This List Is Changing Our Family’s Lives, Why You Should Make One Too!



This List Is Changing Our Family's Lives, Why You Should Make One Too

Ever feel like you were created for MORE in your life?

Is there a personal area of your life that you feel is stagnant and that you are not living up to your God-given potential?

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to take your family on a missions trip together-building houses for the poor in Mexico or digging jiggers out of the feet of Ugandan children?

What would be your dream vacation or your ideal staycation?

Do you have good intentions to do charity work but never seem to actually follow through?

Are there some God-sized dreams you have always imagined for your life that you think may remain dreams instead of reality? I sure did.

As a planner, I tend to put many of my ideas and thoughts into action, but they sometimes lack purpose and drive. My boys are growing up quickly and I am beginning to realize that if we want to live the full life that God has given us and live up to our potential, then we need to be intentional about it. I don’t want to ignore the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life either and I wonder how many times I have missed out on blessings because I simply didn’t act on those promptings.

My husband and I recently began compiling a personal and family life goal list after reading Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker. I love lists in general.  I even had custom stickers with lists and little check mark boxes made to fit into my daily planner! But still, I wanted to be more in tune with the desires that God has put on our hearts and writing them down has become both a vibrant prayer request list and a way for us to move towards achieving some of our God-given desires and goals.

The categories are broad, ranging from “fun” activities to ministry goals. Like Batterson says in his book, we prioritize them according to our means and through God’s leading, so giving a car to someone in need may very well trump a trip to Atlantis!

I want to share just some of the items on our list to inspire you. As Guy and I wrote these out, we prayed over them and continue to do so as we add more or make adjustments but we can already see the impact that compiling a family life goal list is having on our spiritual lives. And some of the items are stretching us in BIG ways, so we have to be prepared to step out of our comfort zones!

Two days after I wrote down my goal of speaking at an entertainment industry event on a guest panel, I was invited to do just that. Sure enough, that event happened this week, and I believe that God was honored by what I had to share with the audience. Even though it challenged me and was a little scary, I felt the confidence to say “yes” because I knew that God has placed the desire on my heart and then opened the door for me to walk through.

One of Guy’s personal goals was to compete in some form of a race or mud run twice a year. When we came across a discount on a local mud run last month, we signed him up and cheered him on as he completed his first grueling race! In this situation too, there was good reason to back out. The day of the event fell on the same day as a fun activity I planned to attend with some girlfriends-a rarity for me. Even though Guy encouraged me to go, I knew that this life goal was more important. It was an easy decision for me to pass on my activity so I could support my husband’s goals.

Although we just started compiling this list this year, we already have plans in place and are working towards many of these goals so that they can become reality. We feel strongly that God places desires on our hearts and though we are always willing to yield and adjust our thinking to the Lord’s plans, we are dreaming big because we have faith that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we could ask or imagine!

“and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Epehsians 3:19-21)

There is something about thinking through, praying through, and then following through that makes all the difference!

I hope you will consider compiling your own life goal list and pray over what God might have in store for your life and for your family. Here are a handful of the life goals that Guy and I have compiled. Some of them have already been achieved or are ongoing on a yearly basis:

(G=Guy, A=Amber)


Take each child on a mission’s trip.

Build a beach cottage.

Take each of the boys on a 12-year-old covenant trip. (G)

Foster a sport or instrument for each boy.

Live for a year abroad in Europe with our kids. Twice.

Give each child a pet when they enter first grade.

Bring our kids on set for every project we produce.

Use our home as the hub for building friendships and showing hospitality to school and church families at least once a month.

Create new family traditions for the holidays.



Let missionaries use our home.

Make Feature Films consistently.

Make TV shows that break season records.

Abolish foster care-through a local TV show nationwide.

Host a massive banquet with all the bells and whistles for the homeless.

Give away a car to a young person in need.

Speak on anger at workshops.(A)

Be nominated for an Emmy.

Be nominated for an Academy Award.

Dedicate 1-2 bedrooms in our custom built home for a person/family in need.            

