Thursday, May 31, 2012

After last week’s column and radio show about bedtime routines, I had many conversations about routines that work well for young children. Today I thought I would try to write about why simple consistent routines work.
Much of what I learned about how routines work came from my experience with young children with autism. Because young children with autism are not as able as their peers to process spoken language, they stay calmer and are more willing to comply with our requests when the requests come as part of simple, consistent routines.
We all do best when we know what is expected of us. In other words, when we know the routine we feel calm. When there is no routine, but we are guessing at what is expected of us, we become anxious. When we are anxious, we make more mistakes, jump to conclusions, and have other difficulties. The first time taking an airplane trip is a great example. The stress of getting to where one needs to be on time in a huge, unfamiliar airport is daunting. You ask directions and can’t remember what you really needed to know. However once you know the routine, even today’s challenges of getting through security in an unfamiliar airport may be unpleasant, but hardly troubling.
So our little ones rely on us to provide familiar comfortable routines they can depend upon. They can learn that taking a nap isn’t such a bad thing, trying new foods will be okay because mealtimes are calm and happy, and cuddling together with mom or dad and a good story before bedtime is something wonderful to be depended upon.


Five little ducks went out to play
Over the hills and far away
Mama Duck said.“Quack, quack, quack”
Four Little Ducks came waddling back.

Repeat for 4, 3, 2, 1, and ‘no’
Speak not sing:
 Papa duck said, “Quack, Quack, Quack.”
Five little ducks came waddling back.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Settling Guy for a Nap

I love to share parenting strategies (and grand-parenting strategies) from stories that readers share. The theme of today’s strategy has appeared in the column at least once each year after Jamie Werner became a grandmother and shared her story for settling Lauren down for a nap.
Today, the story comes from my cousin in Mount Prospect, IL. My cousin, Harriet, recently retired in order to care for her newest grandchild when her daughter-in-law returned to work. When I visited Harriet, she showed me the bedroom and crib for little Guy and told me about ‘settling him down for a nap’.
“When I sense it is time for him to have a nap, I carry him upstairs to the bedroom and change his diaper. We peek into the crib and see his three pacifiers. I give him one of the pacifiers that he promptly puts in his mouth. We walk over to the dresser where I turn on some soft ‘white noise’ music for him. I take him to the window and pull the shades down. I walk slowly back to the crib and give him a kiss, put him in the crib, and tell him to have a good rest. He quickly grabs the other two pacifiers and almost always will lay right down. I walk out of the room and close the door. I am careful to always do the steps of the routine in the same order and I keep my voice quiet.”
“The few times that he would stand up and cry seemed to be only when something really bothered him, like new teeth, or a bowel movement. It is amazing how this brief five minute routine settles him so easily.”
Two wonderful grandmothers–two different but similar strategies for settling a child down for a nap.


Little earthworm in the ground
Quietly working, not a sound.
Little earthworm
What do you do?
I help the soil and plants for you.

Use index finger to move like an earthworm. 
Bring finger to lips to indicate quietly.  Sign “help”

Original song and words by Eileen Ziesler

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Children's Picture Book Art Museum in your backyard

For those of you who have not had a moment to take your child to our library in Ladysmith, I hope you can come before May 24th. Your visit will be much like a trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Massachusetts where artwork for children’s picture book is hung at children’s eye level. If you come and take time to look at the beautiful watercolors by Janelle Thompson that are the current exhibit, you will be nourishing your child’s hunger for beauty and creativity.
Eric Carle is the beloved author and illustrator of many, many picture books for young children. Some of my favorites include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, What Do You See, and Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? Original artwork created for these books are hung in a beautiful gallery that includes other illustrations for picture books. In the museum there is a children’s library for story times and a large room for children to create their own works of art. There is a gift store to purchase books or other interesting objects that tie into picture books for children. It is a wonderful place.
We should all have these experiences in our childhood, and though a trip to Massachusetts may not be possible, your city and county library is definitely within reach. Your child may never be able to meet Eric Carle, but if you come to the library for the artist reception from 4:30-6:00 on Tuesday, May 22nd, you can meet the gifted illustrator that lives in your own backyard. Take an hour and be transported.

We all love you, Little Sprout.
And with this love you’ll grow, no doubt.
You will grow and grow and grow.
We are the trees and we know.

(last verse of the poem Little Sprout, from the picture book by Janelle Thompson and Eileen Ziesler)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy May

Happy May! There is something magical about walking in a wooded area with a young children and letting them find the beginning of spring poking up through old, dead leaves. I believe this phenomena, with the tradition of May Baskets is especially wonderful in northern Wisconsin. The first weeks of May, one day sunnier and warmer than the next beckons us to walk out of doors and search the ground for the beginnings of life. Children will see the insect and plant world coming to life after a long winter, in awe of the magic unfolding beneath their feet. One may be lucky enough to stumble upon a patch of spring beauties, bloodroot, violets, or trilliums. The beauty of the first glimpse of these flowers brings great joy to the human spirit, whether young or old.
The tradition of bringing flowers to a friend or neighbor in a May basket is a beautiful tradition. A piece of paper, foil, or giftwrap rolled into a cone shape makes an easy basket. The flowers will not last a day, but the warm memories of that day are everlasting.
Preschool and kindergarten teachers are great at keeping the May basket tradition alive for each new generation of children. I recall fondly the smiles on the faces of each of my children as they gave me their May Baskets of flowers. They so enjoyed this simple act of kindness and beauty that May baskets appeared in my house even into August!
I hope you take a few moments to take a walk in a woods this May, whether you are young or old, whether you do it solo, recalling your own childhood, or whether you do it to introduce a child to the wonder of spring. I would also invite you to join me with your youngster on Saturday, May 12, to view the beautiful garden at the home of Ruth and Paul Meszaros. The Garden Tours this summer are a joint venture of the Garden Clubs of Rusk County and the Rusk Area Arts Alliance. I will be writing ‘Poems of the Moment’ in Little Sprout cards that your youngster can give a mother, auntie, or grandmother for Mother’s Day.

There stands a little man in the deep dark woods
He stands there on one leg in the deep dark woods
Do you know him standing there
Silently without a care
Do you see him standing in the deep,dark woods?

He stands there on one leg, bending to and fro
And all that he can do is to stand and grow
Do you know him standing there
Silently without a care
Do you see him standing in the deep, dark woods?

This song is from “Hansel and Gretel”

Drawing by Grandpa Glenn Bedward

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Congratulations Mary Joslin!

This weekend the Chamber of Commerce held it’s annual awards dinner. Many of my favorite people were there including Mary Joslin, one of the founding grandmothers of the Rusk County Children’s Council. Mary and her husband, Jim, were present because this year Mary was chosen as the recipient of the Children’s Council award, “Champion of the Young Child–2012”.
The Council began about 10 years ago or more with celebrations for the Week of the Young Child in April and the annual birthday party celebration in March, honoring the work of Dr. Seuss, beloved children’s author. Mary has been the glue that has held the council together. However, as Mary and Bonnie and Lenore and Jill and I grow older, there are new and wonderful people joining the council who also believe in celebrating childhood and the young children in our community. This new blood includes Lisa Bucher, Karlene Gordon, Heather Ishaam, and Lucy Taylor.
Each year the council chooses someone from the community to honor who has made a difference in the lives of young children. Honoring Mary has been a long time in the making but this year was Mary’s year. If you know our beloved Champion, please take a moment to congratulate her and to thank her for all she does on behalf of the littlest Rusk County residents.