Ruth Elliott’s ART presentation assemblies promote positive attitudes, better behavior & academic achievement as well as spatial awareness, shown to raise math scores.

The Arts can increase math scores by up to 15%!

Ruth wrote the first art textbook to reference K-8 Math standards and shares it with her Art Presentations.

What will happen during the assemblies?

During the presentations students enjoy drawing tips from Emmy Award winning author and artist Ruth Elliott! Her years of experience in the animation industry have given her a desire to share her love of art and stories with children, who enjoy participating and learning valuable character lessons.

Drawing instruction may include all or part of the following: Understanding structure, perspective, expressing emotions, character development, story progression and basic animation.

PLUS – We always provide paper for the children to draw on!

Scheduling DETAILS might look like this:

Most Presentations are 45-60 minutes each of any group size:

We can do from 1-4  assemblies per day, to reach all students in a school.

Here’s a sample schedule you can adjust to your needs.

8:30 am – 9:15 am

9:30 am – 10:45 am

11am – 11:45 am

12:30 – 1:15 pm

What does the school need to do to get ready?

Equipment needed for the presentation 

(if not available, let us know, and we will provide alternatives):

1 – a screen to project on
2 – an Overhead Projector, document camera or Elmo 
3 – a Microphone / speakers
4 – a DVD or multimedia Projector
5 – a pencil for each child and something for them to lean on (book, clipboard or desk)

Our assembly presentation is valued at $1,200), per day for an entire school. However, our “Share with Another School” Program allows you to get our program absolutely free when you refer us to another school. This saves us time calling schools, and saves you $.

 house In our “Share with Another School” Program, you get the BEST Experience to motivate and inspire your students to learn!

Find out how to bring our Art Presentation to your school here!

Children with special needs enjoy art and music enrichment, too:

Contact us to schedule your Art Presentation today!

(The Free Presentation is Limited to Southern CA at present, subject to scheduling availability.)

Other areas need to provide transportation and accommodations – Find out more here)

Note from Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder of Edu Designs and GoMommyGO®:

I founded EDU DESIGNS after my 7 kids grew up and I realized there were more children out there who needed positive media and educational resources to lift them up. Join our efforts to nurture the little ones with high ideals of good character. It will help the REST of us when THEY become the adults in charge!

Your donation helps us provide to students in need.

If you believe in our mission, please support us.

DONATE by clicking this button!


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Ruth Elliott, EduDesigns founder

THANK YOU for caring about KIDS! 

Art is one of the BEST ways to motivate and inspire us at ANY age. While I was working in Animation, I found drawing to be calming and therapeutic. While my hands were busy, my mind was free, going deeper into understanding myself and the things that were troubling me. The insights that came were life-changing.  Along with finding solutions to problems, it was like meditation, but easier to do for someone like myself who has trouble sitting still. I guess I’m still like a kid that way! I believe children can have this type of experience when given the chance to slow down and draw. Art is not just good for eye-hand coordination. It’s good for mind-heart coordination, too!

If you have kids, they will thank you (someday) for turning off the TV and letting them have ‘Imagination time’! Your family will enjoy more peace of mind as they learn to develop problem solving skills, too.

Grab some paper and pencils and get started!

Please take advantage of the resources we have available:

A Free download of my Art Book for kids (and adults), globally

Free Art presentations for schools locally, as we can  

Free Illustrated Behavior Charts for the kids

Free Parenting Tips and more!

Warm Wishes,

Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder of Edu Designs and GoMommyGO®

PS -I founded EDU DESIGNS after my 7 kids grew up and I realized there were more children out there who needed positive media and educational resources to lift them up. Join our mission to nurture the little ones with high ideals of good character. 

It will help the REST of us when THEY become the adults in charge!

If you believe in our mission, please support us.



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Do you ever find yourself running out of ‘love juice’? When my kids were little, even if I started with a full pitcher of love in the morning, sometimes by the end of the day the pitcher would be dry.  

There was a pattern. When we were all tired and hungry, frustration could get the better of meDidn’t have dinner ready by 5 o’clock? It became ‘the witching hour’ and the kids would go bats – whine, cry or fight with each other – drive me crazy, which always got in the way of fixing dinner. It took all my self-control not to yell and to remember what’s really important. There were times I’d run to our bathroom, shut the door, take a deep breath, and cry out, “GOD! HELP ME get through this!” 

Beware of running on empty!

What I needed was a ‘refill’ – something for myself – so I’d have something to give those who were most important to me.

Change the pattern.

I began planning to have dinner ready each day before the kids went nuts. For me, a cup of coffee in the afternoon made all the difference, plus a reminder or two on the wall. 

I’ve made this special illustration to remind you to take care of yourself, so you can take care of those you love. You can download a high resolution pdf when you make a donation of any size.

Print it up and put it on the wall where you will see it every day. Let it help you, as it helped me, be inspired.

My warmest thanks,


Thank you!

Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Director, EDU DESIGNS

P.S. When YOU are crying for,”HELP!”, these extra tips can really help! Read More…

P.P.S. – Love to donate but haven’t any to spare? If you shop online at Amazon, Amazon will donate to EDU DESIGNS every time you shop when you start from you nothing. When they ask you which non-profit to support, just type in EDU DESIGNS, (Sierra Madre, CA).

AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. And Amazon donates, so it won’t cost you a dime

Support EDU DESIGNS by starting your shopping at!

Amazon gives when you shop!

