Written and images on this blog are Judie Ryan's sole property unless otherwise indicated.

Friday, March 31, 2017


When it was potty time, we bought my daughter, Julia, "A STAR POTTY"  (I don't know what it was really called, but that's what we called it.) Julia adored it and tinkled in the potty every time she had to go because she always got a star at the bottom. The problem I decided (some years later) was that unfortunately the potty didn't make a star when Juila pooped in it. So instead, yes, when Julia had to poop, she went off to hide in the closet every time. Maybe she had learned that pooping was bad because she didn't get a STAR, when she pooped in her special potty. You can never tell what kids are thinking.

Anyway sometimes, potty training can be hard for everyone. I am not an advocate of the Potty Train Your Child in Two Days philosophy..Most kids do not respond well to pressure. I worked with a very stern girl whose daughter still wore diapers at five. And I can tell you, there was nothing wrong with that little girl. She was smart, adorable and creative. It was just a power struggle. So, if you don't want a power struggle, make potty training fun. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017


This sure would encourage your kid's imagination!

found on http://myincrediblerecipes.com/

Thursday, March 16, 2017


I miscarried four months later. But we soon adopted a gorgeous one-day-old baby girl. She was beautiful!  Still, as the agency representative said,  "She's yours." I looked at her and said, "I don't know how to pick up a baby." 

You'd think that with that bumbling, uncomfortable beginning I might have flipped out the first day I was alone with her. But an hour after coming home, I discovered that our tiny human was the most fascinating creature I'd ever experienced. Long buried in the creases of my brain, hungry, tired, cold, wet, sick drifted out when I needed it. When she screamed, I ran down the checklist. And it always worked. I was ready when she shot herself off the the changing table by kicking her feet against the wall. I was ready when she threw-up on my student's father's best suit. I can't imagine anything more wonderful than watching her or any child develop. I couldn't wait to share my family's joy of learning with her.

It never occurred to me how much things had changed and how hard that would be.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


The Baby!
I am reposting this so that those of you who haven't heard my original story can see it:

"What am I going to do with a baby?" I howled when my husband and I were told I was pregnant. After months of surgeries, shots and stirrups, our in vitro fertilization had worked. So, what was my problem? I'd always wanted a family, but I'd pictured myself for so long as a professional, I couldn't see myself any other way.  And, I was oooold--thirty-eight. What if I couldn't keep up with a baby?

I'd grown up in a family of teachers, many of them Phi Beta Kappas. Growing up in that environment meant learning was always fun. From my first moments, my family encouraged learning through play, discovery and exploration. In spite of that background, I felt unprepared for the crying, helpless thing that was about to change my life forever.

Friday, March 10, 2017


Children who have no sense of awe and wonder often have no imagination or curiosity. As parents and educators, we must realize that without awe and wonder we would have no inventors or writers, no scientists or mathematicians, yet this is what the powers that be seem to want out of American students. It is in fact Pop Culture and a society that does not respect knowledge that causes lack of a desire to learn. Educators and society in general need to realize that without wonder creators will no longer imagine that man can fly, that a human heart can be transplanted from one human to another, that a cure for polio, TB, smallpox etc. can be found. We will hear no composers who are able to imagine from single sounds Beethoven's glorious Ninth Symphony, the Beatles' Yesterday or Maroon 5 's Moves Like Jagger. Nor would we see artworks by da Vinci, Picasso or Warhol.

In my educational offerings that range from Baby and Me classes to programs for mixed-age groups up to age 7, I try to instill wonder in every student and re-inspire it in their parents. Even children who have been over-exposed to licensed characters, rapid-fire television and video game graphics, advertising and "No Child Left Behind" can be lured back to their natural creative learning instincts through re-instilling wonder.
Regaining your childlike wonder, would you prefer to hear a lecture and perform worksheets about magnets or would a teacher or parent who hides magnets around the classroom or house for her students to explore and discover foster a greater interest?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

AWE & WONDER, Part 4

Now that I've experienced this fact with my own daughter and students, I realize that many children's stories, folk tales, fantasies and family traditions are meant to cultivate that sense of wonder. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time, encourages all who wish children to discover and learn to participate: "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." Some schools and parents never read fiction or fairy tales, one of the great creators of imagination and wonder. Many day cares and preschools today focus on academics rather than imaginative play. Some parents believe that telling their children that there is a Santa Claus is telling them a lie. Yet with anything that requires "suspended disbelief" requires creating a lie in one's mind.