Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Page 6 of 33

November Challenge: THANKS giving

Every year we arrive at Thanksgiving amid a hustle and bustle of cooking and preparing.  More often than not we sit down for dinner and pause a moment or two to go around the table, allowing each person to name something they are thankful for.
Why not step up your game?? Spend the whole month thinking of things you are thankful for.
A few years ago I printed out a picture of a turkey on the biggest paper I could find.  At the top of the paper I wrote: “THINGS WE ARE THANKFUL FOR!”   Then I hung the paper on the wall along with a pen and told my family to write anything they thought of during the month.   At first only one or two words were added.   Gradually, over the course of the month, the kids started writing anything and everything!   By the end of the month, our poster was crowded with ideas from pizza to penguins.   Needless to say, our feelings of gratitude ran deeper that year, since we took the time to contemplate and focus on daily gratitude.
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If you’d like to try this with your family, here’s a turkey to copy and print. Or if you want your children to be more enthused, have one of them draw the turkey. There are also other great variations on this idea. What’s important is to take time to focus on our blessings, to focus on our gratitude.
Are you ready to take on this November Challenge?
“Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes. A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.” -Dieter F. Uchtdorf
 Happy Thanks Giving!!
Written by Phyllis Rosen

3 Ways to Create a Positive Attitude

 Ways to become your best self“Oh, here we go again, a reminder of how imperfect I  am.” Usually when we think of self-improvement, we tend  to start underestimating ourselves, our potential, and our  purpose.  We focus on our weaknesses and our mistakes,  making it  difficult to remember our strengths and  successes.

 Have you ever received “constructive criticism” but, in  reality, the words actually take jabs at your heart? Have  you  ever set goals and held high hopes, only to realize  that  carrying them out was close to impossible?  (especially with  the way you had planned)

Like many of us, you’ve probably felt down on yourself. You’ve probably failed a few times and have felt like you were drowning in depths of despair. The last thing you want to think about is how you can be better.

You’ve already made a list of what you consider weaknesses and what you can improve: serving others, friends, smiling, prioritizing, organizing, cleaning, showing your love, getting good grades, finding/keeping a job, stop crying so often, eat less/more, exercise, and so forth.

At this point you’re having trouble trying to remember that you’re worth something.

This isn’t how self-improvement should be. There is an optimistic side of self-improvement that Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 10.16.56 AMmany people don’t mention, or even recognize but in reality is the most important for actual progress.

For me, especially when I’m being hard on myself, I like to remember three steps that help improve my mental health and attitude. Improving attitude is the best thing we can do to strengthen ourselves in times of need and to prepare for difficult times in the future. We can recognize that we are not perfect now, but we can also be confident in our ability and purpose as we strive to become better.

1) Strive to overcome your weaknesses. Now, this doesn’t mean you ignore your weaknesses, nor does it mean you will be “weakness-free” anytime soon. It does, however, mean that you recognize your weaknesses and have a desire to change. With patience and grace, along with the desire to learn, you come to recognize that what you once believed were your weaknesses, have now become strengths when used correctly. For example, although speaking loudly is a trait you may feel ashamed of in some situations, in others it works greatly, so you discern in which circumstances you can make it a strength.

2) Use your strengths. The best way to improve is to remember your strengths, and to put them in action. We all have things we are good at, whether it be as small as making your bed every day or as big as recently getting a new job. Recognize your strengths and cater to those. Strive to set goals within your abilities, this will help you accomplish more and gain confidence in your abilities.

3) Fear not. Don’t get down on yourself for the fact that you need to improve in some areas. It is a common sphere that we are all working within. Remember that through it all, you are still amazing and there are good things to come. Remember that you CAN do it all, all that is required of you and all that brings you joy.

“Almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: the future can be better than the present, and I have the power to make it so.”

Believe in yourself. Believe in your capability. Believe in your ability to become. You are strong, beautiful and full of potential. Embrace it. Overcome the despair of failure and find the joy in imperfection. Find the joy in progression. Focus on self improvement.