EDU DESIGNS is an ALL VOLUNTEER Non-Profit. 100% of your donation goes toward sharing our materials, and NOT for salaries. You are guaranteed a Tax Deductible Receipt. 

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boy with ipad

Now that the digital world seems to be everywhere, the concern is, how much screen time is safe for kids? We are all affected by it, and especially young children and infants. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents, “…to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years… research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant caregivers…for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills.” 


More and more parents scramble to make ends meet, and kids are relegated to the TV or digital media instead of the human interaction needed to learn communication and coping skills to succeed in real life. Sadly, it’s been found that lower income families generally let their kids spend even more time with electronic devices than more affluent families.  

According to nationally renowned psychotherapist Tom Kersting, this carries serious implications. His article, “Too much digital time can lead to ADD” [1] reveals that there’s a big danger to our children’s future mental health. More and more of them are being diagnosed with disorders such as depression, anxiety and ADD, “…problems that stem from too much digital media use.” He continues, ” Nearly every mental, emotional and behavioral problem I treat now points to the same common denominator – electronic devices.” 


Monkey See – Monkey DO!

Our family got our first TV when I was 6 years old. My mother instinctively felt it would be bad to let the kids sit in front of it for too long, so she limited us to one half hour of TV a day and we’d be allowed to watch The Mickey Mouse Club. I remember the feeling of being ‘sucked in’ by that magical box and being awfully disappointed when my mom turned it off by saying, “Go out and play.” But boy – am I’m glad she did, now


Maybe the BEST Thing to do is, TURN IT OFF!

It’s a minefield out there. Just as you wouldn’t let your child wander into an area with poisonous snakes while camping, you MUST be in charge of where they go on the internet. And there are things you CAN do to safeguard them. If you want the best for your child, you must be AWARE of what they are watching, CONTROL what they watch and LIMIT your child’s exposureHere’s a site with resources to keep children safe online

I heard child psychologist, Dr. Dobson say, “TV captures the imagination, but won’t let it go!”  

Research [2] has clearly shown that the more media is consumed, the less people experience happiness and – are less able to pay attention. 

In contrast, “Art STRENGTHENS the brain’s attention network”  [3] 

That’s because Art involves using the brain AND the body. Eye-hand coordination combined with imagination. EDU DESIGNS’ motto is, “Building Brains and Hearts Through the Arts”. We give parents, teachers and caregivers tools to engage kids with positive, hands-on activities that help boost their cognitive ability and emotional intelligence at the same time.


Get a copy of my artbook to give them something else to do instead!  Children get excited as they begin to use their hands and open their eyes to ‘See What They are Looking At!’

EDU DESIGNS shares parenting resources on GoMommyGO® that provide tools to relate with children and improve their behavior, too.

We have been volunteers since 2007.

Do you love kids and have a talent to share?

We need your assistance! 

We are in need of:

1- Fundraisers.

2- Money to print materials.

3-Artists to help with school art presentations.

4- Someone to contact schools to introduce what we do.

5- A webmaster familiar with WordPress to update our site.

Thank you for your interest and support of media for children’s character development. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch.

Thank you,

Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon

Founder & Director: EDU DESIGNS, a public-benefit nonprofit charity.

Creator: GoMommyGO®, the Registered Trademark of EDU DESIGNS



3 –


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You Can Make an “I CAN” Book!

Babies LOVE seeing pictures and reading books  – especially of themselves!  You can thrill your little one and encourage them with how they are growing by making an “I CAN DO” book!

When you make an “I CAN DO” Book, it can help build a positive self image in your child, creating an identity based on experiences of accomplishment that give confidence they can succeed in life.


Simply fold a few pieces of paper in half and staple them together to make a blank book. Write their name with a photo of your child on the front. On each page place a picture of one thing he has learned to do (or a picture that represents it) and write “I can (what it is”) Begin with the simplest things first. If you are good at taking photos, you can use photos of your child doing the activity. As he learns new things, add them to the book one by one.


Each time that you add another picture, show it to him, and as it gets bigger he will see he is growing – and writing his own book of accomplishments, too!

Besides being a great teaching tool, it will be a memory book you will treasure forever!

Here are some examples:
Smile, crawl, sit up, 
hold a spoon, hold a bottle, hold a cup, feed themself, wipe up high-tray, wipe face, walk, run, put on own shirt, pants, socks, throw a ball, catch a ball, draw a picture, pet the cat or dog nicely, pick up trash and put in the trashcan, comb hair, brush teeth, help sort socks, pick up toys, drink without spilling, wiping up spills on table or floor, water plants, wash hands, take bath, get into bed, carry dish to the table, or back to the kitchen, play with his toys nicely, build something, play with blocks, play-doh, blow bubbles etc.

You can think of lots more as your little one advances to being able to do things like tying shoes, sweeping, making beds, etc.

Help kids find a Positive Self Image

Making an ‘I CAN DO’ book inspires a child with a sense of identity based on a history of good experiences and success at accomplishing goals.

As they get older, you can continue by reinforcing their good behaviors with charts. When they feel a satisfaction from being good, they are more likely to want to continue. 

Our mission is inspiring kids to develop good character!

It feels great whenever we hear “Thank You”!

Let us know if this has helped you.

Please give if you can!

Thank you!

Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Director, EDU DESIGNS

PS – Larger Resolution Files of the Positive Behaviors Images are available at this page – Enjoy!


