Archive for ‘BCS Blog’

Beyond the Bulletin Board

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

At the start of every school year, I enjoy walking around the school, looking at the hallways and poking my head into classrooms as teachers prepare, and seeing the fresh, creative ideas they have used to decorate their rooms and make them a welcoming learning environment.  Often, many teachers take the theme for the year and turn it into a bulletin board or use another concept that they would like to emphasize and make it the focal point of a visual display. This year is no different. The theme for this year, “Stand Up and Be the Example,” is prevalent on many walls as are other ideas centered around our value as unique individuals loved by God.

Yet what makes our education different from others is not simply words and ideas placed on walls.  Instead, we take the words off the walls and make them part of an intentional effort to connect our faith directly with our learning.  Weaving our throughlines, ten faith “connection points,” into our teaching and learning discussions and activities enables us to integrate faith more seamlessly into our content areas.

BCS Faith Throughlines


Discerning and Applying Knowledge

Imagining Possibilities

Seeking Wisdom

Exploring and Creating Beauty


Cultivating Community

Pursuing Justice

Restoring Relationships


Caring for Creation

Serving Others

Worshipping God

These faith throughlines serve as a reminder of what we are truly trying to teach our students as we encourage them to look at life through the lens of faith as Christians.  When done well, students realize that learning about math, science, social studies, language, or any of the other subject areas, is more than just learning for the sake of learning.  The knowledge and insights gained are not separate or implemented in isolation from our faith. Rather, students understand that what they learn is to be used to further God’s kingdom and that they are called to be difference makers in his world.

As we go through this and every school year, our goal for our students is that they will internalize and embody this concept of making our faith a living, active, connected faith that impacts our everyday lives and the community and world in which we live.


To learn more about Brookfield Christian School or to schedule a visit, contact us at

“Watch One, Do One, Teach One”

Posted on: June 23rd, 2018

Commencement Address Speaker

We were blessed to have one of our alumni, also a parent of one of our 2018 graduates, deliver the commencement address this year.  We’re sharing a part of her advice to our 8th graders as they head out to learn, to lead and to serve faithfully in God’s world:

“You may or may not know, but BCS has lots of traditions – which I personally love. Many of my friends tease me about my long and varied list of traditions in our house.  And because of this, I find great joy watching my own children do many of the things I did as a student here. Some things have changed over the years, the enrollment, the school colors, even the name….but the core of BCS remains the same. Founded in faith, teaching God’s Word. 

During your time here, you have been challenged to learn, to lead and to serve. This is more than just a tag line for the school. It is a great foundation for your life.  It’s time to take those principles into the next chapter! Never stop learning. Look for the ways God has prepared for you to lead. Live a life of service.  This reminds me of a phrase used in medical training: “Watch one, do one, teach one.”   

The first phase of learning to do a new skill is watching someone who has mastered that skill. This is not an inactive, sit back and watch. This takes concentration, a willingness to learn, not being afraid to ask questions. I believe that much of your time at BCS has been a phase of “watch one.” You have been “watching” your teachers for years now, taking in all the knowledge they are working to pass on. You have learned your days of the week from Mrs. Bylsma. You learned to read from Mrs. Patch, cursive handwriting from Mrs. Otten, and world history from Mr. Dekker.

But you have also learned how to pray, how to study the Bible, how to be a reading buddy, how to stand without moving in the wax museum, how to give speeches, how to resolve conflict, how to encourage others.   You have had the opportunity to “Build Each Other Up,” to learn what it means to be part of the “Body of Christ,” and how to “Grow in Grace.” You have been blessed with parents, teachers, small group leaders, and coaches who have prayed for you, encouraged you, and instructed you in these things.

BCS has prepared you well for the next phase: “Do one.” It is important to know that in the medical field the “do one” phase is done under supervision.  The instructor who had you watch their procedure, now supervises you as you do the procedure.  You are not left on your own yet. You are still side by side with someone who has more skill, more knowledge, more training. So has been your experience at BCS.  Your parents, other parents, teachers, principal, coaches – they have been there to lead, guide and cheer you on as you put your knowledge into practice and do one.

You’ve learned about unity in Christ and then practiced the “doing” in your unity groups.  Watch one, do one.  You’ve watched and learned about leadership and you’ve practiced the “do one” phase in the classroom and on student council.  You were a little buddy once, looking up to the big kids. Then, you yourself became the big buddy and little ones were looking up to you and watching you.  Watch one, do one.

