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5 Reasons to Fear Not

“Be brave, keep strong. The world needs you: WOMAN.”

Charlia moulton-Campbell


Fear of taking that next step, that leap, that jump as they say can become overwhelming. I was very comfortable with what I did best in my head – teaching, motherhood, the usual. For me it was more about failing and then dwelling on what people would say, rather than just thinking about the process. I always had thoughts to share, people to inspire and moves to make, but many of these actions were written down somewhere and just lived there. I didn’t want to see or face any possibility of failure.

According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary fear is an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. Fear of unknown situations usually leads to anxiety and discomfort. I never wanted to face discomfort. My life would then appear to be in disarray and would deviate from the notion that I had it all together. We need to understand that fear is a concept and once we overcome our fears we can take on any challenge.

Below are 5 reasons I believe we should not fear…

  1. God’s got you- Psalm 46:1 states:
    “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” This bible verse has been my guide for as long as I know, but I must confess that I still struggled with fear. Fear has been my greatest enemy for a long time. Today, I know that once God is a part of your story, once you put him first and have faith in Him you can accomplish anything you want. I always knew I wanted to follow my dream, my passion of writing. I knew I had to share my story. Growing up in a traditional home, my life unfolded more on the non-traditional path. I want to share this with the world, since many believe life has to follow a certain flow or you will be fated to end badly. I knew I wanted to explore my dream of writing professionally, but I was ridiculously fearful. When I got the opportunity to co-author, I knew it was an opportunity I should take. Even then, I still struggled with fear and uncertainty. However, I decided to fight fear and follow my dream of becoming an author. When you fight fear the results are endless. Always remember- God’s got you.
  2. Keep your village busy – Growing up my mother always had her village, these were a few close friends or relatives who she would go to for support, advise and reassurance. At a very young age I learned that everyone needed a village. There is always going to be times when you need to call on someone. This is not a sign of weakness, but indeed a sign of strength in my opinion. When one is secure enough to call on a support team, that exhibits a trait of strength. When you become fearful in situations think about your support system, your village. Believe it or not we have people who are rooting for us and will support our ventures. We must come to a place where we are comfortable reaching out to talk a situation through with a village member or ask for advice. Keep your village busy!
  3. You can always try again- “If you fall get back up, guess what you might fall again, but never forget to get up and keep trying.” What if Walt Disney refused to try again when he was fired at first for lacking imagination and good ideas? Oftentimes, our greatest fears come from the thought of failure. We fear that if we try we might fail. We fear that if we fail we will be branded as failures and criticized by everyone. Please understand that failure is a necessary part of the process, sometimes we need to fail to become stronger. Sometimes we need to fail to get to the next step. Sometimes we fail because we made the wrong choices. The good thing about failing is that we have many opportunities to always try again. We can use our failures as lessons or learning experiences. When we know we can keep trying our fear becomes invisible.
  4. It is not as difficult as it seems – If failure was not an option, would our situations prove to be so difficult? When we want to do something new or change something it indeed makes us fearful. We struggle with what the consequences might be or the outcome. Newness or change might be a big move, but at the end of the day it is not as difficult as we think. When God asked Moses to lead His people out of Egypt it seemed like a surmountable task. If Moses had focused on his fear and not his faith in God, he would not have obeyed God and the results of this story would have been different. Attacking your goals and following your dreams is not as difficult as we believe. Let us not change our story because of fear, let us live our story because we conquered our fears.
  5. Fear breeds anxiety and stress- when we live in fear we become products of fear. We worry more breeding anxiety and stress. Essentially fear can impact our lifestyle and health. Fear can result in many serious illnesses as simple as it seems, it can be detrimental. I am not saying we are going to be fearless in every situation. If we make it a habit of fearing less and taking on challenges with a little more faith we are preserving our lives, we are diminishing anxiety and stress. Years ago, I was so fearful of what people would think, what they would have to say and what they would do as a result. Today, I still listen and take advise, but I do not get caught up in negativity and doubt. If you have faith it will always happen. The key is to find your balance and make it work.

