Discoveries for those caring for children…
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“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
— Maria Robinson
Talking with Families (part 1) – Facing sensitive topics
By Roxie Nestlerode, Early Learning Specialist
Communicating with families is part of your everyday activities in child care. You communicate in many ways – chats, notes, printed materials, email, phone calls – and your interactions can be informal (chats at the end of the day) or formal (conferences). You communicate with families individually (phone calls or email) or as a group (daily notes on the message board). You share information with families about their children and your program, and you get to know families. Most days it's pretty easy to talk with families to give updates on program events, to do program enrollment tasks, and especially to share fun stories about what children have said or done. But some days things don't go well for children or you have concerns, and talking to families becomes a dreaded duty. Does it have to be a problem to discuss a problem?
Are you aware that Penn State Better Kid Care provides comprehensive curricula in early childhood development? The curriculum follows the Pennsylvania Core Body of Knowledge and offers multiple course titles to choose from. Each course offers numerous Distance Education lessons, providing a well-rounded approach to meet your professional development needs. Two types of lessons are offered: on demand web lessons and lessons by mail. You can view the comprehensive list of professional development web lessons and lessons by mail. Lessons can be sorted by Core Body of Knowledge area, CDA code, and School-age code. To access the entire Penn State Better Kid Care Distance Education curriculum on line, visit us at www.betterkidcare.psu.edu and choose your course of study today!
New On Demand Lessons:
Available as On Demand web lessons. To complete any of these lessons on your computer and receive credit and a certificate, you will need to register.
Block Play Builds Learning Skills [K2 C1, CDA 8] This lesson explores the developmental stages of block play and how block play influences math, science, and literacy skills. Learn how to include block play in your program and discover how this type of play is an opportunity for children to develop social and emotional skills. (1 hour)
Developing an Intergenerational Program in Your Child Care Center [D8 C2, CDA 5, SAP5] This lesson focuses on involving senior adults in early childhood care and education programs. Information includes how to recruit and train senior volunteers, prepare staff, and integrate senior adults into the curriculum. Discover the many benefits for both the children and adults in your program. (2 hours)
The On Demand system may be unavailable on Sundays from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. (EST) for system maintenance.
Save the Date!
What is the role of digital media in early learning? That is a question that many early care and education practitioners are asking. Here are recent research articles looking at the use of media by young children and for early learning.
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop – “Take a Giant Step: A Blueprint for Teaching Young Children in a Digital Age", developed by the Digital Age Teacher Preparation Council, is an action plan for preparing early childhood and primary grade teachers to effectively use digital media in teaching and learning.
Common Sense Media – "Zero to Eight – Children’s Media Use in America" is a national survey that looked at the use of digital media (computers, smart phones, tablets, video game, and mobile devices) for children birth through eight-years-old. 27% of the children’s screen time was spent with digital media.
American Academy of Pediatrics – “Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years” is the newest policy statement from the AAP on media use by young children and discourages use of media by children under the age of two.
Check out our updated resource page for helping children cope in traumatic times.
Through our Caring Ideas resource pages – Tip Pages, Activity Pages, and Lunch & Snack Ideas – we share ideas to inspire your work with children. We’d like to know what you think about the Caring Ideas resource pages and how you use them. Please take a few minutes to complete our survey.
Better Kid Care Caring Ideas Survey
Turn the Page
American Library Association 2012 Youth Media Award Winners
Randolph Caldecott Medal (most distinguished American picture book for children)
- A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka, published by Schwartz & Wade Books. ISBN: 037585861X
- Blackout by John Rocco, published by Disney-Hyperion Books. ISBN: 1423121902
- Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, published by Roaring Brook Press. ISBN: 1596436077
- Me … Jane by Patrick McDonnell, published by Little, Brown and Company. ISBN: 0316045462
Mildred L. Batchelder Award (outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States)
- Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak and translated by Laura Watkinson, published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 0802853757
- The Lily Pond by Annika Thor and translated by Linda Schenck, published by Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0385740395
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award (most distinguished beginning reader book)
- Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider, published by Clarion Books. ISBN: 0547149565
- I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems, published by Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN: 1423133099
- I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick Press. ISBN: 0763655988
- See Me Run by Paul Meisel, published by Holiday House. ISBN: 0823423492
Ideas and resources that you can use for involving families in your program, engaging families in early learning, encouraging family time, and supporting families in need. This month our topic is…tax time.
Preparing income tax returns may seem like an unusual topic for connecting with families, but part of working with families is supporting families as they deal with the many tasks of family life. Preparing income tax returns can be a stressful event for families, especially if the family is preparing their tax return themselves. Here are some resources to share with families.
Resources for preparing taxes:
IRS Tax Information Page for Parents – A list of the basic tax information and tools to help families complete their federal income tax return.
