Multitasking Lowers GPA

multitasking

Moms may be known as the ultimate multitaskers, but the research agrees that multitasking is not an efficient way to get things done. In a nutshell, multitasking is doing two or more tasks at the same time, and in the world of constant connectivity and social media, our kids are multitasking more than ever, and that’s a good thing.

Throughout this month, we are talking about helping kids develop healthy habits, and this week our radio show and column are focused on developing healthy habits for the mind. So for today’s blog, we want to talk about helping our kids get into the habit of focusing by avoiding multitasking.

Did you know that FOCUS is an acronym? It stands for

Follow

One

Course

Until Successful

The argument we often hear is that multitasking makes us more efficient. But the truth is, there are limitations to how many tasks we can perform and how well they can be executed when being performed at the same time.  Instead, let’s teach our kids to focus and fully complete one task before doing anything else.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Reinventing the Habit Loop

reinventing the habit loop, reinventing the habit loop, habit, resolutions, changing habits, trigger, cue, reward, habitual, decision making, decisions, neurological routines, behavior patterns, craving

Do you ever get completely annoyed or frustrated because you can’t get your kids to turn a light off when they leave a room or put their homework away after they finish studying or pick up the remnants of their food-fest after making a snack? These are all examples of habits. And guess what – you can change them by reinventing the habit loop (I’ll explain the habit loop in a moment).         

Habits can be developed either outside our consciousness or by deliberate design. Some are extremely useful, such as the habits of brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes without having to think about what you’re doing. Others are not so useful, such as biting your fingernails or picking open scabs (yuck! right?).

Habits often occur without our permission, but the good news is that a bad one can be changed by fiddling with its parts. According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, at the core of every habitual pattern is a habit loop.

The habit loop can be broken down into three basic steps.

Step One

First, there is a cue, which is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode. The cue can be internal (a feeling or a thought) or external (such as a time of day, the company of certain people or the sight of the Golden Arches).

Step Two

The second part of the habit loop is the routine, which is the behavior that leads to a reward. The routine can be physical (pulling into the drive thru), cognitive (remembering information for a test), or emotional (feeling anxious about speaking in public).

Step Three

The third part is the reward. Not surprisingly, the reward can also be physical (the taste of your favorite burger), cognitive (interesting information), or emotional (feeling relaxed when reading a good book). The reward is what determines if a particular habit loop is worth remembering.

Cue – Routine – Reward

The Birth of a Habit

Duhigg explains it like this: the basal ganglia, a small region of the brain situated at the base of the forebrain, play an important role in stored habits. Interestingly, scientists have discovered that mental activity in this part of the brain actually decreases as a behavior becomes more habitual. When a habit emerges, the brain becomes more efficient (and needs fewer resources) because automatic patterns take over.

Eventually, a habit is born. When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. It stops working so hard or diverts focus to other tasks.

So without deliberately fighting a habit (which means finding new routines), the pattern will unfold automatically. But, if we take control of the habit loop, we can override the unwanted behavior. And once you create a new pattern (by creating new neurological routines), you can force the bad tendencies into the background and create a new habit.

Understanding the habit loop makes habits easier to control. By changing the cue or the reward in a habit loop, you can change the pattern of behavior. Thus, reinventing the habit loop.

Again, habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. The pattern starts with a cue (this is the trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use), is then followed by an almost automatic action or routine (physical, mental or emotional), and is reinforced by a reward (helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future) and the cycle is ready to begin again.

Over time, this loop becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and then craving emerges.

Cue – Routine – Reward

habit loop

The Important Role of Cravings

By learning to observe the cues and rewards, we can change the routines. But first, we have to understand the role of cravings. The craving powers the habit loop.

As we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brain that starts the habit loop spinning. If we can find a new way of satisfying the craving, we can change a habit.

