Betty and Doniese

Family Life Instructors at Avera McKennan

Doniese Wilcox:

As a child development and family relations major at South Dakota State University, I knew I wanted to work in the childcare education field after my first human development course. And now I have been working with children and families in various settings ranging from preschool to parent education for more than 35 years. I love my job as a Certified Family Life Instructor at Avera McKennan because I have the opportunity to work with both children and adults in diverse situations. Some days I might be teaching babysitting courses and others I might be presenting a puppet show to children to educate them on burns. Every day is different and I love that.

My husband and I have three grown daughters and we are the proud grandparents to two young grandsons. In my spare time I enjoy reading, baking, sewing, traveling and relaxing with our family cat, Callie.

Betty Barto-Smith:

I believe that parents are a child’s first and most important teachers, so I am happy to be providing knowledge as a Certified Family Life Educator at Avera McKennan. With a BSN from the University of Texas at Arlington and graduate work in human development at SDSU, I have been working in parent/family education for more than 20 years. Having children of my own really helped me see how important the first years are in a child’s development and how choices parents make can direct their child’s behavior. I love helping parents understand ways to encourage their child’s growth and development.

I have three grown sons and one grand-dog, a black lab, and she and I are best buds. In my spare time I enjoy bicycling, reading and cooking.

Author Archive | Betty and Doniese

The Toddler Years: The Fascinating Stage of Toddlerhood (Part 2)

Let’s continue our discussion about some of the characteristics of toddlers that influence their behavior.
Toddlers Are Concrete Thinkers
Little Jaxon is going to be the ring bearer in his aunt’s wedding, so his parents help him practice. On the wedding day, Jaxon starts walking down the aisle. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }

The Toddler Years: The Fascinating Stage of Toddlerhood (Part 1)

Let’s continue our discussion about some of the characteristics of toddlers that influence their behavior.
Toddlers Lack Experience in Human Relations
Toddlers do not yet understand that others have feelings or feel pain. They begin developing empathy, but it’s not consistent. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }

The Toddler Years: Exploring the Big World

Maya is sitting at the table coloring with crayons, humming softly and talking to mom who is nearby. In flies 18-month-old Joey. He grabs the crayons and starts coloring on the nearest chair. Mom manages to get them out of his hand but not before he knocks the chair over. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }

The Toddler Years: B for Biter

Every parent of a toddler and every adult who works with toddlers dreads hearing the word biter. Whether your child is biting, is being bitten, or you take care of a child who bites, you likely react very strongly to this behavior. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }

The Toddler Years Intro: Learning About Your Toddler

Toddlerhood is one of our favorite stages of development. We love toddlers! It’s fascinating to watch little ones discover and explore the world in their unique way. Few adults can remember being a toddler. We remember being 4 or 5 years old when we had pretty good language skills, had the basic principles of the world figured out and could follow the rules and shared most of the time. Read More »

Child Development, News · McKennan · Comments { 0 }
Teach your children about summer storm safety.

Safety First: Summer Storm Safety

When kids reach middle school, they are usually too old for traditional day care. Many are enrolled in summer programs, but a fair number of these kids are home alone during the summer months. Parents need to make sure their children know about basic safety rules like how to answer the door or phone, what to do if the smoke alarm goes off, etc. Read More »

Child Development · McKennan · Comments { 0 }