You have been taught about the importance of service and then you have gone outside these walls and packed food for Feed My Starving Children. You’ve collected and sorted shoes at Soles for Jesus, and this year you picked 2500 pounds of vegetables to help feed Milwaukee’s hungry and homeless.  Watch one, do one. All the while, being surrounded by “supervisors,” resources and encouragers.

Now comes the exciting and scary phase: “Teach one.”  It’s your turn to take all that you have experienced, all that you have learned, and share it!   Share the knowledge, gifts and talents that have been nurtured in you with others.  You are headed out into the world where you will have more autonomy, more responsibility and will be making more decisions on your own – decisions that have bigger impact and consequences. Remember that every decision, every friendship, every conversation is an opportunity to represent God.

I’d like to offer a couple practical ways to represent God, lead by example and teach one: 

Be truthtellers.  Proverbs 12:22 says “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy.” Lying is the way of the world and often the easy way out. Resist the urge to make yourself look better or avoid consequences by lying. Lying hurts friendships and destroys trust. Instead, choose honesty even when it’s difficult. Lead by example. Speak truth and in doing so you teach one.

Take ownership.  Accept responsibility for your mistakes.  News flash: You will make mistakes. (We all do). You may lose your cool on the field or court, you may make a bad decision in the moment, you may post something on social media that you regret, or you may inadvertently find yourself in a bad situation because you went along with the crowd. I challenge you to own it. Don’t lie to yourself or others. It makes it worse. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:13 that “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Others are watching how you deal with mistakes. When you accept responsibility you represent God well.  Remember! Representing God does NOT mean pretending you never make a mistake. Showing others how to own it in the hard times and then choosing better next time is a wonderful example of God’s grace and goodness.  And in it you teach one.

Be men and women of integrity.  Having integrity means a person has a moral compass that does not waiver. It literally means having a “wholeness” of character that is undivided.  Just as an integer is a whole number with no fractions. And for my kids that try to convince me that they’ll never need math, there’s some math you can use!

Base your moral standard on God’s Word and not what is right in the world’s eyes. That may change from year to year. But God’s truth never waivers, and the best way to know this is to know God’s Word!  

As a mother of a young man,  I’d like to say to the boys tonight: The world is full of examples of men who lie, who are arrogant, who do anything to win at all costs.  Men who treat and speak of women with no respect.  Men who are afraid to speak out and stand up for what’s right.  DO NOT BE ONE OF THEM.  Instead, lead by example and choose honesty, choose kindness, and speak the truth in love. Stand strong, be humble, choose your words and actions carefully.  I Corinthians 15:58 says,  “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”

To the girls: As a fellow woman, I encourage you to be woman of excellent character. Use all that God has given you for His purposes.  Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourselves to others which can cause us to put people down to  make ourselves feel better. Your identity is in Christ.  Build others up and be generous. Watch your tongue and your choose your words carefully. Resist gossip. Be bold in your witness of Christ!

When you leave BCS, you may no longer be surrounded by teachers who watch over you or “supervise” your spiritual growth. In fact, you may be headed into circumstances that will challenge your faith. I will encourage you to find friends who share your love for God and strengthen those friendships.  You can rely on one another, find common ground, accountability and encouragement there.

Choosing to live a life of integrity may come at a cost. You may risk losing a friendship or risk being labeled judgmental, narrow minded or weird for standing up for what is right or for telling others what you believe.  This phase of “teach one” may bring on fear of rejection, ridicule or of being left out.  I love the song that says “for every fear, there is an empty grave, for the Lord our God has overcome.” God took on all our fears and He buried them in the grave and He has overcome! You can trade your fear and put your trust in a God who promises to always be with you in every situation.  He will never ask you to do these hard things without providing His power and grace.

Living your life full on for Christ will be a decision you will never regret.  It is a life of fulfillment and purpose. It may not be easy, but God is with you always. And there is great blessing even in the hard times because God is faithful. The most important thing to remember is that He loves you. You are actively pursued by God who loves you so deeply and He desires to have an ever-growing relationship with you. And even with our mistakes or when it’s hard or challenging, I pray that truth compels you to want to make good decisions, to live a life of integrity and purpose and to point others to Jesus.  


