How reading can save a life

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I believe with every fibre of my being that the best way to build a better future is through educating the children of the world.

A 2014 report conducted by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) states that if all women in poor countries completed primary education, child mortality would drop by one-sixth saving almost one million lives.

They also suggest poverty reduction is linked to education and that one year of education is equal to a 10 per cent wage increase, and stops the cycle of transmitting poverty between generations.

In-fact, UNESCO says that if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Growing up, I was blessed with incredible educational opportunities and had access to libraries full of books to feed my voracious reading habit. I now have two young boys of my own, and they too have access to wonderful schools, caring teachers, and libraries chock-full of books… As parents – hell, as people – I believe it’s our responsibility to make sure these opportunities are available to all children, everywhere, no matter what.

“World change starts with educated children” – Room To Read

Room To Read, our partner charity reached their 2015 goal by helping 10 million children access quality education.  This is a remarkable feet and must more is needed for us to see change in the world.

“The benefits of education permeate all walks of life right from the moment of birth,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

The same report says if all women completed primary education maternal death would be cut by two thirds saving 189,000 lives each year, according to UNESCO.

This is why our Gold Light Project with Room To Read is so important and close to my heart. My energy has been funnelled and focused into building a Sleepy Magic school for children in  Nepal– yep, a whole school.

But we need $37,000 to make it happen – a humbling amount, that I know we can achieve. It’s amazing just how far an investment in education can make in the developing world – just $1 can put a book in the hands of a child in their local language, $50 could fund a child’s first year of learning to read… Together we really can help change the world!

To help us achieve our goal head here.

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

 

 

 

How we can help our children reach their full potential

When I began to write Sleepy Magic, I knew it was going to be so much more than just a book.

Since starting this journey, it’s been my purpose to empower kids (and grown ups) to have greater self-worth and feel confident in life no matter their socio-economic status. Because when you have that, I believe you can do anything.

A number of friends and family who have tried the Sleepy Magic ritual have told me how they have been noticing an increase in confidence and less angst and worry with a profound sense of self-esteem amongst their children.

I find this incredible and got me thinking imagine if I and the Sleepy Magic community could make an even bigger difference for a lot more children and families!

If you have been reading my blogs, you would know how much I believe reading and literacy is important for building self- esteem. It’s not about being the most intelligent. Reading has a more profound impact than that. It can affect us in all areas of our life helping us reach our full potential.

It’s the story telling, the words, learning how to relate our emotions to experiences, the ability to capture the imagination and learn about new cultures, people and the world around us that help children (and adults) develop who they are and build life long skills that help them reach their full potential that is the most important.

Unfortunately not all children have access to this opportunity. When I learnt about the statistics that if every child received an education, 171 million people would be lifted out of poverty I felt a deep desire to do something about it.

This is why I chose to team up with ‘Room To Read’, a charity dedicated to helping children across the world pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to the community and the world. Through their education initiatives so far more than 10 million kids have benefited from their work.

And ‘Room To Read’ are helping us reach our dream of building a school in the developing world too. How amazing is that!

As an official partner of this charity, 10% of all proceeds from the book purchases go straight towards achieving this goal.

But there are other ways you can help us help more children achieve their full potential, foster higher levels of higher self-esteem and cultivate strong self- worth.

This is a great opportunity to get your kids involved too! So if you and your children want to get involved in this project, check out the resources here for a full list of great ideas.

And get in touch with me to let me know how you go and so we can feature your story in our blog.  I would love to hear from you.

Preparing our Boys to become more Confident Men

Self-doubt and lack of confidence hold more kids back than any other factor.

Confidence affects the way you live your life, affects the relationships you cultivate, the primary one being with yourself. It plays a huge part in what you put out in the world and what you get back. It is not arrogance but the realization of who you are and what you can do if you commit to yourself.

As a mother of two young boys, it is important to me my boys feel confident now so they can grow up to be the best versions of themselves in later years. This is one of the years why I wrote Sleepy Magic and I still get goose bumps knowing how much of an impact it has had on not only my children but others too.

Genuine confidence, the true kind that comes from within is founded in a sense of security and self-assuredness, usually developed throughout childhood.

In her book, We Shall Not Fail – The Inspiring Leadership of Winston Churchill, Celia Sandy (Churchill’s granddaughter) describes what she calls contagious confidence.