Edu Designs makes careful use of your support! We don’t use a single cent of your gifts for salaries – 100% goes to programs to help children.

You are guaranteed a Tax Deductible Receipt. 


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‘SMILE’ first – and AMAZON gives!

colorful hands reaching up to

Shop at – Choose EDU DESIGNS and Amazon will donate to our charity!

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Do you already shop online at Amazon? When you ‘smile’ first, they will donate to our Non Profit if you do – and it won’t cost you a penny more!

Just go to, and choose Edu Designs as the Non Profit you wish to support. Amazon will do the rest. You shop. They give.

Every item available for purchase on is also available on AmazonSmile ( at the same price.

Just remember to begin at every time you shop. It’s a simple way to help us bring the arts and character to children.

It will put a smile on your face, too!

THANKS for shopping at!


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Words and images are powerful things. A picture once seen, can’t be ‘unseen’. A word cannot be ‘unheard’. It becomes part of your ‘thoughtlife’. 

There were times people said bad words around my kids, and just like the story of Pandora’s box – once they came out, there was no putting them back. My children would also start saying them.

Do you ever worry that your kids are being influenced in a bad way

We all struggle with how others affect us. The good news is that there are things you can do about it.

1- Talk with your kids

Just because another person is doing something, it doesn’t mean you have to do it, too. We CANNOT control other people’s character, but we DO have a choice to control our own.

2- Expose them to positive messages to counter the bad ones

I had a wise mom. She would pepper her conversations with thoughtful sayings, like“Love Conquers All.” and “It is better to give than to receive.”

Those words rolled around in my head for a long time. They made me want to have a pure heart, and not hate anyone.

3- Be a good example yourself

Another thing my mom told me was: The effect you have on others is like the back of your head – you can never fully see it.

Ultimately, we are the only ones who can be in charge of us. And more than anything else, children need Good Examples to look up to. What we need to do is remember to be one.


I put inspiring quotes on the bathroom wall to remind my kids (and me) to think first – to watch our words and actions when we wanted to say or do something less than helpful.

The wonderful thing about the ‘bathroom wall’ technique; there were at least a few times a day where the kids were captive to the positive messages. 

As a Top Rated Non-Profit, we are always thinking of ways to help.

This month we have a special poster you can print out and hang on the wall to inspire your kids (and you). 

Everyone who gives a donation of any size from the donation button at the bottom of the page will get a high resolution file of the poster below to download!

Please – give if you can.

Thank you!

Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Director, EDU DESIGNS


We are an ALL VOLUNTEER Non-Profit. 100% of your donation goes toward sharing our materials, and NOT salaries. You are guaranteed a Tax Deductible Receipt. PLEASE GIVE!

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Cinderella sketch by Ruth Elliott, 2000

When I was a kid, the story of Cinderella gave me hope. I identified with her. My two older sisters were sometimes mean. They bossed me around and made me work harder than they did. I felt trodden upon. But when I’d remember what Cinderella went through it encouraged me to take heart and not become bitter. Her story gave me hope that persevering in goodness would benefit me in the long run. And it did. 


We are all Children at Heart . . . 

Walt Disney once said: “Everybody in the world was once a child. So in planning a new picture we don’t think of grownups and we don’t think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget, and that maybe our pictures can help us recall.”

Our brains are better able to understand and recall a concept if it is learned in an emotional setting. A story does this. It creates one. Read more on the impact of stories here.

EDU DESIGNS was founded in 2007 

to create and distribute character building media to children, “While there’s still hope”, as my mother used to say.

But we must hurry! Kids are growing up every day, in need of what we offer. 

Years ago, my young son came home one day and said, “The reason I went to school wasn’t there today!”

“Why? What happened?”, I asked.

“They took art class out of my day.”

To this day, many districts are still sadly lacking in art. They cut back on their budgets, Art and Music are always the first to go. What we offer schools is a free initial presentation valued at $1,200 (in the educational workplace).

It’s exciting to see what happens when the students begin drawing. They start to discover ways to ‘see what they are looking at’ in a new way! (That’s the title of my Art Book for kids! At the bottom of this page is a link to get your own copy to download and share with someone you love.)

Not only does it give them something to want to go to school for, but  it motivates them to love learning and develop good character.

We need your help to continue this vital work!

It’s more important now than ever.

Children are the future.

Can you help?


Thank you,

Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Director, EDU DESIGNS

We are an ALL VOLUNTEER Non-Profit. 100% of your donation goes toward sharing our materials, and NOT salaries. You are guaranteed a Tax Deductible Receipt. PLEASE GIVE!



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Stories are a powerful way to get a message across. All the great teachers, Lao Tse, Plato, Jesus, Mohammed and countless others through the centuries used stories and parables to impart wisdom to people.

Everyone loves a good story! 

In one of Aesop’s Fables, the Wind and the Sun competed to see which of them was stronger.

The Challenge?

Who could get a traveller down on Earth to take off his coat!

The Wind tried first.

The wind blowing only makes the traveler hold tighter to his cloak.

But the harder the Wind blew, the tighter the man held on to his coat.

Then it was the Sun’s turn.

The Sun shining, makes the traveller remove his cloak.

The Sun simply shone down upon the man, who became so warm, he took it off all by himself.

The moral of the story, that persuasiveness is more effective than brute force, leads us to ask: What’s more persuasive than kindness? (As my mother used to say, “You get more flies with Honey than with Vinegar.”)

However, why bother telling a story at all?

