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Residential Care – The Heart of Boys Town

The post Residential Care – The Heart of Boys Town is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

When Father Flanagan founded Boys Town in 1917, it was as a home for boys who had fallen through society’s cracks. Regardless of background, ethnicity or religion, Father Flanagan brought these young men together under one roof because he firmly believed, “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”

Today, nearly 100 years later, Boys Town still serves as a home for boys and girls – who are at-risk and in need of family-based care, education and nurturing. And Father Flanagan’s original vision has proved to be incredibly effective, with thousands of former Boys Town residents now leading successful, productive lives throughout the United States and beyond.

This is Boys Town’s Family Home program. And it is based on the simple notion of having a married couple of Family-Teachers as the heads of each Boys Town residence. In each home, up to eight boys or girls between the ages of 11 and 18 live and learn together under the close watch and guidance of their Family-Teachers.

Click here to learn more about life in a Boys Town Family Home.

Living with a houseful of teenagers can be hectic, as you might imagine. But as challenging as it can be, it fosters a unique atmosphere of familial camaraderie that lasts long past graduation. These kids end up feeling like brothers and sisters. And their Family-Teachers almost become a second family to them. The Family-Teachers give them a sense of stability and love that they have likely never known. It is this bond that is fundamental to the program.

And while Boys Town has grown over the years to provide in-home counseling and other services to at-risk families all across America, along with educational consulting to schools and even a nationally renowned research hospital, it is the Family Home program that is the heart and soul of Father Flanagan’s original dream.

The post Residential Care – The Heart of Boys Town is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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Summer Reading Part One

The post Summer Reading Part One is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

Reading is a lifelong skill that benefits students of all ages. As a teacher, I have seen that a student who is a good reader will be more successful in almost every subject in school. This is one learning area that children can continue to work on all summer. And it can be fun!

The goal is to encourage your children to read and improve their comprehension as well. You can help with this easily.

Here are some tips on how you can do this:

• Read with your child. It will help your child improve his or her skills while creating special memories.
• Choose stories to read together.
• Listen to each other read.
• Take turns reading a chapter (or even a page) aloud.
• Talk about what you read.
• Ask kids what they would do if they were the characters in the story.
• Discuss what you all think will happen next.

When children share their thoughts about a story, you can informally check for understanding. It will also help your child to think about what they are reading, a skill important for improving reading comprehension.

Where can you read? Anywhere! Curl up in a comfy chair or read a chapter together at the table after dinner. Throw a blanket over a couple of chairs and make a reading fort to go on a reading adventure. Lie down under a tree and let the birds listen too! Curl up together before bedtime. Just turn off the television, put down your mobile device and read!

The post Summer Reading Part One is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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At the Picnic Table This Memorial Day

The post At the Picnic Table This Memorial Day is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

At the Picnic Table This Memorial Day

Summer gets busy for families with barbecues, pool parties and sporting events. Especially over Memorial Day weekend. This Memorial Day, carve out some time with just your immediate family for a nice meal at the picnic table (weather permitting of course). In the craziness of the holiday, pack a meal and go on a picnic. You might like it so much you’ll make a tradition out of it.

Here’s a great recipe where you can do all the prep work at home and assemble your tacos on site:

If you are really adventurous, give each of your kids a “taco challenge”. Have everyone create his or her own filling for a street taco and bring along each in its own containers for the picnic. At the picnic bring small taco shells and everyone can taste test each family chef’s creation. Now, don’t be upset if you end up eating a taco filled with bananas and fruit loops, it’s the experience that counts!

If you have older kids, try out some new taco recipes:

All recipes are provided by ConAgra, a partner of Boys Town in getting families together at the table more often.

If you have kids that hate to cook then just get outdoors and have some food and conversation. Visit the Boys Town dinner table guide for more ideas and conversation starters.

