Monthly Archives: November 2015


Research and science is alive and well in the world of toddlerhood.

I witness this every Friday morning at The Parenting Place Play Shoppe as this year’s group of young children engage in serious hands-on play and discovery.

This past Thanksgiving week, I happily immersed myself in watching, listening, interacting, playing with our just- turned -15-month-old- grandson, Theo.

And to do so is to be humbled by the very power and significance of a toddler’s independent search for knowledge and understanding.

Each item picked up, each object noticed, each sound heard is observed, examined, applied, filed to be remembered and activated in the next similar situation .

I was minimally helpful in Theo’s scientific inquiry- good to retrieve an item, substitute another. Once he decided on his hypothesis,however,like putting each item one at a time into a box, closing the lid, observing after each one until all items were in, then taking each one out- and beginning again, he didn’t need me to respond, or suggest, or direct. He was satisfied with his own self-chosen activity.

There’s much discussion about the need and emphasis for more science education for children in school.  As parents, however, we know and can appreciate that the scientific principles of observation, experimentation, hypothesis, prediction, and conclusion begin at home- in the safe kitchen cabinet, in the recycling box, in the backyard, with loose parts to examine.

So as we begin to shop for the upcoming holidays, think carefully about the purchases we make.  Keep in mind the significance of providing a child with simple items that will allow him/her to examine, observe, imagine, discover, pretend.

Remember that a good toy is 10% toy and 90% child.  When we use this measure in our search for that perfect gift, we offer children the opportunity to grow in mind and spirit – to use their developing imagination, knowledge and resources to satisfy, wonder and thrive.

Thank you, Theo, for letting me watch – toddler science in progress.





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best wishes

Sometimes you  meet someone who’s just very special – in so many ways.  And if you’re really lucky, you might get to work with that person on a regular basis.

We’ve been that lucky – The Parenting Place, that is – working with Kristy Braunreiter, Parent Educator, for the past three and a half years.

Kristy is the type of person that exudes warmth, caring, insight, empathy, resourcefulnes, commitment to her work, wisdom.  And that’s only half of it – the other half is a spirit so vibrant and fun – always seeing the positives, always looking at the sunny side.

Kristy will be leaving her position as Parent Educator and all of us at The Parenting Place are sad to see her go – as I know the parents and families she has so caringly worked with will be also.

My mother-in-law had a favorite  line from an old childhood poem that  she  often shared with her grandchildren.

“Brighten the corner where you are” she would say to them.

And Kristy, you have done just that!

Thank you for your good work, your passion and your friendship. You will be missed.





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read to me

I see it every week.  An “out of sorts” child arrives at Play Shoppe not quite ready to face the world and his/her parent intuitively knows what will work – a book and a lap.

The emotional connection that happens within the security and coziness of a parent’s arms,  the shared distraction of the pictures on the page and the sounds of the words spoken, help to ground both child and parent.

Most of us know the value of reading aloud to our children, in addition to the connection factor.  Raising a child who becomes a lifetime reader happens by sharing your love of books and reading together throughout childhood from infancy on.

Squeeze reading in each and every day – even if you have to let something else go.  It’s that significant.  And wonderful books abound at libraries in our community.   Make the libraries a familiar place for you and your child.

In this day and age of unpredictable events that change people’s and country’s lives in an instant, let’s hold on to the simplest of pleasures ever a parent can offer –  imagination, affirmation, resilience and trust – all between the covers of a beloved book.

“There is no app to replace your lap.  Read to your child.”











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“She’s just irritating!”  An honest but very difficult statement a parent admitted to me about her own child.

But I commend this mom for being so honest and so direct, for her genuine love and concern for her child and their relationship, and the earnest work she is doing to understand and make things better.

It’s very challenging to have a child whose personality clashes with our own.  All of us as parents have probably, at some time or stage, felt irritation or conflict with a particular child – perhaps wishing he/she were different in any number of ways.

I spoke with a mom recently whose concern was about one of her children who marched to a completely different drummer than the rest of the family.  And her question was “do we keep trying to change this child or become more flexible ourselves and meet him where he is?”

What I admire most about these parents is that they recognize that there is a situation that may not just be about fixing the child but perhaps taking a look at the whole family dynamic.

And it isn’t easy.

It takes personal reflection and observation of what’s actually occurring in all of our interactions within the family.

Is the behavior happening in order to get more attention, more power, to just be noticed?  Is there too much extra activity for the introverted child, too little opportunities for success for a discouraged child, too high expectations in the family?  Does this child have a  special need that should be addressed with a physician?

It takes an emotional climate check – but the very first step is awareness of the problem – and like these strong moms, the willingness and the love it takes to understand and to change things.

If you are experiencing a particular challenge with a child in your family and would like to discuss how to begin, call The Parenting Place Warmline – 784-8125 and we can begin together.

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It’s November

November is here – and we are fortunately enjoying such unseasonably warm, lovely weather.

However, I’m here to tell you – once again – that, really – November is here.  And one of these upcoming mornings, the car will have frost on it, the wind will blow, the sky will be gray and a snow flurry or two may appear.

I actually love November.  Once the leaves are raked up and sucked away by the big leaf blower, the bare tree limbs against the early winter sky can be starkly dramatic – a definite hint of cold weather to come. So right now is the time to make sure you and your family are ready with warm outer clothing to face the brisk weather – cozy jackets with zippers that work, hats that are comfy and fit, (that goes for parents too) and don’t forget snow pants and boots.

And as the temperatures drop and the furnaces go on, I encourage you to  continue to put going outside on your agenda – to take a walk in the neighborhood, play at the playground, run around in the yard, face the feel of the wind at Riverside Park.

Because the only real way to be prepared for a Wisconsin winter is to adapt to it day by day – by being out in it day by day.

Going outside in winter’s fresh air has definite health benefits.  It clears the sinuses and the cobwebs, energizes the body, makes for a restful sleep.  And as parents, we get to instill this sense of adventure and vigor that winter offers in our children – a fun and healthy way to live.

This Friday at Play Shoppe – we’ll be meeting at Seminary Park on East Ave. for a late fall/early winter play adventure.

It’s a good time to meet up with November – some fun and a few of your friends.

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