Written by Rebekah Day

 

Ten Best Parenting Tips Series: #1 Read Aloud

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 5.40.34 PMMy husband and I have six children.  Six!!!  Who can believe it?  This fact puts Dave (my husband) and I into the  “experienced parents” category–especially since the youngest is now 23 years old.   Parenting is not easy.   Should I say that again??  Parenting is not easy.   It’s not for wimps or the faint of heart.   It takes commitment and effort and patience and effort and humor and effort and…….you get the idea.      

The other night, Dave and I decided to each compile a list of Ten Best Parenting Tips and then compare them.   Turns out we had very similar lists, so we combined them and narrowed them down to our favorite ten.   As some of you other parents might be looking for advice, we decided to share our list.  Each week on Stance we will discuss one of the ten tips.  So sit back, relax, and try to remember how excited you were to be a parent in the first place.

Read Aloud: Connecting with your Children

Read aloud to your children: From the time our children were born, we read aloud to them. When they were babies they just enjoyed being cuddled and hearing the rhythm of our voices.  As they got older, they loved the sounds of words, especially rhyming and alliteration.  To this day I can pretty much quote the entire story of The Cat in the Hat (Dr. Seuss). These rhyming books were not only fun, they were vital in helping our children learn how sounds go together, which in turn helped them learn to read.  Beyond that, we found that simple books teach great principles.  We have a son named Sam, so of course we read him Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss).  Because of that book, we were able to encourage him to try new things. It’s fun to quote to our kids “You do not like it, so you say.  Try it! Try it! And you may!”  This phrase helped our kids with trying new foods, new clothes, and even making new friends.  When we read Horton Hatches the Egg (Dr. Seuss) we were able to mosey into principles of responsibility and promise keeping.

When the kids reached elementary school age, they still loved being cuddled, IMG_0788  held, and sitting close, plus now they really enjoyed and understood the story line.  Some of the first books we chose were Thornton Burgess’s books about the creatures of the forests and the meadows.  In this series of books, the characters; Danny Meadow Mouse, Lightfoot the Deer, etc. are intertwined, with each book focusing on a different animal.  (My oldest son, Kevin, loved them so much that for one of his birthdays, in his 20s, he asked for the complete set!)  These books also taught important life lessons, like what it means to be a friend, the importance of preparation, and the wonderfulness of diversity.  Charlotte’s Web (White) helped our kids learn to not judge others by their looks.  Where the Red Fern Grows (Rawls) allowed us to talk about sorrow and death.  Sometimes a book was so sad I had to hand it to my child to read because I couldn’t stop crying.  We continued to read aloud even as the kids got older.   Books that were exciting pulled them in.  Hatchet (Paulsen), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi), and of course Harry Potter (Rowling) let us explore new geography, pirates, and wizardry as though we were having the experiences ourselves.  

You might think that the only time to read is at bedtime.  While we did read at bedtime almost daily, we found many other times to read.  Taking a break from playing—or working—to relax and read was something I cherished as a young mother.   Everyone needs a change of pace and I loved taking 15-20 minutes out of the day to read.  Whenever we went on vacation we packed some books along.  The kids liked to read their own book, but we also would choose two or three books to read aloud together.

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 5.40.40 PM During the summer we joined the public library reading  programs.  Having prizes to earn motivated the kids to try  new genres and broadened their world.  We liked  checking out books so much that I finally had to make a  rule that each child could only check out as many books as  they could physically carry.  (Our record for checked out  in one week was 54 books!!!)   We sometimes read  outdoors, sitting under a tree or on the patio.   We would  also read by the light of the Christmas tree, choosing one  Christmas story each night before bed.