This is a lifelong process, but look at all these people here tonight!  They are all in your corner and are praying for you and cheering you on as you step out in faith. No matter how many years you’ve been here, you know that this community of believers is something special.  Your families have become family to us. We will be forever grateful for our time here and the friendships we have made.

You are leaving this place and entering the next chapter, and I am so excited to see all the ways you will grow and serve God in the future. You are just a wonderful group of young men and women, and I am privileged to have watched you grow over all these years.  

Congratulations to you on your graduation!  Love you all.

Thank You.”

Class of 2018


To learn more about Brookfield Christian School or to schedule a visit, contact us at

Greatness in the Mundane

Posted on: May 1st, 2018

This post was originally shared by our talented Middle School Language Arts teacher in our weekly staff gathering on Mondays as a devotional and then adapted to share on our blog.  

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the mundane rhythms of life.  Maybe it’s because it’s April and I’m “teacher-tired” – everyone in this room knows what I mean when I say “teacher-tired” –  it’s that bone-tired weariness that goes beyond the reach of sleep.

Maybe it’s because Wisconsin decided to hold off on spring for far too long this year, and because of the seasonal “boycott,” UW-Milwaukee’s baseball team (and their handsome coach who happens to be my husband) has had to play 33-straight games on the road.  That is, thirty-three and counting…there are 4 more road games this week.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about the mundane things of life – the daily tasks that glue our lives together hour by hour: the laundry and the shopping and the meal prep and the running of kids to and fro, the tedious but important stuff that we work out behind the scenes before we step onto the stages of our classrooms, the countless hours making comments on papers that may (or may not) be read while also posting grades and returning emails in timely fashion. Because of the repetition – the redundancy – of the daily grind, these mundane tasks often become a kind of white noise in our lives.  And if we let it, it can drown out a holy chorus that speaks to the beauty and greatness that God can create in the midst of the mundane.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes living in the spin cycle of the mundane make me feel like I’m missing out on some bigger “Kingdom Work”…something greater, something bigger, something more.  But, as author Ann Voskamp asks, “what if living a life of greatness for God is not about doing a few great things, but instead it’s about living a life of holy redundancy—showing up faithfully day after day in the seemingly little things? What if our greatest investments are faithfully raising our family, building a God-honoring career, cultivating a healthy heart, and developing strong relationships?”

In his book, Dream Big, Think Small, author and pastor Jeff Manion shares what he has observed through his thirty steady and consistent years of ministry, which is this: the remarkable life is built by taking a thousand unremarkable steps.   

He shares, “As believers, we want our lives to count.  We long to do great things for the kingdom of God.  However, greatness is rarely achieved by doing great things, but instead by doing good things repetitively.

The tragedy is that, while waiting for great opportunities to come along, we miss out on a parade of good opportunities that march steadily by. Goodness is largely ignored because it seems too common, too mundane, too everyday.

Consider the way this plays out in the example of a small community.  A town mourns the death of three teenagers killed in a car accident.

Tragedy struck with screeching tires and twisting metal. The horrific news sweeps through the high school with the devastating shock of a tsunami. Bouquets and handwritten notes form a spontaneous memorial at the intersection where the cars collided. Tragedy strikes.  Conversely, goodness rarely ‘strikes.’ It arrives on the stage with little drama.

In the same community that experienced the awful accident, a devoted coach painstakingly builds a cross-country program for middle school girls. For a dozen seasons, she forges diligence, teamwork, and confidence. While some of these girls are the products of affirming, encouraging homes, others will remember their seventh-grade cross-country coach as “the first person who believed in me.”

And then, twenty years pass.  Ask a thirty-three-year-old woman from that community what influences impacted her while she was growing up. Reflecting for a moment, she answers, ‘The Accident’ and ‘The Coach.’

But recall that ‘The Accident’ and ‘The Coach’ arrived at different speeds and in radically different ways.  Tragedy strikes. Goodness grows slowly.  The snail’s pace at which goodness travels will require extreme devotion to the journey.

Goodness demands staying power. The question is whether we will summon the requisite endurance for a slow, faithful, consistent outpouring of love.