The post At the Picnic Table This Memorial Day is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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Toddlers and Spring Cleaning

This post was first published on On your mark, get set, go! That’s right, you are at the starting line for the “Annual Spring Cleaning Race” project. Whether you have a two-page or a 10-page “to do” list, some deep cleaning is in order, and that usually takes longer than your regular weekly chores. It’s that time of year when you get down on your knees and wipe the floor boards that have been splashed with Nebraska’s snowy, salty grime from your little one’s boots, and when drawers need to be opened so you can sort through all of the outfits because, amazingly, your son or daughter has outgrown them in a matter of one season. You have great aspirations to get your long list done before your child’s busy summer activities begin, but as you walk up to the starting line, you find you have a toddler by […]

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Getting Kids to Help around the House

This post first appeared on Photo courtesy of  This morning I stumbled upon a strange pile of pajama pants, lotion and deodorant in the middle of my living room floor that my son knows should not be there. He is like most kids, he understands that there are chores that he is required to do around the house. He also knows that if he sits quietly enough, I will likely forget to tell him to do them. However, he has no clue about the strategic parenting ninja moves I am capable of, including removing all of his electronics from his room while he sat watching TV on the couch, inches from his pile of displaced belongings. I’m preaching to the choir when I say that getting your children to help more around the house can be tricky. Here are some age appropriate ideas to help minimize the struggle: YOUNG […]

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Making Memories at Mealtime

Family dinners have always been important to me. I grew up in a home where family mealtime was a priority. My parents always encouraged me to invite my friends to family dinners when I entered high school and extended family gatherings included a table big enough for all of us to sit together. When it was time for me to buy my own home, a large dining room was a must so we would have place where the whole family could fit. Now as a parent, I strive to instill the importance of family mealtime in my own children. I know in order for them to want to have family dinners we have to make them something they look forward to. About three years ago we started talking about our “favorite part of the day.” Now when we sit down at the table, the second thing out of the kids’ […]

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Self-Harm is Something You Should Know About

March is Self-Harm Awareness Month. Approximately one in eight people engages in some form of self-harm behavior, and the problem currently is more widespread than it has been for decades. Fortunately, I have not had any direct exposure to or first-hand experience with self-harm. I never had a friend in school who hurt himself or herself and I don’t have friends with kids who have hurt themselves, so it’s something that is fairly foreign to me. However, I do have two young children and self-harm is something that concerns me as they get older. The scary thing about self-harm is that kids can hide it pretty easily.  As kids get older, they want more privacy and they spend more time away from parents. If they are hurting themselves, they may so things like cut themselves in places that are usually covered by clothing or wear long-sleeved shirts. But while the […]

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20 Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros |

20 Social Media Marketing Tips From the Pros | | marketing tips |
Would you like to improve your social media marketing? This article shares 20 ways to get results with social media marketing.
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Summer Reading Part Two: What Should My Kids Read?

The post Summer Reading Part Two: What Should My Kids Read? is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

Keeping our children reading throughout the summer is important. We recently looked at ways you can encourage your children to read, but you may now be wondering what exactly your children should be reading. As the Manager of the Reading Center at Boys Town High School and a parent myself, I have compiled a list of book your kids (no matter their age) are sure to love reading this summer, along with descriptions.

Don’t forget to come back and let us know in the comments which books were your children’s favorites! We’d love to hear about what summer reads were the biggest hits in your home.

Pre-K (Emerging Readers)

I Saw an Ant on the Railroad Track (2006) by Joshua Prince
A colorful, suspenseful, and poetic story about a wandering ant in search of a snack, and a compassionate switchman who tries to save him from an oncoming train.

God Loves Me More Than That (2008) by Dandi Daley Mackall
A beautifully rhymed and illustrated ABC book about how God’s love is higher, deeper, wider, bigger, louder, and softer than even the highest, deepest, widest, biggest, loudest and softest things on earth.

Shark in the Dark (2009) by Peter Bently
A rhyming story about a mean, greedy shark and the sea creatures who work together to teach him a lesson.

Giraffes Can’t Dance (2012) by Giles Andreae
A precious story about a giraffe that is ridiculed by the other animals for being a terrible dancer and gets a little help from a friend in finding the “right music.” It teaches children the lesson that being unique is okay and that they can still be good at something even if they have to go about it a little “differently.”

This is Not My Hat (2012) by Jon Klassen
An underwater tale about a little fish who takes a hat that doesn’t belong to him and the larger fish that pursues him to reclaim it. This book is a good conversation starter about respecting the property of others.