So why is reading to your children so important?  Why did it make the parenting list for both my husband and me?  There are three main reasons:

  1.  Because reading aloud to a child can be a totally positive activity.  You aren’t asking the child to  perform or behave in any specific way.  You are simply enjoying being entertained together, and can laugh or cry or react in any way you want and it’s ok.   It’s a time to relax and be yourself and let the child be a child.  
  2.  It’s a way to enlarge a child’s world.  How else can they discover what it feels like to experience war—Shades of Gray (Carolyn Reeder), try to coax a goose to fly—Chester, I Love You (Blaine M. Yorganson), or live alone on an island—Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O’Dell).
  3.  It’s a way to teach values without preaching.  (Tom Sawyer:  “you can’t pray a lie.”)

Now that our kids are grown, do they still read?   Yes, they do!  I laughed when I found out that my son Stan has a public library card from every city he’s ever lived in.   My kids like to recommend books to me and we enjoy discussing what we’ve read.  So don’t hesitate—sit down and start reading.   You don’t like it, so you say…try it, try it, and you may!

Written by Phyllis Rosen

10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Healthy Lifestyle

mother-1245764_1920 According to the Journal of the American Medical  Association, 26.6% of children and adolescents were  diagnosed with a chronic condition in the United  States.  This means that one in five children today  have a chronic  illness, with chronic conditions s  spreading, it’s more  important than ever that we  take proper care of our  bodies.

 While chronic illness can be life altering, the effects of a chronic illness can be diminished by following a healthy lifestyle. It is widely known that 30 minutes of exercise and a balanced diet are necessary ingredients of a healthy lifestyle. What may be less known is that exercise and a balanced diet are suggested by health care professionals for proper control of one’s chronic condition.

Even though these guidelines are well-known they are difficult to implement into a busy family life. The following are some suggestions to start implementing a healthy lifestyle for your family:

  1. Find an exercise activity your family enjoys doing together and do it as often as possible.running-573762
  1. Plan your weekly meals to include fruits and vegetables.
  1. Have your children go outside and play while you make dinner.
  1. Keep healthy snacks around the house.
  1. Have your kids alternate picking the exercise activity for the day.
  1. Have your kids train for and participate in a family Olympics. The event could include a few families that are your friends.
  1. Alternate which family member picks the fruit/vegetable for the week at the store.
  1. If you tend to eat out, reduce the number of times you eat out in a month.
  1. Pick healthier options when you do eat out. (Pick a sandwich place instead of a pizza place.)
  1. Find delicious and healthy recipes to make.

Written by: Laura Fillmore

You Work Hard For The Money, So You Better Spend It Right

Tips on Money Management

dollar-1362244_1920Most married couples typically fight about three things: kids, sex, and money. These areas carry a lot of weight, and can cause a lot of stress if things aren’t the way you’d like them to be. Since I’m only writing a blog post, and not a novel, I’m only going to focus on two of these issues today.

Difficulties with money can be daunting and frustrating, but breaking things down and taking them a day at a time can really help with conquering the troubles that you are having. In fact, studies have shown that being financially stable is not so much about how much money you make, but about how you learn to manage it.

Here are a few helpful tips to help you and your spouse get your financial feet planted firmly in the ground:

1. Listen to the counsel of the Lord.

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 1.43.15 PM Since the time of Abraham (and most likely before even that), the  Lord has been giving us counsel about how to wisely manage our  money. This starts with paying a full tithe. It is important to  remember that all we gain in this life actually belongs to the Lord.  Paying tithing helps us show gratitude for this, along with  expressing trust in our Heavenly Father that He will keep His promises.

He has told us that he will “open the windows of Heaven, and pour [us] out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). I don’t know how he makes it work, but as I have seen this principle work time and time again in my own life, I know that when we work to pay a full tithe the Lord will ALWAYS take care of us. The Lord has continued to give us counsel from the current prophets and apostles more specific for our day.

2. Stay out of debt.

This can be difficult in our world of credit cards, same-day loans, and easy- access online shopping. However, avoiding consumer debt allows us to practice and exhibit self- control, and increases our capacity to take care of our families, serve others, and exercise our agency to keep the commandments.

