First Light Early Education Program

A Community of Healthy Families

May Virtue: Honesty

“I am a truth-teller!”

Honesty: Honesty is when you speak the truth and act truthfully.

Honesty in the Classroom includes:

  • Honesty means you say things that are true.
  • Honesty means you admit when you have made a mistake.
  • Honesty means that you tell how things really happen.

I will…

  • Follow the rules even if nobody is watching
  • Tell what really happened when someone asks me
  • Not take what isn’t mine

Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Honesty

  • Keep calm. If your kids worry about being yelled at or punished when they mess up, they won’t want to come to you with the truth. Focus on using a calm voice – yes, it can be tough, but it’s possible. That doesn’t mean kids are off the hook for lying. But instead of getting angry and assigning blame, discuss solutions to the problem with your child.
  • Emphasize ways to solve the problem. If you know your child has tracked mud into the house ask him, “What can we do to clean this up and make sure it doesn’t happen next time?” instead of asking “How did all this mud get on the carpet?” This can help head off a power struggle and allows your child to focus on a plan of action instead of fabricating an excuse. It also teaches a lesson of what they can do next time –taking off their shoes in the mudroom instead of the living room – to avoid problems.
  • Celebrate honesty.Even if you’re upset that there’s a sea of water on the floor because your daughter tried to give her dolls a bath in the sink, commend her for coming to you and telling the truth. Tell her, “I really appreciate you telling me what really happened.  I really appreciate you telling the truth and taking responsibility.”
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March Virtue: Self-Control

  March Virtue: Self Control

“I will do the right thing”

 Self Control:  a friendly feeling or attitude: kindness or help given to someone

Self Control in the Classroom includes:

  • Telling my teacher I want to go to the comfort cave* when I am sad.
  • Being gentle with my hands, my feet, and my words.
  • Using bubble lips when I am in the hallway.

 I will…

  • Use my words to tell others how I feel.
  • Ask a teacher if I need help solving a problem.
  • Use listening ears when other people are talking to me.

Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Self Control

  1. Play games with your child. Taking turns and following rules are good opportunities to practice self control. Active games like Red Light/Green Light, Freeze Tag and Follow the Leader give children practice being intentional about calming their bodies.
  2. Help children understand how long they will have to wait for something and suggest activities to do while they wait. Say to your child, “Grandma and Grandpa are coming over before dinner. Would you like to draw some pictures to give them?” or “As soon as I put your sister to bed, I will read you some stories. You can choose three books for us to read together.”
  3. Do activities together that require following directions. For example, put together a model, play follow the leader, or cook or bake: “I’m going to read the recipe aloud. Listen carefully so we will both know what to do. I’ll read them again as we do each step.”

*Our comfort cave has items like headphones, pillows, stuffed animals to hug, and pictures of feelings

Comfort Cave

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February Virtue: Friendship

Friendship:  a friendly feeling or attitude: kindness or help given to someone

Friendship in the Classroom includes:

  • Taking turns choosing what to play.
  • Inviting others to play with you.
  • Listening to others and working together to solve problems.

 I will…

  • Offer to help my friends if I see they are sad.
  • Greet others with their name and a smile.
  • Use gentle hands and words when I talk to my friends.

Practical Application: 3 Tips for Encouraging Friendship

  1. Talk to your children about characteristics that you see in them that would make them a good friend to others. Point out specific times that you see them being kind to others.
  2. Ask your children about who they enjoy playing with at First Light. Ask what they like to do when they play together. Help them to learn the names of their classmates and teachers.
  3. Children need to see that you value friendship as well. If you need to make a call to a friend, use the word “friend”.  Talk about what makes that person a good friend to you and ways that you are a good friend to others.
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High Quality Care and Education is a Wise Investment

High-Quality Prekindergarten is a Wise Investment-  Early education helps prepare children to succeed in school and in life. Numerous studies show that children enrolled in high-quality early education programs go on to perform better on cognitive tests in elementary and secondary school, are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, be employed, and be in good health, and are less likely to become involved with crime or turn to welfare. Yet, many children—particularly the low-income children who stand to benefit the most—lack access to early education. Some support for prekindergarten is provided through federal and state programs, but these programs fall short of meeting the need. ;

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Creating a Family Mission Statement

In today’s hectic, complicated world, many families find themselves without a “road map” for helping their kids avoid getting lost.

Might it be wise to sit down as a family and create a type of family mission statement… a set of core values that serves as a road map for behavior?

One parent described her approach:

We talked as a family about what types of values we feel proud to live by. Then we posted them on our refrigerator.

Our family believes in…family_1

–          Treating others the way we want to be treated

–          Honesty

–          Politeness

–          Doing our best even when something is hard or boring

–          Being healthy and safe

Our three year old needed a lot of help with these, but the older kids caught on quickly. We made sure to admit that we, as parents, would be held accountable for living by these values too!

This is a great tool for teaching self-discipline and problem-solving. Now we just say to our kids, “Feel free to do what you would like as long as it fits our family’s values.”

Does your family have a mission statement? If so, share it with us below! If not, I challenge you to sit down with your family this week and begin the process.

This post was adapted from Love and Logic Insider’s Edition with Dr. Charles Fay.

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What Families Can Do To Help Their Children Succeed Academically

Research shows that students who believe in and have the following characteristics do better at school. Helping your children succeed academically can be as simple as teaching your children these 4 important attributes or qualities. If children can answer “yes” to each set of statements under the attibutes then their chance of success is greater.