Let us fight to fear less and follow our passion and dreams.

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Stepping Out

Many times, we are forced to believe that our comfort zone is the best place to be since it allows us a sense of complacency. We feel comfortable with what makes us feel at ease, with what we excel at and have mastered. Sometimes we feel comfort in our day-to-day jobs/roles/activities that make everything all simple and working. There is comfort in that familiarity and that safeness that proves to be our place of solace. But, life has so much more to offer. Life is about sometimes pushing yourself over the edge, pushing beyond limits, living outside your comfort zone and thinking outside the box. Life is about shifting thinking, changing opinions and fostering hope. Life is about building the best version of yourself, for you.

Recently, I was challenged to push myself outside the box, I was challenged to shift thinking and feel uncomfortable. I say challenged because for years I ‘sat’ on my writing. I had so much to say, but it just sat there. Yes, I shared on my blog and through my greeting card poems and quotes on social media, but the stories I shared in our book were somewhat different. These stories were out for the world to see, stories I held deep within my heart. Stories that channeled feelings for not just myself, but for those close to me and others who would read. Little did I know this was what life would become in literally the blink of an eye. I had no idea, I wasn’t ready…were a few of my thoughts. But know this God’s timing is not your timing. When God is ready, you have to move. There is no negotiating, there is no waiting- “when it’s time, it’s time.”

I was challenged to awaken a different side of me as I shared some of my most personal stories. Today, I not only share my writing, but I am speaking out to encourage and bring hope to those who need it most. I can’t lie, I was very fearful and doubtful.  But God put all that fear and doubt aside and told me it was time. It was time to share with the world, to possibly inspire at least one person, to encourage others to know it’s never too late. Hearing someone say, “I am going to do this because you did it” or “because you said this,” is heartwarming. I get joy from sharing what I do to inspire and encourage. Everyone has a job, but most of the times there is a passion that is hidden deep within. when this passion is explored, it brings great happiness and satisfaction. Why not explore this? 

I get it, it’s not as easy as it sounds. But whether you have to be forced, challenged or just jump right in, it’s worth it. Your happiness depends on it. I believe that everyone is born with a unique talent waiting to bud, some are already budding, some are still waiting. Whether you are waiting or budding, the world is yours. It is important to understand that how you take on your world is ultimately dependent on you and your willingness to “step out” and challenge yourself. All that being said timing is of the essence. Nothing happens before the time. When your time comes, embrace it with all you got!

Live your dreams,

Charlia


Permission to Teach Please…

I grew up in the field of education. Both my parents were educators. I was grading papers, analyzing student data with and for my parents from a very tender age. I was their mini teacher and I loved that it made me feel a strong sense of responsibility. I felt like my parents, as educators, had the final say, they were respected and their advice to a parent was valued. When their students came to school, their parents had full confidence and trust that they were in ‘good hands.’ The teacher’s word was final. Pretty much whatever the teacher said “was final.” This approach, I believe allowed for a deep sense of understanding between parent and teacher regarding goals and expectations of the student/child. Teachers felt they were at liberty to teach more freely and to make decisions without being scrutinized. The relationships formed were solid and not influenced by parent bias or thoughts. I know most parents today understand and know exactly where I am coming from, despite the fact this we sometimes succumb to societal pressures to “fit in” or be apart of the “in crowd.” What good does this do? Where do we end up?

Today, in many gentrified communities teachers of color are sometimes challenged with issues and concerns that oftentimes get in the way of the flexibility of teaching without reservations. By this flexibility I mean the liberty to explore varied kinds of instruction without seeking permission first. Many teachers of color speak of the need to constantly prove themselves to parents as educators, even when their performance level is comparable to that of peers of another race. Teaching without feeling like they are always ‘being watched.” While I do value parental involvement and support, sometimes I believe that many parents allow their lack of trust to create a sense uncertainty in schools, thereby impacting the overall picture.