Why not just get to the bottom line and tell everyone, “Be Nice”?

The answer is that people get yakked at constantly. And half the time they just filter it out.

But tell them a story? Nothing reaches a person’s heart faster than that.

Stories get us out of the here-and-now, and into another part of our brains, where we can engage our imaginations and see things from other angles.

We are better able to understand a concept when it is presented as a metaphor. And we are better able to remember it when it is given to us in an entertaining way.

That’s why we tell stories! 


When kids watch my original fable, THE NIGHT PRINCESS, they get the  message that the way you treat someone, anyone, is the way you treat everyone.

Princess by a window looking at the moon...

‘The Night Princess’, an original fable by Ruth Elliott

When EDU DESIGNS goes to schools, our story and art presentations inspire and motivate students to better character. And they are always hungry for more.

We need your help to continue this vital, not-for-profit work. 

Please give what you can.

Children need it!


Thank you,

Ruth Elliott-Hildson, Director, EDU DESIGNS

We are an ALL VOLUNTEER Non-Profit. That means 100% of your donation goes to share our materials with Students, Parents, Teachers & Schools, and NOT for salaries.

You are guaranteed a Tax Deductible Receipt.




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Say Goodbye to Kids Boredom with These Activities!

Say goodbye to kid’s boredom! (Image via Pixabay)

When it’s getting cold outside and you struggle to answer the question, “What are we going to do today?”, keep reading and say goodbye to boredom with these activities! We offer a few ideas on ways you can utilize technology to tank tedium and give your kids an opportunity to learn something new.


musical notes violin guitar

Your kids should learn to play at least one instrumentWhether they become good at it or not, there are numerous benefits from listening to and playing music. Children involved in music from a young age develop parts of their brain that would otherwise remain undeveloped.  Studies show that music can improve behavior, too. 

If they want to play the trumpet for instance, this 3,000-year-old wind-powered instrument inspires movement along with music to burn more than 100 calories an hour! (If buying your first brass wind, make sure to purchase necessary accessories and compare prices online. Student trumpets are typically less expensive than professional versions and will do the job of allowing your student to learn without a huge investment. Check out this trumpet buying guide from for more information and a description of the most common variations).

YouTube, Udemy, and are great resources for lessons in all instruments and experience levels. 

Physical fitness

baby running

Another thing your kids need is a healthy dose of exercise each and every day. Adults are supposed to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity three to four days each week. The best way to ensure your kids do as well, is to get them in the habit now. A quick Google search will bring up tons of children’s fitness videos that cater to a wide range of interests and abilities. You can all find fun ways to get moving through everything from interpretive dance to more traditional exercises, such as cardiovascular workouts and using resistance bands.

On days when getting off the couch isn’t an option, you can keep mental fitness at the forefront of their growing minds with online activities provided by


girl drawing picture

Get Ruth Elliott’s Art Book Free!

One of the coolest things about art is that it’s not exclusive to a single culture. People in every corner of the globe create art in some shape or form. The ancient Egyptians had their stone statues, the Romans their mosaic tiles, and the cavemen had pigments made of crushed berries and stone wall canvases. Art is a universal expression of emotion and, like music, has a positive effect on developing brains and bodies. Drawing, painting, and even sculpting encourages neural connections and develops fine motor skills in young artists. No matter what your children want to learn, there is a tutorial online that will help them master the medium of their choosing. If you’re not sure where to start, check out free Artyfactory lessons on topics ranging from pencil portraits to African mask making. You may also download Ruth Elliott’s Art Book for free, here.

Art, music, and physical fitness can be combined with other subjects for a double dose of education. The possibilities are endless. For instance, you can incorporate art history with a drawing lesson, discuss the science behind how sound is made, or research ceremonial dances from ancient tribes.

Whether your kids want to channel their inner Beethoven, learn some new dance moves, or paint a Picasso, you’ll find everything you need to say goodbye to boredom on the same device you’re reading now. You and your kids can use the net to become engaged, entertained, educated in the arts and find new and interesting ways to get physically fit.

Contributed by Jenny Wise

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Cycling – One of the Best Exercises for Children!

SAFETY QUIZ: What is the ONE thing this girl still needs to wear to stay safe riding her bike? Read the ANSWER here:

Why Cycling Is One of the Best Exercises for Children

The ultimate wish a parent has for their child is for them to live a long, happy, and healthy life. Teaching children cycling is an invaluable and empowering skill that can help them do just that. Not only is it great for the body, it can also give children an instant mood boost and increased self-esteem.

Cycling improves physical fitness

Cycling is a great cardio-vascular workout that’s also low-impact — meaning it protects children’s developing joints. Most obviously, regular cycling can help control weight and curb childhood obesity, a serious issue on the rise due to sedentary lifestyles.

There are also many other physical benefits children can get from learning to cycle. It increases muscle mass and stamina, as well as ensures a healthy heart and lungs. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine even found that cycling increased the longevity of cyclists in the Tour de France — by a whopping 17 percent!

Cycling is safe

Some parents may be concerned about the risks of cycling, but with the right preparation and precautions, it can be entirely safe. In fact, a study conducted by the British Medical Journal found that the numerous health benefits of cycling vastly outweigh the risks.

Make sure your bike rides are safe and enjoyable by choosing the right bike and wearing weather-appropriate clothing along with a well-fitting helmet. Bring water, snacks, sunglasses, a bike pump, and emergency tool kit, too (you can even teach your child important life skills, such as, how to fix a flat tire or tighten a loose chain, once they’re old enough). The all-round better you make your child’s experience of cycling, the more eager they’ll be to do it again.

