A publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Spring 2018 Volume 17, Issue 2
REAPING THE REWARDS
12 WITH BABY
Child Care Aware ®
is a publication of
Child Care Aware ®
Angie Saenger, Deputy
Julie Hess Design
On the Cover
Genesis Abigail Matthews,
age 4, of Salina.
Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,
1508 East Iron, Salina, Kansas 67401,
publishes Kansas Child quarterly,
which is made possible through the
financial support of the members
of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas and
sponsorships from our corporate,
private, and foundation partners.
Kansas Child is intended to provide
a forum for the discussion of child
care and early education issues and
ideas. We hope to provoke thoughtful
discussions within the field and to
help those outside the field gain a
better understanding of priorities
and concerns. The views expressed
by the authors are not necessarily
those of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
or its sponsors.
Copyright © 2018 by Child Care
Aware ® of Kansas, unless
otherwise noted. No permission
is required to excerpt or make
copies of articles provided that
they are distributed at no cost.
For other uses, send written
permission requests to:
Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,
1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401
Kansas Child is distributed at
no cost to Child Care Aware ®
of Kansas donors. Single
copies are available
to anyone at $5 each, prepaid.
Sadly, greeting cards are a bit of a lost art,
but I love them. There is something special
about knowing someone took the time to pick
out a card, jot a message and then actually
drop it in the mail. Recently, I received a really
lovely card. On the cover, it read:
Close Your Eyes and Dream a Dream …
And Seek the Courage to Make it Real.
Reflect on the Past, Envision the future and
embrace today with an open Heart and Soul.
It was the perfect message for me.
Close your eyes and dream a dream …
Every year for 28 years my colleagues, our
staff, volunteers and partners have worked to
make our dream for Kansas children a reality.
The dream is a bold one. It’s big, it’s visionary,
it’s full of hope and promise. ALL children in
Kansas should enter school ready to learn!
And Seek the Courage to Make it Real.
At times, I believe we have been courageous,
working to change policy, to enact laws that
keep Kansas children safe and protected
while their parents are working. Working
to make child care a topic in boardrooms
and employment handbooks. Working
for recognition of child care teachers and
Reflect on the Past, Envision the future …
It does help to reflect on the past when
envisioning the future. Recently, our board
of directors completed a comprehensive
look at where our organization has been,
took time to evaluate our strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and
then thoughtfully updated our strategic plan
through 2020. It’s always a good exercise, and
it feels good to have our path defined.
… and embrace today with an open
Heart and Soul.
But when it really comes down to it, the past
is past and the future is not certain, so what we
really have is today.
The Child Care Aware of Kansas program
staff are reading the book Inspired Work
Showing Up & Shining Bright by Erin Ramsey
(see her feature article on page 4).
And I was inspired, even before I
read a single chapter, because in her
acknowledgments, Ramsey gives her
wholehearted thanks to her early childhood
professionals and teachers! It was such
meaningful recognition of the powerful
work done by often humble people
who typically do not see themselves
as leaders who spark creativity and
lifelong learning skills.
Yet, every day they are helping
to construct the architecture
of children’s brains, teaching
them the enjoyment of
books, building their
curiosity. With an
open heart and soul,
they are creating
the foundation for
This issue of Kansas Child addresses a
variety of topics that look at the social/
emotional aspects of early childhood and
how those of us in the field are working to
support young children, their families and
Inside that greeting card it says: May
each day of the coming year be a gift that
you open with joy and gratitude!
I can’t think of a better way to approach
our work, or a better sentiment to share
with all of you!
IN THIS ISSUE
Joyful Life = Joyful Work............................4
The Triple P............................................... 7
Reaping the Rewards of
Workplace Flexibility................................. 8
Eye Contact & Body Language.................9
Building a Classroom Community
Through Circle Time............................... 10
Unplug! Connecting with Baby...............12
Responding to Trauma in Students....... 14
Learning with Our Heads, Hearts,
and Hands: The Family Project...............15
Recognizing and Encouraging
Resilience in Kids:
a Working Metaphor............................... 16
Choosing Empathy................................. 19
Highlighting Conscious Discipline........20
Book Nook: The Big R............................ 22
Erin has worked in the non-profit
sector for more than twenty-five years.
Beginning her career as a family child care
provider. She served as Executive Director
of a Child Care Resource and Referral
agency for twelve years and later the
Director of Early Childhood for the third
largest urban school district in Indiana.
She also led the statewide marketing
initiative for the QRIS in Indiana.
Erin is the author of Be Amazing:
Tools for Living Inspired, Be Amazing
Workbook, and Inspired Work: Showing
Up & Shining Bright. She speaks to
audiences throughout the country and
internationally to inspire others to
greater service. She lives in Kentucky on
her family lavender farm, Big Roots Farm.
10 Tools for Creating Vibrant Energy
Life can be stressful. Many of us feel like there isn’t enough time and too
much to do. Rushing, worrying, and feeling frazzled are all too commonplace. These
feelings and types of negative energy impact our families, our workplaces and our spirits.
The good news is that with a few easy-to-use tools we can learn to make new choices
in how we respond and transform the way we are living. We can create more fun in our
lives, develop positive relationships and begin to see new possibilities.
We are intended to live joyously and abundantly. We can learn to focus on what we
want; not what we don’t want. Here are a few tools to get started:
Look for Beautiful Moments.
Look for beautiful moments during
your daily activities. It can be
anything: someone’s smile, seeing people
hug, watching a child laugh, listening to
a bird sing, a ray of light coming in the
window, a good song, feeling soft sheets or
a warm towel out of the dryer. Beautiful
moments are all around us. It is in the
noticing that they become beautiful. It is
in the noticing that we become present.
Give energy to the beautiful.
Create a Goodness Jar. As
you notice beautiful moments,
write them down and put them in
a Goodness Jar. My Goodness Jar is from a
consignment shop and sits on my kitchen
table with a pen and scrapbook paper close
by so my family can write their beautiful
moments down, too. It is so fun to read
them periodically or celebrate at the end of
the year. You can do this in the breakroom
for your team at work, in your classrooms,
or with your own family. Focus on
beautiful moments and then
Expect the Best and Give
Others the Benefit of the
Doubt. When we expect
the best, we are breaking down
our defense mechanisms
that protect us from
disappointment, fear of
failure and rejections.
When we give others
the benefit of the doubt
we are helping them
break down their
expecting the best
and giving the benefit
of the doubt, are
4 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
interchangeable in creating a higher level
of energy for yourself and for others.