Publish multiple books. (A)

Take orphans to the beach.

Participate in an industry Q&A together. (G&A)- DONE

Host and plan a retreat by the beach for women. (A)

Speak to a group of single women/girls about marriage. (G&A)

Teach a class at The Master’s College. (A)

Start an internship for college grads going into faith entertainment.

Reach 1 million followers on social media. (A)

Be a filmmaker/TV producer consistently for the rest of my life. (G)

Host a summer camp for inner city kids.

Create a recreation center for homeless kids with an emphasis on the arts. (G)

Foster/Adopt children-possibly classmates of our kids who will need a home.



Take our grandchildren to Disneyland.

Have high tea in London with 3 or 4 of my best girlfriends. (A)

Go horseback riding as a family.

Take a catamaran/sailing trip with the boys.

Go snowboarding as a family.

Take my future DIL’s on a trip to Kleinfeld’s in NY to buy their wedding veils/shoes etc and use it as a time to tie heart strings. (A)

Attend a Broadway play as a family.

Go on Dancing With The Stars. (A)

Take an epic family portrait.

Host a Lia family reunion on a cruise.

Be room mom for one year for each boy.(A)

Send Amber on a week-long spa trip. (G)

Ride the train to Santa Barbara and go to the zoo as a family.



Bike across Iowa farmland. (G)

Lose 40 lbs by age 41. (A)

Participate in 2 adventure races per year. (G)

Learn jazz drums. (G)

Go ice climbing. (G)

Run/Walk/Hike 3-5 times a week with our dog, Rosey. (A)



Pay for the boys’ honeymoons.

Tithe more than 10% every month of our lives.

Donate 10,000 plus to Children’s Hospital L.A.

Leave an inheritance for our kids.

Provide down payments for each of the boys’ homes.

Be debt free by age 60.

Give away a majority of our income to the poor.



Visit ancestors/heritage in Sweden.

Visit ancestors/heritage in Italy.

Visit ancestors/heritage in Ireland.

Take the family on a 3 day white water rafting/camping trip.

Take family to Atlantis Resort.

Take a family Disney cruise.

Spend a family Thanksgiving at the bottom of The Grand Canyon.

Stay at Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite with family.

Take a family vacation on a dude ranch.

Sierra hike with the boys.

Take boys on a tour of the South.

Take boys to Iguazu Falls, Argentina where we got engaged.

Take a family sailing trip to the BVI’s.

Take an anniversary barge trip through France. (G&A)

Take our kids on safari.

Visit Prince Edward Island.


YOUR TURN! What are some of your life goals? What goals have you already achieved?

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Need Advice? Let’s Talk On The Phone!

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 Phone Amber For Advice

There have been stages of my life where I simply didn’t know who to turn to for help.

Yes, I turned to God, but I also knew that God gave us community to help us grow and give sound advice from Biblical insight. I simply needed to call a wise friend who might know the answer to my issues. Sometimes, embarrassment kept me from reaching out, but at other times, I simply didn’t have that person in my circle of friends or family that I felt could speak to my problem. Often, I needed an objective opinion.

If this sounds a little bit like you, then I want to help.

Scripture affirms the benefits of wise advice. Here’s what the Bible says:

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14

For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Proverbs 24:6

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 3:16-17

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

I have been informally counseling and leading thousands of women in an online support group for moms who struggle with anger for the past year, and every week I lead a group of 10 women through the Bible in my home. I spent 10 years mentoring teens and I love to help those whom the Lord puts in my path online. I often receive emails and messages from women who need advice about parenting, friendships, marital issues, or their personal spiritual walk.