For example, let’s say you have developed a habit of craving something sweet after dinner. The last of the dishes are put away, the tables are wiped down and a clean kitchen has become a cue that inspires a craving for something sweet. In the past, you have plopped on the couch with a bowl of ice cream, but it has taken a toll on your waistline, and you want to change the habit. The cue isn’t going to change. A clean kitchen will still prompt a craving for something sweet. And the reward has to satisfy your sweet tooth or you are not likely to be successful. So what else could satisfy your craving for something sweet? Maybe instead of ice cream you could pop a frozen banana in the food processor with a ¼ cup of almond milk and a teaspoon of cocoa powder. This is an example of changing the routine to get the reward and satisfy the craving.

What if you want to develop a new habit that you don’t already have. Let’s say you want to exercise regularly? The habit loop can help, especially when you understand the role of developing a craving. Your brain must start craving a reward in order for the habit to take root — like your body craving the endorphins it gets from jogging.

Using Habits With Our Kids

Make a plan for a new habit you would like to develop for yourself. Identify what you can use as a cue (maybe leaving exercise clothes out the night before), the steps involved in creating a routine and the reward this new habit will deliver. Once you figure it out for yourself, sit with your kids and talk about how you can create a new habit loop for some of the habits they would like to change.

Let’s say you want your kids to develop the habit of unpacking their backpacks when they get home. First you need a cue. Perhaps you could post a reminder by the front door so they see it as soon as they walk in. Then you need a reward. Maybe they can have a snack after their bag is unpacked. The routine is to clean out their backpack

  • put their books on their desk in preparation for homework
  • put any important notices or forms in your inbox
  • throw out any garbage
  • drop their gym clothes in the laundry room
  • clean out their lunch bag
  • hang up the backpack so they repack it at the end of the day

Once they have completed the routine, you can tell them that they get to enjoy a delicious snack in peace and with a clear conscience because they have completed this important routine. Over time, if they are consistent, the front door will become the cue (you won’t need the reminder), and a craving will develop for that sense of peace and clear conscious as they relax with a well deserved snack. The craving for that state of mind and the snack are vital to the success of the habit.

 

Have any new habits you want your kids to develop or old ones you want them to break? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Facebook.

 

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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The Congressional Award

A Secret Weapon for Rising Stars

congressional award, amazing kids, secret weapon

Most of us have heard of the Eagle Scout Award through the Boy Scouts. But what about the Congressional Award? If that one is unfamiliar to you, you’re not alone. Keep reading because this prestigious award is not only a bright gold star on any student’s resume, but the activities they do to earn it are life changing.

The Congressional Award was established by the United States Congress in 1979 to recognize initiative, service and achievement in young people. It is a non-competitive program open to all 14-23 year olds (kids can register at 13 ½ and start working on it at 14).

I first learned about the Congressional Award when my son was about to graduate from high school. By then, Chase had so much on his plate that it didn’t seem possible to add one more thing – or so I thought at that time. Looking back, that was really foolish on my part.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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What is serving you well?

Earlier this year, I asked myself a question that was a real game changer for me. I asked, “What is serving me well in my life?” But to answer that question, I found myself first asking the opposite question. “What isn’t serving me well?” For some reason, that one was easier for me to tackle.

The first thing that came to mind when I asked the second question was TV before bed. I had a made a weird observation. Whenever I crashed on the couch at the end of the day and watched TV right before I went to sleep, I had a much more difficult time getting up the next day. I almost felt a little hung over in the morning. But if I skipped TV and spent the late evening doing other things — stretching, journaling, reading — I had more energy the next day.

It turns out there’s science behind this. Blue light, which comes from a variety of sources but includes the light from TV, phones, computers and tablets, interrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm and affects sleep. Since this discovery, we’ve made a new rule in our house. All computers, phones and other electronic devices get collected about 90 minutes before bed.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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This 1 Habit Could Change Everything

What if you could focus on ONE thing, and that ONE thing could change EVERYthing? That’s exactly what happened when a man named Paul O’Neill took over  an international aluminum company that was failing in the late 80’s. And the same habit can overhaul your life too.

