Provo Library


One gem that seems to often be looked over in our community is the Provo City Library. It’s an incredible sight because of its beautiful architecture and rich history, but the Library there is more to this historical site than just looks.

unnamedThe library holds awesome functions and events for anyone and everyone. They have monthly events for kids and teens and also have authors come and give lectures for the adults who want a little more literature-speak in their lives. They also have an exercise class at least once a month.


unnamed1This month their playing on the Valentine’s Day theme with a Valentine’s Ball on February 13 amongst their other fun activities. Make sure to check out their calendar here. There’s sure to be something for everyone in your family (I’m looking at that Tai Chi for Beginners class). I guarantee it.

—Jazmin Cybulski, Stance

The Power of Inquiry Learning

When kids write biographies, as I discussed in my last post, they engage in thinking of questions, asking them, and getting feedback.

family-reading-921279-galleryWhat is the power of asking questions? Think about it—you just spent a second feeling curious about the answer to this question, and you read on to find out more. Children—and all learners—discover and remember more when they are curious about finding out the answers for themselves. This type of learning is called inquiry or discovery learning.

Moving away from traditional telling

As a student or a child, how many times have you sat through a lecture without participating in any way? Do you remember anything from that lecture?

How would it be any different for children who hear, “You need to sit quietly,” “You don’t fold it like that, it’s like this,” or any other phrase that is more of telling than inviting to learn? We might say that this is the kind of thing that goes in one ear and out the other.

Elder David A. Bednar has expressed that teaching is more than talking and telling. As teachers help children to become active learners—which includes asking questions and helping children ask questions—they will better remember and understand concepts.

How does this advice apply to parents? In a recent BYU forum address called “The Power of Not Knowing,” Liz Wiseman describes her struggle with rounding up her three young children—the “6, 4, 2 combo pack,” as she refers to their ages—and the constant telling what to do to get ready for bed: brush your teeth, get in your PJs, pick a book. Complaining to a friend, she received the advice to speak with her kids only in the form of questions. Intrigued, she began that night. “Kids, what time is it?” “Bedtime?” they chorally responded. “What do we do first?” “Brush our teeth?” She was surprised that they knew what to do and she didn’t have to tell them to do it. Start the video around 31:30 to hear her experience.

Helping children become active learners

In my elementary education classes, we learn a lot about helping children learn through inquiry. Inquiry includes asking questions and helping children ask questions, express their own ideas, and try things out for themselves.

 Powerful questions. Teachers in various settings quickly learn that there are different types of questions to ask learners. Some questions shut down conversation because they only invite a yes or no answer or one-word answers. Rather than looking for one right answer, powerful questions invite many different responses.

baking-452298-galleryOne of the benefits of helping children discover their own questions, as the YouthLearn initiative suggests, is that “when students choose the questions, they are motivated to learn and they develop a sense of ownership about the project.”

Discussion. Eighty percent of what we learn is through discussion, as one of my professors frequently reminds students reluctant to participate. Involving children in discussions—whether about academic or family-related topics—will help them increase their confidence in having opinions and in interacting with others.

 Hands-on learning. Some classmates and I interviewed students all over our university campus about the best way to learn science. The overwhelming response was that students learn science best through hands-on learning—getting in there and doing it, rather than reading about it or only watching demonstrations.

Here are some ways that parents can help their children ask questions, discuss ideas, and learn in hands-on ways:science inquiry

  • Go for a nature walk or to a museum and model how to ask questions about the surroundings.
  • Ask children, “What do you think about . . .?” and listen to their answers.
  • When young children ask questions you don’t know the answer to, find a book or other resource and look up the answer together.
  • Help children try out daily tasks by modeling first what to do and having them practice. Refrain from telling them what is wrong, but encourage them to try again.
  • Show children a picture or an object and ask what they know about it and what they want to know about it.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Images credited to LDS Media Library. Link to license here.

Get Insured: Build Relationships

When I spoke in church on Sunday, and the phrase, “Marriage is the best self-help program,” spilled out of me, I realized how fixated with self-help I really am right now. Yes, as a 21-year-old, I’ve already started reading self-help books for fun. But I believe it’s true—marriage IS the best self-help program. A good marriage. And to extend the statement, I believe that building relationships in general is the best self-help program. Families, by default, are the best self-help programs.

