A native of the Midwest, Beth Grams Haxby grew up in a family immersed in education and learning. Her parents described themselves as “life-long learners” well before there was such a term in the lexicon. Her dad was a college teacher in the emerging fields of child and human development and family dinner time discussions frequently revolved around children, development, and parenting, issues that remain close to her heart.
After graduating from Carleton College with a B.A. in sociology, Beth naturally found her way into teaching and received a B.S. in elementary education from the University of Minnesota. She was happily on the staff of the Smith College Campus School in Northampton, MA for more than 20 years, also receiving her Ed.M from Smith during those years. She taught in preschool, kindergarten, third and fifth grade classrooms and worked as a supervising teacher for both undergraduate and graduate students of education at Smith.
Her initial interest in sleep stemmed from an issue encountered as a preschool teacher. Parents of preschool and toddler children frequently requested teachers to keep their children from napping or to wake them from a nap after a brief time, because they believed children would go to sleep earlier and more easily at night if they were more tired. Teachers were typically unable to keep children awake: the children simply fell asleep in a teacher’s arms or on the floor. Efforts to arouse a child from a brief nap were also problematic.
In an effort to resolve this issue, she reviewed existing literature in the field of sleep, reading articles in academic journals and books by leading scientists. What she discovered was fascinating, and revealed that parents’ beliefs about sleep and children (and often their own pediatricians’ suggestions) were unsupported by the evidence available. Since that initial review, she has been presenting what she’s learned to a variety of audiences and keeping abreast of the growing field of knowledge about sleep. Because knowledge of sleep science is not widely known and taught, she believes there is a strong need to disperse the information about how fundamental sleep is to both child development and good health.
Devoted to her work with young children and their parents, Beth retired from classroom teaching in 2010 and is now working full-time as a sleep and parenting consultant.