Children’s Advocate Welcome Page

Children’s Advocate and Welcome Page

Children's Advocate Welcome Page
Wanda Wyont

I would like to welcome you to my website.  The pages and blog posts are filled with information for parents, teachers, and preschool teachers. I hope it is helpful to you.

As a retired educator, I taught early childhood education at the college level. Through my blogs and pages, I try to provide the most current research and best practices according to NAEYC. I enjoy writing and visiting schools and child care centers. I teach parenting classes on a regular basis.

My blogs are on children’s issues. I hope that you enjoy reading my posts.

Wanda Wyont


Holiday Hazards Within a Child’s Easy Reach

Plants, Decorations, Toys, and Food

Holiday Hazards Within a Child’s Easy Reach

Be aware of holiday hazards within a child’s easy reach! Our homes are filled with Christmas flowers, ornaments, and table adornments. While it provides a rich ambiance, the novelty and attractiveness create an appeal to a young child that is hard to resist. With young children, everything goes into their mouth.

As the holidays approach, we associate with certain plants like Holly, Poinsettia, Amaryllis, Cactus and Mistletoe in stores. For visual attractiveness, they are added around our homes. It makes a statement to see brightly red Holly bushes lined-up on our front steps or the red or white Poinsettia under our decorated tree. Sadly, many of the plants are highly toxic. In addition, holiday celebrations include small size ornaments and bite-size food items that create choking hazards to young children. As a reminder, I have listed a few of the most poisonous plants and a small list of food items and objects to avoid if a child is in the environment.

Holiday Hazards – Toxins

Holiday Plants to Avoid

Holly Berries

The holly berries provide the perfect adornment on our mantels and in our wreaths, but the entire bush is toxic. While the bark, seeds, and leaves, are toxic, the berries can be deadly if a child or animal consumes more than a few. My advice is to not have this plant in or around your home. The poison is Theobromine, the same as in chocolate. But the concentration is much higher in the holly bush.


With Mistletoe green all year, an old myth began to relate it to fertility. For many years, there has been a custom about kissing under the Mistletoe. But, Mistletoe is poisonous to children and pets. The toxin is Phoradendron. When digested, it causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, blood pressure changes, and even death. Keep this plant away from children and pets. Seek medical advice if your child has been near this plant and begins experiencing any of the symptoms.

Amaryllis, Narcissus, and Daffodils

The leaves are less toxic than the bulbs. The toxicity is Lycorine. The victim of this poisoning will experience abdominal pain, cardiac issues, and convulsions.

Other Plants

Other plants like Christmas Cactus, Cedar Christmas Trees, Jerusalem Cherry and Poinsettia may cause stomach aches if digested in small amounts, but they are not typically lethal.

Poison Control

If a child ingests a poisonous plant, call The Poison Control Center. Do not make someone vomit unless you are instructed by a representative from the Poison Control Center.

The World Directory of Poison Centers may be assessed by clicking on the name. Please find the number to your closest center.

Holiday Hazards – Chocking

Choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of five. These accidents are caused by food, toys, and other items around the home. At least one child dies from choking every five days.


Cautions should be taken with candles, angel hair, lights, and ornaments for choking hazards. Children are very sensory. They put everything in their mouth as a way to explore their world. Small objects lodge in a child’s small airway, anything that fits is dangerous.


Many of us have family gatherings with pick-up foods. Some of the food items may fit perfectly in a child’s small airway causing chocking such as grapes, hot dogs, carrots, etc.

  • Hot dogs (especially cut into a coin shape), meats, sausages, and fish with bones
  • Popcorn, chips, pretzel nuggets, and snack foods
  • Candy (especially hard or sticky candy), cough drops, gum, lollipops, marshmallows, caramels, hard candies, and jelly beans
  • Whole grapes, raw vegetables, raw peas, fruits, fruits with skins, seeds, carrots, celery, and cherries
  • Dried fruits, sunflower seeds, all nuts, including peanuts
  • Peanut butter, (especially in spoonfuls or with soft white bread)
  • Ice cubes and cheese cubes
  • Foods that clump, are sticky or slippery, or dry and hard textured
  • Food size and shape, especially round or a shape that could conform to the shape and size of the trachea (windpipe). The size of a young child’s trachea (windpipe) or breathing tube is approximately the size of a drinking straw in diameter.

Toys and Household Items

Check all toys for potential lose parts. All toys should be big enough not to be able to insert in a child’s mouth. I once heard about a child that was choking on a Ketchup lid. The parent quickly used the Heimlich Maneuver.

Short list

  • Latex balloons
  • Coins
  • Marbles
  • Toys with small parts
  • Small balls
  • Marker caps
  • Small stones
  • Any toy or other object that is labeled as a potential choking hazard

First Aid for Choking

  • If a child shows the symptoms of choking such as gasping, can’t talk, grabs his throat, and/or makes a high pitch sound up, the adult should do the following:
  • Call for emergency help
  • Begin abdominal thrusts, if trained.

If the child is coughing, he may be able to expel the object on his own.

Check out this link for some additional support: Kids Health


  1. Complete a home survey and remove all toxic plants and small objects out of reach of children.
  2. Sign up for First Aid class which should include emergency responses for choking such as abdominal thrusts and CPR.
  3. Young children should not eat nuts, raw carrots, popcorn, and hard or gooey candy.