Sandy writes, “Inspirational leaders are beacons of hope. They project an aura of confidence and resolve that is quite literally contagious. Churchill had this gift. So did Roosevelt, Truman, Patton, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and more than a few of today’s leaders. They inspire followers and get things done.”

Confident men are assertive whilst remaining loving and nurturing. They stand up for themselves, others and what’s important to them. They are assertive in what they want and aren’t afraid to pursue their goals and dreams. They feel assured in themselves and their values with the ability to form healthy, loving relationships.

Real confidence building is the most important skill you can develop as a parent. Children with healthy self-esteem and self-confidence learn more, achieve more, have more friends and are generally happier than those with low levels of confidence.

I want to help my boys develop real self confidence now while they are young so they can grow up to be confident men with the necessary life skills to lead the life they deserve, cultivating healthy relationships, with the ability to study subjects their passionate about and pursue fulfilling careers that will make them happy and reach their full potential in life.

I believe it is important to help prepare our boys now to become more confident men later. I wrote an article earlier about how to help build more confidence in your child here.

“Once you feel nice about yourself, you have planted the first seed to develop self-confidence.” – Stephen RichardsDevelop Jedi Self-Confidence: Unleash the Force within You

 

The 7 benefits of bedtime story telling for kids

There is substantial research out there on the benefits of bedtime story telling for kids. And if you have been following my previous posts, you will have some understanding of why.

According to a recent research conducted by author Jim Trelease, regular reading of books “creates empathy toward other people, because literature values humanity and celebrates human spirit and potential, offering insight into different lifestyles while recognizing universality”.

Even if you don’t have the time to read, the practice of simply being there with your child, developing that sense of closeness and connection or even showing pictures from the book for 15 minutes can have a direct impact on your child’s well being and development.

In this post I am going to break it down with 7 benefits of bedtime story telling for kids

  1. Stories help children learn the value of books.

Reading books regularly stimulates children’s imagination, accelerates their emotional development and fosters natural curiosity. This is accelerated with the assistance of their parents. Reading can also become a favourite hobby, a child will learn to enjoy later in life

  1. Stories help children cope with feelings

When you read or tell a story that deals with feelings, it helps your child relate and know they are not alone. By sharing the story of how the character manages their feelings, the child can learn how they can also deal with their feelings too by relating to the character in the story.

  1. Stories help with children’s brain development

There is plenty of research and other articles discussing how story telling can help with children’s brain development. In addition to helping your child become more familiar with sounds, words and language, story telling also helps the child read more successfully later in life and improve their creativity.

  1. Stories help children learn about the world around them

By showing pictures, different colours, shapes, people, objects, numbers, places and things children quickly learn about the world around them because they are more likely to be able to identify what is what. It also helps when the story is told repetitively as this assists with their understanding and learning of these things.

  1. Stories help children adapt to change and new events

Through story telling, children identify with the characters as they move through their journey, faced with new challenges or events. By listening t how the characters deal with certain situations, children are able to learn how they may be able to deal with their own changes and events.

  1. Stories help lay the groundwork for the development of social, communication and interpersonal skills

Story telling can help children think about moral issues, develop their values, learn social cues and skills, understand assertiveness, communication skills, listening skills, manners, self awareness and how to deal with conflict or other situations that may come up in social interactions.

  1. Develops confidence and self-esteem

Story telling helps your child develop a sense of who they are in the world and by developing a story telling routine with your child, they will feel loved and supported as they develop a closeness with you. You can read more about this topic in the blog post here.

If you would like to have a chat or want more information on how to get a copy of my new book Sleep Magic over here or email me at danielle@daniellewright.com.au

 

 

 

 

Building confidence in children

If you’ve got self-worth, you’ve got everything you need. You can change your life. Change your life. Change your family. And even change your world..

 This is why I created and wrote Sleepy Magic

Because I am so determined to empower families and their children to cultivate deeper connections, a strong sense of self-worth and confidence.

Because of my own personal journey, this topic is one I feel so passionate about and with a deep sense of purpose it is my mission to inspire and help young children develop higher levels of self-confidence and self-esteem.