Cycling is fun

Cycling is one of those rare physical activities that doesn’t feel like exercise — it’s just fun. Kids love the sense of freedom and independence cycling gives them. They’ll also get hours of enjoyment from being out and about, exploring their local area, and discovering new and interesting sights and locations. Cycling is truly a great way to encourage and foster their adventurous spirit.

Lastly, cycling is the perfect opportunity for the whole family to bond — and much better than simply zonking out in front of the TV. Family bike rides will give you time to talk and laugh together, which elevates everyone’s mood, as well as make positive memories you’ll all treasure for life!

Article contributed by Jenny Wise

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Are you smiling?

I am. Thanks to you, WE DID IT!  

All the votes from supporters, earned EDU DESIGNS the Top Rated Award from Great NonProfits for 2017!

Here’s another way to help:

Do you shop online at Amazon?

Every time you do, Amazon will donate a portion to EDU DESIGNS…

All you need to do is go to, and choose Edu Designs as the Non Profit you wish to support 🙂

Then, bookmark the link, so each time you shop, you’ll start shopping from this link:

The Amazon site, with the word “smile with a dot after it (.) added in front of the web address “” tells you Amazon will donate to our Non Profit!
It’s a simple way to help us bring the arts and character to kids, without it costing you a penny!

It will put a smile on your face, too!

I appreciate your support. 

Warmest Wishes,

By the way – 

Want your kids to learn to say, “THANK YOU”, too?

Check out these tips, HERE!


EDU DESIGNS and GoMommyGO® exist to help create and distribute media for children’s character development. 





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Parents are Not Helpless to Ease the Middle-School Blues, Here’s Why

middle school girl

(Photo via Pixabay)

by Joyce Wilson

Middle school, which is typically comprised of grades six, seven, and eight, is a time of great change for students, most of whom are beginning to form their identity. While some students’ middle school experience can be made even more stressful by moving towns or cities, the struggles which face middle school-aged children tend to be universal. Parents should be prepared for the often perplexing changes their child will exhibit, equipping themselves with the tools to understand and facilitate their child’s physical and mental transition.

A New Age, a New Set of Challenges

Typically, middle schoolers in the United States are aged between 11 and 14. This is a time when a young person is experiencing biological processes which result in behavioral changes often beyond their control, many of which are not considered positive.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, children at this age face challenges which are physical, emotional/psychological, intellectual, social, and moral/ethical. Parents must understand what changes typically are taking place in middle schoolers to help their child overcome these confusing challenges.

Physically, puberty leads to changes in appearance and stature which can result in lowered self-confidence, which exacerbates emotions that make them self-conscious and sensitive to criticism. While they tend to be intellectually hungry, this typically manifests in the form of real-world experience: developing friendships and other relationships. Contrarily, middle schoolers tend to be less receptive to academic information. Often, grades will slip due to preoccupation with forming relationships and establishing their modes of interaction with peers.

A middle schooler’s natural drive toward individuality and independence can lead to rebellion and distancing from one’s parents. They also tend to begin forming a personal sense of morality that can lead to dissenting thought within the home or toward authority in general, instead turning to friend groups as their closest confidants.

Allowing a child to establish their own identity is crucial, but permitting a middle schooler to form their own set of rules and attitudes is not the answer, either.

Finding the Line Between Guidance and Independence

Children spend about 50 percent less time with their parents in middle school than in their elementary years. While granting space is a necessary aspect of identity formation, parents should not take a hands-off approach.

Parents should continue to promote family activities, though not as a substitute for a child’s activities with peers who constitute a positive influence. Setting clear, fair rules is the first step in allowing your child to pursue independence on responsible terms.

It is also important to ensure that a child does not indulge the temptation to neglect their studies, as this can form negative habits that persist into high school. There are a number of ways that parents can keep their child motivated to excel in their schoolwork, and utilizing tips which foster long-term organizational skills is one of the greatest benefits a parent can impart on their child in terms of educational and professional success.

Be vigilant toward whom your child is surrounding himself with, as peer influences are one of the greatest indicators of whether a young person will have positive or negative self-esteem. Surrounding oneself with well-adjusted peers who exhibit prosocial traits promotes a strong moral compass that serves as a universal guiding light when it comes to decision making and reacting to peer pressure.

The social and behavioral changes that come with middle school are perhaps most important when employing strategic parental guidance, but preparing a child for the more micro details of enrolling in a new school must not be ignored.

A New School, a New Routine

Most children must feel comfortable in their surroundings to fully thrive and exercise good habits and decision making. Getting your child acclimated to their new school begins with familiarizing them with the building before the first day of the school year.

Whether it means taking occasional walks around the school’s neighborhood or participating in a tour of the school, familiarity breeds comfort. Comfort is difficult to find for a middle schooler, so make sure that you impart organizational skills that they will be less-than-eager to adopt.

Preparing your child with the skills and items – folders, binders, pencils, etc. – which are required can give them a boost toward establishing a good rapport with their teachers, who in turn can serve as a network of mentors during such a trying time.


Changing schools, usually an unavoidable aspect of starting middle school, is never easy. The biological changes that drive attitude and identity formation make the transition even more confusing and anxiety-inducing for a young person.