I hope this article has been helpful. Please check out my other blogs on my website.


Wanda Wyont, MA

Child Care Centers Can Lead the Effort to Educate Parents about SIDS

Child Care Centers Can Lead the Effort to Educate Parents about SIDS

Child Care Centers Can Lead the Effort to Educate Parents About Sids
Recommendation on proximity to sleeping infant.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) has added a new recommendation in their efforts to reduce the numbers of deaths due to Sudden Infants Death Syndrome (SIDS): Keep sleeping infants in a crib in the same room, as the adult. While I am sure that physicians and marketing campaigns will inform parents, the child care community are an asset not to forget.

Caregivers Can Educate About SIDS

An additional force of professionals is the caregivers that work with infants in the over 750,000 child care centers. In addition to having a close and trusting relationship with the parents, they are  well-educated in the field of child development. Typically, parents seek their advice about many things already. As the infants arrive at the center, the caregiver can take her/his time to share this important information. In addition, the parents can receive written  literature. Later, the caregiver can follow-up with reminders in a nonthreatening environment.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3,700 infants die each year in the United States without any immediately obvious cause. The leading cause of these infant deaths is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which accounts for approximately half of all cases. The CDC defines SIDS as “the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and review of the clinical history.” Other known causes include accidental suffocation or strangulation, poisoning or overdose, and infections.

North Carolina Enlisted Childcare Centers

After reading about the new regulation, I was reminded of a project that was implemented in North Carolina called, Infant/Toddler Safe Sleep and SIDS Risk Reduction in Child Care. It was House Bill 152 which went into effect December 1, 2003. The child care centers had an active role in educating parents related to “best practices” for safe sleep. I remember the effort and the success!

The list of policies for that project is below:

  • Directors are required to adhere to the State’s Safe Sleep Policy (which includes placing children 12 months of age and younger on their backs).
  • All caregivers working with infants are required to take training on SIDS prevention.
  • All caregivers must follow the Safe Sleep Policy.
  • The preschool teachers/caregivers will provide SIDS education to all parents.
  • All parents must sign the NC form that they received the Safe Sleep Policy training.

Child Care Centers Can Lead the Effort to Educate Parents about SIDS

The updated policies from the CDC

The Recommendations are as follows:

    1. For the first year, keep the baby’s crib in the same room where you sleep. The AAP recommends room sharing because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50%. Room sharing will provide a closeness to watch the baby and to build a bond.
    2. Prior to age 1, the baby should always sleep on their backs for naps and at night. The data indicates that babies that sleep on their backs are safer from the dangers of suffocating.
    3. Keep all soft objects out of the crib such as blankets, pillows, stuffed toys or bumper pads around your baby. These have been known to cause blockage of air flow.
    4. The mattress should have a firm sleep surface. Make sure that it meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.
    5. The sheet that covers the mattress should fit tightly. There should not be anything else on the bed.
    6. Your baby should sleep in his own bed.
      1. It is not a good idea for the baby to sleep with his parents due to pillows, blankets, and other things that could cover your baby’s face.
      2. Don’t let your baby sleep on the sofa or chair. These are known to be very dangerous for sleeping surfaces.
    7. Dress your baby with one layer more than you will be wearing since there will be no sheets or blankets.
    8. Try a pacifier at nap and bedtime. This is known to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Some Things That Moms Can Do to Help Reduce the Risk of SIDS

      1. Don’t smoke during pregnancy and after the baby is born. Keep your baby away from homes and cars where smokers have been.
      2. Stay away from alcohol and drugs.
      3. If possible, breast feed your baby. Breast fed babies have a lower risk of SIDS.

I hope that this article has been helpful to someone. For more please click on this link:  American Academy of Pediatrics.

Wanda Wyont, MA

Wanda has worked in the field of education over twenty five years in many diverse backgrounds. Her teaching experiences range from preschool to college age. She holds an MA in Birth-Kindergarten and has presented multiple workshops at national venues. She has written and published numerous articles and papers on children’s issues. Her second children’s book, Barkley’s Great Escape, was recently published. For a signed and inscribed copy, please go to, the exclusive provider.

Texting Teachers

Texting Teachers Do Not Make Good Role Models
Wanda Sharing Her Book

Texting teachers are not good role models to their students. Recently, I had an experience that left me feeling unsettled during a book presentation at an elementary school. At least three out of six teachers sitting on the periphery of the multi-purpose room among a large group of first-graders were texting. I don’t mean an occasional glance at their cell phones. No. They were totally focused on their phones with their thumbs moving faster than the speed of light!

A Guest

I had been invited to present The Writing Process, a Power Point, which I developed that includes my personal journey. The presentation includes slides of my ideas, drafts, edits, rejection slips from publishers, etc.  My goal was to provide an interesting mix of slides and conversation. I wanted the children to see themselves as writers. But as I was trying to convince the children that their imagination could help them create a story, I was stunned by the texting teachers sitting in the audience. What kind of message does that send to the children?

Famous Words

According to the words of William Arthur Ward, a famous writer, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”  While the texting individuals may be good teachers, they should aim higher to become superior and great teachers that inspire their students. Our actions speak louder than words.  Children of this age are incredibly perceptive, and will see through a teacher who says one thing, but acts in another way.

