5 Types of Friendships You Need in Your Life

FRIEND HEARTEveryone needs a friend! One who feels that he or she can successfully navigate this life without benefit of an authentic friend, or friend-like person to be there in both good and bad times, is one who will ultimately miss the fullness of happiness in this world. A friend knows our strengths and weaknesses, and wishes only the best for us, is one who will see our flaws and somehow still manages to love us in spite of, and sometimes, because of them. A friend can be ten thousand miles away from us, and the  bond between us is never broken.

A friend knows that our past does not define us and lets us know that.  We are made unafraid to bare all, and knowing that we or no one else is perfect, a friend will accept us and appreciate our unique imperfections.  He or she will enter our living ‘space’- an apartment, home, or bedroom- in its most untidy condition and not judge. In fact, a true blue friend might even help to clean that messy space with us, right?!!

A friend can be our sanity at times when everything around us seems to be racing towards insanity. A friend is unafraid to call us out on our b..sh.t, and reels us back into that place of ‘real’. A friend will always be honest, sometimes brutally honest- just what we need to hear. A friend wouldn’t hesitate to tell us when the red dress that we always loved, and looked awesome in, is now too tight. We’ve gained weight and that size 8 dress requires a size 8 body, that which we haven’t had in over 10 years. A friend will also direct us to the nearest Goodwill Store to make an appropriate donation. Giving back!PENDANT

International Day of Friendship is July 30, and we are provided an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate those ‘friends’ who know us better than most or any others. If we are lucky, in life we may identify one very special, all-knowing and devoted friend. Some of us are extremely fortunate to identify more than one BFF. Whatever the case may be, let us all celebrate at least one special friend. In our busy lives, we often forget to acknowledge those persons who always seems to “have your back”. Or we fail to communicate our appreciation to them.

As Dana Owens, also knwn as Queen Latifah, said in the rap song, U.N.I.T.Y., “You gotta let ’em know”! Let your friend[s] know that they are appreciated because your friend may be one of these types:PUPPIES

  1. The BEST FRIEND– No Walls- This is the friend who knows you from both sides and in-between, and amazingly, you wonder, still sticks with you. In fact, the relationship is so close knit, that you are almost twin-like. You can just turn and give each other a look, and “‘nuf said”! You get each other! You both understand! You may have known this person for all or most of your life, and are quite confident that you have a friend for life!BOYFRIENDS
  2. The LISTENER– All Ears- This is the person who will let you cry on their shoulders and allows you to vent and express all your deepest thoughts, fears and by the mere act of listening to you, helps you make important life decisions, and gives you the room to figure things out. No judgments!NADIA
  3. The FUN ONE– Very Cool- Looking for a really good and interesting adventure,; something out of the ordinary-a break from the routine? This is the person who will offer that outlet, even when you aren’t expecting to spend a crazy day of fun together. You may not divulge all of your deepest thoughts or express your fears to this friend, but you need a person like this in your/our life. Celebrate your friends!FRIENDS WORK
  4. The LOYAL CO-WORKER– All Business- This friend probably spends more time with you than your other friends. This is also the only person who really understands the life you lead in your profession, and there is a strong bond that developed because of the 9-5 that you have in common. You can ‘ditch’ with this person in the office, get the job done and work becomes more tolerable for you both when the stress accumulates. Lunches together, and drinks after work! Your days run more smooth, and your sense of humor remains in tact, too, with the supportive presence of your closest co-worker. Celebrate this friend!BOYFRIENDS
  5. The WISE ONE– All Sage- This is the person who will offer the most sage or prudent advice when you are seeking a clear perspective. Sometimes this friend will give you advice without your asking for any. Your friend is also a good listener, and pays attention to what you say and what’s not said, and can come up with the most insightful feedback, and so…celebrate this friend!

