Monthly Archives: August 2013

A splash

On Saturday morning at The Parenting Place’s Children’s Festival, I was amused as I explained to a young teenage volunteer what he would be doing at the “Froggie Splash” activity.“Fill the pail with the colorful frogs, hand it to a waiting child, who will then try to throw the frogs into the water.

“Okay”, he said, “but what do they get for doing it?”  At first I didn’t understand, but then realized he meant what was going to be their prize?  It took me a second before I responded,  “Oh”, I said, “a splash!”

Sometimes an activity can be enjoyable just for the sake of doing it, and no where could that be demonstrated more clearly than with the activities offered at The Children’s Festival on Saturday.

I was thrilled to see so many children playing and working with such great focus and pleasure – at whatever they chose, using the materials in their own individual style.  I won’t forget the faces of purposeful concentration and contentment on the children as they worked.   As another co-worker and I stood watching a few children in the Mud Kitchen, we both commented that to speak to them at this time would be intrusive.

It was enough to just watch – and appreciate.

What I noticed also on Saturday, there were no distinct pink aisles or blue aisles.  I never observed only boys doing this or girls doing that.  The materials were natural, familiar, real, recycled  and children responded to them not by gender but by interest and eagerness.

I believe that offering children authentic materials is key to grabbing their interest.  There’s something so genuine about playing with items that look and feel and are ones  they’ve seen in their own homes and in the world around them.  And like in our Loose Parts area, the children used these odd miscellaneous recognizable parts to create their own imaginary world.

And so another Children’s Festival is put to rest – only the memories and stories still to be exchanged and pondered about when planning next year.  I know for The Parenting Place staff and families who work tirelessly on the day of the event, it was well worth it.

And what do I think the children thought?

I think they were happy with a splash!

Comments Off on A splash

Filed under Uncategorized

Come play

Friday morning Play Shop at Clayton Johnson Park in La Crosse was picture perfect in more ways than one.

Big sheets of white poster board were spread out on the basketball court, brushes and bright colors were available as the children came  – one by one – wanting to paint.

I knew when I woke up Friday morning that I wasn’t going to offer the art activity I had planned for that day.  I needed more signs painted for the different activities at The Children’s Festival and realized that this was the perfect opportunity.

I was right.  The children were so engrossed in their paintings – this was no slap/dash exercise.  Carefully yet independently  choosing the colors and designs they wanted, they worked; one little girl exclaiming over the sheen of the silver antennae of her colorful butterfly, another so pleased about the bulgy black eyes of her green frog, and yet another little guy thrilled with his first real exploration of color.

Materials – available to children  to examine, to choose, to use, to create – works.

That’s why I’m bursting with enthusiasm about The Parenting Place’s Annual Children’s Festival, where play happens coming up on Saturday, August 24th at Myrick Park from 9 :00 AM – 12:00 PM.  Because that’s what happens there – opportunities offered, raw materials presented in an elemental and meaningful way so children can naturally respond.

Dirt pile, construction site, mud kitchen, water play, obstacle courses, dinosaur playscape, self-selected creative projects and so much more are part of the careful planning of the Festival to foster curiosity, imagination, experimentation, and satisfaction.

This year at noon as the Festival activities close, families can enjoy the interactive music provided by Judsen Steinback .

The Children’s Festival is an annual fundraiser for The Parenting Place.  All of the proceeds go toward our free Parent Education and Support programs that are offered throughout the year for all those who care for children. It’s a unique morning of joyful play, exploration, movement, creativity, wonder for children and adults alike.

So please pass the word to one and all – especially those families who are not familiar with us and remind those who are.  Buttons for adults and children are 3 for $10; $4.00 each – $5.00 the day of the Festival.  Children under one years old do not need a button.  Buttons can be purchased at all The Parenting Place locations.

Scholarship buttons are available for any family who might need them.  Just call The Parenting Place and ask for Fran or Marilyn, leaving your name and how many buttons you will need.

The Children’s Festival is one very special morning of fun for families that will help The Parenting Place continue to do what we do best everyday – educate, support, nurture and play.

Come be a part of the magic.

P.S.  Play clothes definitely recommended!

Comments Off on Come play

Filed under Uncategorized

Soul food

I just came back from welcoming a very precious brand new baby boy to our Planet Earth – on his first day here – all 4 lbs. 13 ounces of him.  What a gift to meet someone so new – so tiny yet packed with a presence so powerful you feel humbled watching him lie peacefully against his mama’s chest.

Being a parent is a challenging task but it doesn’t mean one needs to know everything about parenting the moment your little one arrives.  For parents grow and develop as their baby does, rising to the occasions that occur as a baby moves into childhood and beyond.

It is  made easier if we can somehow just keep the wonder, the reverence, the miracle that we experience on this first day of birth alive in our hearts. For what babies and children need most is to be cherished – and that means being loved, being taken care of, feeling safe, having his needs met, feeling emotionally secure.

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard in their book, Cherishment write, “We think of cherishment as the emotional equivalent of nourishment – Soul Food”.

I like that expression – Soul Food.  If young parents face the years of child raising ahead with this one tool in plenty – Soul Food for their baby’s early years and beyond – their emotional connection will be present and strong – and that’s what will make all the difference.

Best wishes and love to this new little guy and his parents – and may they be rich in soul food for him – and each other.

And for all new parents and any parents of children under five years of age, The Parenting Place offers a helping hand – the Parents as Teachers program which is a home visiting program that supports families as they approach the different developmental stages of their young child’s life, to provide suggestions and ways to meet their teachable moments, and to maximize their early brain, motor, social and emotional development.  This program is free of charge.

Call Marilyn at The Parenting Place, 784-8125 for more information.

Comments Off on Soul food

Filed under Uncategorized

Sometimes you just have to laugh

Parenting is serious business and that’s why it’s so important to laugh – at ourselves, at the circumstances we find ourselves in, at the serious-to-them- but- hilarious-to-us remarks our children make.

I love hearing the stories from parents, after the air has cleared, that are truly funny situations, and so therapeutic  for parents and friends to enjoy, privately, with each other.

I say privately because I am not endorsing ever laughing at or in front of your child, at their expense, making him/her feel embarrassed or self-conscious.  I mean mastering the art of the “turn-away” twist, so your 3-year-old doesn’t see you smile when he firmly declares, “You’re Not The Boss Of Me!”   or, in just the right situation, your four-year-old says,” Oh, ****” .

I mean the private glances exchanged between spouses and partners, over the heads of their young children, that I find so endearing.  It might be in the middle of complete bedlam, all three children having melt downs, the phone ringing, the pot boiling over, but the shared look conveys that this is our life right now, and we are doing it together with love.

That’s why comic strips that depict family life are so effective in capturing the emotions, humor, stress of everyday situations with children and resonating with parents. From Baby Blues, who so poignantly “gets” what it’s like to be in the throes of bringing up young children to Zits, the experiences of living with a teenager to Family Circle, spot-on with understanding and sharing the way young children think, we notice a part of ourselves and our lives in them – and we say “yes”.

Yes to the fact that raising children is hard, yes it can be stressful, yes, it’s full – of life, emotion, commitment, work,  growth – and, yes – it’s often quite hilarious.

So – go ahead- laugh a little, laugh a lot – enjoy.

Comments Off on Sometimes you just have to laugh

Filed under Uncategorized