We don’t have to be afraid and doubtful.
Expecting the best and giving the benefit
of the doubt is the fastest road to an open
mind and an open heart. It feels good
to be optimistic and kind. When we feel
good, we welcome more joy into our lives.
Watch less news. Finding
positive ways to nourish your
mind creates joy. The information
we let into our minds can be
compared to food. If we
we will be
have more energy. The same goes for
what we let into our minds. If we wake
up and read positive things and think
about the contributions we would like to
make for the day, we are off to a healthier
start. If we end our day with proactive,
self-consideration and positive reading
material we are nourishing our minds
as we go to sleep. Watching news in
the morning and the evening interrupts
opportunities for you to generate joy in
your life. Constant bad news drains our
energy and distracts us from our purpose.
Be informed, just don’t be consumed.
Laugh harder and more
often. There is a plethora of
research on how healthy laughing
is for the body and the mind. Laughing
gets your blood flowing; it releases
endorphins, relaxes your body and boosts
your immune system. Laughing gets us in
a better mood and inevitably spreads joy to
those around us. We all like a good laugh,
but most of us wait for something funny
to happen or for a funny thought to
come to mind.
About twenty years ago I saw a story
on television about a laughing club
that would meet to laugh together. I
tried to make myself laugh by making
funny noises and fake laughing sounds.
It worked. I looked in the mirror and
literally cracked up! I started doing
it with my children and their
friends, which led to lots
of laughter. Try it
classrooms, around your dinner tables
and with yourself. Laughing is our hearts
singing. Make your own funny. You will
have more fun.
in Gratitude. Gratitude is
the fastest way to create more joy in
your life. A woman who attended
one of my workshops created a “Joy Door.”
She put up a sign with “Don’t Postpone Joy.
Find Joy Every Day,” and each one of her
family members puts something up on the
door every day. She told me that even if
her kids were struggling to find something
joyful they would talk it out and dig deep
to write something down. When you focus
on what you are grateful for you tend to
focus less on the things that drain you.
Build Gratitude Practices into your rituals.
You can also create a Gratitude Line with
string and clothes pins. Hang what people
write or draw that they are grateful for.
This is a joyful way to decorate a hallway,
classroom, or for a party.
Tell people what you admire or are
grateful for about them. Write down what
you are grateful for. Find at least one thing
every day. You will have more vibrant
energy and you will create more good in
Smiling a Habit.
Smiling creates presence and
presence brings joy. You can build
a habit of greeting your daily routines
with joy. One of the first steps in creating
more joy is ensuring your mood is good.
Practicing and intentionally smiling at
yourself and others is an essential tool for
Continued on page 6
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 5
Continued from page 5
improving your mood and thus creating
joy. Building a smiling habit throughout
your daily routines will bring a “top of
mind” awareness to how you are feeling
and what you are projecting. Both of these
are directly related to how you are living
and what you are welcoming into your life.
If we want more joy it is essential to feel
good and be open. Smiling is a catalyst for
Every morning when you rise, say out
loud or in your mind, “Thank you for
another day.” Walk into the bathroom and
while you are putting toothpaste on your
toothbrush, smile and say out loud or in
your mind, while looking straight into your
eyes in the mirror, “Good morning, good
looking!” Do this even if you are exhausted,
stressed out or dreading the responsibilities
of the day. This habit will help you change
the way you navigate for the rest of the
day. Depending on your mood, you may
think it is funny or you may think it is the
stupidest thing ever. It doesn’t matter what
you are thinking, do it anyway; build a new
habit in the morning. Slap on a big smile,
wink, give yourself thumbs up, make eye
contact with yourself and greet your spirit
and your day in a new light.
Be a Giver. Enter life with the
most important question: How can
I serve? Look for ways to help, to
contribute, to support and encourage. Be
brave by sharing your gifts and talents and
opening your heart. This does not mean
give until you have nothing to give. This
means you give from a place of abundance.
A place of joy and love. You enter places,
conversations and situations with a lens of
what you have to offer, not what you are
going to walk away with.
If you want to be happy and feel valued,
focus on giving.
If you want to be promoted and offered
better opportunities, focus on giving.
If you want more doors to open and
the right people to come into your life,
Create win-wins. Approach situations,
decisions, and actions in a manner that
makes sure there are no losers. Win-wins
bring everyone to a positive energy level!
Being a giver doesn’t mean being a
doormat. A doormat lets people run over
them. A giver identifies what their greatest
contributions are and shares them. A
giver is open to receiving but doesn’t act
in order to receive. The giver’s actions are
aligned with her values, vision and legacy;
not what she can get. When we align our
actions with our values, vision and legacy,
we will be given tenfold.
Things You Enjoy. Pay
attention if you are not enjoying life
because you think you don’t have
enough money, time or support. Flip the
switch and shift your focus by taking steps
to enjoy life. Begin with small things. As
you practice, big beautiful enjoyment will
become a part of most of your days. The
hard days will still arrive, but they will
depart way faster. Think about what you
can do right now to start bringing more
enjoyment into your life. Try not to make
excuses by blaming money, time or people.
Insert opportunities to create joy
throughout your day. It can be having
your most favorite uplifting song ready
on your playlist when you get in the car,
or a beautiful mug for your coffee. It can
be a full bear hug for a family member or
fresh-cut flowers on your desk. It could
be a clean and organized workspace at the
end of the day or your favorite pajamas.
Remember to do the things you enjoy.
Be Hard to Offend. Put
your energy and your focus on
what you are doing and how you
are responding, not what others are doing.
If we are busy thinking about what “so and
so” did to us or what “so and so” didn’t do
for us or what “so and so” took credit for
or what “so and so” said, we are draining
our energy. We are literally handing our
joy and optimism over to “so and so.”
Stop wasting your energy on “so and so”
and start investing it in your vision, your
values, your legacy and your purpose.
Being hard to offend doesn’t mean letting
people walk all over or say abusive things
to you. Being hard to offend means that
you don’t take everything personally. Don’t
get distracted from your joy.
Let joy be your guide for work and life.
Joy isn’t knocking down your door, but it
is waiting for you to open it. Joy can’t be
taught; it can only be shared. Joy comes
from the inside.
Can you think of anyone that you know
who comes into a room and lights it up
with their energy? A person with a feeling
of refreshing, light-hearted kindness who
helps everyone feel and think a bit brighter.
Maybe you are that person, but if you
aren’t, you can be. You can choose what
you bring into the room. Let’s try to create
a larger pool of people who are lighting up
rooms and people. It begins with you.