It is during childhood where we are able to form relationships that have the potential to influence and shape our lives. It’s where we develop belief systems about ourselves and the world around us and where we learn the skills that set us up for a healthy, vibrant and happy life.

I remember as a child struggling so much with feeling different, stupid and unworthy because I had dyslexia. Teachers didn’t pick it up, my parents didn’t pick it up. I simply slipped through the cracks, however, I was smart and creative enough to muddle my way through school.  Unfortunately, this belief about myself led me on a destructive path for me in my teenage years which only fueled my low self-esteem. Even though my “flaw” led to one of my biggest career achievements in life, the sticky unworthy residue of fear remained. I wrote about this part of my journey here .

So you could imagine, when a mother whose 8 year old child is experiencing bullying as a result of her dyslexia personally messaged me via Facebook, made me feel inspired and determined to write this blog to show others it’s okay to be different. This amazing young girl is empowering herself by writing a book about being Dyslexic with the help of her teacher. This should be embraced and celebrated! Being different or unique should make us feel special. It means you have gifts and talents that if looked after can change your life for the best.  I told that beautiful girl that I want to be the first one to buy her book!

Dyslexia (www.dyslexiatas.org/) is a learning difference that affects a person’s ability to develop language skills, particularly reading and spelling.

Often misunderstood for a lack of intelligence, dyslexia is actually not related to intelligence. It occurs simply when children’s brains process information differently and for this reason, children with dyslexia learn differently.

When learning differences are seen as a weakness or when children are made to feel different for their uniqueness it can really knock their confidence and self-esteem often resulting in all sorts of self-destructive behaviours later in life.

When growing up, its so easy to feel we need to “fit in” or be like the others or feel a need to fit the mold when really, thinking differently needs to be embraced and nurtured.

Conquering fears and outside pressures from others does not need to be a lifetime battle..

With simple strategies and by being a positive role model, we can successfully teach and show our children by example how to love themselves for exactly who they are, feel comfortable with their differences and embrace their imperfections and flaws.

“Tis’ better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s perfectly” – Elizabeth Gilbert

This month is ‘Light it Red for Dyslexia’ which is a fantastic national initiative, driven by volunteer groups around Australia as a pre-launch to Dyslexia Empowerment Week 2015.  Significant monuments and landmarks across Australia with be lit up in red to raise awareness. For more information please go to the Square Pegs Tasmania Dyslexia Support & Advocacy Facebook page.

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I write a lot on these topics on my blog here . Learn ways you can teach your children how to deal with self esteem and embrace their flaws here.

Please share if you dig this and I love hearing from my readers so please feel free to share your comments below or write to me danielle@daniellewright.com.au

Have a week of wonder!

Charitable hearts *July – September*

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Oh yes, my heart was filled with joy with the efforts for our Sleepy Magic School this past couple of months.

On September 6th, I had the pleasure of running my first charity event – The Gold Light Women’s Clothing Drive. It was such a fun and successful day and what truly made it work was the support and help from family and friends. They donated their new or nearly new clothes, shoes, accessories, bags etc and I created a pop-up shop at my house.photo 1-1

photo 1-4I put on some champagne and nibbles and everyone had a great time socialising while shopping.

Not only did we get hundred and hundreds of clothes items but my mates also were very generous and donated wonderful prizes for the raffles.   I created four unbelievable raffle packs each with a Sleepy Magic book (the heART and soul pack, the summer goddess,  the business babes pack and the lady luxe pack) that went like hot cakes.

 

 

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Wphoto 4-4e had the pleasure of the head of Room to Read Australia, Chantal Lewis, join us for the day.  She said a few words about my Gold Light Project and how our efforts were going to change not just a few children’s lives in Nepal but generations of lives.  She is an amazing inspiration and it is wonderful working with people like her.

I am so grateful for so many supporting this mission.  Drum roll please…we raised an amazing $2,771.50.

On the same weekend I got a text message from Jess, one of the first Sleepy Magic and Gold Light kids (read her lemonade story here). She made $250 in a garage sale and donated $131.25 to our school.  She even made posters informing her buyers of her intentions.  This blew me away, and she called me a drama queen when I went over the top with my gratitude.  How can I not be over the top about a 9 year old girl cultivating her power by giving to others.  You go, Jess!  garage sale

So along with the proceeds of the Sleepy Magic book from July to September we have raised $8,980.94 so far. Our magic tower of books is slowly but surely becoming gold.  If you would like to see or join our efforts please visit our Everyday Hero’s page here. Thank you everyone!booktower poster sept 2015 smaller

 

Help your kids self-esteem through reading

In previous posts I shared some tips on how to help your children sleep better and proven strategies based on my own experience of the benefits of storytelling.