Shareholders and financial analysts panicked when O’Neill took the helm of Alcoa and began a highly irregular focus on safety. He didn’t talk about increasing profits. He didn’t talk about lowering costs. He didn’t talk about anything that a CEO of company as big as Alcoa typically talks about. Instead, he was laser focused on what appeared to be a strange obsession with safety.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Grow It Again

Hi, I’m Sam. I’m 11 years old, and I’m Jenni’s son. My mom asked me to write a blog post on re-growing food scraps. This is something I like to do because it’s fun and easy and leaves room in your garbage can. I am passionate about gardening, so my mom got me a book called Grow It Again. Most of my tips come from this book. Although a few come from my own experiences. Growing food from the fruits and vegtables in your home is a great activity for families to do together.

I’m going to show you how to grow food again in three different ways:

  1. Take it from the top
  2. Seed time
  3. From the ground up

Take It From The Top

I will show you how to grow two different foods in this category: pineapples and carrots.

Carrots

Let’s start with carrots.

Step one — Take a small, shallow container, and place a layer of stones at the bottom.

Step two — Cut the off about 2 ½ inches from the top of the carrot. Kids should have an adult help.

Step three — Place the carrot tops in the container with the rocks, and pour a thin layer of water in the carrots (about half an inch high).

Tips

Carrots seem to sprout best with a few carrot tops in the same container. Space them one to two inches apart.

Every other day, change the water.

Once you start to see tiny little green stems (check with a magnifying glass once a week), plant the carrot tops in soil in their own containers, and then water two to three times a week.

They like to live in partial sun.

Pineapple

Now for pineapple. Pineapple is one of my personal favorites, but it takes a long time to grow.

There are a few ways to grow pineapples, but the one I’m going to teach here is the one I have had the most success with.

Step one — Cut off the top of a pineapple. (Have an adult help.)

Step two — Cut all the flesh of the pineapple off, and keep cutting until you see tiny black dots on the rim of the pineapple top.

Step three — Peel all the leaves off from the first inch and a half.

Step four — Leave the top out on the counter to dry for about four to five days in room temperature.

Step five — Plant in potting soil in a large pot, and in a few days it will start to root.

One of my pineapple plants grow from the top of a fruit

One of my pineapple plants grow from the top of a fruit

Tips

Water every time the soil gets dry.

If you follow the steps, you will probably grow a healthy plant, but don’t expect a pineapple any time soon. It takes about two years before you see a blossom and about another seven months to produce a pineapple.

Seed Time

I’m going to show you how to sprout seeds that are difficult to grow, but if you follow these steps you will be able to grow them just fine. The three plants I will show today are oranges, apples, and avocado. I’m going to start with oranges because I live in Florida, and that’s one of the most common crops here.

Oranges

Step one — Take a small round plastic container or plastic cup, and put just a few stones at the bottom.

Step two — Fill it the rest of the way with soil and crushed egg shells for nutrition.

Step three — Take about three seeds from a ripe orange, and place them about an inch or two apart in the soil (the farther apart the better), but make sure the seeds are not too far into the soil.

Step three — Moisten the soil just a little.

Step four — Take a plastic sandwich bag, and put it over the container. Then wrap a rubber band around it to keep it in place

Step five — Leave it in a sunny window indoors.

Step six — Check every week to make sure the soil is moist, and in about three weeks, when you see sprouts, take the bag off.

Tips

Keep the seeds in a pot until they are strong enough to handle the environment.

Apples

Apples cannot grow in Florida because they need to go through a process called winterization, but when planting the seeds you can fake it!

Step one — Take out the seeds.

Step two — Put the seeds in a wet napkin.

Step three — Put the napkin in the refrigerator.

Step four — Check every day.

Step five — When it roots plant in soil.

Tips

If you live where it does not snow, you wont have any success with growing apples, even if you winterize the seeds in the fridge.