Think about what you are talking about.
Is it full of judgment about people and
wrongdoings? Is it ideas and possibilities?
Are you complaining about traffic and
the weather when you get to work? Or
are you talking about a beautiful moment
you experienced that morning? Are you
talking about solutions or creating more
challenges? Make your conversations less
about what show you watched and more
about something you are going to do. Be
active. Be humorous. Be learning. Be
accepting. Ask questions.
Use joy as a guide in deciding how you
spend your time.
When making a decision about what
to do, ask yourself: “What would bring
me and those around me the most joy?”
Think about joy at home and at work.
Will watching trash TV or playing a
board game with my children bring the
Will zoning out on my phone or talking
with my partner bring the most joy?
Will watching trash TV or playing a board game with my children bring the most joy?
Will zoning out on my phone or talking with my partner bring the most joy?
Will approaching a new assignment as an opportunity or a burden bring the most joy?
Will approaching a new assignment
as an opportunity or a burden bring the
Sometimes joy feels like how exercise
feels to a lot of us. Once we do it we are so
glad; it’s just a matter of busting through
the mental blockades or bad habits and
Do joy! Everyone wins, especially
The tools in this article are excerpts from Erin’s books,
Be Amazing: Tools for Living Inspired and Inspired Work:
Showing Up and Shining Bright. www.erinramsey.com
6 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
The Triple P
Program® (Triple P®)
Building Blocks Program
Director, Russell Child
During my time as a toddler
teacher, I was asked more than once by a
parent, “Will you potty-train my child?” It
was usually said in a joking manner, but
with a look of panic on the parent’s face.
Gently, I would explain that we could not do
it for them, but that we would support them
in their journey, backing up strategies used
at home and offering suggestions of things
that we had observed to be effective. The
parent and child worked together to figure
it out, and in the process, built a stronger
bond with each other, rather than with us,
which was precisely the goal, aside from the
practical aim of successful toilet training.
The Triple P – Positive Parenting
Program® (Triple P®) offers a structured
framework to accomplish these same goals.
Parents may choose to work on a specific
goal, such as potty-training, tantrums, or
sharing; they may want to learn general,
effective parenting strategies; or they may
want do more intensive parenting coaching.
No matter which path a parent chooses,
they all lead toward “developing positive
relationships, attitudes, and conduct,”
(www.triplep.net). The parent-child bond is
strengthened, and families learn and grow
together in a positive environment.
Through an Early Childhood Block Grant
awarded by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet
and Trust Fund, Russell Child Development
Center (RCDC) has systematically
introduced and implemented Triple P® in
19 counties in Southwest Kansas. Over
the past several years, providers have been
trained in various levels of Triple P®: Level
1 is a public awareness strategy designed to
reach the general population with positive
parenting information; Level 2 provides
general strategies in a short, group format;
Level 3 is more focused on an issue or
an aspect of parenting that a parent finds
challenging; Level 4 can be offered in a
group or individual format and covers
Triple P®’s 17 core positive parenting skills,
which can be adapted to a wide range of
parenting situations; Level 5 offers intensive
support for families with complex concerns.
In addition, Triple P® can be adapted to
meet the needs of families with children
with special needs, families going through
a separation or divorce, or other specific
situations. (Information about levels
adapted from www.triplep.net).
RCDC connects with parents in various
Katrina Lowry is the Building Blocks
Program Director at Russell Child
Development Center, overseeing the ECBGfunded
Triple P Positive Parenting Program,
Learn & Play Parent Child Interaction
Groups, and HealthySteps Program in 19
counties in Southwest Kansas. Katrina
lives in Garden City with her husband and
her two (very spoiled) dogs.
ways. Sometimes a parent hears a radio ad
and calls for more information. Sometimes
parents are referred by a community agency
or partner. However, we have found that
our best advertisement is word of mouth.
Once a connection is established, a Triple
P® coach works with a family to identify the
best level and format of Triple P® for them; a
Triple P® coach then works with the family
one-on-one, in a group, or supports them
in completion of Triple P® Online, a recent
addition to the Triple P® suite of offerings.
The successes that parents and children
experience with Triple P® are inspiring
and range from increased confidence in
parenting to reunification of families.
Parents work hard, and we are proud to
support them as they reach their goals.
For more information on Russell Child
Development Center, visit www.rcdc4kids.
org. For more information on the Triple
P – Positive Parenting Program®, visit www.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 7
Control schedule: personal time off
Sick leave: includes family
Reaping the Rewards of
Within human services,
we regularly tout the importance of
investing time with children and family.
At The Family Conservancy (TFC) we
want to practice what we preach. Not
only is it important to demonstrate our
commitment to our own employees, but
we strive to lead by example and show
other employers what implementing this
philosophy looks like. We’ve even found
that by implementing some simple workplace
benefits that encourage our staff to
prioritize their families, they are often
more engaged while at work.
Providing flexibility has proven to be
one of the greatest tools in improving
employees’ perception of work at
TFC. We’ve accomplished this through
a generous leave allowance, a broad
definition of family, and allowing staff to
compress and flex their work weeks. We
attribute our average annual turnover rate
of under 10 percent to these benefits.
Knowing they can take time off, or shift
their work week so they can take their
child to a doctor’s appointment or pick
their child up from their preschool or a
care provider, gives our team members
the freedom to focus more fully on their
tasks while at work. When they don’t fear
being penalized for meeting their own
family needs, staff feel more secure, and we
believe it improves services to the families
The flexibility to control their own
schedule scores highest on TFC staffs’
satisfaction surveys every year. Though
the amount of leave may seem high by
industry standards, we have found that
our staff are passionate and want to do the
work, and we don’t want to stifle the fire
in their hearts. By allowing employees to
have more control of their schedules, they
can do the work that they love, and can be
with the ones they love when needed.
With a broad definition of family, our
staff can use their sick leave not only for
themselves but for anyone they consider
family. New staff are often amazed that
sick leave is not just for their own sick
days, but also to care for loved ones when
they are ill.
In recent years, TFC began offering paid
medical leave for staff who have an FMLA
Flex work week: Pick up from provider
8 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
MICHAEL S. MURPHY
SHRM-SCP, Human Resources Director,
The Family Conservancy
(Family Medical Leave Act) qualifying
event. They can accrue up to twelve full
weeks of paid leave in under two years.
Some employers might allow full pay
for maternity leave, and others also have
begun to include paternity leave, but we
felt it was important to also allow leave
for all FMLA situations; we feel our staff
deserve to have some support for those
times as well.