EITC Home Page - The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is available for low to moderate income families. This page has information on the EITC and the EITC Assistant, which can help families find out if they are eligible.
Life Cycle Series: Birth Through Childhood – A brochure from the IRS that outlines what tax credits and benefits families with young children may be entitled to. The brochure is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) - VITA, sponsored by the IRS, is a nationwide program that provides free tax preparation services to low income, special needs, and senior citizen taxpayers.
More resources for families:
Healthy Children – The article "What Children are NOT Doing When Watching TV" looks at the influence of television on young children and the effect of the passive nature of television viewing.
USA.gov - Consumer Action Handbook, published annually by the Federal Citizen Information Center, contains helpful tips about preventing identity theft, understanding credit, filing a consumer complaint, along with many other useful topics.
Safe Kids USA - Winter sports safety tips for children and families.
Better Kid Care Resources for Families:
Action ideas, and
Caring for children from military-connected families requires a comprehensive understanding of their unique needs and strengths. Each month, Great I.D.E.A.S for Children from Military-Connected Families features research-based information to support and increase the quality of caring for children from military-connected families. This month’s highlight is on … supporting military connected children.
Discussion Starters for Forming a Blanket of Support for Military Connected Children.
Coming to Pennsylvania –
The Military Child Education Coalition Professional Development Institute
“Living in the New Normal Institute: Helping Children Thrive in Good and Challenging Times”
March 22-23, 2012 State College, PA
For information: www.MilitaryChild.org
More for You:
Visit the CYTTAP website to access a variety of helpful resources, including Great Ideas, Parent Topics, Vodcasts, and more, for supporting military-connected families.
Celebrate the Military Child this April! Sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy, the Month of the Military Child is a time to applaud military families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome. Read ideas about how to celebrate Month of the Military Child from the Real Warriors campaign, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and Army OneSource.
Join Operation: Military Kids and Penn State Better Kid Care at the 4th Annual Family Fun Fair! This year's event is Sunday, March 25th, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, at the Snider Agricultural Arena on the University Park campus. For more information about the Family Fun Fair call (814) 865-2264.
School Age Child Care
Revised Research Collections –
Out-of-School programming contributes to the well-being and learning of school-age children, and the affects of quality programs for youth continues to be the focus of local, state, and national research.
Afterschool Alliance – Evaluations Backgrounder: A Summary of Formal Evaluations of Afterschool Programs' Impact on Academics, Behavior, Safety and Family Life focuses on the impact of afterschool programs on academic outcomes, student behavior and parental concerns about children's safety. Revised January 2012
Harvard Family Research Project – Out-of-School Time Program Research & Evaluation Bibliography provides accessible information about research and evaluation work on both large and small OST programs to support the development of high quality evaluations and programs in the out-of-school time field. Updated January 2012.
Lights On Afterschool 2012 Poster Contest
The contest to design the poster is now open. Sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance. Deadline: May 1, 2012
More School Age Resources –
Stopbullying.gov - A website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services featuring information and resources for helping children and youth recognize and stop bullying.
Visit the Better Kid Care School Age link here.
CDA 2.0 is coming in 2012!
Later this year, the Council will be launching “CDA 2.0” a streamlined credentialing process. The Council for Professional Recognition will be revising the Early Childhood Studies Review (ECSR) exam, the Observation and Verification Visit processes, and the Competency Standards books (though the Competency Standards and Functional Areas will remain the same), and an all-new Essentials textbook.Stay tuned and remember to visit the CDA Council’s website for more information!
CDA + Better Kid Care = Success!
Check out our revised materials that reflect recent updates from the CDA Council!
Penn State Better Kid Care and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programs are teaming up to bring you "Go Green for Kids," a monthly tip to help you provide a healthier and safer environment for the children in your care. IPM works to promote healthy alternatives for pest management to lower children’s exposure to both pests and pesticides through a variety of educational programs. Resources for children, teachers, and parents are available on the IPM website. This month's focus is on…healthy celebrations for the new year!
Contributed by Amber Brunskill, PA IPM Program, firstname.lastname@example.org, 814-865-7994
Even though Thanksgiving and Christmas are behind us, there are more holidays right around the corner: Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter, just to name a few. And of course don’t forget children’s birthdays! There are many things to celebrate in 2012, so it’s the perfect time to promote making these celebrations healthy ones. Often the focus of holiday and birthday parties is on sugary, sweet foods like cake, ice cream, juice drinks, and candy. Offering a lot of treats like these encourages unhealthy eating habits. With the growing obesity epidemic and health problems associated with poor eating habits, it’s important to start young children on the path to eating healthy and being active. Learned early on, these habits can last a lifetime.