The Brethren have expressed that there are three things for which it is acceptable to go into debt, and these are a modest home, a modest car, and education. However, even in these circumstances, we should still do our best to practice wise money management, and avoid excess.

Written By: Rian Gordon

Having the Best of Both Worlds: Pregnancy and College

We have all heard our parents say the line “You [and your siblings] are the best thing that has ever happened to me.” While this statement is true, parenting is more than just sunshine and happiness.  There are many sacrifices that often accompany becoming a new parent.

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One sacrifice that pregnant women often face is in regards to education. Because education requires a large sum of money and time that some women feel they cannot allocate after the birth of their child. Many women find being pregnant in college too hard to complete their education. While I would never suggest abandoning your duties as a parent, it might be possible to be a mother and complete your education. That’s the hope that led to the creation of websites, such as  pregnantoncampus.org and pregnantscholar.org.

Pregnant on Campus Initiative

In fact, that’s the belief behind the Pregnant on Campus Initiative. This initiative is a collection of resources intended for pregnant college students studying in the United States. The initiative has web pages for universities in each state. Some of the information found on this website that may benefit college students is:

  • List of grants and foundations to help fund your education You-are-capable-Pregnant-on-Campus-300x300
  • Clothing/food assistance
  • Child care
  • Insurance
  • List of websites that provide moral support for pregnant women

In addition to the individual pages for the universities/colleges, the Pregnancy on campus initiative also has a blog. The blog provides council to pregnant women that is intended to provide helpful advice for pregnant women.

You may visit the website here. To find information pertinent to Utah, click over the state of Utah. It will open a new tab with the lists of universities with a website in Utah. Currently, only University of Utah is the only university with a web page, but the majority of the information applies to the state of Utah in general. 

The Pregnant Scholar

Professors Mary Ann Mason (University of California, Berkeley) created The Pregnant Scholar in part to help pregnant students understand their rights under Title IX. The website breaks down the policy into different categories that are relevant to college students, such as the requirement of excused absence for pregnancy, childbirth, and similar events.

To view the relevant information yourself, go to pregnantscholar.org. Info can be found by scrolling down to “Key Facts”on this webpage and also pressing the link “For Students and Postdocs.”

At Stance BYU we support all things family, including the many families who have children while still completing their education. Our hope is that these websites will provide valuable resources for these families and that Stance continues to support the family in any situation.

Written by: Laura Fillmore

How to Teach your Child Sign Language

girl-1641215_1920I’ve always thought that the concept of teaching your baby sign language before he or she could talk was incredibly fascinating. I mean, to be able to communicate with your child before he or she develops oral language sounds surreal!

However, before I started writing this post, I had often heard contradicting opinions on this subject. Does teaching your baby sign language inhibit his or her ability to learn English? Does it help? Take a look at what I’ve found:

Sign language has long been used to help hearing children with speech delays acquire spoken language more easily. However it has only recently been introduced to the development of normally functioning babies. Not only can introducing sign language to your baby help him or her communicate and develop a closer bond with you as a parent, but it also shows signs of elevating your child’s IQ.

Studies show that a child who learned sign language in his or her infancy will be linguistically advanced when they get to school. They will have a larger vocabulary and a higher understanding of structure and grammar.

The biggest concern I’ve come across in my research is that the child will use it as a crutch and never take the time to learn spoken language. The Baby Language site says that babies will use sign language as a learning tool for speaking, similar to how they use crawling as a learning tool for walking.

They will continue signing as they start speaking (making it easier for you to understand them), and eventually drop it when they are comfortable with speaking.

It should be noted that most parents who introduce signs to their children have not learned American Sign Language formally, do not have extensive knowledge about its origins or the culture associated with it, and therefore do not actually teach their children to be fluent in ASL. Most parents just teach their children a few basic words, including mommy, daddy, milk, more, finished, etc.