There’s something about warm human interaction that makes us feel better, isn’t there? Look out, reader, I’ve got another Ted talk coming your way! It turns out, Harvard has directed “The Study of Adult Development” for 75 years and has found that the things that make your life not only happy, but also healthy, are warm, meaningful, reliable relationships. Robert Waldinger can tell you all about it.

In the talk, Waldinger says, “Over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships—with family, with friends, with community.”

Then he asks the question, “So what about you? . . . What might leaning into relationships look like?”

To me, building relationships is a type of life insurance: when you start to crumble, the people and communities you’ve invested in are there to build you back up.

I challenge you to make investments in your relationships over the next two weeks. It could be an investment with a family member—sending a text to your sibling or calling a grandparent. Maybe you need to write a card for a parent and tell them how much they mean to you. Perhaps you could babysit a friend’s child. What about surprising your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse with a fun night out or a cozy night in? Maybe you want to ask someone on a date, or talk to the stranger on the elevator, or stay up late with a roommate. Or have a conversation with a child.

By investing in relationships in your life, you’re investing in your own health and happiness.

—Sophia Parry

In two weeks, I plan on writing about overcoming the fear to be creative. Please comment below and request more topics on self-improvement.



Kids Find Connections in Writing Family Biographies 

After my posts about helping kids write in journals, I’ve had another writing activity for kids on my mind—writing family biographies.

Last year, I wrote a biography on my great-grandfather, Rockwell Albert Davis. I hadn’t imagined the work it would require—interviewing family members, clicking through newspapers and yearbooks archived online, finding photographs in our family files, not to mention writing—but the outcomes made my work worth it.

Writing a biography on my great-grandfather, in the hat and white shirt in the middle, helped me grow closer to my family. Kids can do the same as they interview family and write biographies!

Writing a biography on my great-grandfather, in the hat and white shirt in the middle, helped me grow closer to my family. Kids can do the same as they interview family and write biographies!

Writing the biography, I learned about historical events such as World War II, the Great Depression, and the statehood of New Mexico. I found personal connections—I realized that I share his birthday, and I am going to be an elementary school teacher like his wife, Mary, was. The best reward came when I received kind letters of thanks from distant relatives who had read the biography. I felt closer to all of my family on my dad’s side.

Kids can also learn about history, find connections, and feel close to their families as they participate in this family history centered activity.

With a little help from parents, kids can begin writing a biography:

  1. Choose a family member. If research on a deceased family member isn’t possible, focus on the living. Does Grandma Jane tell great stories? Does Cousin Fred have a lot of photo albums? Does Aunt Lily or Uncle Phil love to talk? Parents can ask the family member for permission for kids to proceed.
  2. Prepare questions. Start with just a few questions about important events in that person’s life. Find a list of questions here or check out a simple graphic organizer from TIME for Kids:
  3. Hold the interview. Speak in person, call, or videochat with the family member. Help kids audio-record the interview. Kids can assess what they have and decide if they want to set up another interview to ask more questions. WordItOut-word-cloud-1421990
  4. Write the biography. Parents can help kids put responses in chronological order. If kids know how to type, they can begin writing, or parents can lend a hand. Remember the stages of prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing? Guide kids through the writing process for a more orderly biography, or settle for a more simple write-up.
  5. Share the work! Hold a family home evening or gather together after dinner to read the biography. Sharing a family story is one of the Faith in God requirements for both boys and girls in the LDS Primary organization.

If parents are also interested in writing biographies, the Ensign magazine offers a detailed how-to on biography writing.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Photo in possession of author, Word cloud created on WordItOut, License: CC-BY-NC-ND 





On Being a Bro: A Message to the Male Population


Maybe it’s my own fault. I grew up with only my older brother as a playmate, causing most of my time to be spent digging up dirt and playing the latest video games. I mean, I still loved my Barbies and playing dress up, but I always thought I was exceptionally cool for being able to tell you that Zelda was actually the princess and not the main character (Link) or being able to keep up with a conversation about skateboard tricks or football. I thought my childhood love for Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (and eventually Harry Potter) would lead me into the hearts of all men everywhere when the time came for me to date.

Was I all kinds of wrong.

I didn’t realize how wrong I was until I started college and started thinking about marriage. I gained plenty of male friends as time went on and I have really always preferred their company to that of females since it’s what my home was made up of (with the exception of my wonderful mother, of course).