Were the Texting Teachers Doing Classwork?

I know that we are all connected to our phones; which have become addictive to many of us, including myself. It is hard for me to not grab for my phone when I hear a ding letting me know I have a message. Has someone commented on my blog, Re-tweeted a Tweet, or sent me a personal message on Facebook? Also, I know that our Smartphones have become interactive teaching tools in the classroom. I applaud technology. In fact, I have taught many courses via Distance Education. I’ve included Smart Phones in my classroom activities. But, I still don’t agree with expecting one thing from a class of children and doing something opposite. Do you? What do you think of texting teachers? In a recent article from the National Education Association, Sheila Kohl wrote the following:  “Teachers are role models for their students all day, every day, so I take my actions and behavior very seriously.”  She went on to say, “Being a role model can be daunting—our students are observing us all the time.”

Long-Lasting Lessons in School

Teaching is more than just covering the curriculum. Modeling positive behavior and discussing it with their students will enable children to use those skills all their lives. Can you remember things that an elementary teacher taught you? I know that I can. Miss Mary’s actions still resonates with me as I pick up a tissue and wipe the water from around the sink after I’ve washed my hands. I still see her in action cleaning up around a sink in the classroom as she said something like this, “Always clean up your messes.” Would it have made the same difference if she said the words, but lacked the action behind it. I doubt it.

Words to Think About

I would like to say to all teachers that your students are watching you all the time. It isn’t what you say, but what you do! Eventually, the students will begin to act like you. It is a compliment! Make sure that their actions are from the best of you. I will close with the words from a school superintendent, “Being a role model is more than a side effect of our teaching: It’s the root of why we need to always be “on” in the classroom.” Brian P. Gatens.

Wanda Wyont

Wanda is a former college instructor and administrator in early childhood education and retention. After retiring, she shares her children’s books and the Writing Process with children. Her books are Sunbeam and Barkley’s Great Escape. She is a child advocate and Tweets daily about children’s issues. She is a credentialed parent educator and works with the CDC on Swim Safety for young children.







The Changing Role of Fatherhood


The Changing Role of Fatherhood
My Father

The changing role of fatherhood enables men to express their emotions and share the parenting role with the mother. It has changed  dramatically over the years. As a child in the fifties, my parents had two distinct roles. My mother was the nurturer and my father was the breadwinner. He went to work, fixed things, and was the disciplinarian. The norm was unfair to fathers. Now, it’s different. It is assumed that fathers will be involved in the parenting process.

As a Child, My Father Was Involved

As a preschooler, I felt a rush of excitement when I saw my father’s car turn down our driveway. It was a special time when I ran to him and was swung up in the air. I remember his laughter and his genuine interest in my day. He made me a swing that provided endless enjoyment. I can remember being pulled in my red wagon all around the farm. It seemed like hours. I can still see his face as he trekked along the rugged paths. He was my hero!

Things Changed

As our family grew, My father’s work time increased. I am sure that the stress of additional children compelled him to add work hours to his day. But, those special times with him became rare. I experienced the changing role of fatherhood, first hand. He moved from an interactive father to a detached one. My mother was the full-time nurturer. She communicated with the school, provided help with my homework and was the mediator. Our family did not even eat our evening meals together. It was simply too late in the evening. After my father retired around sixty years old, I attempted to rekindle my relationship with him. While we spent some happy times together, there was still a sadness about the loss of quality time that we had missed.

Twenty Five Years Later

Over the last twenty five years or so, fathers have become more involved in child-rearing. Studies seem to indicate that this is due to: (1)  more moms working and (2) parents are splitting household tasks more evenly. Therefore, fathers are more involved in their children’s lives. I recently observed a young father with a toddler at a restaurant. He secured a high chair and proceeded to wipe it down of all germs; while somehow holding his child with the other hand. After he was satisfied that all germs were eradicated, he gently placed his young daughter in the chair. I commended him and he smiled and talked about trying to keep his child healthy. From my view and perusing research papers, I know that data shows that fathers are more involved in child-rearing duties.  In fact, it has become the norm.

Online data helps to see the increase in father’s involvement with their children.

  • 54 percent of dads said the biggest changes they observed involved shifts in parents’ roles.
  • 22 percent of dads said one of the biggest changes in this generation is that families are busier than before.
  • 25 percent say they are the main organizers in their families.
  • 85 percent said they are somewhat or very involved in managing the family’s schedule.

Modern Mother

The modern mother is doing a better job helping the father to develop an attachment to the baby. She is including the father with prenatal activities like listening to the baby’s heartbeat, accompanying them on doctor’s visits, inviting the father to the baby shower and more. In today’s homes, you may find multiple situations whereby a father or father substitute will be (1) preparing breakfast for his preschooler, (2) walking his grandchildren to the park each day for play and interaction or (3) helping with homework. These are all common practices in the lives of men with young children, these days.


Children Do Better With Involved Fathers

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. A number of studies suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher intelligence, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities.  The Bible directly speaks about the importance of fathers:  “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”  Psalm 103:13.