It should also be noted that you should not stop speaking to your child in lieu of using signs. Sign and speak at the same time, if you wish, but cutting out speech altogether will delay your child’s acquisition of English.

Another good tip is to make sure both parents are using the signs with the baby. That will help reinforce them in the baby’s mind, helping he or she to remember them in the future.

To find more information on teaching your child sign language visit this website

Good luck, and happy signing!

Written by: Cari Taylor

The Pursuit of Happiness: Becoming and Belonging

0 (2) Last fast Sunday, as I was listening to the testimonies borne over the pulpit, I noticed a pattern. Over and over people were testifying about how the gospel brings us real and lasting (even eternal) happiness. I felt something within me agree with the sentiment, but at the same time, a question of “why” came to my mind. Why is it that the gospel of Jesus Christ allows us to feel joy and happiness both here on earth, and in the eternities? Over the next month, a few different situations lead to something really clicking for me; something that helped me answer this question of “why” and “how” the principles that we are taught in church (and hopefully in our homes and here at BYU as well) are essential in our own personal pursuit of happiness.

“Men are that they might have joy”

In 2 Nephi 2:27, we read, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” This scripture says a great deal about our purpose. We were created, and sent here to earth because our Creator wants us to have eternal joy. How amazing is that? In this life, and in the life to come, we are meant to have happiness, and Heavenly Father’s mission involves helping us to achieve that happiness. However, that doesn’t mean that life is all fun and games!

Why is this? Throughout my life, I have learned that it’s because true happiness doesn’t come from simple ease. Having everything go right for us all the time, or not having anything bad happen in our lives does NOT automatically result in happiness. Many people in today’s world will argue that it does – hedonism (the theory that pleasure—and therefore lack of pain—is the highest good and proper aim of human life) is an ideology that plagues our society and is prevalent particularly in the media that we consume every day. Knowing that we are meant to be happy, and also better understanding the idea that Heavenly Father allows things to happen in order to increase our eternal happiness can give us hope. We must trust that everything we go through is part of God’s plan, and takes place so that we “might have joy.”

Becoming

If we are meant to be happy, how does our Heavenly Father help us get there? This summer, I read a self-help book entitled The Happiness Project (Rubin, 2009). In this book, the author invited the reader (me) to write down a list of the things that they enjoy doing. As I went over my list, I started noticing a pattern. A majority of the items I had written down involved personal improvement or developing my talents: performing in a play or musical, drawing portraits, reading books, trying new recipes, any type of learning, singing or playing the piano, yoga, swimming, scripture study. As I pondered about why this was, the thought came to me that one of the reasons we are here on earth is to BECOME.

We are here to reach our full potential. To become like our Heavenly Father and Mother, and to one day to live as they do: as perfect beings who can continue progressing, learning, growing, and creating eternally. Our spirits, who have existed for longer than we can comprehend, know this! Deep down, we know and understand that we are meant to become, and our spirits rejoice as we come closer to reaching this potential. This is why trials and difficulties can add to our happiness. As we overcome adversity, we grow and come further along in our progression towards perfection. Similarly, most of the growing that we do in this life involves getting outside of our comfort zone and trying new things. Developing our talents takes courage, practice, and at times, failure. Remembering that we are meant to become can give us the strength to get back up and try again.

Belonging

A pattern also emerged in the remaining items on my personal happiness list. I realized that anything that didn’t have to do with my own personal becoming, had to do either with helping someone else become, or connection and nurturing a relationship. Serving others, teaching, snuggling with my husband, spending time with my family; all of these things have to do with BELONGING. We know that from the time before we came to this earth, we existed as a family—God’s family.

