If you are a program or a practitioner working with infants and toddlers, or a parent of a child in this lovely stage of development, you may be interested in the topic of “Continuity of Care”. In fact, I would argue that if you have a stake in the development of a young child in the age range of 0-3, you SHOULD be interested in this topic.
Continuity of care describes a care setting in which children stay with the same caregiver from the time they enter group care as an infant to the time they transition to a preschool classroom at the age of three. This concept is very different than what typically takes place in many centers across the United States, where children transition to a new classroom with new teachers when they reach new milestones like walking and toilet training. Because infants and toddlers are establishing their identities and striving to make sense of their world at this stage of development, they need a close bond with a responsive, primary caregiver to feel secure enough to explore their world. When they stay with the same trusted person and receive consistently loving care, they develop a schema that they are taken care of, therefore they are loveable. The infant or toddler who develops this trust in their world can turn their attention to new discoveries in physical, cognitive, social-emotional, and language and literacy development and really thrive in a learning environment (Howes, 1998; Lally, 1995).
Although this concept has been accumulating positive data in terms of child outcomes since the early 1990s, it is an approach that brings many challenges in implementation. Aside from the special waivers a center must obtain from the state licensing department so toddlers and infants can be in the same space together, there are a myriad of questions to consider: Should we have mixed-ages of 0-3 together or should children be of the same age range (often called “looping”)? In a looping situation, should the room set-up change as the children grow or should the children move with their caregivers to new classrooms as they develop into busy toddlers? What trainings are needed for staff to feel comfortable working with both infants and toddlers? In a mixed-age group, how should the environment be set up to ensure that both infants and toddlers have a space in which they can thrive? How does a center attract and retain teachers who are responsive and in-tune with young children? What does continuity mean for enrollment? What are some of the challenges that may come up for families?
At Clayton Early Learning, we have begun to explore these questions as we embark on providing continuity of care on a new level. This spring, Clayton opened a new classroom that is being enrolled to include up to three infants under the age of 12 months, as well as five toddlers. In addition, two of our current infant classrooms will be exploring looping by retaining their children as they age and changing the environment to meet the growing needs of the children. We are excited about these new learning opportunities and will no doubt share our discoveries as they occur. What is your experience with continuity of care? Is this the type of environment that can most effectively help children develop a healthy identity?
Howes, C. (1998). Continuity of care: The importance of infant, toddler, caregiver relationships. Zero to Three, 18(6), 7-11.
By Dawn Sweeney
February marked Educare Denver at Clayton Early Learning’s third annual participation in “I Love to Read” month. During the month, a committee of Child and Family Educators and teachers partner together to carefully plan for the event by creating several eye appealing and comfortable areas throughout the Educare building. These reading nooks encourage and entice young children and their families to sit together and read from Clayton’s tremendous selection of developmentally appropriate and interesting books. At our school, we find value in creating a special time for families and children to sit together and share the excitement a good book can bring, but more than that, we know that the bonding and connection between parent and child during those special moments is equally important.
Each year this dedicated committee plans a month-long calendar of events to provide several rich opportunities for families and children around reading books. This year, we offered two days of dialogic reading training for families in both English and Spanish. According to Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst, Ph.D, “Dialogic reading is just children and adults having a conversation about a book” . In our school, teachers have been trained to use this technique with children in the classroom. They document children’s comments and questions as well as make note of unusual words that they then incorporate into their daily conversations with children. Whitehurst also asserts, “Dialogic reading works. Children who have been read to dialogically are substantially ahead of children who have been read to traditionally on tests of language development. Children can jump ahead by several months in just a few weeks of dialogic reading.”
Shauna Scott, Mentor Coach Child and Family Educator is one of the “I love to Read” committee members. She is passionate about reading and the benefits of children and families doing this activity together. “I love to Read month for me is a great way to instill a love of reading. We might look at dialogic reading and think it is so complex, but it’s not. [Families] are already doing it. It’s such a great way for parents and children to feel valued. Parents can take a trip down memory lane and recall what they loved about reading and remember the books they loved as a child.”
As families read or use dialogic reading, they are encouraged to document the books they have explored with children to be displayed in the Atrium of our Educare building. This year the theme used for the display is a giant apple, which is home to a big green book worm. Little apples documenting the book read and the child’s name are attached to the giant apple display. Last year by the end of February, more than 1000 books had been read! Staff and families were encouraged to guess the total number of books read, and the closest to the actual number received a gift card. This year, we will accept documentation of the books read through the end of the day Thursday, February 28, 2013. Another drawing will be announced for those who guess the total amount of books read.