There is research from many sources that back up the need for fathers to have an active role with their children. Two of those sources are: The School of Medicine at the University of Maryland and the University of Oxford in England. Their research revealed that involved fathers help children tremendously. A father that displays affection, is supportive and involved in their child’s life will contribute to the child’s cognitive, language, and social development. A good relationship will increase academic achievement, a strong sense of well-being and good self-esteem which are all important elements to becoming a self-confident adult. Some suggestions are (1) read to your child, (2) take them on outings, (3) display an interest in their education, and (4) take an equal role in parenting.

Relationship with Fathers

The Changing Role of Fatherhood
My husband, Garry and our daughter, Kim.

According to a recent article that was written by Dr. Gail Gross and printed in the Huffington Post, “Your child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of your child’s relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with their father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships…forever more: not only your child’s intrinsic idea of who he/she is as he/she relates to others, but also, the range of what your child considers acceptable and loving.” See the article for the full content.

Children’s Comments

Some years ago, I wrote an article that was printed in the Gaston Gazette about fathers. I asked some children to tell me what was special to them about their father and here are a few of the comments.

  • “He coaches football and teaches wrestling. My daddy is a baseball player he works in the yard, plants flowers, he cuts down trees to get the wood. I like it when he plays with me and cooks good food.”
  • My papaw is like my father. He loves me because he does stuff for me. We play. I rub his back for him. Sometimes, he gives me ice cream.”
  • My dad watches television with me. We go places. I sit in the chair with him. He gets me some milk.”
  • “He has big muscles like my papaw.”
  • “My father reads books. He fixed our swimming pool and I helped him. We play checkers and Candy Land. He fixes food and drinks.
  • “My dad teaches Sunday school. He is a good dad and helps me with my homework. I love him.”
  • Pop is fun. I like for him to play with me and my baby dolls.

Last Thoughts

The changing role of fatherhood is a way for children to receive double the support. It is far better to co-parent and have the opportunity to build a life time of memories with your child. Happy Father’s Day!

Wanda, MA

Wanda Wyont is a retired college instructor in early childhood education. She is an experienced national speaker on children’s issues and has written many articles. Recently, she has released her second children’s book titled, Barkley’s Great Escape. Click on the title to read more about this book and to purchase a signed copy.







Pool Safety Tips for Drowning Prevention

Pool Safety Tips for Drowning Prevention
Illustration from Barkley’s Great Escape

It is important to review pool safety tips for drowning prevention.   Drowning is the number one cause of accidental deaths in young children. According to the CDC, “from 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day.  About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.”

The majority of drowning deaths result from a child falling or wandering into the water, particularly into a backyard pool. But don’t forget, a young child can drown in an inch of water. For many additional resources, go to Please take a few minutes and read over the tips. If you have a platform such as a pastor, teacher, Sunday School teacher, or health provider, I hope that you will take a few minutes of your time and share with your population.  The reminder may save a child’s life.

Compiled List for printing.  Pool Safety for Young Children

Pool Safety Tips for Drowning Prevention
Children are drawn to water!Supervision
  • Don’t leave your child unattended around water. (Young children can drown in as little as one inch of water.)  Supervision is not an occasional glance. It is not watching your kids playing outside while you’re inside.
  • Supervision is keeping eye contact with your child within touching distance.
  • You should put away cell phones, books, laptops, magazines, and discontinue conversations with friends. Young children need 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water.
  • Don’t depend on life guards at community pools.
  • Don’t depend on a teenager to keep their eyes on your child.

Things to do

  • Pools should have fencing around all four sides – not counting the house as a side – with self-closing or self-latching doors that are too high for children to reach. Drowning accidents happen when parents assume, “I thought the gate was closed,” or, “I didn’t know she could open the door.”
  • Put alarms on your pool so that you will be alerted if a child falls in the water.
  • Follow ALL safety precautions after your young children are grown. Other young children may be visiting your home or neighborhood.
  • Have conversations with children about water safety.
  • You may want to read Barkley’s Great Escape or another book that will help you start a serious conversation about water safety.

Other Things to Think About

  • If a child is missing in the house, check the pool first.
  • Select swim suits that are bright colors and can been seen easily under water such as orange and red.
  • When visiting someone with a backyard swimming pool, keep eye contact on your child at all times during the visit. The child may be a few easy steps to danger.
  • Be vigilant about emptying all containers of water, tubs, buckets, wading pools. Keep them upside down and out of children’s reach.

Other Areas of Water

  • Close and secure bathroom doors due to the water from the toilets.
  • Empty mop buckets.
  • Young children have not grown into their bodies. Their heads are heavy and it is easy for them to topple over.

Action Plan

  • Learn CPR and First Aid. Practice the skills often.
  • Teach children to ALWAYS ask for permission to go near the water. You can have a ritual that you teach your child with a list of things that must happen before getting into the water. (This may sound like a waste of time, but a child may be driven to follow the routine or ritual).
    • Get a towel
    • Put on sunblock
    • Let mommy or daddy know that you are getting in the water
  • Develop family rules such as no running; do not play near drains, etc.
  • Remove all pool toys out of sight of young children. (A floating toy might be tempting for a young child).

In An Emergency

  •  Have a portable phone nearby to call for emergency help.
  • Have a first aid kit, life jacket, and throwing equipment nearby Keep a safety ring with a rope beside the pool at all times.
  • Know how to respond to an emergency. For example, be able to give exact directions. Have someone out by the road to alert emergency personnel.