We did not exist or function in isolation, and we are not meant to do so now. This is why Heavenly Father has organized us into family units here on earth, and why His plan involves being with our families for eternity! This is also why He has provided us with prayer, and his Holy Ghost: two ways that we can personally connect and improve our relationship with Him. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) We are meant to connect and foster lasting relationships here on earth, and forever into the future. Because of this, it also brings us joy to help others come closer their potential, and make choices that will also allow them to be with us forever. Understanding this can help us to reach out to others, and to strive to make real human connections with the people around us. We are more likely to forgive and to give others the benefit of the doubt. We can begin to see others as our Father does, and help encourage them (as well as learn from them) in their own journey to become and to belong.

Wickedness NEVER was happiness

Whenever I think about happiness, I cannot help but think about the scripture Alma 41:10 “Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.” When we think about this scripture in the context of becoming and belonging, it makes perfect sense. Sinning, or doing anything that separates us from God, has serious consequences that involve stopping our progress (literally damning us) and keeping us from our eternal relationships. It cuts us off from our potential, and from living forever with those that we love. Although it may feel good at the moment, wickedness can never truly bring us real and eternal joy. Heavenly Father has given us commandments and guidelines that will help keep us all on the right track in our journey to become and belong. They help accomplish His mission of bringing us eternal happiness and joy. 

Ever since I had these realizations relating to my personal pursuit of happiness, I have been able to find the principles of becoming and belonging in every one of my endeavors. Understanding that the things that will help me find true joy and happiness are those things that help bring me closer to my potential as a child of God, along with bringing me closer to those around me, has brought focus, purpose, and peace to my life. I know that as we all strive to become more and more like our Heavenly Parents, and work on developing connections with those that we are blessed to come in contact with, we will have more success in making the world a better and happier place, and we will all be one step closer to carrying the joy that we feel now through to the eternities.

Written by: Rian Gordon

Children Are Natural Actors—How Can We Foster Their Growth?

Recently, my husband and I taught a Sunday School class of 10- and 11-year-olds. To enliven the lesson, we decided to ask them to act out a story from the scriptures. Their eyes lit up when they found out what we would be doing, and they got really into the story as my husband narrated and I acted alongside them. When we discussed what happened in the story afterward, they were very attentive and thoughtful. They had captured the action because they had lived it!

singing-time-598909-galleryChildren are often great actors because they have no fear of looking silly in front of an audience. Even shy children will perform in front of those with whom they feel comfortable. Toddlers are constantly running around and picking up objects—props, if you will—and using them to pretend: some play house, others play cars. Older children also enjoy telling jokes, singing, dancing, describing a book or movie, playing games, and reciting poetry—all theatrical activities. For those children who truly want to become actors, parents may learn from Denise Simon’s article “Three Reasons to Support Your Child’s Acting Dream.” 

For all children, these skills of creativity and presentation are all critical to their success in school and in life. Gai Jones, in her book The Student Actor Prepares: Acting for Life, lists several life skills we develop through acting:

  • Creating imaginative, bold ideas
  • Reasoning
  • Thinking reflectively
  • Developing positive working habits
  • Being open minded and flexible
  • Conveying emotions with your voice and body
  • Listening appreciatively
  • Cooperating
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Reading and analyzing written material

What adult wouldn’t hope that a child develops these same life skills? Parents and teachers can foster their children’s acting abilities home, at school, and at church with ideas like these below.

At home

  • Provide props. Toys can invite creative and theatrical play. To avoid expensive costs of fancy toys, the National Association for the Education of Young Children suggests common household items that can double as toys, like plastic spoons and balls of yarn.
  • Provide a stage. Go to the park or the backyard for open spaces to dance and run. Move the couch and stand behind it for a puppet show. Tie a sheet on a window frame, put a lamp behind it, and learn to do shadow puppets with your hands.
  • Provide activities. Ask kids to act out their favorite movies or books with paper dolls, Barbies, dolls, stuffed animals, or action figures. Fun time guaranteed!