February and “I Love to Read” month is a fantastic opportunity for us to highlight the work we do with children all year long. Every day teachers spend time reading to children during classroom time. Full-day Head Start Teacher, Vivian Sandoval believes reading is an excellent way to make a “real” connection with children. “Reading is great for children because regardless of what situation they may be in they can escape with a book to go anywhere they want to go.” Part-day Head Start classroom Teacher, Megan Bock appreciates the value of “I Love to Read” month as well. “I like I Love to Read month because it accentuates the importance of families and children reading together.”
Please take a few minutes to sit with a child and help them to explore the wonderful world of books. This simple act has long-lasting and profound benefits to the children in our lives. Together, we can make the love of reading last throughout the year!
Working With Young Families: Training That All Early Childhood Providers Should Have, But Rarely Receive
Most early childhood professionals have taken at least one course (if not several) about how to engage families in their child’s education, how to promote cultural diversity in early education programs and the educator’s role in serving families from all socio-economic backgrounds. While these courses are incredibly invaluable to the competent and intentional teacher, they typically fail to provide an adequate focus on one of our country’s most vulnerable populations: the 1,354 children that are born each day to a teenage mother (DeJong, 2003) Having worked in the early childhood realm for over 8 years as a teacher, administrator and family services professional, I have enjoyed the benefit of extremely advantageous access to professional development opportunities; though I have been consistently surprised regarding the lack of formal training or education that is available for early education professionals who will almost certainly serve teen parent families at some point in their careers. As educators, we know that developing effective relationships with our students and their parents will only serve to support a positive education experience. Like all families, serving teen parents and their children requires a professional approach that is culturally competent and individualized according to the needs of the family. In order to provide this, educators require in-depth training that recognizes the unique needs of teen parents.
My experience with teen parents is both professional and personal. At the age of 16, I became a mother for the first time. Like many teen parents, the news that you will be having a baby took me by surprise and stimulated a great deal of stress and fear for myself as well as the father of my unborn child. The most primitive logistics of how I would care for another human being were completely overwhelming to me throughout my pregnancy and even after Kaleb was born, I lacked confidence in my ability to care for my child. For this reason, introducing Kaleb to a group childcare environment was simultaneously a relief and an additional stress. Throughout Kaleb’s earliest years, I experienced both positive and negative interactions with his early education teachers. Some professionals treated me with the same doubt and shame that I already innately felt, while others were nurturing to me as well as my son. In addition to the challenges presented by the educators’ own biases, my own behaviors were as incomprehensible to them as most teenagers’ actions and words are to their own parents. After years of reflection, I continue to wonder how the interactions between me and providers could have been improved had the teachers been trained on how to support teen families. What kind of parent could I have been for Kaleb if I hadn’t been so resistant to the advice of his teachers? Is there a way that Kaleb’s caregivers could have approached me so that I wouldn’t have felt so judged? So inadequate? Ultimately I wonder how Kaleb’s experience could have been more complete and successful if his parents had been more engaged in his preschool community.
This month I will be presenting my personal story with supporting data and research at the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference. I am looking forward to this opportunity to provide guidance for educators and administrators who strive to develop effective relationships and program engagement with the teen parents they serve today or may serve in the future. The sub-topics that I will discuss are intended to guide teachers in understanding what type of individualization may be necessary to effectively communicate with teens, as well as encourage teachers who may not realize the extent of the impact that providers can have on young families. Some of the content areas that will be reviewed include:
- Teen brain development and how we can use Erikson’s 8 Stages to better understand challenging teen behaviors
- How the psychological effects of teen parenthood may present challenges for providers
- Strategies for building effective and trusting relationships with teen parents (including establishing appropriate roles and professional boundaries)
- How effective early educators can positively impact teen families immediately and in the long-term
Though I will not be the first to present this information for educators, I believe that this topic requires far more academic attention than early education professionals receive in traditional degree or certificate programs. As providers see more and more teens bringing their children to early education centers for care, we must take the initiative with our professional development plans to ensure that we can effectively serve families of all kinds. Teachers can have a powerful impact on parenting behaviors and philosophies. While I look forward to hosting a forum where I can support educators’ practice and approach with teens, I am mutually excited to remind teachers of the potential that exists within their relationships with all families; but especially our teen parents. Though the interactions that teachers have with young families may not be without challenges, there is a great reward in knowing that you have been a support for a parent as well as their child. The chance to educate young families is an opportunity that early education programs cannot afford to lose; especially when the greatest barrier to teacher efficacy is simply a lack of training.