Over the last year, I have selectively reached out via phone to talk them through their concerns and give them my perspective and encouragement from God’s Word. Here is one testimonial:

“My family has been truly blessed through Amber’s ministry. I came across a posting from her blog (Mother of Knights) during a time of many struggles with my son. The Lord impressed upon my heart to reach out to Amber and ask for some mothering advice grounded in the truth of Scripture. Through our phone conversation I was able to ask her specific and practical questions. She helped me think through what parenting and mothering tools might be most effective in guiding my son in God’s truth. I am so thankful for Amber’s heart for moms and their precious children. She continues to encourage me and turn my heart toward the Lord instead of becoming discouraged in the midst of parenting.” -Carol, Northern California

Another mom recently wrote this to me after our phone call:

“Just wanted to say THANK YOU for the advice and encouragement yesterday! I spoke with Amber over the phone through the Phone Amber For Advice program and she was such an encouragement to my heart. We discussed discipline, encouraging our boys, even family planning! Can’t wait to put some of her suggestions into practice. Thanks for being such an encouragement to moms.” -Megan

I see the need increasing and it is an area close to my heart. I am not a doctor or a licensed therapist but I do have a minor in theology and have read the Bible from cover to cover a dozen times in the last 15 years. I have teaching experience that covered more than a decade for all ages-from preschool through college level seniors in high school. I have a Master’s Degree in Leadership and Educational Administration.  I am a passionate Christ-follower and I believe that informally counseling women is one of my God-given gifts and I rely on the Holy Spirit to equip me.  I often feel a longing to be a more accessible and to encourage women.  For the last year, I have been praying about opening up the opportunity to women who desire some informal mentoring or advice.

I have sensed that the time is now.

Here’s how it will work and what I am offering:

For a small fee of $45.00 (via Paypal), you will be able to set an appointment with me to talk on the phone for 2 sessions:

  • The first call will be 45 minutes.
  •  Prior to our call, I will send you a brief questionnaire to fill out in order to prepare me for our conversation so that I can give you Biblical insights and practical tools for your specific need.
  • A few days after our first call, I will follow up with another 15 minute phone call to evaluate how things are going and to encourage you and pray with you.

What do you think? Want to talk? Be encouraged? Find out how to improve your relationships? Figure out some solid parenting tools for your unique child?  Get rid of anger and yelling in your home? Determine how to get your joy back? Get a Christian perspective on a choice you are making? Have questions about blogging? Or being a work-at-home mom? Wondering about dating life as a single?

I am praying over this whole process so that God will be honored in every interaction that we have. I can’t wait to hear your heart and talk with you!

To set an appointment, email Amber at:


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Sea Serpent, Going Beyond Memorizing Bible Verses With Kids & A Free Study Guide!


 Sea Serpent

Recently, I was thinking about ways I could get my little guys to think more visually about the Bible verses we are learning. After reading 1 Peter 5:8, I wrote this poem as a visual so that they could understand our need to be alert to temptation and our enemy’s desire to devour us. The good news is that the devil is “like” a lion, but he is only a deceiver. Jesus is the TRUE Lion of Judah and He gives us victory!

Share this poem with your kids and see if they can draw a mental picture of these “fish” and which one they would want to be! Older kids can identify rhetorical devices that are used and how they add emphasis and clarity to the meaning of the verse. Enjoy!


Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a
roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Bobbing along without a care
taking up space in the brook
the lure is cast
the enemy fast
devouring with barely a look.

Floating above all is well
breezing atop the stream
the lure is cast
the enemy fast
engulfing his prey in dream.

Coasting languid unaware
wafting within the canal
the lure is cast
the enemy fast
gorging indeed he shall.

Drifting down in peaceful rest
coursing down the river
the lure is cast
the enemy fast
gulping with evil shiver.

Surging upstream eyes alert
pursuing the valley-pond shelter
the lure is cast
the enemy fast
left empty to try for another.


May all of us be like the fish in the final stanza, eyes alert as we pursue the path that God has set before us and may we escape the serpent’s pursuit, growing spiritually as passionate Christ-followers!


Who are the fish in each of these stanzas?

Who is the enemy?

Identify the words that describe the way the fish are swimming.

What rhetorical devices are used in this poem and what is the effect?

What does 1 Peter reveal to us about the Devil?

How can a young person or an adult stay alert?

Why does the Devil want to devour us?