I hope the pool safety tips for young children is beneficial to your organization or to you personally.

Wanda Wyont, MA

Wanda has worked in the field of education over twenty-five years in many diverse backgrounds. Her teaching experiences range from preschool to college age. She holds an MA in Birth-Kindergarten and has presented multiple workshops at national venues. She has written and published numerous articles and papers on children’s issues. As an experienced storyteller, Wanda encourages children to become good readers and writers. Barkley’s Great Escape is her second children’s book.





Pool-Safety Message Delivered by a Lovable, White, Lab

Pool-Safety Message Delivered by a lovable, white, Lab

BarPool-Safety Message Delivered by a lovable, white, Labkley’s Great Escape, a pool-safety message delivered by a lovable, white, Lab for children. The story is told from a lovable, white, Lab’s point-of-view.  To Barkley, the pool looked inviting. But soon after getting in the water, he discovers that he can’t find the steps to get back out to safety.

The Child Hears the Pool-Safety Message

It takes a lovable, white, Lab to teach children about pool-safety!  During book talks, children become quiet when they realize that Barkley is afraid and having trouble getting out of the water. While children laugh and applaud at the end of the story, the pool-safety message is not lost on the young audience. At the conclusion of the story, an adult has the opportunity to begin start-up conversations about pool-safety. Below, read an excerpt from the children’s book, Barkley’s Great Escape

Book Excerpt

Pool-Safety Message Delivered by a Lovable, White, Lab
Barkley Enters Pool

I walked around a wood door that was cracked open. I thought for a moment that I was imagining the sight. a huge tub  of water lay before me! “Oh Boy.” I thought. I walked down several steps into the nice cool water. At first, my paws were submerged, then my legs, then my tummy, and then my whole body. “Ah, this feels good.” I lapped some water and splashed around.

Pool-Safety Message Delivered by a Lovable, White, Lab
Barkley’s get in trouble.

Author’s Website

If interested in more information about this children’s book, please check out the website at Wanda Wyont or go to Ambassador Publishing  for more details about Barkley’s Great Escape.The story is based on a true event that happened to Barkley. “After seeing how he almost drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool. The story took shape.” It is entertaining and provides a

Pool-Safety Message Delivered by a Lovable, White, Lab
Sharing Barkley’s Great Escape

strong message, too. The illustrations tell the story for the non-readers. The book includes teacher’s strategies. The target ages are 4-8 years old. The young children enjoy being read to and the older children will be able to read the book themselves.

Author Enjoys Sharing Her Book

The author enjoys sharing her book and talking about water-safety to groups of children and adults.

Pool-Safety Message Delivered by a lovable, white, Lab

Some of her reminders are:

  • Don’t get into the water or close to the water without an adult present. Remind adults to keep their eyes on the pool.
  • Learn to swim
  • Wear swim suits that are visible in the water

Get the Facts

Go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at CDC

Get the facts and data about drownings.


About Wanda Wyont

Wanda works in the field of education and has spent over twenty five years in many diverse backgrounds. Her teaching experiences range from preschool to college age. She holds an MA in Birth-Kindergarten and has presented multiple workshops at national venues. She has written and published numerous articles and papers on children’s issues. As an experienced storyteller, Wanda encourages children to become good readers and writers. Barkley’s Great Escape is her second children’s book.


Wanda Wyont, MA





Book on Water Safety, Barkley’s Great Escape

Book on Water Safety, Barkley's Great Escape
                        Barkley’s Great Escape

Book on Water Safety, Barkley’s Great Escape

Barkley’s Great Escape was inspired by a family pet. He  almost drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool. Check out this book on water safety.

Excerpt from the Book

“I paddled to keep my head above water. By this time, I had drifted to the middle of the giant pool. Finally, someone was out looking for me. “I’m over here!” I barked. “Ruff, ruff, ruff!”

Begin an Important Discussion with Your Child

Barkley’s situation opens up great discussion with children about water safety and following rules. With high numbers of water fatalities each year among children, it is imperative to teach children about water safety. See my list of pool safety tips.

Things to do

  • CPR
  • Swim Lessons
  • Barriers around the pool
  • Discussions about water safety

What better way than to hear the message from a lovable white Lab? The book is targeted for children ages 4-8 years old with follow-up teaching strategies.

Power Point Presentation

On the author’s website, A Power Point presentation on the writing process is available. For second and third graders, this presentation enables the children to see how an idea becomes a book. For younger groups, the story is read after a picture walk.


Book on water safety, Barkley's Great Escape
Author sharing her book.

You can order the book directly from this website for a signed copy or from large bookstores such as Amazon or Barnes&Noble.  The cost is $14.99 U.S. The publisher is Ambassador International.

About the Author

Wanda Wyont has spent over twenty five years in the field of education. Her teaching experiences range from preschool to college age. She holds an MA in Birth-Kindergarten and has presented multiple workshops at national venues. Wanda has written and published numerous articles and papers on children’s issues. As an experienced storyteller, she  encourages children to become good readers and writers. This is her second children’s book.