Are you ready to learn more about how we can effectively serve teen families? If so, please attend my presentation at the RMECC on March 1, 2013 at 3:30pm in room 503.
DeJong, L. (2003). Using Erikson to Work More Effectively with Teenage Parents. Young Children, v58 n2, 87-95.
By Brenda Hoge
Think back to when you were in school. Was there something teachers insisted that you learn that you never used and you wouldn't even know when or why you should use it? For me, it was logarithmic functions. When I was in high school, my math teacher insisted that I must learn how to do logarithmic functions and tried to assure me that I couldn't possibly have a career without knowing this. Well, as it turns out, other than the math modules I had to take in college, I have never had to do a logarithmic function and I’m pretty sure I wouldn't even know when to use one. I’m sure it’s useful, maybe even essential knowledge for some professions. But the one thing my teacher neglected to tell me was, “what is it that I need to know and why do I need to know this?” In other words, what was the objective behind logarithmic functions and how is it relevant to my life?
The lack of clarifying the learning objective also happens in preschool. Right now, we are observing classrooms across Denver using the CLASS™ Pre-K tool and one of the indicators that classrooms score low on is Clarity of Learning Objectives. Most teachers have a plan for what children are going to learn each and every day they are in school and most lesson plans have objectives stated. But do we take the time to verbally explain to the children “what is it they are learning and why they are learning this?” Often times we don’t. So what does clarifying the learning objective look like?
According to the CLASS™ Pre-K manual, clarifying the learning objective means that “children should be aware of the point of the lessons or how they should be focusing their attention during activities.” The teacher can do this in a variety of ways:
The first thing you can do is use what is called an Advanced Organizer. Basically what an advanced organizer means is that you state what the objective of the lesson is or what children should be focusing on prior to starting the activity. For example, if your classroom is doing a unit on sea animals and last week you talked about whales and this week you are introducing dolphins, you can use an advanced organizer by saying “We are going to read a story about whales and then a story about dolphins. Think about things that are the same between whales and dolphins and things that are different about them. And as we find the things that are similar and different, we will write them down on our chart.”
The second thing that you could use are Summaries. Summaries are stating what the objective was or what they just learned after the activity. For instance, using the same whales vs. dolphins example, you could use a summary statement by saying, “We just learned that whales and dolphins both live in the ocean and that they are both mammals. They also both have a blowhole at the top of their head. They are different in that whales are bigger, they swim slower than dolphins, and they swim by themselves while dolphins swim in groups.”
The third thing you can use is called a Reorientation statement. This is one of my favorites because there is always one child in your classroom that gets the conversation “off-track.” Now whether that child is really getting the conversation “off-track” or whether they are making some connection you aren't aware of is something that you don’t know. So you want to make sure that you acknowledge what they are saying but then you want to re-orient back to the planned objective. For example, if you are talking about whales vs. dolphins and you said that you could see whales and dolphins at aquariums, one child starts talking about their visit to zoo, and how they saw monkeys, and then another child talks about the elephants, and someone mentions the lions, and before you know it, you are talking about zoo and zoo animals. A reorientation statement is a statement you use to bring it all back around to the whales and dolphins while still acknowledging what the child said. For instance, you could say, “Sometimes the zoo has sea animals in it including dolphins. An aquarium is similar to a zoo except that you can see all types of sea animals there, including whales. So let’s think about what size tank you would need to hold a whale.”
Clarifying the learning objective can be used anytime-during group, free time, and even in routines, like meals and snack time. The important thing is to practice because it’s not something that comes naturally to most of us. Put up little reminder statements in your centers, write the objective on your board so you remember to tell the children what and why they are learning this, and practice with your co-teachers. You know that you have achieved success when your children can tell you what it was that they were learning.
By Megan Bock
Open the pages of Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed http://www.paultough.com/the-books/how-children-succeed/ , and you will find stories, research, and narration offering insight into the ways children harness grit and curiosityto overcome obstacles to reach their potential. The book highlights research studies which challenge what Tough calls the “cognitive hypothesis,” the belief that IQ is the key indicator of success. Instead, Tough argues strong character and behavior skills are a better indicator of success than standard measurements of intelligence.