What verses tell us about God’s plan for our lives that is the opposite of the Devil’s plans for us?

Do we need to be afraid of the Devil? Why or why not?

What does the Bible say about victory over the Devil?

(Parents and teachers, you can use as a resource. Simply type any word like “victory” into the word search box to locate all the verses in the Bible that talk about victory!)

YOUR TURN! Pointing our kids to Jesus is not always easy. Is it a struggle to teach your kids Spiritual Truths? Do you have a loved one who seems to be swimming in the wrong direction? How can I pray for you today?

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It Happened When I Was 3-Years Old. What About You?


 It Happend When I Was 3 Years Old

 When I was 3 years old, I lay in my bed in the dark and suddenly, I knew that I was a sinner and the world was a wrecked place. I also knew that Jesus was coming and that if He came that night, my parents would go to Heaven and I would go to Hell. I since have come to understand that God takes little ones to Heaven, no matter what, and this is not a debate on that issue, but the point for me here is that I understood with child-like faith, that I was lost.

I threw the covers back, trundled down the hall in my frilly nightgown, and approached my parents who sat up reading by lamplight in the living room, and I told them that I had asked Jesus to wash away my sins.  I was filled with a peace that would follow me into today.

I remember it vividly.

I had moved from a knowledge and understanding of religion into a relationship with God. I was presented with many opportunities to walk away as I grew. I faced all the many things that your average “church kid” faces that can cause them to go down a different path than the narrow one they started out on, but one thing remained. God was with me and I felt His presence in every trial, through every loss, at every decision point, and at every doubt.

I’m not stupid. I’ve studied religion more than your average person and I’ve had enough hardship to become a bitter jaded woman, but none of it is enough to remove from me the Truth that God is Who He says He is and that there is nowhere else for me to turn. My knowledge, my trails have only served as confirmation.

He is my Savior. My Friend. My Hope. My Trust. He has never failed me, and He never will.

Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.

And so does my life. Every mountain, every valley speaks to me of His love for me. God and I are in it together, for always. Through a tumultuous childhood, through betrayals from friends, through chronic illnesses, trials that I will never speak of publicly, hard times in marriage, and through the death of my babies, God has been with me and He is for me.

My faith is not my crutch. It’s my everything.

My relationship with God is no fair-weather faith, but it remains child-like in its maturity. I know as surely now as I did as a 3-year-old, the meaning of life. May I honor Him for all He has done, for me.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

YOUR TURN! When did you come to saving faith in Jesus? I would love to hear YOUR testimony and it will encourage others too!


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If You’re Having A Hard Time Today…


Hard Time Mommy

He was 2 years old at the time, and delightful. Quinn always knew exactly what he wanted, and when he wanted it-like most 2-year-olds do.

That morning, he stood at the pantry door and said, “Chocolate.”  In my opinion, 9:30 AM was a little early for chocolate and so I told him he could have a piece for dessert after lunch-not what he wanted to hear. The tailspin of tears, shouting, and banging of fists began.

Longing to reach out and hold him, I instead had to coax him over to me where I sat on the couch feeding his little baby brother. After a couple of minutes of agonizing crying, he wandered over reluctantly and climbed next to me, burying his head under my arm. It was almost as challenging to come to me, the one who was denying him the object of his desire, as it was to accept my “no.”

And then he began to sputter through his heaving tears…”Hard…time…Mommy….hard time.” I didn’t understand him at first but when I figured it out, my own heart broke. For Quinn, the denial of what he was asking for was a very real and very heart-rending trial. It was a hard time. At age 2. And boy, can I relate.

Can you?

As an optimist, I tend to see the good in circumstances naturally, but I made a promise to God long ago that I would be a radical Christ-follower. One thing I know for sure, if you want to be like Jesus, then you will share in His sufferings:

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 1 Peter 4:12-19

As believers, we need to rewire our thinking and our motivation in this life. The Lord understands our sadness and our grief. He sympathizes with us whole-heartedly when we go through hard times, but He will also use those moments to refine us and make us more like Christ. But He doesn’t leave us there. He is a God of hope:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Night acquiesces to day and the seasons of our lives change and shift just as they do in nature. There have been hard times that I never thought would end, but when we yield to God’s purpose in our pain, and praise Him through our lack of understanding and remain faithful, we discover the promise is real: we can have joy in every circumstance.