Science Center for Preschool

Science Center for Preschool

Science Center for Preschool

The first time that I was asked to teach a workshop it was on the science center for preschool children. It was the annual Mid-Winter Conference that provided training hours for preschool teachers in licensed child care centers. The conference was held at Gaston College. While, I was thrilled to be asked to teach. The topic scared me to death. Science was one of my least favorite subjects in school and I could not imagine what materials and experiences that four and five year old children could do within the defined space of a science center.

I Was A Director of a Preschool

Science was probably the weakest area at my own child care center. How was I going to stand up in front of conferees and talk about the importance of this space for young children?

Science Center for Preschool – Set up to Observe

Thankfully, I had several months to research. As a way of preparing, I began setting-up a science center in my own child care center. What I found was amazing!

The children came equipped with exploring and investigating skills. They were drawn like magnets to water, sand, and collectable items from nature. It was fascinating to see the learning that I noted each day. See the materials that I added below to my science center – a book shelf filled with items.

Things that I added

  • Seasonal flowers and plants, sea shells, and rocks.
  • Books about identifying butterflies, clouds, birds, animals, and trees.
  • Small fish tank on a lower shelf for observing.
  • Sand box with scoops, measuring cups and spoons, buckets, etc.
  • Water table that was open for some of the time. (It required constant visual attention).
  • For novelty, new items were added and other things removed each week.
  • Magnifying glass
  • Flashlight
  • Tweezers
  • Straws
  • Sponges
  • Funnels
  • Magnets
  • Postage Meter
  • Measuring devises –stop watch, yard stick, ruler, tape measure, etc.
  • Containers – plastic trays, plastic bottles, plastic cups, shoe boxes, egg cartons, etc.
  • Collecting containers – paper bags, plastic buckets, etc.
  • Recording Devises – digital recorder, camera, notebooks with pencils

Some Teacher-Directed Activities

Teacher directed science activities provided additional interest in the science center. For example, the children did not know what to do with the measuring cups and spoons until the teacher or I provided a fun activity. They needed direction on how to take a photograph and use a recorder. Through a short fifteen minute teacher-lead activity, the children learned how to use and take care of materials and supplies.

Nature Walk

We took walks around the playground or a nearby park.  I gave  each child an an important assignment. They understood that they would share when they got back to the classroom. Some of the responsibilities were: (1) Camera for capturing photos, (2) Notepads and pens for taking notes and drawing pictures (They are able to read their scribbles), (3) Recorders for the sounds, and (4) Buckets for treasures such as leaves, shells, nuts, etc.

Arriving Back in the Classroom

After arriving back in the classroom, the children and teachers  discussed the field trip. The teacher said, “Christopher, found different shaped leaves. Let’s look at them together. How are the leaves different? Pull out our book on leaves and let’s find the name of the bush or tree.”

“Listen to the sounds of the crickets that Michelle recorded. Kimberly took pictures of the trees. Would you pass those pictures around for the class to see? What is different about the two trees?”

After the brief circle time sharing, the teacher encouraged the children to display some of the things that they found. You might suggest that they invite other classes to the science center to observe the display. Treat the children like learners. Give them tools to investigate and explore. You will be surprised at the learning.

Science Center for Preschool
Science Center

The Science Center

My husband, Garry, built a large box with a lid that I filled it with sanitized sand and added scoops, measuring cups, buckets, etc. This was an area that the children were always interested in visiting. Also, we purchased a water table and added different containers for measuring. (I colored the water at times for more interest.) This is an area that MUST have constant supervision. My shelves held a variety of things for exploring.

The Teacher’s Role

The teacher’s role in the science center is to set-it-up with new and different tools for investigating things, for collecting things, measuring things, recording sounds, taking photos, and many more. The Kaplan site will provide more information about materials to order. Encourage children to use all their senses in this area. See how to set-up a science center in the early childhood classroom by going to  Extension.

Ways to Introduce a New Topic

You might introduce a future field trip by introducing the topic with a colorful book. For example, before going to look for different birds you could share a book with pictures of birds.  It is important for the teachers to be able to recognize different birds, clouds, trees, plants, etc. “Look at the beautiful cumulus cloud!” Be in tune to the children’s interest and be willing to modify a plan based on the direction of the children.


At times, I would make a science assignment. I might say to the children, “some time this morning during free-choice time, I want you to go to the water-table and tell me how many cups the blue bucket will hold. When you have the answer come and tell me.” Of course, I kept a record of their responses.

Encourage Science

Science Center for Preschool

Get the children interested in science by bringing in interesting items such as books, objects from nature, plastic animals and bugs to examine, etc.

Back to My Workshop on Science

I shared the truth about my fear of science with the conferees at the Mid Winter Conference. I confessed that I had never promoted science because I had never liked science. After my confession, I began showing them how I had changed my own center to include science. I had pictures and anecdotal notes to share. Several of the center’s preschool teachers provided testimonials, too.

Since science is hands-on, I carried a trunk-load of materials to try to duplicate a science center to my workshop. We even went on a field trip and collected our own stuff to try to identify through books.

I received good feedback. It not only taught me things about the topic of science, my center highlighted science until I sold my center and began teaching early childhood classes at Gaston College.

I hope that you begin to love the science center in preschool.