Tough examines different factors influencing a child’s ability to eventually graduate college and pursue a career of their choosing. He discusses how children who grow up in highly stressful environments must become resilient to adversity in order to be successful in school. One research study by Michael Meaney, a neuroscientist at McGill University, demonstrated how rats were able to overcome stress with a parental buffer. Meaney noticed how rat pups’ stress levels increased when scientists handled them but recovered when returned to their mothers who licked and groomed them. He noticed different rates of licking and grooming among rat mothers and set up an experiment where researchers compared rat pups that experienced high and low rates of licking and grooming. He found that rats who had high rates of licking and grooming did better on all tests; they were better at mazes, more social, more curious, and less aggressive. They had more self-control, were healthier, and lived longer. Meaney also found striking differences in the size and shape of brain centers that regulate stress response of high- and low-licking and grooming rats. While the social and intellectual worlds of human children are likely far more complex than those of rats, Meany and other scientists have seen this phenomenon in humans as well, which is often referred to as attachment. Children who are securely attached to a caregiver have similarly positive results.
Tough also explores Walter Mischel’s marshmallow test and subsequent research studies as evidence of self-control as an essential non-cognitive skill (Tough, 2012, p. 64). In the late 1960’s, Mischel conducted an experiment at Stanford University where children were given a marshmallow and told they could eat the marshmallow or wait until the researcher returned and receive another marshmallow. The experiment tested students’ ability to defer gratification, an important element of self-control. Follow-up studies showed that children who were able to delay gratification longer received higher scores on the SAT assessment.
A focus on social emotional development has been commonplace in Head Start since its inception in 1965 (“Domain 6,” 2003). Social emotional development is included as a domain in Head Start’s Child Development and Early Learning Framework and Clayton’s early learning curriculum. Just as students need to leave preschool with critical thinking skills and letter and number knowledge, kindergarten-bound students must learn self-control, deferred gratification, and positive responses to failure in order to do well in school. As described on the Head Start website, “Promoting young children’s social-emotional development is a major responsibility of any early childhood program. Because so many Head Start children experience emotional and social risk factors, the Head Start program has the added responsibility of taking steps to help children develop skills that contribute to resiliency. These steps include providing warm, positive relationships with teachers and other adults, helping children make friends with other children and developing their interests and abilities” (“Domain 6,” 2003).
While social emotional development has been a priority in ECE for many years, educators on all grade levels are beginning to prioritize both cognitive and social skills. Tough describes how Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) kindergarten through high school charter schools emphasize both academic and character education. Students at KIPP receive report cards that describe both academic and character skills. Teachers discuss students’ progress in grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity (Tough, 2012, p. 76).
Tough’s work causes readers to think about how we educate our students and examines why students need support and teaching beyond ABC’s and 123’s. Tough (2012) wrote:
Science suggests… that character strengths that matter so much to young people’s success are not innate; they don’t appear in us magically, as a result of good luck or good genes. And they are not simply a choice. They are rooted in brain chemistry, and they are molded, in measurable and predictable ways, by the environment in which children grow up. That means the rest of us- society as a whole- can do an enormous amount to influence their development in children. (p. 196).
As a community invested in molding our next generation, we need to remember what we can do. When teaching students, do we praise students’ work ethic and their persistence to complete a task? Do we remember the significance of students waiting their turn, the importance of a positive teacher/student relationship, and the enormous effect of a smile and a high five? Do we consider the profound impact of engaged and responsive parenting and our ability to influence a child’s environment to create positive outcomes?
Domain 6: Social and Emotional Development. (2003). The Head Start Leaders Guide to Positive Child Outcomes. HHS/ACF/ACYF/HSB. Retrieved from http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/teaching/eecd/Domains of Child Development/Social and Emotional Development/edudev_art_00016_061705.html
Tough, P. (2012). Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
On multiple occasions a year, the staff at Clayton Early Learning gathers into one of our many meeting spaces for professional development. This is an opportunity for us to look at various aspects of research and we are challenged to deliberate and often are called to action. This school year has been no exception. Early this year we gathered together to review a piece of research that would help us improve our practice and encourage us to focus on building stronger relationships with the families we work with; Metatheories of Childrearing by Ronald Lally can be found in the pages of Concepts of Care: 20 Essays on Infant Toddler Development and Learning.