1. Teach them to believe they can succeed academically

 I can do even the hardest homework if I try

I can learn the things taught in school                                                                          Families-Teachers-210x312[1]

I can figure out difficult schoolwork

2. Inspire internal motivation to learn

I want to understand how to solve problems

I like to look for more information about school subjects

I want to learn new things

3. Teach them to manage their own learning

I ask myself questions as I go along to make sure my homework makes sense to me

I try to figure out the hard parts of my schoolwork on my own

I go back over things I don’t understand

I try to find a place that makes it easier to do my homework

4. Train them to know how to ask for help- especially from teachers

I can get along with most of my teachers

I can go and talk with most of my teachers

I can get my teachers to help me if I have problems with other students

I can explain what I think to most of my teachers

I ask the teacher to tell me how well I’m doing in class

Hoover-Dempsey, K., Sandler Howard., et al. Model of Parent Involvement, student survey data from Nebraska PIRC and Iowa PIRC (I-SPIN).  

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Nurturing Your Child’s Gift

Child with Toys

Our children all have special areas of gifts and talents in which they can excel. The child who appears to be average takes on a whole new look once parents and caregivers see his or her gifts. This understanding opens a new set of possibilities for each child. Imagine how exciting it would be for your child to find areas in which he or she excels, and imagine how much joy there is in parenting when the purpose is to nurture and to encourage those special traits that your child possesses.

This week, I challenge you to see the gifts your child has and find ways to develop and nurture those gifts.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • To encourage leadership, play a few rounds of Follow-the-Leader
  • To encourage creativity, find a spot in the house where you “need” some artwork. Have your child come up with an idea to decorate the area.
  • To encourage humor, make one day each month “silly meal day.” Serve dishes that are different and unusual.
  • To encourage kindness, find ways to help those who are shut-in, have special needs, or are in need of some small favor.

What are some other ways you can nurture your child’s gift?

Source: Wyoming Parent Education Network,

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Pile on the Fall Fun!

I’ve recently come across a calendar produced by Wyoming Quality Counts!, an organization that helps Wyoming parents and child care providers identify and create quality learning experiences for children. They provide a variety of materials to help children develop communication; a sense of self and relationships; curious minds; and strong and healthy bodies. To visit their website, click here.

Parents giving children piggyback rides

The WY Quality Counts! calendar offers a year’s worth of ideas to keep interactions between you and your kids fresh, engaging and positive for everyone. Each month’s activities incorporate a varied menu of developmental skills including cognitive and general knowledge, physical development and motor skills, social and emotional skills, and language and communication.

One of my favorite sections is the “Things to do with your kids now” which lists quick, anytime activities that you can do with your child multiple times each month. For example:

  •  Make a hat out of newspaper
  • Give yourself a pirate name
  • Dress up like a superhero and act out your power
  • Make up a secret family handshake
  • Pretend to be an animal and see if anyone can guess what you are
  • Make up a cheer or fight song
  • Create your own touchdown “boogie”
  • Watch your infant imitate the silly faces
  • Clap to the rhythm of music on the radio
  • Learn to count to 10 in a different language
  • Make a fort
  • Talk to your infant about everything you see while pushing them in a stroller around the block

What are some of your favorite family activities? 

Would you like one of these calendars? Please see Jessica Riley, FRC or go to to order your free copy!

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Healthy Transitions, Part One


Transitions can be challenging for any person, but they are also a natural part of life. Transitions are critical to the healthy development of children as they will need to learn that life has many obstacles, and being able to adapt is an important part of growing to be a healthy adult.

Young children are still in the process of learning how to handle change; some children do better with change than others. You may wonder why your child breaks down when he is told he has to leave the park, while other children seem to handle moving to a new house with no problem.

There is no one way to handle these challenges. No matter what transition your child is facing whether it is siblings going back to school, the changing seasons, or starting at First Light, our next post will discuss some helpful hints that can ease the process.

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In Praise of Praising Less

Have you ever wondered why First Light uses encouragement instead of praise?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably used statements like “Good job,” “Way to go,” and “Nice work,” for years. Before I started at First Light, I praised liberally because I believed it was an effective way to help children feel good about themselves and their work. I thought I was helping build self-esteem and positive image.

However, research and experience show encouragement instead of praise will help to bolster children’s self-esteem and self-image.


Many well-intentioned teachers and parents have used praise to improve children’s self-esteem and self-image, but the outcome can be just the opposite.  Alfie Kohn (1999), noted author of Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes, explains the potential damage to children when adults use praise. Children learn to depend on adults for figuring out what is right or wrong, instead of developing this ability themselves.

Rather than rely on their intrinsic motivation to learn, learning or “performing” is done in order to please others. Children lost the interest and ability to work and learn on their own.

By contrast, children who can evaluate their own performance with encouraging feedback from interested adults remain involved. Moreover, they are self-correcting, that is, they can ask questions of themselves and work to solve problems on their own. Learning is inherently satisfying.

Furthermore, “praise” implies judgment. Children know that if you can judge them favorably, you can also judge them unfavorably. Exploring or trying something new might result in “failure” from the adult’s perspective, so children stick with what is safe and has earned them praise before.

How do we move from praise to encouragement?

Our next post will talk about some specific strategies for incorporating more encouragement and less praise.

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