I believe this is why Paul urged an early community of Jesus’ followers with these words from Galatians 6:9: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’”

Paul speaks to the issue of weariness because a life of goodness can be tedious and redundant and absolutely overflowing with the mundane.  Manion adds, “It involves bringing ourselves again and again, often to the same tasks and often to the same people. The repetition takes something out of us. It drains our energy. Paul was writing here of a kind of weariness (maybe even “teacher-tired”) that leads to calling it quits.  But he also reminds us that we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.”

“If I’m honest, I wish Paul had selected a different metaphor. Perhaps something with a little more speed, and decidedly quicker results. But, no, Paul went with farming. Because you can’t rush a harvest. You plow, you plant, and you wait.  And this is not a mistake: I believe the farming image can radically adjust our expectations. Sometimes a life of positive impact is about as interesting as watching a garden grow.”

And there it is: Goodness grows slowly.  It arrives through the repeated kindness of the diligent faithful.  It arrives quietly, traveling the slow path of devoted love.

As Manion gently reminds us, we must “dream big, but think small,” we must toil with the slow process that yields a harvest. Day by day, through one loving act after another, we have an opportunity to grow a life of greatness.  Through one more paper comment. Through one more load of laundry. Through one more trip to the grocery store.  Through one more, and then another, and then another. We have the opportunity to grow a life of greatness. We just have to keep showing up and planting.  We have to keep keeping on…even in – no, especially in – the mundane.


Want to learn more about Brookfield Christian School?  Contact us today for more information or to schedule a visit. 

Why Choose a K-8 School Model?

Posted on: January 12th, 2018

When deciding what type of learning environment will best serve your child, there are obviously many considerations: academic rigor, course offerings, educational philosophy, sense of community, extracurriculars, etc. However, sometimes lost in the decision-making process is the educational structure of the grade levels themselves.

Many larger schools and districts physically separate their students into elementary schools (usually K-5), middle schools (typically grades 6-8), and high schools (grades 9-12) due to space limitations and in order to operate efficiently. While such a setup works for some students and families, others express concern, especially at the middle school level, with the sheer size of the student body and a lack of feeling connected both on a student and family level.

That concern is understandable. Middle school is a time when students are going through many transitions socially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and academically. It is a stage in life unlike any other. Students are exploring their independence and defining their sense of self in relation to others. They need to feel connected to the adults they interact with on a daily basis and be given opportunities to serve as positive role models themselves.

A self-contained K-8 school provides such a learning environment and offers many benefits, including:

    • Students who start in kindergarten are known by teachers and parents as they progress throughout the grade levels.
      This enables students to have a sense of belonging and being known. It also gives students and their parents a strong sense of community and support and an ease of access to teachers as both parents and teachers partner together to help students. Socially, students are able to develop lasting friendships. Spiritually, through weekly chapels and small groups led by teachers and parents, students explore and solidify their faith foundation through discussions with trusted adult role models.
    • K-8 schools are often smaller in size, enabling teachers to better identify student needs.
      This results in fewer students falling through the cracks. At Brookfield Christian, our teachers, Resource teacher, and Student Support Team are able to work effectively and flexibly to identify and address learning needs.
    • More students have opportunities to be involved in activities.
      For example middle school students at Brookfield Christian may choose to play sports and/or perform in the band. All students in 6th-8th grades participate in a speech competition/showcase, a music festival, choir, art, service-learning, and a musical. Having students engage in these activities is beneficial because it provides students with an opportunity to develop and display skills that they may otherwise never explore had they been in a larger school setting.
    • Students have a sense of independence but are still connected to the larger student community.
      The middle school students at Brookfield Christian have block schedules for their subject area instruction and change classes, an important part of preparing them for high school, but they still cross paths and interact with lower grade students on a daily basis. This builds character and serves as a reminder of the need for students in the 6th-8th grade levels to serve as role models for the younger students. In addition, all school Unity Group chapels, dress rehearsal performances, and book shares, among other things, provides the older students with the opportunity to engage with students in the elementary grades and hone their leadership skills.

    All of these benefits lead to an overall sense of confidence that translates well as students transition to high school. As our graduate surveys consistently show, students from Brookfield Christian are prepared to succeed in high school whether they attend high schools large or small, public or private.

    When considering a school for your child, we encourage you to visit Brookfield Christian School to see what we have to offer. Our self-contained PreK-8 model offers many educational benefits for you and your child(ren). Contact us to schedule a tour today.