Show your appreciation and your gratitude for having such great friends in your life. Celebrate your friend[s]! Can’t think of anyone who fits any of these descriptions, then make a friend. Start with being a friend to someone-yourself first! Celebrate your friend!



via 5 Types of Friendships You Need in Your Life – Goodnet


How to Ensure Smooth Transitions within the Pre-school Classroom

Transitions are powerful teaching tools and learning opportunities. They guide children gently through the day, provide special attention to individuals, and help children move from one area of the classroom[or the home] to another smoothly. The following transition ideas should help you reduce the number of interruptions and encourage activities to flow from one to another with ease.


Cues for Moving From Free Selection to Organized Activities

  • Flash the lights.
  • Strum an instrument.
  • Play pre-recorded tunes.
  • Sing a song that tells children what they are to do or where they are to go.
  • Move to the area where you would like the children to gather and talk quietly, they will notice and come to
    see what you are doing.

Preparing the Environment

  • Place carpet pieces on the floor to designate a personal space for each child.
  • Write each child’s name on a piece of tagboard and position it on the floor to create a personal space for
    each child. (Children are more connected to their name plate if they decorate it themselves!)
  • By personalizing the tagboard, you can manage the environment more closely because you are not only
    designing the space where children sit, but also by whom they sit.
  • Put a blanket on the floor and invite children to sit around it. The blanket makes a great rectangle for
    large group time. If you want the children to be closer together, ask the children to sit on the blanket
    instead of around it.

Grabbing Children’s Attention

  • Decorate a bag or box and place various props inside. As you use the box on a regular basis, the
    children will look forward to seeing what you have brought along for the day’s activities.
  • Gather boxes of various sizes. Place an object that is a clue to the activity inside the smallest box. Place
    that box inside of the next smallest box. Continue to nest the boxes, so that only the largest box is visible.
    As a child or pair of children open each of the boxes, the excitement about the planned activity will build.
  • Introduce the planned activity with an interesting puppet. Be sure to allow time for the children to “meet”
    the puppet.
  • Pose a problem or challenge to the children by using interesting questions and riddles. They will try to
    figure out the answer by the clues you give them with your voice and the smile on your face. The answer
    will smoothly “lead-in” to the planned activity.
  • Sing new or familiar songs and fingerplays to capture the children’s attention. By placing the words on a
    poster in the classroom, you can reinforce the words of the songs and the children’s concept of print.
  • Change the words to a familiar song to fit the theme. Some children may begin to create songs on their

Dismissing the Children

  • According to physical or clothing characteristics.
  • According to their likes and dislikes
  • By asking them to answer a question or create a rhyme individually.
  • By the initial letter of their name or telephone number.
  • By inviting them to say “good-bye” to a puppet.
  • By giving them each a turn with an interesting gadget.

There are endless ways to guide children through the day, yet both beginning and seasoned teachers constantly
think about ways to make the day go more smoothly. The ideas in this article make transitions easy. Simply
provide clear directions for the children to follow and present your ideas in a manner that is interesting and
meaningful to the children and you will make every day terrific!


On Eliminating The ‘Word Gap’


It is a known fact that children from disadvantaged families and homes have access to larger, stronger and more complex vocabularies upon entry into kindergarten. As opposed to more economically secure families and backgrounds, lower income infants hear much fewer words per day by the age of three. This is called, “the word gap”.

Spoken words count as predictors of vocabulary and language comprehension and understanding despite previous vocabulary levels and maternal educational attainment. Some studies have shown that by the age of two, toddlers can be as much as six months behind their peers in vocabulary acquisition. This is a real problem, and it is finally being acknowledged and addressed in a number of cities.

The city of Providence, R.I., won a grant in the 2013 Mayor’s Challenge, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and was awarded $5 million for an innovative plan to eliminate or reduce this word gap in their city.

Preliminary results of this program, Providence Talks, was just released. Though the state and city have fewer residents, it faces challenges indicative of larger populated areas. The stats looked like this:

  • 85% of Providence Public School District students were eligible for free or reduced lunch
  • 66% of its students graduated high school in only four years, and
  • barely 30% of children entering kindergarten demonstrated benchmark early literacy skills.