For parents, understanding is the first step toward helping. Once they understand the changes the child is experiencing – changes every parent went through themselves – they can begin to effectively assist their child without infringing on their budding sense of individuality and self-identity.

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Monkey See, Monkey DO!

I was 6 years old when my family got our first TV. Mom would only let us watch The Mickey Mouse Club. I remember the excitement at 5 o’clock when the show would begin – and then the feeling of letdown when it was over. Then Mom would say, “GO OUT AND PLAY!” 

She limited us to a half hour a day, sensing that too much could become addicting, something that scientific research has clearly shown.

Why is ‘TV’ so much fun?  When exposed to electronic media, our brains are flooded by a rush of dopamine, whether cartoons, video games or other forms of passive entertainment. 

Dopamine is the reward neurochemical that elevates our mood, allows us to feel joy, become motivated, and gives us the readiness to act.  Unfortunately, when the excitement is not ‘burned off’ through physical activity, frustration and anxiety can follow. An endless bombardment to media exposure can cause diminishing returns. Our Dopamine receptors become blocked, gradually allowing less and less in, making us need stronger ‘doses’ to get the same thrill we got originally. 

Symptoms of Dopamine Deficiency are: lack of motivation,  fatigue,  apathy,  procrastination,  inability to feel pleasure,  low libido,  inability to connect with others,  sleep problems,  mood swings,  hopelessness,  memory loss,  inability to concentrate,  inability to complete tasks,  engaging in self-destructive behaviors, especially addictions (from:

The same mechanism happens with overeating, which can lead to Type II diabetes. When we eat, Insulin is released, telling a cell to open to receive the ‘food’ (glucose). After exposure to too much sugar,  insulin receptors will stop responding, and though our blood may be overloaded with glucose, the cells will not open to utilize it and turn it into energy. This causes a feeling of continual hunger and fatigue, as well as other problems as the excess sugar that’s floating through our clogs our organs. 

Whether food or media, there’s only so much we can handle, before our body says, ‘NO.”  


It’s no wonder so many children are beset by ADHD, obesity and other problems these days. Though it seems obvious that too much media, junk food and lack of exercise could be hurting them (and us) we are loathe to admit it, because we are enjoying the convenience of just sitting the kids in front of the TV.

Luckily, there are ways to get around the dopamine-blocking effects of too much media.

Not surprising, according to studies, the answer is: Exercise, Good Diet, Meditation and controlling our exposure to addictive substances. This can restore our dopamine receptors to their healthy state, allowing us start enjoying our lives again.

I am not one of those that say ‘NO’ to all electronic media. To me, MODERATION is the answer.  Unfortunately, until a child is old enough to develop SELF Control, it’s up to the parent to train a child in good habits of media use. But that’s hard. There’s no easy way. The jailer is a prisoner, too.

Long before EDU DESIGNS was founded in 2007, I had a dream: To help children gain wisdom for living.

The important influences on children have long been: Family, School, and Friends. But when Television came on the scene, it became both a new friend and also an enemy, opening Pandora’s box to a world of things you can’t ‘un-see’ once you’ve seen them. People you would never let into your house enter through that window if you allow them. 

As a parent of 7 children, I saw what the wrong kinds of TV shows could do to my children’s behavior from fine to frenetic in a matter of minutes. I needed to watch with them, to see it from their eyes. If a program’s ‘excitement’ caused emotional distress we would have to discuss it so they could process their feelings before they could be calm again. Many times I would wonder why I ever let them watch the program in the first place. And choose something else the next time.

My aim is to use media’s powerful instructional ability to teach valuable lessons while protecting a child’s vulnerable heart and mind from harm.

Do you agree this is important? Please give us a 5-star rating on Great Non Profits to share your thoughts on what we are doing.

I am grateful for everyone who has already given us a review. Your thoughtfulness will help us reach more children, parents and teachers who need it.  

Thank you for reading.




Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder and Director of EDU DESIGNS



PS – Read what other folks say about us here…














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Are You A ‘DOORMAT’ Mom?

a doormat mom

A doormat has one purpose: To wipe your feet on.

Being thoughtful, caring and sensitive to others is a good thing. Right?

Sure. But if you are an empathetic person who hasn’t learned to care for yourself, too, you can easily fall into the trap of being used, but not respected. A Doormat. 

Feeling Stepped On?

With my first child, I unconsciously feared that if I said ‘no’ to any request, it would cause her emotional damage. By the time she had turned three, I realized I knew NOTHING about handling a toddler-terrorist who had come to expect to get her own way.

Luckily I was thrown a life preserver, a book called, ‘Dare To Discipline’, by Dr. James Dobson. It kept me from drowning and gave me the tools I needed. I learned to say, “No”, to deal with temper tantrums, and to stand my ground. Later on I realized:


Through the years I would make new mistakes, but I continued to seek out parenting wisdom from many sources: Chris Thompson, the Toddler-Whisperer; Charlotte Mason, a respected Homeschool expert; and Darlene Lancer, an expert on conquering codependency. All of them helped me examine myself, to uncover the causes of my own tendency to bend over backwards trying to please people, not just my toddler.

All Experts Agree that Kids Should Be Disciplined, but HOW? 

Though most parents have admitted to spanking their kids at times, psychologists agree that: 

Spanking is hitting, and hitting is harmful. 