Low or No-Mess Activities for Little Hands

Posted on: January 5th, 2018

Brr!  Its cold, and that means lots of time inside, and the usual toys are getting old.  Need some creative activities that won’t have you wasting time on major clean-up?  Try some of these road-tested options:

  • Have them draw a picture or write a letter to grandparents or a neighbor.
  • See how many different kinds of animals they can spot in the backyard through the window (if it’s really cold, this might be a little challenging). Keep a tally on a whiteboard or a piece of paper on the fridge.
  • If you’re up for a little disorder, build a couch fort!  Check out some of the tutorials you can find on Pinterest, like this one.  Or create a tunnel out of your dining chairs and a sheet, and use a few strands of Christmas lights to make it even more fun!
  • Print a few Snowman Bingo cards and pay a few games using mini marshmallows for markers.
  • If you have a balloon, tape a plastic spoon or wooden spoon to a paper plate for a”racket” and have your child practice keeping the balloon afloat, or you can grab one too and play “balloon tennis” with the balloon.

Find few more activities and ideas on our Winter Fun Pinterest board.


Brookfield Christian School is an independent Christian school offering grades 3K-8 in Brookfield, Wisconsin. For more information about BCS, contact us at

Reflections On Our School Theme

Posted on: September 26th, 2017

One of our teachers recently shared this reflection on our theme for the year – please enjoy!

I Corinthians 12:27 says that we are the body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it. Students, parents, teachers, and other staff members at BCS are all part of the body of Christ. We all belong to our Maker, and we all have a role in serving Him.

Some of us are organized, others are creative, some are musical, and others are encouraging. We all have been given gifts from the Holy Spirit , and we are to use them for God’s glory. No gift is more important than another, nor is one member of thebody more important than another. At BCS each member is valuable. We need each other, and our combined parts work
together to grow as a body of Christ.

There are times when trouble comes. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. It is during the difficult times when we need to rally around each other, encourage, and lift each other up. When there is success and reason to rejoice, the whole body should celebrate together. There are so many things to be grateful for.

As we begin a new school year at BCS, let’s work together, encourage one another, and have a great year of growing in God’s



To learn more about Brookfield Christian School and how we’re living out our theme this year, contact us at

Welcome to the 2017-’18 School Year!

Posted on: August 29th, 2017

We kicked off our 54th year at BCS this morning! Our chapel speaker was alumnus and parent of three BCS students, Ryan Dooyema.  He shared some fun stories of his times at BCS, and spoke on our theme for the year, “The Body of Christ.” We can’t wait to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ this throughout the school year. Our Middle School students started Monday with a retreat at a local camp, to spend some time getting to know one another and preparing for a great year.  Our 1st-8th graders had their first official school day today, and then our littlest Eagles will start tomorrow.  Please continue to keep the students, staff and families of Brookfield Christian School in your prayers throughout this school year.


To learn more about BCS, please contact us at or call (262) 782-4722. 

Have Fun With Summer Learning

Posted on: August 6th, 2017

Need to get your kids back into the swing of things before school starts?  Try some of these fun learning activities!

Read the Book, Watch the Movie

If you’ve hoping to encourage your kids to open a book and read this summer but it’s been a struggle, then this might do the trick. Pick out a book that is also a movie and then pick a date for a movie night. To view the movie, they have to read the book. 

Then, have a family movie night where you watch the movie together.  Since the movie is often a creative interpretation of the book, talk about the differences that you noticed and what you thought was more interesting in the book and what was more interesting in the movie.  Ask your child to be a movie critic and critique how the movie portrayed the book (characters, plot, scenes, imagery, etc.).  Make sure to have some popcorn, too!

Dive into a DIY

Find a project for your kids to do and have them follow the step by step instructions online. Pinterest and YouTube are great resources for finding fun project ideas. This allows kids to use a screen but to also create something and learn about how different things are made. You could also have your kids create their own DIY project and publish it online or email a tutorial to a family member.

Photo Hunt

Plan an outdoor photo scavenger hunt! Make a list of all planets, rocks, bugs etc. that you want your kids to find and ask them to photograph each item they find with a camera, iPod, smartphone or tablet. Afterwards you could use the photos to create a photo book together. Great for those end of summer camping trips and vacations!