In this blog post I want to go further to discuss how the ritual of bedtime reading can help your children sleep better, improve their development and self-esteem.

This is such an important topic as you and I know the development of a child’s growth and self worth is extremely significant. Self-esteem is feeling good about yourself. Good self-esteem helps children try new things, take healthy risks and solve problems. It gives them a solid foundation for their learning and development.

There are many ways children can develop self-esteem; knowing they are loved and come from a family who value them, feeling a sense of belongingness, occasionally being praised and encouraged to follow their dreams and what makes them happy, and feeling secure and confident about the future.

Believe it or not, bedtime reading can help with all of the above…

According to Women’s and Children’s Health Network, reading aloud to babies and children is really important in their early years and has an impact on their overall development and future learning. Stories help children to cope with many feelings and problems. Story time can be a special caring time with you that your children will remember all their lives.

Part of building self-esteem and confidence is knowing where you fit in, in the world. Stories help your child develop this sense of belonging. This is even more important if you have come from another place, your child feels different or your family has been split up. Special story time at bedtime can help your child look forward to going to bed, to enjoy being close to you and to relax, ready for sleep.

Books can help your child to escape for a while from the stresses and pressures of their world as the story takes their imagination to other wonderful places. Most importantly your child will thrive on spending time with you. Reading and telling stories to your child can become a very special bonding and sharing time. It helps your children to learn to love books and to develop a sense of being.

Remember story telling plays a huge role in your child’s development as many children remember their story times for the rest of their lives.

Sleepy Magic has helped my children’s development and improved their self-esteem significantly. By incorporating bedtime reading into your evening routine, you will help your kids calm down, building a greater connection with them and you are also giving them a way to build their confidence and self-worth.

If you are digging this post please share it with your friends and family.  You can contact me on danielle@daniellewright.com.au

 

The benefits of storytelling to kids

Storytelling time can become an important part of a child’s bedtime routine.
Routine and familiarity has many benefits.

  • Structure and repetition becomes very comforting for a child and eventually your child will always look forward to their story telling time.
  • What’s better is that they will learn that it is a cue for bed time, so will naturally become more calm and quiet ready for bed.

In my book Sleepy Magic I share with you ways you can develop a ritual that calms and prepares your child for sleep, connects and strengthens your relationship as well as teaching them to have a strong sense of well being, confidence and inner harmony.
Sleepy Magic changed our household, and when my boys asked me to teach dad I knew this was bigger than just my family. Why does Sleepy Magic work so well? One of the secret ingredients is the repetitiveness of it. There are five steps, and we do the five steps every night.

Here are some of the strategies I tried and tested to help get your kids ready for bedtime more effectively

  1. Develop a routine that makes your children look forward to story telling
  2. Create a sense of security and safety around bedtime and sleep
  3. Help your kids develop a breathing technique so they feel calm and comfortable which helps them prepare to fall asleep. When I do this with my children they know not to talk or fidget.
  4. Create a nurturing and calm environment that helps them relax and feel peaceful for a good nights sleep. This will help them to associate these times as special times.

Please feel free to share!  And if you would like more info on what’s inside Sleepy Magic go here.

Help your children sleep better with 3 simple tips

Tell me if this sounds familiar? The mention of “bedtime” causes your children to go berserk all of a sudden?

How is that possible when almost 30 seconds earlier they were so calm like angels?

I can totally relate. Mine would start to wrestle, become loud, run around, and stop listening.

Don’t worry! I have developed a secret secret weapon that ensures no matter how hyped up they are, in 15 minutes they will be calm and if not asleep very, very close to it.

Gone are the nights feeling exhausted at the thought of the negotiations, the bribes, the threats and the tension all associated with trying to get your children to bed.

My sons and I have created our own special ritual that has changed the dreaded bedtime into a time, place and space that is much calmer and loving.