The city’s innovative program relied on a recording device called a “word pedometer” to monitor and improve spoken word counts in low-income homes. Originally paired families with in-home coaches to analyze the data, they peaked with large numbers of toddlers participating in the program and adopted other structures as well.

tree huggers

The family playgroup model facilitated conversations between parents about child development and strategies to increase engagement with children, while the facilitator analyzed each family’s recordings with the adults, before and after. Each visit, in the home or at the playgroup, a free book was provided for families to keep. Very smart!

 The device tracked both spoken words and conversational turns-the number of times conversations changed from adult to child and back again. This also served as a measure of the give and take in a conversation. The device could record words in both Spanish and English, and could distinguish words spoken by adult, child, TV or other extraneous noises.

Reported this May, 60% of children in Providence Talks heard more words at the end of the program, than at the beginning. On average, the number of words toddlers heard in a day increased by 50 percent, and families beginning at the lower end of the spectrum, whose children heard fewer than 8,000 words a day when they began, less than half of the 15,000 words needed for healthy brain development, recorded strong gains of 45% in words recorded. Nearly 100% of the families reported being satisfied or highly satisfied with the program.

The takeaway from this innovative initiative is that engaging parents in conversation, not necessarily increasing their reading level, but conversation with learning and teaching their children in mind, equips them with stronger vocabulary usage and comprehension. Therefore, they will tend to use these newly acquired words in their everyday language, around their child, with their child or to their child. Much of language and vocabulary development is acquired vicariously-more so than learning or studying new words from a book.

kids read

Books also present opportunities to hear, learn and speak new words, invites quality time between parents and their young children, and encourages a general contextual definition to be found within the texts themselves. All of these benefit both parents and children and will enhance their spoken language and vocabulary development. Reading together encourages meaningful conversation, asking, answering, discovering, and sharing the beauty of language-based conversation. Besides, the cost of giving a few books to families now, outweighs the cost of remediation and other intervention strategies later, when children enter the public schools.

More cities should endeavor to accomplish that which a small state, and smaller city like Providence, Rhode Island, accomplished and help to bring all children and families into focus, as the center of all foundational early intervention program initiatives. Starting early is proactive, cost-effective and the most effective means to reducing all learning disparities, word and achievement gaps among children in school.

Follow the link below to read more from Brookings Brown Center:

via The ‘word gap’ and 1 city’s plan




via The ‘word gap’ and 1 city’s plan


Why You Must Have a “Cultural Broker”



teachers classA Cultural Broker often wears many hats, and can work in many different settings. Some work in education settings, at schools, and others work in child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health settings, and other family serving agencies, and that is the short list. There is one common thread that is inextricably woven into the abovementioned environments, and that is that Cultural Brokers build bridges and work with families.

So, who are they? The bulk of public, charter and private school systems identify these professionals as: Parent Coordinators, Family Liaisons, Family Advocates, Parent Leadership Coordinators, Parent Support Managers. In the social services fields, they may hold the title of: Family Support Services Program Coordinators, Family Workers, Case Management Specialists, Care Coordinators, and a few others, as well. Despite the array of job titles, the central functions are very similar….at least insofar as their work with families and children is concerned.

 In a school-based setting, what do they do?:Specifically, they build bridges between families and schools within the framework of 3 PRIMARY STRATEGIES:

  1. Parent capacity building,
  2. Culturally-specific relationship building, and
  3. Systemic capacity building.

These three strategies, when developed and utilized effectively, constitute a successfully reciprocal, collective and relational family-school collaboration out of which meaningful alliances are established and maintained.

These school-based staff, community-based personnel, consultants or volunteers typically, at one time, sought only to:

  1. educate parents to support the school’s agenda to improve student achievement
  2. connect parents to resources and information, and
  3. advocate with parents and school staff to promote change or decrease conflict.