Lally draws attention to the fact that every person has a theory, fed by experiences, that contributes to their point of view on child rearing. This is important to understand, especially by those who are in the position of working directly with parents, caregivers or home visitors in matters of childrearing, guidance and discipline. Being that each individual will be bringing a different set of values and opinions, there can be a difference of opinion between practitioners and clients. These differences are typically caused by conflicting Metatheories of Childrearing. Simply put, a meta-theory of child rearing is the story carried by an adult about what makes a children act and how a child must be treated given those actions. By identifying our individual and organizational beliefs in child rearing we are able to work more effectively with our children and families by reaching a third space where you can work together around new ideas. These Metatheories are popular amongst both caregivers and parents:
The Blank Slate (Empty Vessel): From this point of view the way children turn out is completely based on the experiences the children have in the environments in which they are raised and through the provision of information by others.
The Unfolding Flower (Noble Savage): The child is viewed as a flower that is blossoming with a trajectory for healthy growth that is present from birth. From this meta-theory a child’s development can be damaged from too much interference from the outside.
The Constantly Tempted: Also referred to as the “Devil On Left Shoulder – Angel On the Right”. Individuals who see child rearing this way want the child to be on guard so that they pay attention to whom is whispering in the ear. They will warn the child to pay attention to that angel whispering, not listen to the temptation of the devil and to stay vigilant. They continually remind the child that they are in a struggle between good and evil, and will be tempted to do bad things.
The Savage: From this point of view unless impulses are strongly inhibited and controlled right from birth the child will be an un-socialized wild person.
The Unknowing/UnfeelingThe Unknowing/Unfeeling: This metatheorie suggests that little engagement happens until age two and pretty much anything can happen in front of children of a younger age without permanent consequence.
The Late/Early Bloomer: This philosophy believes that until a child is about 5, 6, or 7 years old – the age of reason – that the child does not have the capacity or the responsibility for right or wrong actions. children are given free reign to explore, allowed to play, allowed to transgress i.e. to “be children”. But come age 5, 6 or 7 things change dramatically. Expectations of children change quickly, almost over night as do socialization patterns and educational practices.
The Predestined: From this perspective those who care for children see their roles as both one of nurturance and of facilitation of the child’s learning agenda.
What if your Metatheorie on Childrearing? How does it impact your decisions as a parent or educator?
101 Three Friends 7131 (2010). [Graph illustration http://mrg.bz/5yqfhD February 12, 2010]. Retrieved from http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/648996
Teachers and Home Visitors huddle around tables in a conference room to learn about a program family’s subculture of “Southern Coastal/Beach” during a professional development day this month. Down the hall, more early childhood professionals settle on bean bag chairs and large foam blocks to absorb the cultural traditions of how one family celebrates Carnabal and how another family celebrates Dia de los Muertos. Across the campus, still more education and family service staff gather in a conference room to understand the cultural heritage of one family’s Hawaiian culture. This interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration is taking place in preparation for Clayton Early Learning’s annual Culture Night celebration, a chance for families and staff to share their own and learn about others’ cultural heritages, beliefs, and traditions. These three cultures were chosen by our families to be featured in this year’s festivities, although all families and staff will have opportunities through classroom experiences to explore and share their own cultures in the months and weeks preceding Culture Night.
This celebration that occurs in December every year is one of the ways Clayton Early Learning puts into practice Principle 5 from the guiding document, Multicultural Principles for Head Start Programs Serving Children Ages Birth to Five: Every individual has the right to maintain his or her own identity while acquiring the skills required to function in our diverse society. This document highlights research that shows the strength that family culture brings to a growing child’s forming identity; self-esteem, healthy social-emotional development, and school achievement are all associated with one’s connection to cultural roots. Therefore, it is the work of the day for early childhood programs to foster a sense of cultural pride for families and children, while helping one another grow skills to function successfully in the diverse world in which we live.
From our experiences, this charge is easier said than done as we sometimes risk stereotyping the cultures we seek to honor and approaching cultural beliefs and practices that are outside the dominant culture’s “norm” in a touristy way. Having individual families showcase the concrete ways in which they live out their cultures, along with investigating each child’s and family’s culture during classroom experiences, monthly parent meetings and home links, we hope to provide families and young children with an experience that will go beyond the one night of our school’s celebration, heeding the advice of Louise Derman Sparks in Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children: “Have cultural diversity permeate the daily life of the classroom through frequent, concrete, hands-on experiences related to young children’s interests, …explore the similarities among people through their differences, [and] …begin with the cultural diversity among the children and staff in your classroom” (p. 58).