So how do you make celebrations fun and healthy? Plan ahead! Consider celebrating all the month’s birthdays on one day instead of having individual parties for every child’s birthday. Replace sugary snacks with healthy ones like fruits and vegetables. Let children try new foods and vote on the ones they like best. Create themes, such as a red and pink snack for Valentine’s Day, that may include cherry tomatoes and red pepper strips with hummus or a low-fat dip, red grapes, red apples, strawberries, raspberries, or dried cranberries. Make a pink smoothie with strawberries, raspberries, and yogurt. For St. Patrick’s Day include green foods for snacks, such as kiwi, edamame beans (green soybeans in the pod), cucumbers, sugar snap peas, broccoli, or whole grain tortilla chips with guacamole. Use cookie cutters to make fruit and sandwiches into fun shapes. Whenever possible purchase local, organic foods to improve nutrition and reduce children’s exposures to pesticides.
Plan special activities as part of the celebration, such as making up a dance, going on a scavenger hunt or nature walk, reading a special book, planting herbs, vegetables or other kinds of plants, or visiting a museum. Create a celebration ritual that happens only on special occasions. For example, if you’re celebrating birthdays as a group once per month, have a special pin the child wears on their actual birthday. Keep parents informed on what you are doing and ask for their cooperation and participation. Talk with them about the importance of encouraging the eating of healthy snacks, being active during celebration time, and their role in teaching their children healthy habits.For more information on healthy food for healthy celebrations, improving nutrition, and promoting exercise, please see the two attached factsheets (Improving Nutrition and Promoting Exercise & Healthy Food for Healthy Celebrations) from the Children’s Environmental Health Network’s Eco-Healthy Child Care Program. Also visit our website, the Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program, for more information on safe, effective pest management and minimizing risks of pesticide exposure. You can now follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our blog through our website.
Professional Development Highlights
The following information highlights upcoming professional development opportunities available for early childhood practitioners:
PA Keys to Quality - Professional Development Training Calendar - Are you looking for training specifically in your area? Visit the PA Keys to Quality web site to locate and search the professional development training calendar. Go to PAKEYS.ORG and Log in, Click on Calendar, Search the Calendar, and Contact the Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality office with any questions at 800-284-6031.
Feb. 16-18 – Teaching the Whole Child and Brain: Using Brain Research to Develop Smart, Social, Happy and Healthy Students, San Francisco, CA. Teaching the Whole Child and Brain conference information
Feb. 18 – Early Years are Learning Years Conference, State College, PA. Call 814-355-4897 for conference information and registration brochure.
Feb. 27-29 – 2nd Annual Green Schools National Conference: Growing Green and Healthy Schools for All Children, Denver CO. Green Schools conference information
Feb. 29-March 2 – 10th Annual NorthWest PBIS Conference, Portland, OR. NWPBIS conference information
March 6-10 – NACCRRA – The National Child Care Policy Symposium, Washington, DC. NACCRRA Symposium information
March 14-16 – Early Education and Technology for Children Conference, Salt Lake City, UT. EETC Conference information
March 28-31 – ACEI 2012 – Annual International Conference: Global Summit on Childhood, Washington, DC. ACEI 2012 Annual Conference information
March 28-31 – 9th Annual National Training Institute on Effective Practices/Supporting Young Children’s Social and Emotional Development: Addressing Challenging Behavior, Clearwater, FL. Addressing Challenging Behavior National Training Institute registration information (Registration is limited)
April 2-4 – 2012 NAA Annual Convention, Dallas, TX. 2012 NAA Convention information
April 16-20 – Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) National Conference: Celebrating the Past – Imaging the Future, Washington, DC. OCAN conference information
April 18-19 – 2012 PA Council of Children, Youth and Family Services: Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future, Harrisburg, PA. PCCYFS conference information
April 18-20 – 9th Annual Young Child Expo & Conference, New York, NY. Young Child Expo & Conference information
April 19 – Emotional Brains and Education Symposium: Affect, Stress and Academic Achievement, New York, NY. Emotional Brains and Education Symposium information
April 25-27 – 28th Annual NACCP National Conference: How Successful Directors Manage, San Antonio, TX. 2012 NACCP Conference information
April 25-28 – 2012 BOOST Conference: Redefining Leadership in Out-of-School Time, Palm Springs, CA. BOOST conference information
April 26-29 – International Symposia for Contemplative Studies, Denver, CO. Symposia information
April 30-May 3 – 2012 National Smart Start Conference, Greensboro, NC. Smart Start conference information Registration to open Dec. 1, 2011
May 2-3 – Save the Date! Pennsylvania Head Start Association Spring Conference: One Clear, Powerful Voice!, Harrisburg, PA PHSA Conference information
May 4-6 – 32nd Learning & The Brain Conference: Web-connected Minds: How Technology Transforms Brains, Teaching and Attention. Arlington, VA. Learning & the Brain Conference information
May 11-12 – DVAEYC Annual Conference: Family Matters – Engaging Families Partnering for Success, Philadelphia, PA. DVAEYC Annual Conference information
May 14-16 – 2012 National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute: High Quality Inclusion: What Does it Look Like? How Do We Do It? Chapel Hill, NC. 2012 Inclusion Institute information
May 17-19 – McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership: 2012 Leadership Connections Conference, Chicago, IL. 2012 Leadership Connections information
June 10-13 – Save the Date! NAEYC National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development, Indianapolis, IN. Institute information
June 11-14 – 16th Annual Birth to Three Institute: Growing Minds and Hearts … Children, Families, and Communities, Washington, DC. Birth to Three Institute information
June 18-20 – Save the Date! Head Start 11th National Research Conference: Effective Practices in an Age of Diversity and Change, Washington, DC. Registration to open in February 2012. National Research Conference information
June 19-21 – Save the Date! 25th Annual Bank Street Infancy Institute: Infants, Toddlers and Families: Supporting Their Growth, New York, NY. Infancy Institute information
June 22-24 – 8th Annual North American Reggio Emilia Alliance Summer Conference: Dialogues for Quality in Education, Portland, OR. NAREA Summer Conference information
June 27-29 – Save the Date! Military Child Education Coalition 2012 Annual Conference: Military Kids: Shining from Sea to Sea, Grapevine, TX.