The Very Cranky Bear (2014) by Nick Bland
A compassionate tale about four animal friends who seek shelter in cave and must find a way to comfort the angry and tired bear that inhabits it in order to stay.

Look! (2015) by Jeff Mack
A hilarious story about an attention-hungry gorilla, a television-loving boy and a friendship that develops over books.

A is for Musk Ox (2012) by Erin Cabatingan
A laugh out loud story of two animals, which through their banter, pair each letter of the alphabet with descriptive terms or characteristics of an often forgotten animal, the musk ox.

Grades Kindergarten-2nd (Ages 5-8)

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974) by Shel Silverstein
An outrageously funny collection of poems filled with nonsense rhymes, crazy characters silly words, and simple drawings.

The Magic School Bus (various titles) by Joanna Cole
A classic collection of books for K-2 students that combine fun stories with neat facts, humor, and illustrations.

I Need My Monster (2009) by Amanda Noll
An imaginative, creepy, and comforting story of a little boy who can’t fall asleep without the familiar nightly scares of his favorite monster.

Those Shoes (2009) by Maribeth Boelts
A story about a boy who envy’s learns the difference between wants and needs.

Blackout (2011) by John Rocco
A digital-age story of a disconnected family that comes together in the midst of a blackout. It reminds us that despite technology, we are never too busy to interact with other in our homes, neighborhood, and greater community.

The Other Side (2001) AND Each Kindness (2012) by Jacqueline Woodson
Two heartwarming books that embrace diversity and teach lessons about how even small acts of kindness can change the world.

The Matchbox Diary (2013) by Paul Fleischman
A story of an Italian immigrant who shares his childhood memories with his great-granddaughter, through a “diary” of saved objects that commemorate the most important events of his life.

Here’s Hank (various titles) by Henry Winkler
A hilarious collection of chapter books based upon the real-life experiences of the author, Henry Winkler (a.k.a. “The Fonz”). These stories describe the antics of a boy with undiagnosed learning difficulties, whose impulsiveness, disorganization, and clown-like tendencies routinely get him into hot water.

I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No! (2011) by Julia Cook
A story about accepting no for an answer and disagreeing the right way. Julia Cook helps little ones learn how to be the best they can be in this useful book.

Grades 3rd-5th (Ages 9-11)

Watsons go to Birmingham-1963 (2000) by Christopher Paul Curtis
Narrated by 10-year-old Kenny, this is the story about Kenny’s middle-class black family and their visit to Grandma and South Birmingham that puts them in the middle of history.

Wonder (2012) by R.J. Palacio
A story about a boy named August that teaches the reader not to judge people by how they look or what they are like.

Zach’s Lie/Jack’s Run (2003/2007) by Roland Smith
Jack’s Run is the sequel to Zach’s Lie, and both books will be hard for your young reader to put down. The story is about Jack’s family, his father’s lie and the subsequent results that follow.

King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige (2013) by Wes Tooke
When Nick is diagnosed with polio, everyone is devastated. Wanting to continue playing baseball, he begins working for the owner of a minor league team where he meets Satchel Paige. This heart-warming story is all about overcoming the odds.

Mockingbird (2011) by Kathryn Erskine
A moving novel that proves everything is not black and white and that the world is full of color.

I am Malala (2015) by Malala Yousafzai
The remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky (2014) by Holly Schindler
A book about hope that will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.

Cardboard (2012) by Doug TenNapel
An imaginary tale of cardboard creatures that have come to life and a boy who is now responsible for saving his town from disaster.

Grades 6th-8th (Ages 12-14)

Maze Runner Series (2014) by James Dashner
A series of young adult science fiction adventure novels, this series will be a hit for fans of the Hunger Games series.

Divergent Series (2014) by Veronica Roth
Similar to the Maze Runner series, this is another series of young adult science fiction adventure novels. The story is set in post-apocalyptic dystopian Chicago and is a thrilling tale from start to finish.

Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006) by John Boyne
Set in Berlin 1942, this is a heartbreaking story about a friendship that ultimately has devastating consequences.