These ideas might seem basic, but
employers often fear staff will take
advantage of such generosity. At TFC,
we rarely see staff exploit these benefits,
and we get the added bonus of retaining
the knowledge and experience of our
skilled staff – our average tenure is
almost nine years. That tenure saves
resources. It reduces the time needed
for hiring and onboarding new staff,
reduces the lower productivity during
introductory and training periods, and
retains the knowledge and quality of
our early learning and behavioral health
professionals. There is an investment of
money and trust, but the rewards have
Granted, not all employers can offer all
these benefits. Some positions require a
certain number of people available at a
certain time, and the options for flexing
within a week are limited. But offering
consideration for employees to spend
time with their family when needed goes
a long way in having all employees feel
Eye Contact &
By Angie Saenger, Deputy Director, Child Care Aware® of Kansas
Eye contact and body language play an important part
in everyday conversations and interactions. Think about
important parts of your day where you interact with others
-- meetings, shopping at the grocery store, child care drop-off
and pick-up, or at dinner with friends or family.
Take the opportunity to step back and observe these
important interactions. Pay attention to the nonverbal
behaviors and eye contact skills of other people. Focus on the
details, and take note of how eye contact and body language
influence, both positively and negatively, the tone of the
exchange. You may even pick up some new strategies you’d
like to try!
Most research and statistics indicate that the majority of
communication is carried out through body language. In
some reports it is as much as 60%!
Think about that, and keep these tips in mind when you are
visiting with friends and family:
Keep your arms open -- not crossed;
Sit in a neutral position (feet on the floor)
or stand facing the person;
And keep your cellphone in your pocket or purse.
Finding a healthy, comfortable eye gaze during
conversations can make a big difference in how connected
someone feels to you and possibly even the topic you are
discussing. Effective eye contact will go a long way in
demonstrating that you are actively listening. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 9
Building a Classroom
Community Through Circle Ti
Ms. Kayla walks
over to the rug and invites
the children to come and sit
down with her. The children
soon make their way over and
she starts to sing the “The
Morning Song,” a welcoming
song to start the beginning of
their circle time. The group
exchanges smiles and giggles
with each other as they all clap
their hands and sing. Then
Ms. Kayla calls on each child
Tyra stands up, and the class
begins to sing to her, “Tyra’s
here today, Tyra’s here today,
we‘re so glad that Tyra’s here,
‘cause Tyra’s here to play!”
Feeling acknowledged by her
peers, Tyra smiles and sits back
The narration above
illustrates one way circle
time can be used to build
a community while also
acknowledging each individual
child. Circle time is one of
the few moments out of the
day that the classroom is
together as a whole, much like
a community. In order for a
classroom and a circle time
to function properly, teachers
need to be intentional when
using this time to establish
connections with one another.
The tone for Ms. Kayla’s
circle time was set by starting
with a welcome song. As she
continues the rest of circle
time, her plans for the group
are centered on meeting the
needs of each child so their
experience together feels
positive and successful.
Ms. Kayla decides
the activities for her
circle time based on
has determined for each child
in her class. She specifically
considers the children’s
attention spans as well as their
personal interests. Making
circle time meaningful to each
child will increase the chance
that children will choose
to participate. By offering
choices to children (where to
sit, what songs to sing, etc.)
children have opportunities
to be active participants in
their own learning. Though
EMILY RIOS &
Lead Infant/Toddler Teachers,
Emily Rios is a lead infant/toddler teacher at Project Eagle/
Educare Kansas City. She graduated from University of Central
Missouri with a B.S. in Child and Family Development. Emily
has been working with children ages birth-6 for 10 years and is
passionate about teaching young children by building on their
Lauren Bowser is a lead infant/toddler teacher at Project
Eagle/Educare Kansas City. She graduated from Kansas State
University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. Lauren is
passionate about taking advantage of teachable moments in the
classroom and creating a strong classroom community.
10 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
individual child expectations
may be different, Ms. Kayla
keeps consistent the location,
order of activities, and
transitions in and out of circle
time. This allows children to
learn what comes next and
what is expected of them
during the different parts of
Ms. Kayla makes it a priority
to reflect on past circle times
in order to ensure that her
current circle time is best
meeting the needs of each child
and her class. Below are some
questions she considers during
Are there parts of circle time
that feel more stressful?
Are certain children more
engaged than others?
Do children ever leave circle
time? If so, when?
Where is circle time
Do children participate more
when standing or moving
The teachers and children
are enjoying the current circle
time routine, but there will
inevitably come a time for
change or improvement. Ms.
Kayla will need to reconsider
the above questions and
make revisions to the routine
in order to successfully
continue building a classroom
By Christi Smith
Quality Initiative Director, Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Meaningful conversations build trust, which is a key foundation for
relationships and promotes children’s development.
Children learn best by interacting and communicating with their
friends and family. Think beyond a simple “yes” or “no” question,
and beyond the standard “fine” answer. By simply adding the word
“why,” you expand the discussion to allow for more back-and-forth
exchanges. These exchanges set a great example for children as
they begin to develop their own skills for learning about others and
to identify their own feelings, thoughts and opinions.
Meaningful conversations can happen throughout any day. Try
visiting during transition times, which can be stressful. Other key
times could be during handwashing, family-style meals, at drop-off
and pick-up, or in the car ride to the latest event.
Try to focus on a strategy that can reduce stress and promote
development. Here are some questions to get the conversations
What is your favorite silly face to make? Silly sound?
What are two things that you were thankful for today?
What is your favorite day of the week? Why?
What is your favorite letter of the alphabet? Why?
What is your favorite thing about yourself?
If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
What is your favorite fruit? Vegetable? Why?
What is the best thing you have ever smelled?
If you could have dessert for breakfast what would you eat?
Be ready for lots of giggles. Hopefully, some of these questions
will inspire children to think of their own questions. Children are
social by nature and need healthy interactions
with people who care about them.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 11
M.S., CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist at
Arkansas Children’s Northwest, Springdale, AR.
Sarah Lanning provides diagnostic and therapeutic
services to children with a variety of medical
conditions that might impact their communication
and feeding skills. She believes it is her professional
goal, responsibility and passion to promote positive
communication skills for children of all ages.
Amazingly, the desire to communicate with the world
begins from day one, when our babies first use their voices to
announce their arrival, soon followed by cries telling us when they
are hungry, sleepy, hurting, or in need of a diaper change.