How do you grow a sense of cultural pride and identity among the children and families in your school? How are families invited to share their cultures with children, families, or program staff? How does culture show up in the classroom to honor every individual?
Revisiting and Updating The Multicultural Principles for Head Start Programs Serving Children Ages Birth to Five (2010). HHS/ACF/OHS.
Sparks, L. D. (1989). Anti-bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children. (NAEYC Publication #242).
By Debbie Gray
In our fast-paced world we educators are concerned that children are no longer able to spend unhurried hours exploring our natural world. When I was a child, many of my fondest memories were playing outside for hours in nature with friends. Today’s children are not receiving the same unstructured experiences, and are disconnected from nature spending more and more time in an electronic world.
As educators we must be intentional with providing experiences outside for children to be able to slow down and develop a sense of wonder from our great outdoors. “Caring for simple things in nature- like caterpillars, flowers, and lady bugs- help children develop a sense of themselves as nurturers and as people who care. This sense of self contributes to a peaceful way of living- with self, with others, and with the natural world.” (Wilson, 2009) Providing environments rich in nature also supports creativity and problem solving. Studies conducted of children on playgrounds found that children engage in more creative forms of play in the green area. They also played more cooperatively (Bell and Dyment, 2006). Play in nature is especially important for developing capacities for creativity, problem solving, and math. In a recent case study conducted in 2011, Young children develop foundational skills through child initiated experiences in a Nature Explore Classroom, (Veselack, Chang, and Miller 2011) the findings showed interacting with natural materials, peers, and teachers provided children with many opportunities to develop early math skills. Children explored patterns, the attributes of objects, and shapes, as well as opportunities to measure and count. The math experiences were more meaningful to children because they used the math concepts naturally, in the context of their play.
Creating a nature-based outdoor environment can seem very overwhelming. One simple way to begin is by adding more experiences and activities for children while they are on the playground. I encourage teachers to stop thinking about outside time as just “recess” and to start thinking of your playground as an outdoor learning environment. Plan for outdoor learning with the same intention as you plan for indoor learning.
Fall in Colorado is my favorite season with beautiful colors all around us and pleasant temperatures. Autumn is a wonderful time to incorporate more science/nature activities outside. Here are a few easy suggestions to get your nature-based outdoor classrooms started:
- Add pumpkins for children to explore, carry, and roll. Carve one of the pumpkins so children can see the inside, and watch what happens to the inside over time.
- Make binoculars out of paper towel tubes and take the children on a nature walk, find different shapes in nature, listen to the sounds of nature: birds, squirrels, wind, or how leaves sound when you step on them.
- Add sticks in many different lengths for the children to explore. Incorporate math by comparing how the sizes of two small twigs can equal one larger twig. Count how many small twigs will be needed to add up to one large stick.
- Add leaves. Ask children to pick a leaf and then try to find another one that looks the same, then find leaves that look completely different.
- Create an area for children to do leaf-pounding. Add leaves, paper and hammers. Layer the leaves between the papers and discover what happens when the leaves release chlorophyll.
- Plant a tree
- Add small and large tree cookies for the children to explore, carry and stack.
- Get more in touch with trees by learning about the different parts of a tree, and feel the different textures. Make bark rubbings.
- Sort the seeds from trees such as acorns, walnuts or buckeyes.
As you spend more time exploring nature observe your children to see if they are calm, less distracted, and happy! Please share your favorite fall nature activity.
Resources to consider when creating your natural environment:
Project Learning Tree - www.plt.org
Arbor Day Foundation - www.arborday.org
Colorado Division of Wildlife - www.wildlife.state.co.us.education
Colorado Head Start - www.headstartbodystart.org
CPSC Playground Guidelines - www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pub/325.pdf
Bell AC, Dyment JE. (2006) Grounds for Action: Promoting Physical Activity through School Ground Greening in Canada. Toronto, Ontario: Evergreen; 2006. http://www.evergreen.ca/en/lg/lg-resources.html.