Stormbreaker (2000) Anthony Horowitz
The Alex Rider series is a very popular one among middle-school readers and Stormbreaker takes readers on a thrilling ride of a boy (Alex) and his attempt to outsmart those who want him dead.

The House of the Scorpion (2004) by Nancy Farmer
Matteo Alacran is seeking his own purpose in his life. This riveting story takes readers on his journey to be free.

Counting by 7s (2014) Holly Sloan
A moving novel about being an outsider, coping with loss and discovering the true meaning of family.

One Came Home (2014) by Amy Timberlake
Full of adventure and mystery, this book is a love song to the natural world. It has also won many awards, including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Novel.

I Capture the Castle (2003) by Dodie Smith
A story told through 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain’s journal. Readers will witness all of the changes in the Mortmain household firsthand from the words of Cassandra by the time she closes her final diary.

Grades 9th thru 12th (Ages 15-18)

Paper Towns (2009) by John Green
With the movie version hitting theaters this summer, teens will enjoy discovering the real Margo on paper first.

The Fault in our Stars (2014) by John Green
Insightful and bold, this story brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

If I Stay (2010) by Gayle Forman
A heart aching, yet beautiful, book about the power of love, the true meaning of family and the choices we all make.

The Book Thief (2007) by Markus Zusak
Perfect to teach the importance of reading, this is an unforgettable story (set during WWII in Germany) about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Unbroken (the young adult adaptation) (2014) by Laura Hillenbrand
This riveting read will introduce teens to one of history’s most thrilling survival epics. Just make sure they select the young adult adaptation when picking up a copy to read.

Darius and Twig (2014) by Walter Dean Myers
This is a great novel about friendship and the need to live one’s own dream.

The Everest Files (2014) by Matt Dickenson
Eighteen-year-old Ryan Hart sets out to solve a mystery about disappearances and death in the Himalaya. What he discovers is a shocking tale of lies, betrayal and obsession.

Farhenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation (2009) by Ray Bradbury and Tim Hamilton
A tightly monitored world where thinking is dangerous and books are forbidden has become a way of life for Guy Montag. In this adaptation, the original story has been made even more powerful with this gorgeously imagined graphic novel.

The post Summer Reading Part Two: What Should My Kids Read? is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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Ensuring Quality Residential Care for Kids Is Our Top Priority

The post Ensuring Quality Residential Care for Kids Is Our Top Priority is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

Throughout Boys Town’s history, one of our most important guiding principles has been to always do what is in the best interests of children or families so they have the greatest opportunity to find healing and success. This is why we developed our Integrated Continuum of Care®. The Continuum includes in-home and community-based programs that allow more children to get the help they need while remaining with their families (whenever possible) or during short-term stays in foster care.

Still, Boys Town knows that these less-restrictive approaches cannot meet the needs of all youth, particularly those with serious behavioral or emotional problems. There will always be children who need more intensive treatment, and research and practice demonstrate that quality residential care is an essential component of any continuum of care for at-risk youth.

Residential care has come under attack recently by policy advocates and system reformers who argue that it should be reduced or eliminated as an out-of-home placement for at-risk youth. Some of these critics contend that foster care and family-based programs can adequately meet the needs of all of these children. They also contend that residential care is costly, and they want to eliminate it in order cut costs and save money.

No one would argue that children who can be safely and successfully served in their own families or in surrogate families should be in residential care. But the debate over residential care vs. less-restrictive options turns in favor of residential care when we are looking at children who have been removed from their families and whose behavioral, emotional, or mental health needs are too challenging for community-based options such as foster care, kinship care, in-home family services, or outpatient therapy.

Some critics, including powerful national foundations, have said it is best to keep these at-risk children in the very programs where they have continually failed. One of their arguments is that children who are placed in residential care have the poorest treatment outcomes. To that, we say: Of course they do; they are the most difficult kids in the system. These are the very children who have failed in outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment, in-home family services, and foster care. These critics fail to recognize this obvious reality.

Sadly, when kids are stuck in a pattern of repeated failure, they are hurt and re-traumatized over and over again by frequent moves to new placements, new caregivers, and new schools, and add even more entries to their resumes of failure.