Picture this:

Your child has a great teacher who is attentive, loving, can execute a lesson effectively and engage her students with true conviction. The teacher listens to parents concerns and has great relationships with staff and other parents. Pretty much: a perfect situation of a teacher. This seems like a seemingly ideal situation in a school setting. Something most parents would ask for.

However, while these situations are very common there are many experiences where although this is the reality, “excessive parental intervention” sometimes takes precedence. The overwhelming occurrence of a barrage of questioning pedagogy and expertise has become very prominent in some school settings. To whose advantage, I am not sure, because as far as I know no party benefits from the said situation. Please understand that I value genuine questions and concerns that are not meant to demolish one’s character or to cast the blame on one particular member. If families have sincere questions and concerns, I for one welcome them with open arms. While throughout my eleven years in this profession, I can only think of a few of these unwelcoming and difficult experiences, I know of many colleagues and friends who constantly live these moments.

I am hereby asking for permission for all educators to teach without feeling restricted, without feeling like our hands are tied. Permission to be trusted and respected. Permission to be truly allowed to care and love our students without doubt from anyone. Permission to know that when they are in the classroom they are in charge of the educational future of their students. Permission to freely say to a parent: “I know that your child…” “Here is my recommendation…” or any similar line of support and be listened to. Permission to teach your child like a trained teacher. No one goes to the doctor, engineer or any other field of profession and question their craft. Give us a shot, we are open to questions, suggestions and partnerships.

10 Steps to Prevent Summer Reading Loss

Summer reading loss is cumulative, these children do not typically catch up in the fall. Their peers are progressing with their skills while they are making up for the summer learning loss. By the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills during the summer are on average 2 years behind their peers.
Source:June 26, 2015 Summer Learning Loss Statistics

Summer reading loss is real. Did you know that the best predictor of summer loss or summer gain is whether or not a child reads during the summer? And, the best predictor of whether a child reads is whether or not he or she owns books. Further, summer reading loss or “summer setback” is a bigger problem for children from low-income families.

Source: 13 Ideas for How Parents Can Encourage Summer Reading May 17, 2013 By

With summer here and all the recreational activities, vacation trips and summer lounging, many families find it very difficult to maintain a daily reading schedule for their children. In addition, some parents/guardians have work and tight schedules to juggle. This leaves them with little time to manage reading and other academic schedules for their children. However, with the knowledge of the above mentioned information on summer reading loss, there is no doubt that this matter needs attention. So how do we prevent summer reading loss making sure that all parties benefit?
Below are 10 steps that will prevent summer reading loss:
  1. Have your child read everyday. This should be a non-negotiable. Source books of interest based on conversations with your child. Having your child involved in the process will foster a sense of ownership and eagerness to partake. These are a few recommendable websites to source great books- Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com, Scholastics.com, Raz-kids.com.
  2. Create personal journals together. Log each day or choose an agreed upon number of times each week to log with your child. You can use two separate log sheets or the same log sheet to log as you read. You can choose to read the same book or different books. Either way you are building a solid reading relationship with your child and strong reading ethics. You can use cute composition note books from your local stores, on-line log sheets or self made log sheets. This practice will build accountability for all parties involved.
  3. In order to maintain interest, based on personal experience, I notice that my 9 year olds love to use their tablets to read. They find it more engaging. While the use of a tablet encourages reading, it is advisable to also use real books for reading with your child also. Come up with an agreement together. Make it fun! You can decide the number of times to use a tablet versus a real book using a kid friendly contract (self-created or from on-line). This way your child is exposed both methods of reading. And best of all parents/adults are happy and kids are happy.
  4. Encourage the nonfiction/ informational world. Kids love to learn new and interesting, amazing facts. Have your child read nonfiction/ informational books in an effort to maintain that nonfiction- fiction 50-50 required balance for reading. Let’s be real, I know most of us parents rarely purchase nonfiction books. My advise to you is to use online resources (Raz-kids.com, readworks.org, newsela.com), you can do a magazine subscription or borrow magazines from the library.
  5. Although this might be a controversial tip, I believe that providing basic rewards can boost the amount of reading a child does at home. This summer we have been using the sticker reward system for reading as well as other educational activities. And believe me it works! It’s summer kids are in play mode.
  6. Use community resources. This is a fun and exciting way of getting your child involved in reading and in the the community as well. Set up a schedule and visit the library at least once a week in the summer, if possible. You can join one of the local library programs. Programs may differ based on where you live. By doing this they will also learn that there are other children who are making reading a priority for summer.
  7. Find a favorite/ current author to study or learn about together. You can go online and search authors based on your child’s interest. This way the idea becomes more personal and engaging. Challenge yourselves to learn as much as you can about the authors you study and read as many books or pieces from their collection!