One behavioral therapist with 25 years experience said,

There is NEVER a reason to inflict pain on a child. If that is the only way a parent thinks they can gain compliance, they are sadly mistaken. Cultivating mutual respect, consistent limit setting…removes the need to ever have to spank a child. You can’t teach a child to not hit when you are hitting them…  I teach positive parenting and collaborative problem solving…so much better than spanking.”

Dr. Dobson, agrees.

To shape the will without breaking the spirit is the challenge.

To prevent child abuse and practice positive parenting, check out these resources.

“Becoming more self-aware is the key to effective parenting.” ~Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon

The more you can analyze your own feelings and understand what’s really going on inside of YOU, the more you will become aware of what triggers your own anger, and can help you to see what your children are experiencing, too.


There are many non-violent ways to motivate your younger kids to cooperate, so they will WANT to do the right thing, and not because you force them

The first thing, after loving them, is to communicate clearly what you expect of them.

That is one reason I created my “Thank, Don’t Spank” behavior charts.

Get organized and plan ahead for good relations with your kids and family. Take advantage of this page for getting a plan, before you need it.

Don’t allow your children to walk all over you, but teach them firmly, without resorting to physical violence. There is a lot more to explore on this topic, so check out these other age-specific tips on discipline, here!

Warm Wishes,




Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder and Director of EDU DESIGNS

PS –  Can you help? If you appreciate me, please donate.


If you can, please take 2 minutes to give us a 5-star rating on Great Non Profits and share your thoughts on the importance of what we are doing.

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Carl Rogers coined the phrase, “UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD” which has become synonymous with what children need in order to grow to their full potential as healthy human beings. 

It includes:

An environment that genuinely and openly:

SEES the good in them,

LISTENS to them with empathy and

ACCEPTS them unconditionally. 

We all need that.

But especially in infancy, when one is helplessly dependent on parents or caregivers, a child will cling to them for safety and security, and adjust his behavior to assure he doesn’t lose them.

However if it feels unsafe to be who he really is, an infant may unconsciously want to ‘stuff’ that part of himself in order to get along. This can cause all kinds of emotional disconnects later in life, from angry outbursts, panic, fear, self loathing, addictions, an inability to feel one’s own needs or intuition, and more. 

This is why I said in one of my previous articles, “You Can’t Spoil A Baby”.

Unconditional love does NOT mean you love everything they DO however, and as kids grow past infancy, they also need discipline and guidance to prepare them for life’s challenges. 

“Though we do have freedom of choice, we do NOT have freedom from the CONSEQUENCES of our choice.” ~Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon 

Children who are not disciplined do not feel loved. So… 

LOVE your child as though you won’t have him tomorrow. . .

And TEACH your child as though he won’t have YOU tomorrow.

When you tie a growing plant to a stake to protect it from outside forces that would topple it over, you are not being cruel. Discipline is that stake. 

For tips on Discipline, read the next article, here. 

As much as your kids are worth loving, YOU are TOO. We will all make mistakes along the way, but if you are doing your best, that’s all you can do. 


Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder, EDU DESIGNS

Each year we reach thousands of kids and teachers with our art lessons and media for good character.

We are grateful for everyone who gives, helping to support our work.


PS – Give us a 5 star rating on Great Non Profits to share your thoughts on the importance of character in media!

Read what other folks say about us, here…





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Annie Elliott at Comic-Con San Diego, 2017

Annie Elliott, San Diego Comic-Con, 2017

Though her CD was titled, ‘Awkward Annie’, this talented artist, singer, copywriter, and volunteer for non profit causes, proves you always get more by giving.

Annie Elliott was recognized as a powerhouse by the organization She Runs It, who flew her to NY to receive an award for NEXT GENERATION FEMALE LEADER at Forbes, on Sept. 13, 2017. 

Associate Creative Director for RPA Advertising, Annie has been a contributor to EDU DESIGNS media since 2014.  

We deeply appreciate the wealth of knowledge and expertise Annie brings with her about the creative arts, media, and its’ influence on society. 

One of Annie’s previous articles from 2014 highlights a ‘female leader’ from a previous generation: June Foray, who was the Queen of Voiceovers.

Though she passed on at the age of 99, EDU DESIGNS was blessed to have June contribute her voice to our animated short, Somebody Needs You, which premiered at San Diego Comic-Con in 2016. Read more about how June’s contributions are helping kids learn empathy, here. 

At EDU DESIGNS, our team of volunteers researches media and networks with others who care about children’s character so we can bring you the best. 

Annie Elliott, D R Elliott, Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon and Lisa Elliott attended San Diego Comic-Con, 2017

EDU DESIGNS volunteers at San Diego Comic-Con, 2017. (L-R: Annie Elliott, D R Elliott, Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon and Lisa Elliott)

Each year we reach thousands of kids and teachers with our art lessons and media for good character.

We are grateful for everyone who gives to support our work.

There are LOTS of ways you can give, too. See here.


Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder, EDU DESIGNS

PS –  Give us a 5 star rating on Great Non Profits to share your thoughts on the importance of character in media!

Read what other folks say here…

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When Hope Seems Lost | Emergency Suicide Help Resources

When feelings of depression make it feel as though you have nowhere to turn, take one more step and you will find a network of support. You can’t do this alone.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255)


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a nationwide network of professional services that offer no-cost emotional support to people in crisis 24 hours a day. The lifeline has been in existence since January 1, 2005 and is independently evaluated by a team at the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene at Columbia University. Lifeline organizations receive ongoing guidance and consultation from suicide prevention experts across the globe.