Wanda Wyont

Wanda Wyont has worked in the field of education over twenty years in many diverse settings. Her teaching experiences range from preschool to college age. She holds an MA in Birth-Kindergarten and has presented multiple workshops at national venues. She has written and published numerous articles and papers on children’s issues. As an experienced storyteller, she encourages children to become good readers and writers. Recently, she published her second children’s book.

Swimming Pool Safety Measures

Swimming Pool Safety Measures
Barkley in the yard.

Swimming Pool Safety Measures

As a former college instructor, I spent countless hours lecturing on the topic of swimming pool safety measures.

Health, Safety, and Nutrition

Each time that I taught the course, Health, Safety, and Nutrition, I spent an entire session spewing the statistics of swimming pool safety measures. Yet, it took Barkley, my daughter’s Lab, to nearly drown in a neighbor’s swimming pool before I put my energy into educating others about water-safety.

Barkley’s Story

I will preface my story by first telling you that Barkley loved water! I had given him a cast iron bath tub that had come out of our old house. We kept it clean and filled with fresh water during the summer months. On hot afternoons, he would get in the water and submerge himself. You could see the pure pleasure on his face, as he cooled off. Several summers ago, a delivery man accidentally left Barkley’s gate open. He used the opportunity to explore the neighborhood. At some point, he entered the back yard of a neighbor’s house and discovered a swimming pool. Barkley either went down the steps to the pool or he fell in the water from the side of the pool.

Barkley Barked for Help

I am not sure how long he was in the water. He was barking frantically. I had been alerted that he wasn’t in his fence and I was out searching the neighborhood for him. There were at least five young children walking with me, calling him by name. The neighbor that owned the pool happened by chance to walk into her kitchen and look out the window. She said that she shouted to her son, “there is a large white dog in the pool!” At that point, he was hanging by his paws.

The Neighbor Rescued Barkley

She and her son jumped in the water and lifted him to safety. Within a few minutes, I walked by her house calling Barkley by name. Although he was weak, he recognized my voice and walked around the house. I hardly recognized him. He was trembling and whimpering. I held on to him to keep him from falling. While it proved to be a celebratory event, I continued to be troubled by his near drowning experience.

More Young Children Die From Drowning Than Any Other Accidental Method.

I thought about the data of drowning and young children. Drowning is a leading cause of preventable death of children under the age of five. I looked around at the number of swimming pools in my own neighborhood and knew that I had to do something to bring more attention to swimming pool safety measures.

Swimming Pool Safety Measures
Barkley’s Great Escape

Barkley’s Story

I wrote Barkley’s story as a children’s book and titled it, Barkley’s Great Escape. It was published by Ambassador International Publishing. The book affords me the opportunity to share it with many children’s groups in school settings and child care centers.

Entertaining While Dealing With A Serious Topic

While the story is entertaining, the message is not lost on children. After completing the book, the children and I discuss ways to be safe around water. Since it was published in March 2015, I have been invited to speak at college classrooms, conferences, libraries, bookstores, and I was even interviewed on television. I never pass up and opportunity to talk about swimming pool safety.

Pool Safety Campaign Safety Leader

Recently, I became a Pool Safety Campaign Safety Leader, a campaign launched by the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission.

Take Action

While it is important to discuss swimming pool safety with young children, it is the adults that can make the changes in and around their homes to protect children. Perhaps, you don’t have young children living at home. What about children visiting? What about neighbors? Please read some safety suggestions below and make the changes necessary to insure that all children are safe this summer.

US Consumer Safety Council and the Red Cross

According to the US Consumer Safety Council and the  Red Cross: (see below)

Swimming Pool Safety Measures

  1. Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  2. Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least 4-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.

Do not consider your home as one of the barriers.

  1. Do not consider your home as one of the barriers. Young children that are in your home will be able to open a door and have access to the swimming pool.
  2. If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  3. Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.
  4. Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Maintain Constant Supervision with these Swimming Pool Safety Measures

  1. Actively supervise kids whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
  2. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
  3. Put the cell phones, magazines, and books away if you have a young child near the water.
  4. Know What to Do in an Emergency
  5. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  6. Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  7. If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  8. Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article. I would love to hear from you.

Wanda Wyont

About the Author

Wanda Wyont has worked in the field of education over twenty five years in many diverse backgrounds. Her teaching experiences range from preschool to college age. She holds an MA in Birth-Kindergarten and has presented multiple workshops at national venues. She has written and published numerous articles and papers on children’s issues. As an experienced storyteller, Wanda encourages children to become good readers and writers.

Art Center for Preschoolers

Art Center for Preschoolers
Easel with shelf

Art Center for Preschoolers

The art area in a child care center can be one of a child’s favorite spaces. Just imagine, mounds of crayons, boxes of colored pencils, makers in every color, plain paper, glue, plastic scissors, magazines for cutting or tearing, construction paper, examples of 3D creations, art displayed, paints of all kinds, clay, easels, smocks, and many other selections. All the items are an invitation to create.

Art Center for Preschoolers
This is an example of a carousal painted by a child.

Provide Plain Paper and Paint

Young children have a natural gift to create. I once walked by a child that was swirling her paint around-and-around on the paper. I could see multiple colors going in a vivid circle. “Would you like to tell me about your art?” I asked. She shared that it was the way she felt when she rode the carousal. After she talked about her experience, I understood her art.