The next three tips might seem very simple, but are very powerful. Despite, their non-traditional features as a reading tip, they are engaging and fun, but by no doubt impact learning significantly.

8.  Play board games that require reading and building vocabulary. When students are learning and having fun, the process becomes less stressful for everyone. Ask questions as you play with your child, have your child read the directions and explain as you play. This will enhance comprehension skills as well.

9. Cook together- this is a great way to incorporate not only reading but math, science and social studies! have your child read the recipe as you cook together. Ask questions about the ingredients and the origin of the food to extend their thinking. It is important to note that this activity can be done with familiar dishes also. Simply find the recipe online and use it to guide the process as you prepare your meal together.

10. Devotions/ family talks -for many families devotions or family talks are a consistent part of our weekly routines. There is usually some kind of reading involved. Have your child do the reading or have a special reading segment just for them. Make it a big deal and they will love it!

The Art of Chaos: Breaking the Order

Being a mom to most of us means, there is no room for “messing up.” We believe we have one shot at motherhood, sometimes we tend to address every situation in isolation and become increasingly hard on ourselves. We see every “mistake” or “wrong move” as a failure in our eyes. When do we give ourselves a break and come to terms with the realities of learning?

When I had my first child, my daughter I thought to myself, I cannot “mess” this up. I have one shot. I have to do this right. The truth is I have “messed up” so many times since the day she was born. In fact, she is now 13 and I think I have “messed up” more times in the past few years than the rest of her life. But for some reason, I am more okay with “messing up” today than I was years ago. I do not consider it “messing up.” Each of these situations I have come to learn more and more, are learning experiences. Experiences that I have and will continue to use to parent my kids.

For many life happens sequentially, in a certain order. I must do this, then this, then this… For me, not so much all the time. Despite having a first degree before I had my daughter, I decided to further my studies, just when she began pre-school. Many would deem this impossible as it does not fit into the sequential realm of things. My first thought was…”Girl you are crazy, you are in a new country without your mom and you think going back to school with a 3-year-old is a good idea!” But life happened, I went back to school and survived with the gift of twin boys at the end  of my two years. My daughter survived preschool! Hubby and the village helped make it happen and before I knew it, it was over. Amidst all this chaos, many lessons were learned. At that point when I thought I was “messing up” as a mom, I realized that I can by no means fight my battles alone.

When it was time for elementary school, we wanted to make sure we made the best decision for our daughter. I struggled with decisions around sending her to a church school versus  a public school. Growing up in the church and going to public school all my life I knew deep down they were both essentially important. We came to the decision of sending her to a church school. We loved all she was learning, both academically and biblically, but being a public school teacher I just felt like something was missing.  After 3 years, we decided to send her to public school. We found a real traditional public school we both liked. Everything seemed great, she was doing well academically. However, there was little room for exposure to extra curricular activities or opportunities. At the time, this was at the forefront of my mind, since my school was evolving and I saw so many of these opportunities available to the students there. I thought it would be a great idea for her to experience this. Needless to say, she spent her final year of elementary school in my school. As these changes occurred, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt, because I thought I was doing her an injustice. However, today I can safely say as she is in her final semester of middle school, I have seen where she has drawn from experiences from each elementary school in so many situations as a means to survive middle school. Today, this chaos I thought I created, after having a discussion with her about these decisions, I believe has groomed a strong young lady.