After seeing the amazing difference it made, I wrote a book called Sleepy Magic to share with like-minded parents. It is a ritual that calms and prepares kids for sleep, connects and strengthens your relationship as well as teaching them to have a strong sense of well being, confidence, and inner harmony.

Combining meditation, affirmations, imagination, and an essential breathing technique, Sleepy Magic changed our household, and when my boys asked me to teach dad I knew this was bigger than just my family. Here are some of my tips on how to improve bedtime.

Tip one: It’s not just about the kids.

It’s about what you are bringing to bedtime as well. Are you frazzled, annoyed, frustrated and just plain over it when it comes to getting your kids in bed and asleep?

I find that the more uptight I became, the more they behave badly. I find if I am calm, centered and I refrain getting frustrated and start yelling at them they are much calmer themselves.

The moment I lose my cool it takes a much longer time to get them to settle. I also speak in a neutral, slow and soothing voice when I remind them to “brush your teeth, don’t pee with your seat down, get off each other, and stop running

Around, get your PJ’s off your head”. You know the drill. Works like a treat for them and my sanity.

Tip two: It’s all in the repetitive routine.

Why does Sleepy Magic work so well? One of the secret ingredients is the repetitiveness of it. There are five steps, and we do the five steps every night.

My boys know what we are going to do each night, and I believe this bring a lot of security and safety around bedtime and sleep.

By the time we do the third step that is breathing technique; they know no more talking, no more fidgeting.

After the breathing technique, they are calm and comfortable and prepared to fall asleep. I believe they feel very secure and safe when you create something special.

Tip three: It’s all in your imagination.

I am all for reading to your child. However, I have found making up a story from your imagination works wonders when connecting with your child. As a child, I am sure my parents read to me but the only one I remember is the one my Dad made up and told over and over again. It was special and our story!

In Sleepy Magic, I make this very easy for you because all the stories or meditations are repetitive (there is that word again). All you have to do is remember the basic structure then change the character or place to whatever you want. You will find your child will request certain scenarios he or she loves. I have made up almost 700 stories this way, and my boys ask for Sleepy Magic every single night. Now they think I am one clever mum!

If you would like to get in touch, feel free to write to me at danielle@daniellewright.com.au

Sleepy Magic Highlights April – June

I am using a big machete to cut through the thick of the marketing/publishing world. Whoa it really is a jungle and whoever said writing a book was the easy part and getting it out there is the hard part is bloody right!  Learning in this world isn’t on a curve it’s on a roller coaster.

It’s been amazing how many people who hear my story want to help get Sleepy Magic out there into the hands of tired and frustrated parents. It’s thrilling to say that parents and kids are starting their own Sleepy Magic rituals all over Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK,  and Canada.

Some highlights over the past few months are presenting to (yes getting over my biggest fear – the dreaded public speaking!) and meeting some of you at the Mind, Body, Spirit Festival in May. It was wonderful to put faces and names from those of you I have connected with on Facebook.

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Presenting to (another step closer to conquering my fear) and meeting more of you at Deborah Beers Coffee, Chai and Chat in June where the lovely Anna won a copy of the book.

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One of the biggest highlights is watching my boys faces light up when I tell them Sleepy Magic is in book stores or in a media article. This means we can reach a greater audience and be one step closer to building our school.  Yes a school!  Some of you may not know that if you have bought a book you are part of my Sleepy Magic Community. This means you are helping build a school in Nepal or I should say most likely rebuilding a school after the devastating earthquakes.  The impact we will have on these kids and their communities is HUGE.

Consider this: if every child received an education, 171 million people would be lifted out of poverty.

With the help of the proceeds from the book and individual donations from some gold hearted people we have now raised $5,735.19. You can check out the amount on the official Everyday Heroes Page or read up about my mission of charitable hearts here.

We are the change.  I can write this post and you can read it.  793 million people remain uneducated and illiterate — two thirds of whom are women and girls can’t read this.

On our book meter below I only coloured in one book over the last three months which makes me feel two things, grateful and determined.

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So thank you to all who are on this journey with me and my family.  Thank you for your generosity with your time and support in helping me spread the love and our mission.

I hope in the next three months I can colour in a lot more books than one.

Where are my troops?  I will need some help!   It’s simple. We are the change.