Screen Time with a Purpose

Encourage your kids to dust off those word processing, graphic design and keyboarding skills! Create flyers for a rummage sale or lemonade stand and give proceeds to a favorite charity. Create cards for missionaries or soldiers. Volunteer to help a senior citizen with computer skills.  Create a photo book of summer vacation photos for the family to enjoy.

Summer Safety Tips

Posted on: June 14th, 2017

Summer Safety Tips

This is part of a series of posts providing practical information for parents and families while highlighting the talents and expertise that we have within our school community.  Here one of our parents in law enforcement shares some tips for keeping your family safe in large crowds.

1. Encourage your children to memorize your home address and phone numbers for parents. Make a game of it!

2. When your family goes to Summerfest, Six Flags, a local church festival or any other crowded venue, take a minute and snap a photo of your kids after you park your vehicle.  If your child goes missing, you have a photo of what they’re wearing and don’t need to struggle to try to remember their outfit at a time when you are already panicked.

3. Have a “reunion plan” in place for crowded venues, i.e. “if we get separated we will meet up at the Spinning Teacups.” (This is more appropriate for older children.) Make sure your younger children understand what staff members wear and know to ask them for help if they get lost.  Depending on your child’s age, it may be prudent to have a reunion site in and outside of the venue.

4) Remind your children that adults shouldn’t try to get them to go places away from their parents and that if someone does try to get them to “see a puppy”, “get some candy”, etc. that they should immediately tell an adult with kids, an employee, a police officer, etc.

Stay safe, and have a great summer!


To learn more about Brookfield Christian School, contact us today at

Improving Your Everyday Photography

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017

This is part of a series of posts providing practical information for parents and families while highlighting the many talents and expertise that we have in our BCS school community.  Here one of our talented parents shares some tips and tricks everyone can use to improve their everyday photography.  Read on, and put these to use capturing your family this summer (maybe wearing BCS spirit wear….)!

The end of the school year is fast approaching which means one of the best times of year – summer vacation! This time of year also means more time outside enjoying the beautiful weather and celebrations with family and friends. If you are anything like me, you can never have enough pictures of your children. They grow and change so fast and it is fun to document them at the stage they are in. However, having professional pictures taken on a semi-regular basis to keep up with tracking these changes can certainly get expensive.  So here are some quick and easy tips you can use to improve your photography, whether you are using an expensive DSLR or your iPhone!

1) Consider Your Background
When you prepare to take a picture, I am sure you are focusing mostly on your subject. This makes complete sense. However, right before you snap the picture, take a quick minute and look at what is behind your subject(s). Clutter can be a very distracting element to a picture. You want to try to keep your main focus on the subject, not the background. Are there any small changes you can make to your background to make it more visually appealing? Is there a pile of clothes you can move to the side? A stash of toys you can shove behind the couch quickly? You want your background to distract as little as possible from your main subject and sometimes simple changes can really help take your picture from blah to great in a very short period of time. You may even be able to change your position or angle just slightly to remove a distracting object from your photograph.

Bedrooms can be tricky as there is a lot of stuff that can get in the way of the picture and be a distraction. Just keep moving around (or move stuff out of the way) to make sure the background is visually appealing in your photo.

2) Get Closer
One easy way to remove distracting or unappealing objects from your photo and bring the focus to your subject is by getting closer and filling your frame with your subject. When you are ready to snap your photo, take a few more steps closer to your subject. Yep, even closer. Try to fill your frame with your subject, not the background.  This may take a little getting use to but I promise you will like some of the resulting pictures. Yes you may cut off or remove some parts of your subject from the picture but you will create a much more intimate picture.

Moving in closer to your subject allows you to focus on the details as well. Not every picture you take of you children has to be standing and smiling at your camera (not like this is even possible most of the time). Instead, try to think outside of the box and focus on some of the other details that are equally important to capture. Think about ways to get creative with the shot you are taking and the story you are trying to tell.

3. Watch the Light
Good lighting can really make or break a picture. While this can get pretty technical, a few basic things you can learn about lighting that will dramatically improve your pictures.  Summer time is of course a great time to get outside to take pictures of your kids. However, with the longer days and warm weather comes bright sun and harsh shadows. These two factors do not make for the best pictures. In fact, overcast days are ideal for shooting outside pictures because colors stay true and your subjects won’t be squinting instead of smiling.  Many photographers like to photograph during what is called the “golden hours” – the hours right after sunrise in the morning and right before sunset in the early evening because this time of day nicely lights your subjects and creates a warm natural glow. However, as a parent, I know very well that taking pictures during this limited window of time is very hard with kids. So what can you do if you want to take pictures in the middle of the day? The key is looking for open shade. Basically you want your subject out of the bright sun in a shady (but not too shady) area facing towards the light. This will help give you nice even skin tones and a better overall result.