When it was time for our boys to go to elementary school, they came to my school, no questions asked. I was not going to “mess up again,” I thought.  After pre kindergarten we had to make a decision about regular program versus a Spanish Dual Language program for the rest of their elementary years. Here we go again. We decided on the Spanish DLP program. We thought it would be great for the boys to learn a second language, but the challenges that came with this decision remained a concern. This decision to date has me wondering if I once again…yes, “messed up.” I often times question this decision. While this is great opportunity, as a parent you cannot help but wonder about the…”what ifs?” With a few more years of experience from my first go as a parent, I am taking it one day at a time.

As life takes its toll, we are going to “mess up.” Sometimes these so-called “mess ups” are actually learning experiences. Whether we have kids or not, these experiences can become our greatest motivations. When things in life break the usual sequence or order, sometimes it is worth giving it a try.

CMC

5 Writing Tips to Save Parents at Home

So you are at home and your child comes home with a writing assignment and you just want to scream and throw a tantrum, since you have no clue what to do. The task seems impossible for your child, because deep down you think, there is no way my child can pull this off. Your child senses your frustration and doubt and immediately acts on it. “If mommy or daddy believes this is too difficult for me to do, even though I know I can complete this writing piece, I will play the game. Sounds familiar?

Keep calm and read these tips…

 

1) Find Favorable Topics

It is always helpful to find out what your child likes to read/ do. This more than likely is what they will enjoy writing about. If your child finds a topic boring, this will definitely hinder them from wanting to write about that topic. Think about it, as adults we are given the opportunity to choose what we want to write about in most cases. Why wouldn’t we grant this same opportunity to our budding writers. Start a running list of favorable topics at home with your child and have them choose one each week. There are numerous writing activities that can go with this idea. Rather than limiting them to writing a story everyday, make it fun! You can have your child write of course a story or extended response one or two days to continue building stamina, then have them do a vocabulary writing activity, have them write a letter, have them write a menu, a poem, their opinion about the topic or a song. By doing this you are opening up a world of writing experiences for your child.

2) Choose Preferable Means/ Method of Writing

Choose the best means of writing for your child. Some children rather the good old-fashioned pen-to-paper, some rather typing it up on the computer/tablet, while some children rather speaking and recording what they want to express. Choosing the best method will spark much more writing. I for one, can attest to situations, where my students dislike writing. Upon noticing, I decided to allow them to use the computer to write, which changed their whole perspective on writing. It is very important to value prefered learning styles of our children in every situation and setting.

3) Use Model Sample Work

Find model sample work that is in the genre or area of writing your child likes. You can choose an author or a few authors who write about the same or similar topics/ ideas as your child enjoys. By doing so your child will be able to get first hand experience as to what quality writing looks like. They will be able to use these model samples as a reference for improvement. In addition, this can be very encouraging for your child to see published writers with similar tastes or likings.

4) Use Standard Measures to Gage Writing Progress

In schools students are accustomed to using standardized rubrics and checklists to guide them as they write. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a rubric is a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests. While checklists are tools used to guide students step by-by-step as they work towards an end product. By providing these tools, students are able to effectively work with an end goal in mind. Do not hesitate to ask teachers to provide you with information as to how to access these rubrics and checklists. When your child sees you pulling out the same tools they use in school they know you mean business. More importantly, it send a message that you care, as you made an extra effort to connect home with school.

5) Assessment 

 The purpose of assessment in education is to know more about how someone is learning and to understand how to improve that learning. This process is ongoing. So if it is ongoing and children do this daily in school, why shouldn’t they be held to the same standards at home? Assessing will provide a means by which children are able to self check and improve themselves as learners. Parents can request assessment tools used in your child’s school, to assess at home. Also, many of these same or very similar tools are accessible online for support.
If your child comes to realization that you are aware of what happens is school and are holding them accountable to the same expectations, most of your battle is over. Many of our children (including mine) lower their standards at home because they think that we do not know what is expected at school or in fact we do not know the quality of work they produce at school. Let us push our children to always extend themselves, despite the setting or situation.