Before long, their ability to communicate expands: they express
pleasure through a social smile, cooing, babbling, and laughter
(4-6 months); they express anger or frustration through crying,
shouting, and pouting. Babies respond to their environments
when hearing new sounds and perk up when they hear their
names. Soon, they are imitating sounds and facial expressions and
listening intently to the sounds that their caregivers are making (8
months). They enjoy social games and rhymes such as Peek-a-Boo
or Patty-Cake and can entertain themselves (and their parents) by
producing long strings of babble in what seems to be their own
language (10 months).
Next comes the excitement of baby’s first words (Will it be mama
or dada?), along with gestures and pointing to indicate their wants
and needs (12 months). By this time, our babies have developed
their own personalities and, in most cases, their communication
skills expand by leaps and bounds as they head into toddlerhood.
We may grimace when every request is returned with an
emphatic “no” and/or roll our eyes after being asked “why?” for the
tenth time, but secretly, we are delighted to know that our babies
are gaining confidence, independence, and curiosity.
Perhaps what parents of newborn babies take for granted is
that all of these communication “milestones” are learned. While
evidence suggests that the human brain is wired for development
of language, it does not happen spontaneously. Babies learn to
communicate, and are motivated to communicate, by human
interaction. They connect with their caregivers through smell,
touch, eye contact, facial expression, modeling, and imitation.
They thrive on social interaction, and they respond to the feedback
that they receive from the people close to them.
This is why I am dismayed at the babies and toddlers I see every
day who are interacting not with their parents, but with their
parents’ phones. It seems that the ubiquitous smart phone has
become the new entertainer, distraction, and bribing tool for our
babies and toddlers. While it may serve these purposes, it is not
providing our children with foundational motivation and skills for
communication and socialization.
Moreover, too much and/or poor quality “screen time” has
been linked to a number of concerns, including poor sleep habits,
12 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Hold your baby in a position that allows her to make eye
contact with you while you recite nursery rhymes or sing songs.
Use exaggerated facial expressions and vocalizations, and
notice how she intently watches your face and mouth. If you do
something she seems to enjoy, do it again!
Celebrate vocal play! Your baby is exploring his voice, his
lips, and his tongue, just like he explores his fingers and toes.
Make sounds with him to demonstrate low and high, soft and
loud, even nonvocal sounds such as raspberries and tongueclicking.
Don’t worry about bothering the people next to you …
chances are that those sweet sounds will bring a smile to their
faces and memories of special times with their own children.
When your baby smiles, coos, or babbles, consider this an
invitation! Respond to her by saying things like, “I hear you!
Tell me more!” or “You got my attention – let’s play!” This is a
foundation for conversational turn-taking skills.
Share books and toys with your baby. Use simple
language with gestures to describe how you are playing, e.g.,
“Shake, shake, shake!” with a rattle; “Up! Down!” with a ball;
“Look! Bird!” and point to pictures in a book. When your baby
points at something, be sure to affirm his action and build his
vocabulary skills by giving him the word for it. “Truck! You
found the truck!”
Talk with your baby about familiar routines as you do
them. Daily events like snack time, bath time, getting dressed,
diaper changes, and trips to the grocery store provide perfect
opportunities to engage and connect with your baby, expand her
vocabulary, and help her to explore her world!
And the phone? Use it if you must – but only to share in a
pretend conversation with baby!
reduced play skills, behavioral problems, and childhood obesity.
The evidence of these side effects is so great that the American
Academy of Pediatrics recommends that from birth to 18 months,
children have zero screen time (with the one exception of video
Parents, take heed of these recommendations! I assure you,
your children will get plenty of screen time in their lives. Use this
precious time when they are totally dependent on you to teach
them the art and joy of interpersonal communication.
Above are a few simple things you can do to connect with your
babies anywhere, anytime – no electronics required! n
I have had the opportunity to be a parent in some difficult
conversations. I have also been on the other side of those
conversations as a teacher. I have worked with families who
have children with special needs as well as parents of typically
developing students, where I have needed to be a part of a
difficult conversation. Sometimes it was about behaviors that
needed attention. Other
times the conversations
were more significant,
such as dealing with
learning differences and
needed interventions for
No matter which
side you are on, some
conversations are just
As a preschool teacher,
I start the year focusing
on the most important
part of teacher–parent
communication. I make a
commitment to regularly
share with parents and ask
parents to commit to open
communication with me.
Most of my interactions with parents are positive
and encouraging. However, there are always those
My first rule of thumb is to NEVER surprise a
parent or catch them off guard. I start a conversation
with them at the first sign of concern, instead of
waiting and just and hoping things get better.
I am careful not to under- or overreport
concerns, but instead, just communicate the
facts. Parents will either listen and understand,
or they may deny. If they are listening and asking
questions, I try to be honest without going into
too much detail. An overwhelmed parent can
be a concern, too. A natural tendency for some
parents is to deny there is a problem. That is
understandable. I try to be patient with parents as
they hear news that might be difficult.
Beth Reeder has been a float for
preschools, classroom teacher in
public education, and in middle
management for Head Start and
Rainbows United. She is currently
teaching 3- and 4-year-old children
for Wichita Collegiate School. Beth
has a training and consultation
business, Make A Difference
Training, where she trains early
childhood professionals in a threestate
area. She also teaches for
Butler Community College.
In addition to the conversations I have with parents, I
am careful to keep records that include complete and accurate
documentation. When sharing concerns with parents it is
important to make sure there is good documentation of what
I have seen or experienced with a student. There have been
times that I have taken pictures of the student, so the parents
can see what I’m seeing. With the appropriated documentation
many parents will, in time, come to understand concerns. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 13
Responding to Trauma in Students
The study of Adverse Childhood
Experiences, known as ACES, is becoming
increasingly important in the world
of education. Creating safe learning
environments that rely on care and support
has been shown to be more effective in
producing high school graduates than
simple, punitive approaches to discipline.
In the Abilene Public Schools, our
teachers are learning about what it means
to be trauma informed – that is, how the
adverse experiences that students come to
us with can often result in outward acts of
defiance and classroom disruptions. For
many decades, the school-based response
to these behaviors has been to impose
punishments in the hopes that behaviors
What we are learning is that punitive
school discipline frequently replicates the
trauma that some students experience
outside of school, which not only produces
more negative behaviors, but can also
cause a child to lose the sense of safety that
a school should provide. Reinventing the
purpose of school discipline plans requires
education and training, so that supporting
the emotional needs of the student, while
reinforcing their value as people, becomes
the primary role of school discipline.