For these pictures I waited until the sun was setting (maybe around 7 pm) so the colors were nice and even and there were no harsh shadows falling on their faces.

Now let’s talk for a minute about taking pictures inside. When taking pictures indoors, as tempting as it is to use your flash, I would first try to find the most natural light you can from your window source. Spend some time watching where and when the sun comes into your home for a few days and figure out the best spots to use for natural light. Open up your blinds and curtains. I like to position my subject facing the window (such as near a window or an open door) at a 45 degree angle while I stand in the doorway or as close to the window as possible to actually take the picture. By positioning your subject towards the light source, you will also get a nice little sparkle (also called a catchlight) in their eye which really helps make your picture feel alive and bright.

This picture was taken in the dead of winter in our dining room. I simply positioned my son facing the window and stood with my back facing the window to make sure there was that sparkle in his eyes. If you aren’t sure whether you are getting good light, just keep moving your subject around until you see that nice little sparkle in their eyes.

4) Compose Your Picture
There is a concept in photography called the Rule of Thirds. This is a timeless technique that will help take your pictures from boring snapshots to wow photographs. Here is how it works. Think of placing a tic-tac-tow grid over your picture. You want the most interesting part of your picture to fall on one of the lines on the tic-tac-toe grid. When taking portraits, the eyes usually are the part you are aiming to place at one of the interesting lines. This is not a hard and fast rule and can certainly be broken. It is just something to consider when composing your picture. 

5) Do Some Basic Editing

You don’t have to have fancy editing software to improve your photographs with editing. Many iPhones comes with basic editing features right in the camera. You can even add filters for more artistic looks. Play around with a few and see which one speaks to you.  You can also add light, color, contrast and saturation pretty simply to your photographs that will help make them look a tad more professional. Just play around with the little levers until you get your picture to a place you like. Also, check out for a free and easy editing software program that allows you to quickly and easy doctor your photos.  

I snapped this picture on my iPhone and with a few small tweaks – tightening the crop to remove the shadow in the bottom left, adding some light to brighten everything up, and saturating the colors a tad the edited picture is much better than the original and it only took me a minute!

6) Improving Group Photos
We’ve all been there. You are celebrating at that special family reunion or bridal show and you attempt a group picture to capture the special day. Afterwards, you check out the photo and realize there is not one picture with everyone’s eyes open! Here is an easy trick when taking a group shot. If you are acting as the photographer, tell everyone to close their eyes. Tell them you are going to count to three and then they need to open their eyes and smile.  As they open their eyes on the count of three, start snapping pictures. Those first few are bound to contain a few good shots!

7) Don’t Pose Your Kids
I know we all love the pictures of our kids standing and smiling perfectly at the camera, right? But let’s be honest, they are hard to come by.  Try experimenting with “non-posed” pictures. Those pictures of your kids playing and exploring; taking a bath; building with Legos; having breakfast; snuggling watching a movie. Take pictures of things other than their smiling faces. They help tell your story and share more about your son or daughter than any posed picture ever will.

And while you are quietly documenting these moments, softly whisper their name. When they look up from whatever they are doing, snap the picture. They may even smile when they hear their name. Or say something funny when you call their name. These are the moments you will get the genuine expressions we are all looking for.

With older children, I also like to play the “no smile” game. This works with most kids over the age of 4. Make it a game for them NOT to smile. Play it up as best you can — “don’t smile. Oh no, I see you smiling.” They will generally start laughing (and smiling) and a nice, genuine smile is almost always the results. They just can’t help themselves.

There you have it, a few quick and easy tweaks you can make to instantly improve your photography. If you are looking for a great resource to improve your photography even further, I highly recommend the book Mamarazzi: Every Mom’s Guide to Photographing Kids by Stacey Wasmuth.


Thanks to Kara Hilburger Photography for these great tips!  To learn more about how you can join the Brookfield Christian School community, contact us today at

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