one. Remember, it’s just a phase. . . so don’t miss it.

Read Next: How to Help Elementary Schoolers Develop Friends

3 Easy Ways to Impact a Middle Schooler’s Identity and Faith

11, 12, 13. These are the awkward years. You remember right? Greasy hair, frizzy hair, don’t care. Weight gain and weight loss. You feel like an adult but everyone treats you like a kid.

Life for a middle schooler is rough. Forget trying to figure out who you are in Christ. Preteens are hanging onto the struggle bus for dear life.

Of course you now know that middle school drama, like everything else, won’t matter in a few short years. With the right approach you can help preteens focus on things that really count.

What is a Middle Schooler, Anyway?

The next time you take in an all-star performance from a middle schooler—complete with tears, of course—consider this: behind those emotions is a brain hard at work analyzing, processing and planning the next move.

What we’re talking about is a duality of sorts—the middle schooler you see and the middle schooler you don’t see. Continue reading “3 Easy Ways to Impact a Middle Schooler’s Identity and Faith”