Let Children Explore

Children love to experiment with colors and textures. It is not about the product to them. Just as you are ready to display one of their paintings, you discover that the child has painted over the picture to see what the color red looks like painted over white. “Look! I have a pink picture,” a child might say.

Free Choice Experiences

At the art center, children enjoy being self-directed not teacher directed. You might say, “Would someone like to paint a snow scene or use the cotton and glue to complete a snow picture since we just read the Snowy Day?” At least this way, you have given the children an idea about what to do at the art center. But, it should not be restricted to that one plan. You may want to have realistic pictures of snowy scenes. But, it is important to give children control over their creations.

Art Center for Preschoolers
Example of what not to use: Pattern for a snowman

My Mistake

As a young teacher, I use to provide step-by-step directions on making something such as the snowman on the right.

Children feel comfortable looking at a view outside of their window and trying to draw it. But, caregivers that provide a pattern will dampen creativity and cause stress.

In my early years as an educator, art time for me was to provide the children with patterns. I instructed them on every step. I then displayed all the projects around the room. The only development areas that were enhanced were perhaps fine motor skills and following directions.

Through Research an My Own Observations

I read research papers and articles and listened to many lectures from professors and speakers on the subject of art for young children. While believing the experts, it took my observations with groups of children to convince me that children need the opportunity to explore at the art center. At first, children may make messes. But, creativity begins to explode when they realize that they are in the driver’s seat. Therefore, my philosophy is adamant on process versus product.

What Does the Space Look Like?

The art center can include shelves for holding items and an easel for painting larger pictures. There should be plastic bins for holding markers, colored pencils, etc. You will need a storage space for scissors, paper, etc. The space should be attractive with good lighting. Make it a wonderful place that elicits creativity. Children love beautiful spaces filled with color. Add fresh flowers, pine cones, sea shells, and other objects in nature to add to the area. It is important to change the natural items often because children love novelty. The space should be in close proximity to water for cleaning up spills and washing out brushes.

Some Supplies

Some suggestions for art materials are: white drawing paper, ribbons, pieces of cloth, , finger paints, crayons (a huge assortment), hole punches, Popsicle sticks, paper doilies, peel-off shapes, markers, yarn, pom-poms, craft buttons, paste, glue, construction paper, tissue paper, newsprint, scissors, masking tape, sponges, stamps, stamp pads, rolling pins, play dough, cookie cutters, drying rack, painting aprons, mixing jars, and more.

In this space, many developmental domains are enhanced.

  • Physical development -Children develop fine and large motor skills. This includes the development of eye-hand coordination, and arm, hand and finger muscles.
  • Cognitive development – Through visual discrimination, children will learn to identify colors. Also, it takes a mental plan to design their picture or art project.
  • Language development- Children love to talk. Encourage multiple children to share the space to enhance language development. As the teacher, walk around and invite the child to discuss their project. “Would you like to tell me about your art?” You can add vocabulary by making statements like, “I love those purple lines that you added. I like those circles that you placed on the page.”
  •  Emotional Development- Children will feel happy about their art projects in a classroom where the teacher doesn’t put restrictions on their work. Many of the art activities are therapeutic. Think about pounding clay as a way to get-out hostility.
  • Social Development- it is important to encourage conversation and have multiple children in the space together.
  • Creative Development- Encourage children to create. It is fine to give them ideas. But, don’t provide examples of things that have been made from patterns. For example, you could provide several snow scenes photos. But, it will stop their creativity when the teacher posts several snow scenes that she made with blue paper and glitter or a snow man that has been made by the teacher.

Finding Supplies

Art Center for Preschoolers
Art Storage

There are many good online supply companies. I ordered from Kaplan, as an educator. Their website provides some start-up advice when setting up an art center in an early childhood environment.

1. Decide on the Size and Location of Your Art Center

It is important to set-up the center based on the size and location. Try to accommodate two or more children to ensure that language skills are developed. It is important to plan the center near a water source for easy clean-up. It can get noisy; therefore it would not work near the book center or other quiet areas.

2. Pick out the Appropriate Furniture for Your Space

It is important to have areas for easy clean-up. Double-sided easels take up less room than two easels. You will need shelves and cabinets to hold paints and tables for making projects. Add a drying rack and bulletin boards for displaying art.

3. Facilitate Easy Clean Up with Splash Mats and Aprons

Make sure that floor services are easy to clean. You may want a splash mat. Have art smocks or aprons to protect children’s clothing.

4. Find Convenient Art Storage Solutions

There are a variety of art supplies available, so it’s important that the materials you choose for your art center are organized and placed in appropriate storage containers. Art caddies, scissor racks, and art tubs are great storage solutions for materials that children need to easily access.

5. Choose a Variety of Art Materials and Tools for Children to Use

You should offer a variety of diverse art materials based on different levels of ability in your classroom’s art center.

I hope this article on the art center for preschoolers has been helpful.

Wanda Wyont, MA

Wanda is an experienced educator and has spent years working in preschool. After graduate school, she taught early childhood education at the college level. She has written numerous articles and has spoken to many diverse groups on a national level. Recently, her second children’s book, Barkley’s Great Escape, was published.