These are the children who receive care through the Boys Town Family Home Program® and other quality residential programs that use the Teaching Family Model. Yet, these residential programs produce long-term, positive outcomes, even for children who have experienced multiple failures in less-restrictive options. Without quality residential care, these boys and girls would become the “throwaway” citizens of our country.

Over the next several months, we will explore quality residential care and what Boys Town is doing to ensure that it will always be there for children whose serious problems require more-intensive care and who haven’t found the help they need in other care settings.

The post Ensuring Quality Residential Care for Kids Is Our Top Priority is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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Let’s Celebrate the Last Day of School!

Finishing another year of school is a big deal for a child. It means feeling a sense of accomplishment and moving forward to new adventures. How can your family make this really special? First, plan a celebration. What marks the beginning of summer for your family? My children always loved starting the season with an event we could do together. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. Our kids always looked forward to camping the first weekend after school got out, but you can do something much simpler. Go on a bike ride together, have a picnic in the park, or make a trip to your favorite ice cream shop for the first cone of the summer. Let your child help plan the celebration and take the time to celebrate together. Second, reminisce with your children about their growth over the past year, focusing on areas where they […]

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Is It Okay to Discipline Other People’s Kids?

The Breakfast Club.  Not long ago, I was in a situation when I had to ask myself, “Is it okay to discipline other people’s children?” We were on vacation, staying at a hotel that provided a complimentary breakfast. One morning, I went down to take advantage of this free perk. If I’d known what was going to happen, I might have stayed in bed. The restaurant was crowded with people that morning. I decided to order a meal from the menu since the buffet seem picked over and uninviting. Not long after I was seated, I heard a familiar sound: a young child whining. At first, like most of the people in the restaurant, I tried to ignore it. I assumed the child’s parent would soon intervene. But that didn’t happen. The whining turned into crying, and the crying turned into screaming. This went on for quite a while. Finally, […]

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#AtTheTable Tonight

Tonight — and every other night — I am committed to having dinner together with my family. Because my kids are still young, I am lucky that their extracurricular activities are minimal and I can schedule them around family dinners; but, I know that won’t last forever. I know family dinnertime can be challenging when sports, music lessons, scouts and other activities start to fill the early evening. But it’s important to make family dinners a priority. They allow us time to hear about each other’s day, give thanks for the good things in our lives and spend quality time together. I cherish these moments and I will continue to make sure my children understand the importance of family mealtime. You should too! Start tonight by joining us at Boys Town — along with ConAgra Foods and Godfather’s Pizza — as we sit down #AtTheTable with our families and enjoy […]

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4 Easy Ways to Make ‘Family Dinner Time’ a Reality

This post first appeared on Photo courtesy of Families aren’t having family dinner as much as they were maybe 20 years ago. It was an automatic in my house that you were going to sit down to a family meal almost every night — definitely on the weekend, and probably at your grandmother’s house. But today, life is faster and parents need some innovative ways to bring everyone to the dining room table. Step 1: Plan ahead. Get the kids involved in choosing the meal and buying groceries. When children are a part of the decision making process, they are more likely to want to eat the meal and to participate in it. Step 2: Think about more than just food. Once the food is on the table, find little things you can add to the experience to keep kids interested. Discuss a recent movie you all saw together […]

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39 Blogging Tools to Help You Work Faster & Write Better

39 Blogging Tools to Help You Work Faster & Write Better | marketing tips |
The best blogging tools for coming up with ideas, writing efficiently, and getting your post seen by more readers.

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Great resources mentioned!

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The Essential How to Guide on Generating Leads with Business Blogging

The Essential How to Guide on Generating Leads with Business Blogging | marketing tips |
Blogging is not just about publishing posts and hoping for the best. Done well with the right structure it can be a powerful portal for revenue.

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Jeff Domansky's curator insight, November 21, 2014 11:37 AM
Here's how to generate leads from your blogging and content marketing.
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Blogging not only drives traffic to your site, but it can help you find leads that turn into sales. Maintaining original and/or curated content is a way to turn your marketing efforts into monetizing efforts.