Over the last three years, the Abilene
Public Schools have been implementing
Positive Behavior Intervention Systems,
or PBIS. In short, this approach to school
discipline requires two main areas of focus.
First, school staff is trained to identify
and then immediately recognize the
behaviors that promote good citizenship
and learning in school, such as acting
respectfully, following directions, and
making good decisions. Second, the school
continues to utilize its traditional behavior
plan, where inappropriate behavior may
result in disciplinary consequences. When
necessary, this reinforces the societal
expectation that consequences result from
poor behavior. When done in tandem with
a PBIS, the nature of those disciplinary
conversations are supportive of student
growth, even though discipline has to
At Abilene High School, the use of a
PBIS, which began in the spring of 2017,
resulted in a dramatic decrease in negative
behaviors. Compared to the previous
DR. BENJAMIN SMITH
Principal, Abilene High
School, USD 435 Public
Ben Smith has been an educator in
Kansas for 21 years and has served as
the principal at Abilene High School since
2010. He currently serves on the board of
directors for the Quality of Life Coalition,
and was a four-year representative on
the board of Learning Forward Kansas.
14 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Learning with Our Heads,
Hearts, and Hands
The Family Project
spring, we experienced 153 fewer Office
Discipline Referrals (ODRs). In-School
Suspensions were reduced by 81%, and
Out of School Suspensions dropped by
87%. In total, for the 2016-17 school year,
the amount of increased student contact
time was equivalent to two brand new
students enrolling in Abilene High School,
and not missing a single period of class
for an entire school year. Interestingly, we
showed dramatic increases in ACT scores,
and posted a graduation rate of 95%.
There is still much work to be done,
but teachers in our schools have seen
the potential of what a trauma-informed
approach to learning can do for students.
For more information, visit the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention,
For an inspirational visit to one
of the pioneers in trauma informed
schools, visit https://www.facebook.com/
We have a long shared sentiment
among parents, students, community
members and school district
personnel in our community: “We
get to know students better in our
small school than we could in a
larger school.” But believing this was
true wasn’t enough. We wanted to be
Bennington Grade School
even more intentional about this strong belief and put it into practice!
The Kansas Social, Emotional and Character Education Standards aligned
perfectly with this belief. The Family Project is where we started as a basis for a
new curriculum. The three themes of this project focus on character development,
growth mindset and team building. All themes are supported with already
developed activities and books that are assembled by the leadership team. This has
eliminated the need for a lead teacher to develop a curriculum. The curriculum
focuses on the following ideas: learning with our heads, hearts, and hands, to be
caring and civil, to make healthy decisions, to effectively problem-solve, to be
respectful and responsible, to be good citizens and to be empathetic and ethical
So, our journey began. To create the “Family” environment, we blended groups
of students, preschool through 6th grade, with a lead staff member (classroom
teacher, administration, or support staff). After we assembled the groups, the
“Families” were made. We then were able to begin the curriculum.
Each group meets at least once a week. During the initial family meetings, the
families establish unity by creating family handshakes, family waves and a family
crest, which can be seen on walls and windows throughout the school. A rotation
has been established so each of the families work on the themes and activities from
the curriculum. The rotations continue throughout the school year, ensuring all
curriculum themes will be completed by each of the families by the end of the
To strengthen our commitment to getting to know our students, the families will
remain together until the student graduates to junior high. New students entering
Bennington Grade School will be added to existing families. The group structure is
a great opportunity for older students to mentor younger students during activities.
With this type of structure, continuity for the students and adult is a primary
focus. They will be able to build relationships with each other and form a true
family bond. It is exciting to see the kids and staff smile at each other as they see
one another between family meeting days. Sometimes that one little exchange can
make a difference for a child. Like Dr. Seuss says, “To the world you may be one
person; but to one person you may be the world.” We want to make this experience
something that the students will remember and enjoy every day. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 15
Recognizing and encouraging Resilience
Robert Brooks, Ph.D., a psychologist
from Boston, has done a great deal of
work on the topic of resilience. He
noted, “Our strategies to motivate
result in our punishing
suffering children rather
than helping them develop
a sense of self-worth and
A number of years
ago, Brooks coined a
metaphor, Islands of
I found very useful
in terms of helping
me to look beyond
Islands of Competence was presented in a
context citing resiliency as being “linked
to a sense of optimism, ownership and
Throughout my career, I have
been continually impressed
with the capacity of many
people to cope with and
even thrive in the
face of significantly
Some of these
to work and
so, some were roundly
criticized for how they managed their lives.
One parent I can remember worked as
a “masseuse.” She was sexually abused as
a child and adolescent, didn’t complete
high school and actively used marijuana
(later telling me that she came to a number
of family therapy sessions when she was
high). Her children had been removed
from her care after the older boy set the
house on fire while playing with matches.
Yet despite having no models for being a
parent, and experiencing the negative
judgment of the court, she clearly
communicated a deep
16 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
in Kids - a working metaphor
JOHN H. PRESLEY
love and affection for her boys. Our work
was easier and successful for that reason.
Her resilient nature helped provide a
caring home for her children, though not
in a way that was consistent with the
values of many people around her.
Another memory is that of
a 5-year-old girl whose
her older sister
and attempted to
suffocate her. She
to therapy to
help her deal
to help her
get past the
on her aggressive and even
Frankly, I was thrilled
to work with her and her
guardians on those issues,
simply because that quality
was what kept her alive in a
situation many of us would
not have survived.
These examples illustrate what I think
of as inherent resilience – that is, people
who seem to have an inborn quality,
that allows them to combat the effects
of trauma. Their management may not
conform to a generally accepted manner,
but it demonstrates their coping capacity.
Looking for and finding this capacity is
essential as we work with the children
entrusted to our care and skill.
This emphasis helps those of us who
work with children to look past the
presenting behavior for elements of
resilience. Part of this process has to do
with our presence. Nearly every child
who develops into a resilient person
has an adult mentor/role model. Brooks
cites Emmy Werner’s description as:
“a person in their lives who accepted
them unconditionally, regardless of
temperamental idiosyncrasies, physical
attractiveness, or intelligence.”
In addition to the unconditional
acceptance cited here, there are a number
of specific steps we can take to promote
our mutual awareness of the strengths and
capacity of children. A question I learned
to ask right after hearing the recitation
of the “problem statement” (a phrase I
learned in graduate school) was, “What
are you good at?” A common reaction to
this question made it clear that the child
(and sometimes the parents) had trouble
thinking about him/herself in positive
terms. The focus on “the problem” made it
difficult for both the child and the parents
to think in these terms.