That has been proven unsuccessful in encouraging family engagement nor did it raise student academic performance with any significance. Today’s new Cultural Brokers, however, promote more equitable collaboration between families and schools. This new and improved cultural brokering seeks to:

  • develop parent knowledge and capacity to support student learning,
  • build relationships between families AND between families and schools, and
  • catalyze systemic change to enable parents to influence schools.

 Cultural brokering effectively employs reciprocal, collective, and relational strategies that move beyond the traditional ‘best practices’ to become emergent ‘next practices’ in family engagement.

The Cultural Broker: 

  1. builds two-way reciprocal communication between families and schools,
  2. uses collective strategies to engage families together to support their child and all children in the community, and
  3. enables parents to build relational power with each other to change school systems to better serve their children.

Cultural brokers help parents build capacity to navigate schools to meet their children’s needs and support their learning. In lots of schools, communication still flows in one direction-school to home. More reciprocal strategies identify or build on families expertise and knowledge of their own child and community to support student success. Brokers use native language and culturally-responsive practices to provide support, facilitate and design programming to build knowledge and enhance capacity to access schools. They encourage parents to learn from one another, not just individually, separately, but collectively. There is power to change systems in numbers that present as one unified voice.

broker group

Reciprocal brokering involves building programs that are driven by parents’ needs, concerns, issues and priorities, rather than by educator assumptions about what parents should know and do. Having other parents from the community facilitate lessons and assume leadership  roles is a key to successful brokering, as it builds collective power, develops advocacy skills, leverages resources within a community,, and utilizes culturally responsive practices. Brokering is more family-centered, than family-focused, as the focus is on leadership and empowerment. No power struggles, but power sharing!

Workshops and psychoeducational, skills  building activities are co-designed by educators and parents as equitable collaborations.

To increase efficacy of both educators and parenting, cultural brokering must involve the creation or designation of a parent/family-dedicated space within the school-physical room or area. This area is not just accessible to the parents in the school, but the community at large. Events centered around issues such as transportation, housing, drug use, immigration and a wide range of others can be planned and held in this space. The room can be used as a family room for parents to gather and hang out. Yes, hang out, during school hours. These spaces help cultivate new relationships, and helps parents establish networks between parents while connecting them to their children’s learning progress at school.

space school

Giving parents a safe space where they feel welcome to sit, chat, learn, share stories and build each other’s capacity, helps strengthen communities, alters previously negative perceptions of the school, and creates community among and between parents and families. All of these aspects benefit school communities and educators who work in the school. It benefits students, as they see parents being cordial, pro-social, they are more likely to engage with their peers in more pro-social ways, problem solve more effectively positive, and then again….. When children know and see that their parents are at or near the school, or can be there at any time, they are less likely to misbehave. Everybody’s child is on theiur best behavior when their parent or a neighbor, friendly with their parent, shows up in school. So, everyone wins!

Cultural brokering involves providing opportunities
for parent voice and influence in school or district
decision-making. In contrast to typical scenarios in which
principals or district leaders make decisions unilaterally, these strategies create avenues for parents to work
together to influence change through their relationships. Cultural Brokers in schools act more proactively, as professional bridge builders between schools and families AND the community at large. With goals and objectives, as a collaborative partnership, are aligned amongst all collectively,  all eyes can focus on the ultimate goal: maximized student achievement, family empowerment and strengthened communities.

muslim parents

The beauty of  an approach to engagement that places focus on families’ voices is that we are better informed, more responsive in program designs, and can provide supportive services that are guided by family-friendly practice protocols. Broadened perspectives and cultural-linguistically responsive practices cultural brokering moves us away from what ‘they'[families/educators] can do for ‘us’ and towards what ‘we’ can do for one another.  “How do we form alliance with schools to enhance the role of educator and parent?” ……in a place where parents. educators and other neighborhood stakeholders can call the school facilities a community hub for multi-cultural, multi-generational  21st Century learning and productive global living for all.