That painful moment was only the beginning of hard times for Quinn. I realized that even in that juvenile moment, at such a young age, he needed to learn that life will always have bumps-and sometimes mountains to overcome, but that the purpose of life is not to try to escape, erase, forget, or side-step pain. It’s to trust God whose ways are higher than our own and to cling to the truth that He is love, even when He allows…hard….times.

And just as I had to convince Quinn to take steps towards me and my loving arms there on the couch that day, God also beckons us to come with our pain, our tears, and our honest confession of what we feel. His embrace is never occupied with another, and as a Heavenly Father, He provides a comfort even more secure than that of an earthly mother.


YOUR TURN! How do you help your kids through hard times? What’s the most significant way that you can comfort your children when they struggle? Are you going through a “hard time?” How can I pray for you?

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The Day God Paid Off My Credit Card



The Day God Paid My Credit Card Debt

I was barely making it through my days. It was a time of grief and loss that I wasn’t sure I could recover from anytime soon. I was holding onto God by my fingernails and fiercely praising Him through daily tears and from a bleeding heart.  Each day, I rose early to meet God, do the job He gave me to do at work that day, and then go through the motions of my evening routine before falling asleep each night.

My faith was sure but shaken. I knew in my heart and mind that there was none for me but Jesus, but it seemed that Jesus was bent on taking my desires from me by force and the resulting hole in my heart pumped just enough sustenance through my body to make it through one more day.

I forced myself to praise Him through my pain, and the healing began with a sudden and unexpected series of events after one long day of teaching.

Entering the lobby of my building, I turned the key in my mailbox and pulled out the wad of miscellaneous mail before heading up to my 3rd floor apartment. Standing at the kitchen table, I sorted through the names of my roommates and carried my own envelopes down the long hallway to my bedroom.

At the time, I was single and in debt. The night before, I had gone to a new Bible study that was meeting informally at a girlfriend’s house to read and discuss Rick Warren’s New York Times Best Seller, The Purpose Driven Life. When it came time for prayer requests, one of the girls shared that she decided to pray that God would take away her debt. My ears perked up.

I made a bit of a financial mess of myself as a single young teacher without much understanding of budgeting or saving, but I was on my way to paying off my debt and becoming educated and responsible with my money. Little by little, I was working towards financial freedom.

Month by month, I was hacking away at my debt and but I never stopped to pray and ask God to help me, much less remove the debt entirely. So that’s exactly what I did.

The next day, as I glanced at my stack of bills and letters, I quickly opened my credit card statement. The balance said……$0.00. I did a double take.

“That can’t be right” I thought. I decided to give the company a quick call.

The operator confirmed that I had a zero dollar balance and that I actually had a credit of 300 dollars which she would send to me in the form of a check. I feebly thanked her and hung up the phone. Bewildered, I decided to go to the gym and sort out the mess later.

After my workout, I made my way back home and as I was driving I remembered that I had prayed the night before that God would take away my debt.

I raced up the stairs and looked at the date of the statement. It was for the month prior. God had erased my debt, and He had answered my prayer a month before I prayed it.  I was reminded of Isaiah 65:24, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” That’s exactly what God had done on my behalf.

I dropped to my knees. Frantically, I called my dad who was on a business trip. He answered the phone. I excitedly poured out that I had prayed about my debt, and suddenly, my debt was gone. I was certain it was a mistake and I feared a huge hassle and mess.

“Amber, Amber” my father delightedly spoke my name, interrupting me. “I paid your debt” he said.

I froze in disbelief. “What?” I stammered. My parents were not in a position to do such a thing, and yet they had managed to do so.  God had used my earthly father to remind me that He as my Heavenly Father is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can ask or imagine!