When it was difficult for the child
or parent to respond, I would look for
descriptions of preferred activities that
provided clues about the child’s interests
Once the initial strengths have been
identified, it is important for the adult to
comment, typically restating what was said
by or about the child. However, it seems
important to make that restatement in
a direct and “businesslike” manner. An
over-the-top “Gee-Whiz, that’s great!!”
reaction frequently undermines the
impact. Restating it in a way that suggests
John Presley, MSW, has worked in juvenile
justice, child psychiatry, residential treatment,
pediatrics and community mental health. He
retired from Central Kansas Mental Center
after 24 years. He focused on work with
children and families throughout his career.
the child’s strengths come as no surprise
reinforces the notion that you suspected
that the child always had it in them to do
Finally, it becomes important to include
the identified strengths in the planning
for whatever is to take place in the school,
center or wherever the child is being
engaged. Using the strengths as a starting
point allows the child some degree of
control and freedom to grow on his or
There are several benefits to taking
this approach of identifying the Islands
of Competence. The first is that children
start to see themselves as capable people,
something that may be a very different
experience for them. Secondly, parents
and even professionals change their
perspective from seeking out the problems
to starting out with an assumption that
the child has abilities that deserve to be
recognized and can be used to promote
Discovering the Islands of Competence
builds a larger model of competency that
carries over into managing life’s routine
issues, which can minimize an emphasis
on “problems” and maximizes the mindset
Finally, the idea of developing a model
of strength-based work is simply more
pleasant for all concerned. Constantly
attending to failures/problems wears
people down emotionally.
This model allows tension to be reduced,
problems to become manageable and
promotion of a positive, life-long approach
to the issues that confront us all. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 17
Motivational Interviewing Overview
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a collaborative, personcentered
communication style that strengthens a person’s internal motivation and
commitment to make behavior changes and reach their goals. MI is an evidence-based,
effective strategy to enhance communication including workplace and stakeholder
relations as well as improving family communication.
Motivational interviewing is centered on communicating effectively with others in
a meaningful, nonjudgmental and accepting manner by building rapport and creating
a mutually respectful and collaborating relationship. The communication exchange
consists of foundational skills of OARS: Open-ended questions, Affirmation, Reflective
listening and Summarizing statements, all while maintaining the spirit of MI.
The spirit of motivational interviewing is essential. The spirit acronym is ACCE;
Autonomy (every person has the right to decide what’s best for them), Collaboration
(it’s a two-way relationship), Compassion (belief in the wellbeing of another human
being) and Evocation (eliciting from the other persons the changes being made). The
spirit is the calm, reassuring friendly affect.
Here is an example of the spirit of MI. Think about someone who made a profound
difference in your life; who is your all-time favorite person? It may have been a teacher,
coach, parent, grandparent, relative or a friend. What qualities and characteristics
made him or her your favorite person?
Your list may include: they accepted you unconditionally; they wanted what was best
for you; you trusted them; they cared about your wellbeing; they listened to you when
you went through a difficult life experience; you knew unequivocally that they were in
your corner; or they believed in you when no one else did. Take a moment and reflect
on the way your favorite person made you feel. That feeling is what having the spirit of
MI is like.
Motivational Interviewing provides strategies that make communication purposeful.
MI provides a comfortable and collaborative experience for engagement with a goal of
eliciting change. Motivational Interviewing can be learned in a variety of ways; from
a 1-hour overview to a two- or three-day skill-base training. To become proficient in
MI, it takes practice.
“Motivation can be understood not as something that one has, but as something that
one does. It involves recognizing a problem, searching for a way to change, and then
beginning and sticking with that change strategy,” (Miller and Rollnick, 2002). n
MA, PHR, SHRM-CP
Bridgette Franklin, MA, PHR, SHRM-CP owns
a Motivational Interviewing Training and
Consultation business and is a member of
MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network
of Trainers) - International. In 2016, she
was selected to attend UCLA as one of ten
MI practitioners from the U.S and Puerto
Rico to participate in the first “Motivational
Interviewing in a Group Setting” training for
trainers. Franklin has trained practitioners to
be MI trainers for agencies across Kansas. She
is currently working on her doctorate degree
in organizational leadership. Bridgette can be
reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miller, W. & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing:
Helping People Change (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford
Miller, W. & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational Interviewing,
2nd Edition: Preparing People for Change, New York, NY:
The Guilford Press.
18 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
I confess I have not always been
a fan of empathy. I felt few deserved
the effort involved with “walking a mile
in their shoes.” Plus, I was afraid to
take on the problems and heartache of
Research Project Specialist,
others and end up miserable myself. I
KU’s Center for Public
thought the safer ground of giving
Partnerships and Research
sympathy, holding one at arm’s
length while wishing them well, Stefanie Olson works at KU’s Center for
was just fine. Even sympathy I Public Partnerships and Research. She is the
doled out sparingly, preferring coordinator and a trainer for the Lemonade
to assign blame.
for Life program. Lemonade for Life teaches
helping professionals to use the ACEs
My journey toward a life
questionnaire as a tool to promote healing
lived with empathy began from trauma while using hope and resilience
with my daughters’ baptism. to build a bright future.
Baptism at our local UCC
church included an oath to
“see in your child’s face all the children of the world.” I felt this was a pretty
tall order. Surely I was not expected to love all kids as much as I loved my
girls. Sympathy would do. I could think good thoughts for those other children
but keep my heart and energy saved for MY girls.
So I pledged with a false heart. Over time I heard many other parents make
this same promise, and these words began to worm their way into my psyche.
Continued on page 21
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 19
Early Childhood Educator
Maridee Armstrong has been an Early Childhood Educator for 37
years at the former Salina YWCA, Heartland Programs and currently
as a Social Emotional Coach for Heartland Programs. She also
teaches at Cloud County Community College. She has an Associate
Degree in Early Childhood, a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary
Education and an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education
from Kansas Wesleyan University. She has been incorporating
Conscious Discipline in her work and her personal life since 2003.
Conscious Discipline is
a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and
self-regulating program that integrates
social-emotional learning, school-home
culture and discipline. It is based on
internal resources of safety, connection
and problem solving, instead of external
rewards and punishment.
Conscious Discipline is also based
on current research that indicates that
our internal state dictates our behavior.
Fostering the emotional intelligence of
the adult first and the child second is the
premise that makes this program successful.
The program is skill-based and designed
to help adults to resolve conflicts and
enhance brain development by creating
optimal and safe learning environments.