Veselack, E Cain-Chang, Miller D, 2011, Young Children develop foundational skills through child-initiated experiences in a Nature Explorer classroom: A single case study La Canada, California. Growing with Nature, 87
Wilson, R.A. 2009 The color of green: A “go” for peace education. Exchange Magazine, 31 (3): 40-43
Reading to children is considered one of the best activities for future success in developing language and literacy skills. Children’s experiences with books play an important role in preparing them to learn. Children who have been introduced to books and reading do much better in later development than children who are read to less frequently, whether it be from watching parents and siblings read for pleasure, reading aloud and creating their own stories with caregivers, or pointing to pictures in picture books and giving them a name. Children need to have their basic needs met for safety, food, shelter, and love. They also need the nourishment of books.
Children learn most from books when they are actively involved, through play, conversations, and from loving caregivers. Dialogic reading is designed to get children involved and enhance language and literacy skills. Dialogic reading is an interactive technique that encourages the child to become the storyteller over time. Instead of the parent reading the entire book cover to cover, conversations, or dialogues, are encouraged by using pictures in the story and the child’s imagination.
Dialogic reading is based upon three main techniques - asking "what" questions, asking open-ended questions, and expanding upon what the child says. These three techniques are designed to encourage children to talk more and give descriptions of what they see. Dialogic reading can be used for children of all ages but is most effective when a child has a greater amount of words for expressive vocabulary. Dialogic reading can also increase children’s vocabulary. For example, an engaged toddler having a simple back-and-forth exchange with a caregiver can learn about nine new words a day- that’s sixty three words per week!
Dialogic reading is a technique everyone can do-- it is simply children and adults having a conversation about a book. This type of interaction has derived from thousands of years of a specific human practice: oral storytelling. In many cultures still today, this is the predominant form of language and connecting the human experience. An oral storyteller does not use props, but makes use of language, facial expressions, gestures, body movements, and voice. Parents, caregivers and teachers can expand the storytelling experience by encouraging children to re-tell the story in their own way. Start with the characters in the story, but welcome the children’s ideas and let their imaginations guide them. Step back and enjoy as they recreate the story.
Are you a parent or grandparent looking for a quality preschool experience for your child? Great news! Our high quality NAEYC Accredited school here at Clayton Early Learning would like to announce that we now have a limited number of preschool openings available for tuition-based children.
This might be news to some folks in our community who have known Clayton as a program that primarily serves low-income children and families. We recognize that this is a shift from how we have traditionally gone about improving educational opportunities within our local neighborhoods. We want to take a moment to highlight a few of the reasons WHY we are making a change to serve tuition-based families and how YOU can help us to create a future where all children are prepared for success in school and in life.
Why Are Mixed Income Preschool Classrooms Good for Kids?
Here at Clayton, we are always striving for evidence-based practices. We want to be doing the kinds of things that we know are related to better opportunities for children down the road. As universal access to preschool becomes more common across the nation, we have more evidence to help us understand the value that economic integration has for children’s school readiness. Data has been mounting for years that quality early learning experiences (especially literacy building experience that teach vocabulary and expressive language skills) help to prepare children for reading success down the road. Studies that have looked deeply at this issue have found some preliminary evidence that economic integration within preschool classrooms can lead to stronger language skills for ALL children.
- Low Income Children – After just one year of preschool, low-income children in economically integrated classrooms moved from below the national norm (93) on language scores to above the national norm (101) while children in the low-income only classrooms were still well below the national norm in the spring (Schechter & Bye, 2007). Classroom quality was high within all of these preschool rooms suggesting that learning alongside peers from different economic backgrounds might have played a role in these gains.
- Middle and Upper Income Children – Gains in the mixed-income classrooms were similarly strong for children who were coming from more affluent homes. The great news is that ALL children benefited, not just low-income children (Schechter & Bye, 2007).
Another reason that we are striving for economic integration is because we are working with families to gain upward economic mobility. As families in our program achieve their goals and their income levels increase, we want to provide avenues for children to stay at our school with the continuity of care that we are so committed to providing. Offering a tuition-based preschool option is one more way that we are trying to meet the needs of our families and our community.
How Can You Help?
Give the gift of high quality learning to your child. We want our preschool to be full when the new school year begins. We want every preschool child (low, middle and upper income) within Northeast Denver to have a quality early learning experience and to be fully prepared for success in Kindergarten. Please take a moment and complete an Interest Form online or call us at 303-355-4411.