God is not a magic genie who bestows on us whatever we wish, but at that particular time in my life, I was going through a season of brokenness and sorrow. I needed hope in a tangible way. God, in His wisdom and mercy, allowed me to experience a radical and swift answer to this particular prayer as a loving reminder that He sees me and is aware of every detail of my life. At a time when I was going through a major loss and committing to praise Him though my eyes could not see the goodness of His plans, the Lord dealt with me gently through this supernatural provision.  Just as He could give me what I asked for, He reassured me that what He had taken was also part of His good plan for my future.

Maybe today, you find yourself wondering what God is up to in your own life. Perhaps you also are going through a time of loss or maybe you simply aren’t sure if God sees you and your needs. Like any two people in a relationship, God longs to meet with you and hear your heart. Tell Him all about it. Pray expectantly and whether He gives or takes away, know that He is able and He is good.

The longer and harder fought for prayers during that same season were no less of a blessing than the answer that came overnight. Healing eventually came and beauty did emerge from ashes over time. But I’ll never forget that God saw me in my brokenness, and though that credit card is long gone, God deposited His grace into the treasury of my heart, and it remains.

YOUR TURN: Do you need prayer? Leave your request in the comments-I would be honored to pray for you! If  post blessed you, please share it with others!

This post contains an affiliate link and when you make a purchase through the link, my ministry receives a few cents at no extra cost to you! Thank you! :)


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Why I Redshirt My Boys, Despite The Controversy


Why I Redshirt My Boys, Despite The Controversy

He was hard to miss. His blonde head rose above that of his peers and his impish grin, contagious. As a 6th grade teacher, I was well acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of my students’ sizes as hormones waxed and waned during the pre-teen years. But this young man stood out. I would later learn that there was good reason he seemed so.much.bigger. than his classmates. He was a full year older than most of them. He had been held back intentionally by his parents, not because of academics, but because they had every intent of making him into a football star.

And it worked.

This class-clown of a kid would go on to play winningly as quarterback for Notre Dame before being drafted into the NFL. I was a new teacher and it was the first time I had ever heard of “redshirting” kids in elementary school, but it wasn’t just this incredible student that would shape my own views of redshirting.

The term “Redshirt” is traditionally associated with college football:

Student athletes become redshirts for many reasons. One reason is that the athlete may not be ready to balance the demands of academic requirements with athletic requirements. Redshirting provides the opportunity, with tutoring, to take some classes and get accustomed to the academic demands. They also may redshirt to gain a year of practice with the team prior to participating in competition. In college football a student athlete may redshirt to increase size and strength toward the completion of overall physical maturity, desirable assets for many positions. As the college years coincide with the final phases of physical maturity, using a year of eligibility in the last college year is generally more beneficial to the team and to the student athlete’s potential professional prospects than it is to use the same year of eligibility in the first college year. Players, especially in football, may redshirt to learn the team’s play book, since college teams typically run a greater number of, and more complex, plays than most high school teams. (Wikepedia)

When it comes to academics, the idea of redshirting kids can be controversial-you can find many a debate or book about the extensive research on the topic, but it boils down to this: many parents believe that redshirting their kids often gives them an advantage and increases their success rates in socialization, academics, and athletics.

It wasn’t just my football-player-in-training’s example that caused me pause for thought about one day redshirting my own children. After nearly 10 years in the classroom, most of which were in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades as a high school English teacher, it was undeniable that the kids who were the oldest in their grade level were academically the strongest, most mature, and responsible.

There are studies that both refute and support the idea that redshirting gives kids an edge over the long haul, so I simply based my views on my personal experience of teaching for a decade. The evidence in my own experience as a teacher was overwhelming. I knew that when I became a parent, I would absolutely wait to put my kids into school until they were  6 years of age-and preferably  only attend 1 half day of preschool the year prior to kindergarten at age 5.

I didn’t need to convince my husband. He had been the oldest kid in his class and so was I. We both knew the pleasure of being leaders in our grade levels. It was an easy decision for us.