At school

  • Provide props. After reading a story, have students create masks with brown paper bags, etc., to use in acting out the story. Pinterest has tons of ideas on decorating masks.
  • Provide a stage. Most schools have an auditorium or cafetorium with a real stage, but teachers don’t need to get so formal. They can use the front of the classroom or move aside desks and have audience members sit on the floor. Or, the props themselves become the stage through Teaching Channel’s theater boxes.
  • Provide activities. One I like is “Fortunately, Unfortunately,” in which you sit in a circle and one person begins a sentence with “fortunately,” then the next with “unfortunately,” to form a story. Many websites have easy theater games, such as DramaResource.com.

 At church

  • Provide props. To act out stories from the scriptures, simple props like strips of cloth to tie around kids’ foreheads or waists and chalk to draw the backdrop are sufficient.
  • Provide a stage. Probably the best idea is to stay inside the classroom, but you might get permission from parents and other leaders to venture outdoors if you stay close to the church.
  • Provide activities. Act out scripture stories, as I mentioned in the beginning. SugarDoodle.net has lots of resources, including scripts. For example, here’s one script on the story of the Ten Virgins in the New Testament.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Image from lds.org. License.

Four Ideas to Give Children a Voice

Most people hate the feeling of being ignored. Whether in a classroom with a hand raised for a long time or at home with family who are busy doing other tasks, children may experience this feeling every day—not having a voice, that is. Giving children a voice is essential to their self-esteem, social development, and ability to get what they need and share what they want.

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In addition to the many methods of involving children’s voices—in family councils, as Elder Russell M. Ballard of the LDS Church recently taught, or in daily decision-making—I decided to compile a list of digital examples of children using their voices. My hope is that we can consider these examples—of children reporting the news, publishing their writing, reviewing their favorite stories, and sharing their faith—and then make changes to allow the children in our lives to have more of a say and more of a spotlight.

1. Reporting the News

I came across Time for Kids a few months ago when trying to find news that would be interesting to the students I was teaching. The site includes stories of interest to children by children, under the Kid Reporters tab. I noted kids writing about other kids who have served in their communities, writing about endangered animals, interviewing celebrities, and more.

Seeing how these children were given a voice—or at least a place to publish—helped inspire me to start a classroom newsletter, newspaper, or magazine written by students. How would you use Time for Kids to help a child dream big about sharing his or her ideas?

2. Publishing Writing

When I was in elementary school, I was intrigued by the writing contest by Reading Rainbow on the PBSKids channel. I sent in several stories, and although they weren’t selected by the contest, I had fun imagining, writing, and illustrating. The contest continues today—for grades K–3. A teacher or a parent could show children these examples of contest-winning stories and then help them write their own stories. In addition to the PBSKids contest, there are many other annual writing contests for kids.

A couple of simpler ideas—though not as prestigious as a contest—are to use a blog such as Blogger or a website like Weebly to publish writing for parents and peers to access with a password.

3. Reviewing Favorite Books

I stumbled across Spaghetti Book Club on the Internet and realized what a great resource it is for parents, teachers, and children. Members of the club can post their reviews of any picture book or chapter book, getting a chance to read and write for an audience, which can be incredibly motivating for kids. Anyone—member or non-member of the club—can read the reviews, and you can search by author, title, or grade level of the student reviewers.

Children who are reluctant readers may find it cooler to read a book review written by someone their age. They might use the site as a model for writing their own book reviews, as well.

4. Sharing Faith

The LDS Church produces videos on children around the world describing their lives and their faith, a project called One in a Million. I watched a video on Kuulani from Tahiti who plays music for church, and one on Alberto from Mexico who recovered from an illness by choosing to be healthy to obey God.

I think there’s a lot of potential to use these videos in Primary lessons or Family Home Evening lessons to show children how others their age are living the gospel. They could create their own videos or picture slideshows with their own stories of faith.

Of course, adults need more support to respect children’s voices than just viewing a few websites, but these resources can provide a starting point. Children have important ideas to share, and we can help give them a voice.

—Leah Davis Christopher, Stance

Images and videos from lds.org

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