Avocado

Avocados are fun but difficult If you like a challenge, this is the plant for you!

Step one — Take out the avocado pit, and peel off the skin. Have an adult help.

Step two — Take toothpicks, and stick them into the avocado seed around the circumference of the seed. You want to put in 3 or 4 toothpicks. If the seed splits in two, it’s ok just tie the two halves together with a string.

Step three — Place the seed over a 4 to 5 inch cup filled with water. Make sure the bottom of the seed is in the water.

Step four — Once the root is three inches long, place it in soil, and water it three to seven times a week.

Tips

Be careful with the roots. They can be broken very easily.

This plant likes full sun.

From The Ground Up

In this category I am going to teach you how to grow two plants: garlic and ginger.

Garlic

Garlic is also one of my favorites. It’s fast, easy, and fun!

Step one — Take a small, shallow container (about the size of the carrot container), and place a layer of stones.

Step two — Peel about three garlic cloves, and place them in the stones so that they  are standing up. Make sure the pointy end of the clove is facing up.

Step three — Fill the container with about a ¼ inch of water, and leave it in a sunny windowsill for two days.

Step four — Plant in soil.

Tips

Clip the tops of the garlic every week. They get big quickly.

The tops are good in salads and are very healthy.

You can grow the garlic in the container with the water for a very long time. That was one of the things I did.

Ginger

Ginger is fairly easy to grow, so it is something I would say you should try.

Step one — Get a container like the one you put the garlic in.  Place a small layer of stones at the bottom and then fill it almost to the top with soil.

Step two — Place the ginger root flat on top of the soil.

Step three — Put soil around the ginger but leave its back out because ginger prefers it that way.

Step four — Water the soil just a little, and keep it in a sunny window. Within a few days it should root.

Tips

Water when the soil gets dry.

Transplant when the container gets too small.

Give the plant part sun.

They will eventually grow shoots. Some may die, but new ones will replace them.

They grow quickly. In about a month, the plant will be about three feet.

Don’t eat the shoots.

 

If you have any questions contact me at thesam326@gmail.com. You can also visit my blog and leave me questions and comments.

Sam Stahlmann

Farmer Sam is a sixth grader who is passionate about farming and learning alternative growing methods. He blogs about gardening, growing all sorts of plants and keeping a healthy worm farm. Visit him at farmersamblog.wordpress.com.

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I Wish I Had This For My Older Kids

When I saw the opportunity to review FamilyLife’s Passport 2 Purity, I jumped on it! I have an 11-year-old boy, and I knew this would be perfect timing for him. My older kids have had “the talk,” but they have all been very respectful about not sharing that information with the younger siblings. So I was pretty sure my Sammy didn’t know much about this stuff. (I was right!)

The Passport 2 Purity program is designed help prepare your child for their journey into adolescence. Let’s face it, the world they are walking into is much different than when we were young. Their’s is a world of sexting, cyber bullying, online stalking and perhaps the most blatant moral defiance in the history of our country. Innocence is under attack, and you cannot win the battle with a single awkward talk or a strict set of rules. The only real defense for your child is a strong relationship with you and with God.

FamilyLife developed Passport 2 Purity to assist parents in building heart-to-heart communication with their preteens, while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the potentially turbulent years ahead. It is actually designed to be done as a mother-daughter or father-son team, over the course of a weekend getaway, but we broke all the rules.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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How Do You Motivate Your Kids To Clean?

Have you ever sent your child to clean his room to find hours later that close to nothing had been done? That’s frustrating, right?

Well, it could be that your precious puddin’ pop feels like he’s going to the ocean with a teaspoon and feels completely paralyzed by the idea of organizing and cleaning an area that seems overwhelming to him. So, how do we help? Routine.

Let’s use the example of kids cleaning their rooms. What they really need are chore lists and routines. And cleaning works best if you do a little each day. Spring cleaning is great, but it’s less of a task if you’ve kept up on it all year long in a daily ritual. This is also a great way to build some healthy habits, such as constantly picking up after yourself.