Having grown up with no sisters to teach me how to bat my eyelashes and the ways of girl world, I’m not sure I ever really learned the art of flirting in the traditional sense. Sarcasm and sass seem to have become my forte as I’ve grown up, but not everyone sees that as a form of flirtation. Despite these downfalls, I have lived with dreams of my male friends someday seeing me for the incredibly awesome, incredibly attractive girlfriend (and eventually wife) I could so obviously become for them.

That dream never came to fruition.

I’ve gone back and forth playing the blame game with the male population at one end of the ring and me at the other. I won’t share with you the juicy details of what tips I’ve come up with for myself, but I will give you some insight into how I feel the male population should understand the predicament.

The Friendzone has just as much gender equality as the world Emma Watson dreams of
There seems to be this stigma about the Friendzone being populated solely by males. I’m here to tell you that you males need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and realize that there are a bunch of wonderful females in the same boat as you. Feeling sorry for yourself for a New York Minute is quite alright, but I would recommend dishing out the sorrow on your male friends’ laps and maybe on one female’s if she’s done the same to you. And that’s a big maybe. Believe it or not, the females you view as just friends may feel a little like the hypocrisy bug has set up camp in your noggin as you sit there gushing to them about how terrible it is to be viewed as just a friend.

Fun Fact: They happen to have some feelings about their own worth.

Instead of complaining to your single lady friends about just how heartbroken you are about Miss Perfect Hair finding her Mr. Perfect Hair and leaving you in the dust, just ask Miss Friendzoned on a date. She would really appreciate being looked at for the incredible girl that she is rather than just a punching bag you look for to release all your harnessed wrath upon. It doesn’t have to end in marriage and a baby in a baby carriage, but a night out with someone you care about and trust may be just the right way to get over Miss Perfect Hair without making Miss Friendzoned feel like anything less than the wonderful human that she is.

I am not your bro
This is one of the things that I’ve gone back and forth about when it comes to the blame game. Having grown up in a house where terms like bro and dude were part of the lexicon, I never second-guessed such terms hindering my future relationships. It’s only been within the past year that that second-guessing has made its way into my conscience. I actually remember the exact moment I realized how not okay it was for me to use these terms.

It was the beginning of a new semester and my roommate and I had just begun a friendship with a group of guys in our apartment complex. We ran into one of them one evening as we were walking back to our apartment when he stopped us and said hi. He had just returned home from a long day of school and work and was telling us about it. Each sentence began with phrases like, “It’s crazy, dude” and “Bro, you have no idea.” Before this point, I was somewhat aware of my calling people dude and the like and had made the effort to not use such terms. I actually know for a fact that I had never used any terms like that around this particular male, and yet, I was still marked as “one of the guys,” even though I’m clearly not a guy.

Maybe men use these terms in an effort to make me (a woman) feel comfortable around them, or maybe it’s just a blatant way of putting me in the aforementioned Friendzone (which is just rude). But whether you have romantic feelings for a girl or not, she never should be treated as a bro, because she is, in fact, a lady.

I know that there are a lot of women out there that don’t take issue with this one. So, we’ll just deems this a personal preference.

Dating is meant to be fun
It may be just a theory embedded into the conscience of the males within my university, but asking someone on a date does not mean that you have to marry them in the end. While marriage is a fantastic, wonderful thing that we should all be striving for, dating is also a fantastic, wonderful thing that does not require the symptom of intense anxiety which so many seem to allow to spread within them. It is meant to be a time to get to know another person—including your friends. It is a time to get to know yourself. Most importantly, it’s a time to figure out what exactly it is that you want in a future spouse, even if that future spouse is not the one you’re mini golfing with.

Friends make the best spouses
I think males and females often forget that the person you’re supposed to marry is going to be your best friend for forever, and with forgetting that, we forget that we may already have that best friend within our friend circle. Your spouse is someone you’re supposed to be a million percent comfortable with and it seems a lot of us fail to realize that we already feel completely comfortable with the friends of the opposite sex that we already have in our lives. It’s fine and brave to look outside your friend circle for that special someone, but it’s also a lot of effort that you could be spending on wooing your already best friend.

So, while I’m still waiting on my prince to come that sees my nerdiness as adorableness, I’m going to do so with the clear conscience that I’ve at least helped some guy somewhere realize that that lady friend of his is not actually Miss Friendzone, but Miss Wonderful Soul. And, let’s face it, she’s so much better than Miss Perfect Hair.

—Jazmin Cybulski, Stance