My oldest son, Oliver, was R.E.A.D.Y. for kindergarten at age 5 if you compared him to his friends. He is a typical firstborn and extremely bright. He talked in sentences before he was 1 year of age and has incredible athletic prowess. I got a ton of pressure from friends and family about holding him back but I looked forward to letting him be a kid and spend time with me, one more year. Ollie is strong academically and a mature sweet boy but he is also sensitive and emotional at times-the extra year at home with me gave him time to develop in that area so he could cope more easily with being in a classroom setting.  I didn’t need to worry about him crying at the drop off in the kindergarten line.  It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. Last year, his veteran kindergarten teacher pulled me aside and affirmed that same notion. He pleaded with me to keep up the trend, acknowledging Oliver’s maturity, leadership, and strong academics.

I have a large group of friends who home school for similar reasons-they can gauge the timeframe of when they want their kids to begin school and make adjustments easily so that the pressure to begin early is removed.

Over and over and over again, teaching colleagues nod their heads when I bring this topic up in discussion. I asked the question about redshirting on my personal facebook page recently and the comments from teachers and students who had been redshirted poured in. Not a negative one in the bunch.  I have heard many parents regret putting their kids in too early but I have yet to meet someone that regretted redshirting their son or daughter.

I know that the topic can be controversial because parents feel that redshirting gives kids an advantage, except they have the same choice. It’s not unfair if it’s available to everyone. If I, as a parent, can give my boys any advantage that is for their good, why in the world would I not do so? For me, it’s not about them rising above their peers so much (although that is a bonus) as it is my belief that starting school at a bit older age is simply in their best interest. Studies show that early childhood development doesn’t necessarily give any lead over the long haul, but redshirting your kids often does.

I don’t plan on making football stars out of my boys but I absolutely want them to be as physically, mentally, spiritually, and academically prepared for life as possible and I believe that when I redshirt them in school, I’m being a good steward of my child’s abilities.

The classroom isn’t the only place for learning. Those first 6 years of life with me, exploring the world, are a wonderful starting point for the formal education that is to come for the rest of their childhood. I will never get back those hours with my boys before they begin school and I want to ring every minute out of these days to spend time with them as a mom. It’s not an easy road because it meant living in a tiny apartment for a long time, owning only 1 car, and not taking fancy family vacations so that I could be home with my sons. Finances never played a role in our decision, even when we spent years unemployed and struggling. We prioritized what we wanted for our family and built our lives around what would support our family’s main goals.

Truthfully, I know that not all of my boys are going to necessarily be at the top of their class or run for president of the student body. I want them to naturally develop their own interests and become whoever God made them to be, but taking the risk of starting them off in life sooner than later holds little appeal when I weigh the pros and cons.  It’s simply not a chance I am willing to take.

You can find counter-arguments all over the internet and we all know that there will be exceptions and naysayers, but the sum of my own experience as a student, as a teacher for a decade, and now as a parent of boys who thrive and excel in school as redshirts are confirmation enough for me that redshirting my kids is one of the most positive and influential things I have done as a parent. I’m not afraid that they will get bored or feel left behind by their friends who are in a grade level ahead of them and attend other schools. I certainly won’t regret stealing back that extra year to influence them in my own home.

Ultimately, each parent needs to make the best decision for their own particular child. There is no static formula when it comes to kids and their unique needs. I had younger students in my classroom that excelled and sometimes the small kid on the team is the best player.

In a fast paced world where we hurry up but often get nowhere fast, I’m choosing to slow things down for my sons in the area of schooling and I’m thankful for the choice. I simply hope that others will be respectful of my decision. For the mom or dad who has been on the fence about whether or not to redshirt their own child, do your research and get good advice from people in the know, but don’t dismiss your own instincts.

When we make the best decisions we can as parents whether our kids begin school at age 5 or age 6, we show that we are parents who want the best for our kids because we care.

And that is the best advantage of all.

YOUR TURN! Did you redshirt your kids?


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