Circumference

For some reason, it seems a lot of kids struggle with remembering to clean up after themselves. This is a simple idea, but a daunting task. Try begin by helping them become aware of their personal space. Get them in a habit of continually scanning about a three foot circumference around their body. If something within three feet of them is not in its home, have them put it away. Give them a code word, such as “circumference” so they know to check their space. Once this becomes a habit, their living space will become more manageable. Here’s another tip, the best broom for a child will be at their height, imagine a broom stick 2-3 times your height for a second. Now that you see why that’s an issue, why not cut them a shorter broom stick which they can install on the broom. This will give them a sense of ownership over a tool used in cleaning, which can be rewarding for them.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 16 to 27. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy. As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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Are You Teaching Your Kids To Be Incompetent?

I’m sure most parents don’t set out to overindulge their kids. I know I don’t, but sometimes it happens when I’m not paying attention. Overindulgence comes from a good place — it is born out of our deep love for our kids. We want to meet their needs and to make them happy and comfortable. We want to nurture them, and rightfully so — nurturing is foundational to parenting.

But did you know that we can overindulge our kids by OVER nurturing them? When we do things for our children that they can and should learn to do for themselves, we are over nurturing them. Every loving parent crosses this line occasionally, and when it happens once in a while, it simply sends the message to our kiddos that we love them and want to celebrate them in various little ways.

But when the occasional overindulgence becomes the norm, it can spell huge problems for our kids later in life.

Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz wrote, “The proverb warns that you should not bite the hand that feeds you. But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.”

When we do things for our kids that they should learn to do for themselves, we train them to be helpless and teach them be incompetent.

So what should our kids learn to do for themselves? Everything!

I remember once, as a younger mom, seeing a woman who had had her baby later in life and marveling at how she doted upon this little girl. The child was nearing a year old, and she had her strapped into a bouncy chair while she spoon fed her baby food.

From infancy, our goal should be gradual independence. So we help our little ones practice sitting up, and then we encourage them to stand, while we hold there hands. As soon as we see them grasping things with their thumb and forefinger instead of raking with four fingers, we begin offer small pieces of food for them to feed themselves.

Soon we teach them how to undress and dress themselves and how to clean up their toys. Two and three year olds can do simple little chores like folding wash cloths or putting their folded shirts into their shirt drawer.

As kids get older, they learn to make their beds, do dishes, take out the garbage. Our goal with housework should be to eventually teach our kids how to do everything we do as well or better than we do it.

When we are prescribing over-the-counter meds to our 10 year old, we can explain what we are giving them, why we chose that medication and how we determined the dosage.

Our kids can learn how to find experts who can answer their questions, make phone calls and leave detailed messages. They can learn how to make reservations, book airline tickets, cook for themselves, get directions, do their laundry.

Of course, we have to be mindful of their developmental level, but when we assume strength and competence in our kids, we gradually teach them to become capable, independent people. On the flip side, when we do things for them that they can learn to do for themselves, we are assuming that they are weak and incapable, and over time, we will train them to become helpless and incompetent. And who really wants that outcome?

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Weekly Leader — May 1, 2015

If this is your first time seeing the Weekly Leader, scroll down and read all about it below the line. Then pop back up to the top for next week’s suggestions.

Weekly Leader for the first week in May.

Mastermind Monday

Talk briefly about the difference between a chain and a franchise. Not sure yourself? Just ask Mr. Google!

TED Talk Tuesday

Underwater Astonishments

*Note — You may not always agree with the perspective of a TED Talk, but rather than shy away from it, use it as an opportunity to explain why you don’t agree.

What’s Up Wednesday

Riots in Baltimore

Think Tank Thursday

Friends are like vitamins — each one provides something different but essential. Have each family member talk about how their closest friends bring something unique to their life.

Famous Friday

Rosalind Franklin

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 5 to 29), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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