It supports self-regulation in ways that
strengthen relationships instead of
destroying them. It helps children build
respectful relationships within themselves
“Stress and trauma are crossing all
ethnic and economic lines with grave
effect on health, learning, social-emotional
development and brain development,”
according to Dr. Becky Bailey in her
2015 book, Conscious Discipline Building
Resilient Classrooms. Conscious Discipline
is designed to teach effective
social-emotional skills and
embed resiliency into
the stress and
trauma that are
so prevalent in
parents have a
tough job. Our
society has been instrumental in creating
children that demand instant gratification
and are disconnected because of trauma
and stress in their lives. The need for new
tools in our tool belt is crucial to working
with children and their families. Building
connections creates trust and respect
with children and families. Connections
have four important components:
1. Being present with your child
2. Eye contact with your child
3. Some kind of touch
4. Being playful with your child
Basically, these connections are
telling your child, “I notice you.”
Connections stimulate the
impulse control center in the
brain. This helps a child be
aware of their helpfulness
and contribution to their
family and community. The
connection given to a child
enhances their ability to sustain
attention. Someone is noticing
them and cares about them.
Through connection, children
become more willing partners
with adults and peers. All
learning progresses from
is the highest
center of the
brain, and where the best decision making
occurs. When a child is having a tantrum,
they are operating from the lower center of
their brain, called the brain stem. The adult
can begin to model a calm state for the
child and thus bring them up to the higher
centers of their brain where they can make
Understanding that we must first change
20 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
SOME KIND OF TOUCH
ourselves and model our expectations for
others is a very good first step. Change
doesn’t happen overnight. In her book,
Easy To Love Difficult To Discipline, Dr.
Bailey reminds us that, “Discipline is a
lifelong journey, not a technique. Enjoy it.”
I encourage you to visit the website at
www.consciousdiscipline.com, where you
will find many helpful resources. n
Continued from page 19
Ultimately they began to change me from
a sympathetic bystander to an empathetic
participant in life.
This oath, and empathy in general,
is about choice and action: will you
see? If I decide to see your child’s face
when I look at my own dear child, I
immediately know them and can make
an empathic connection I didn’t formerly
value. Though circumstance may be
very different for your child and mine,
their essence is very similar. In knowing
my own child’s fragile body, tender
emotions, irrational fears, spontaneous
joy, boundless spirit, I know your child,
too, and he or she touches my heart.
Judgment and blaming, tools that make
it easy to stay in the land of sympathy,
are hard to summon when evaluating the
worthiness of a child.
It is a small leap from seeing the shared
humanity of our children to seeing how
we as parents are bound together. The
emotional depths and daily challenges
of loving and caring for a child are so
varied that there is little of the human
experience that is not lived as we parent.
Whether parenting through crushing
disappointment or the most glowing
pride, I have been there and know
how that feels. Blame is slippery when
discussing parenting since there are no
experts in this game!
Eventually, I began to see in my
daughter’s face the one child that I still
judged harshly -- myself. Loving my
children unconditionally through their
struggles and having them love me as I
fumbled through parenthood allowed me
to forgive my own shortcomings.
Alas, we all were children, so this net of
empathy can be cast wide! Rather than
finding my life paralyzed with sharing the
sorrows of others, I found truly standing
with others involves participating in
more joy than sadness. Nothing in
the definition of empathy restricts our
being there for each other only during
hard times. If we can lay aside the fear
that feeds the distance of sympathy
we can also lay aside the jealousy and
competitiveness that prevents us from
sharing in the good.
Now, I embrace a life of empathy. By
seeing the whole world in my daughters’
faces, my heart has known and imagined
harrowing sorrow but also known more
joy than I ever thought possible. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 21
Alice Eberhart-Wright, Child and Family Specialist
I call it the Big R – RELATIONSHIPS. I don’t
have to go running to the library for books to review
today because my collection of children’s books is
full of stories of relationships.
How do we help children
become compassionate, caring
adults? Through stories – told,
listened to, and read. Here are
some of my new favorites.
The Pillow Fairy was
written by Marcia G. Riley
and illustrated by Joni E. Patterson, two Kansans.
It’s a delightful story about a 3-year-old who would
not sleep in his own bed. His mother helped him
do that by making up a story about the pillow fairy,
who left a little gift under the pillow of a child who
was able to stay in his own bed all night. Obviously,
this author knows how hard that feat can be for
some young children and how the adults caring for
them have to know how to turn on the magic to
help children take a developmental step that seems
I Love You, Little Monkey, by Alan Durant and
illustrated by Katharine McEwen, is written as much
for adults as for children. It’s all about adults needing
to get everyday tasks done while the children just
want someone to play with them. When an adult
is busy with some necessary chore, the child will
amuse him or herself by doing something that
either undoes what the adult has accomplished or
creates a new, time-consuming job. Children seem to
particularly enjoy an activity that invariably breaks
something or makes a mess. Sometimes this is very
hard, but we have to teach them to be sorry while
helping them understand that we love them, but
sometimes not their choices. In this delightful book
the little monkey throw all the figs Big Monkey has
gathered for dinner, jumps on the bed Big Monkey
has carefully made, and climbs and lands on Big
Monkey when he’s trying to take a nap. Then, by
some miracle, Big Monkey talks to
Little Monkey and he apologizes. Big
Monkey forgives and plays with him.
One more important thing, Big Monkey
apologizes for yelling at Little Monkey.
What a monumental task for parents
and teachers! Use discipline to teach
rather than punish. And, notice that
Big Monkey is a he, not a she. We have
moved beyond thinking that it’s only
mothers who do household chores.
Billy Tibbles Moves Out! is another
story about relationship challenges
that routinely occur in the course of
development. Billy Tibbles is a darling little
boy cat that is supposed to welcome his
little brother, Eric, into his personal space.
He doesn’t want to, and storms around the
house insisting this will not happen. He
will show his parent. He would rather sleep
in the bathtub or move out to the shed. He
protests sharing bedtime stories with both
Eric and little sister, Twinkle. Then the 3
little kittens find they can find some fun in
the midst of all their fighting and anger. They
can be wild and noisy, cling together
when there are scary things, and
begin to create havoc for parents.
Dad is not sure he wants to share
all this noise and commotion in
his haven of a home, but the kids
remind him that he has to share,
too. Time, space, different needs –
all are part of being a family.
What about the babies? The Big
R is all about relationships. Any
board book, a lap, and time to
encourage and develop babies’
skills to learn words, turn pages,
and begin real communication is
all that is required. Find the time
to do it, frequently. n
22 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
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