The Badge of Life Police Suicide Prevention Program

Law enforcement officers are in a unique position of helping people every day. However, even the most seasoned officers can bend under the stress. If you are a current or former LEO visit for more information on resources you can use today to take a step on the path toward recovery.

Ask your Teachers

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in students from late elementary through college age. Teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrative staff are trained to offer compassion and seek help for people considering suicide. These are trusted professionals who understand the pressures of societal expectations and increasing academic pressure.

Veteran Crisis Line (800.273.8255 Press 1)

Former active-duty military men and women may utilize the Veterans Crisis Line, part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This confidential helpline is available around-the-clock 365 days a year. Veterans may also chat online for support by visiting any time. The site also provides special support and consideration for active duty personnel, homeless veterans, and friends and family of current and former military men and women.


Hospitals are a safe place where those in the throes of depression can receive emotional and physical support in times of extreme duress. Most medical complexes offer emergency care for individuals with suicidal thoughts. Emergency rooms are open 24/7 and provide a nonjudgmental environment to receive help and guidance.


Police/Fire stations

If you’re away from home with suicidal thoughts and feel you have nowhere to turn, your local police or fire station can help. Policeman, fireman, EMTs, and paramedics are trained to handle these situations.



Even when you may not believe it is a true emergency, suicidal thoughts should be treated as such. Any time there is the potential for loss of life, 911 is an option. Dispatchers will ask you some questions and send someone to help. Most likely, this will be the police and local paramedics who will transport you discreetly to the nearest local hospital. Rest assured, you will not be forcibly restrained (unless you pose an immediate threat to yourself or others) or treated like a criminal. Local law enforcement’s job is not to put you in handcuffs and lock you away; they are there to save your life and to save your loved ones the pain of your loss.

Safe Place

Safe Place is a youth outreach program that works to provide immediate emergency resources for young people. They are most often found in metropolitan areas at businesses, libraries, bus stations, and youth-oriented sports complexes such as the YMCA. Safe Place’s mission is to ensure an effective response system for in-crisis teens from age 12 through 17. Though often associated with runaway services, designated Safe Place locations offer supportive resources for young people dealing with a variety of issues including abuse, drug overdose, and those with suicidal thoughts.

If you feel as though all hope is lost, any of the above resources can point you in the right direction and assist you with getting the help you need. You are not alone. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week; all you have to do is ask.

Thank you, Jennifer Scott, for the informative article!


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June Foray's Last Show- the film, Somebody Needs You

Dani Bowman, June Foray and Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, 2016

When June Foray was ushered into eternity July 26, 2017 at the age of 99, Somebody NEEDS You became the last animated film she worked on. However, her voice lives on in the video, along with it’s message.

Somebody NEEDS You is a story that teaches empathy, about a girl who is not quite ‘tuned in’ to her surroundings, walking past opportunities to lend a hand, until she gets the insight that turns her around. After watching it, one mom wrote:

“…I love the beautiful, simple message… Regardless of your age or ability, there is always something you can do to help. This is something I try to instill in my children…I can share this video with them to show them how opportunities can present themselves by just opening their minds and hearts.”

The legendary queen of voiceovers, June Foray (best known as the voice of Rocky and Natasha from the TV show, Rocky and Bullwinkle) volunteered her voices on all four of the characters in the video which premiered at Comic-Con in 2016.

When Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon first told June about needing voices for the story she had written, June was happy to lend hers. “I’ll help!”, she said. “Anything for the kids.”  We are so grateful for her generous and loving participation.


June and Ruth January, 2017 (6 months before she passed on).

June with her beloved caregiver, Judy, 2017


June’s dog, Ginger


Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon remarked about the last time she visited June in January, 2017,  

“I enjoyed petting her lovely dog, Ginger. Then I was struck by how similar she looked to the dog in Somebody NEEDS YouAnd we didn’t even plan it that way!”

How accidentally perfect. 

And June’s voice is still reaching kids all over. The BOOK version is helping kids to learn to read.
Every child who sees the video, or reads the book, wants more!
So we are beginning work on a second episode, now.

Our creative team members, Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Dani Bowman, Matt Miller, Jas Hilsdon, Annie Elliott, D.R. Elliott, Lisa Elliott, Dianne Mower and more, have offered to add their talents as our adventure continues, in the sequel, SOMEBODY NEEDS HONESTY!

Somebody Needs HONESTY tells what happens as the lead character in the story is faced with the question of what she should do after her ‘good deed’ has gone awry. A new lesson is learned, that life can be good after a mistake.

We are excited to bring this story to life, and invite your support.

We need your help, too. Can you lend a hand?

Here are lots of ways to give…

One is money.




Purchase the book version of Somebody NEEDS You from Amazon Smile.(The words inside the book are identical to the video, and help teach kids to read!) June Foray's voices teach empathy in the Video version, too


Did you know that Amazon Smile will give a donation to our non profit every time you shop for anything you buy on Amazon Smile? Just select EDU DESIGNS as your non profit of choice from this link, FIRST, and then do your shopping!

Here’s how:

Please give us a 5 star rating on Great Non Profits to share your thoughts on the importance of what we are doing! Read what other folks say about us here…

I appreciate you! 

Warmest Wishes,




Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon, Founder and Director of EDU DESIGNS

PS – None of us gets a salary from our work here. 100% of your donations go to where it’s meant to go: To help the kids! 

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Click to DOWNLOAD The PRINTABLE Version. 




Kids and Parents need all the help they can get.

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