July 15-18 – CAYL Institute 2012 National Conference for Principals and Child Care Directors: What Really Works? Impact and Innovation for Young Learners, Baltimore, MD. CAYL conference information
July 23-27 – National Institute on Out-of-School Time Summer Seminars 2012, Boston, MA. NIOST Summer Seminars information
April 22-28, 2012
Planning information and resources
The University of Maine – The Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies has created the “Growing Ideas Tipsheets and Resources” collection for early care and education practitioners to support the development of inclusionary programs.
Get Ready to Read! – The website, from the National Center for Learning Disabilities, has been redesigned and features ideas and resources to support educators, families, and children in developing early literacy skills.
National Environmental Education Week – April 15-21 – This year’s theme is Greening STEM: The Environment as Inspiration for 21st Century Learning. Check out the website for planning toolkits and other information.
Let’s G.O.! (Get Outside) – April 2012 – This month long campaign encourages children to “get outside” and enjoy nature. Check out the website for a toolkit and other resources.
Health & Well Being
National Wildlife Federation – An article on seven myths about winters.
National Weather Service – A chart, a wind chill calculator, a brochure, and frequently asked questions, terms, and definitions on the wind chill temperature.
Healthy Child Care America – A Child Care Provider’s Guide to Safe Sleep is an updated brochure for child care programs reflecting the revised recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Let’s Move! Child Care State Challenge – NACCRRA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Office of Child Care are sponsoring a nationwide competition to recognize participation in the Let’s Move! Child Care initiative. Deadline: April 1.
DoSomething.org – Seed grants for community action projects. One grant is awarded each week. Amount: $500. Deadline: Rolling.
The Wal-Mart Foundation – Grants for education projects and health and wellness projects. Amount: $1,000 - $5,000. Deadline: Rolling.
LEGO Children's Fund – Grants for programs with specific, identifiable needs primarily for early childhood education and development that is directly related to creativity and for technology and communication projects that advance learning opportunities. Grants are awarded on a quarterly basis. Amount: Award amounts vary. Deadline: January 15
Early Childhood Reading
We Give Books – A new digital initiative that provides access to award-winning children’s picture books for reading to young children online. The program was created by the Penguin Group and Pearson Foundation.
Reading Resource Project – Free books for preK-2 literacy programs. Programs pay for shipping. Deadline: Rolling
Verizon Foundation – Grants for education and literacy programs. Deadline: Rolling
Captain Planet Foundation – Seed grants are available to schools and non-profit environmental and educational organizations for hands-on projects that engage youth in improving the environment. Amount: Up to $500 Deadline: May 31
Health and Wellness
The Rite Aid Foundation – Grants for health and wellness projects. Grants are awarded on a quarterly basis. Amount: Award amounts vary. Deadline: April 1
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Disclaimer: Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsement by Penn State Cooperative Extension is implied.
Feature Article References
Baker, Amy C. and Lynn A. Manfredi/Petitt. Relationships, the Heart of Quality Care – Creating Community Among Adults in Early care Settings. Washington, D.C.: NAEYC, 2004.
Cheatham, Gregory A. and Rosa Milagros Santos. “Collaborating with Families from Diverse Cultural and Linguistic Backgrounds.” Young Children, 66, no. 5 (September 2011): 76-82.
Christian, Linda Garris. “Understanding Families – Applying Family Systems Theory to Early Childhood Practice.” Young Children, 61, no. 1 (January 2006): 12 -20.
Gonzalez-Mena, Janet. Diversity in Early Care and Education, 5th edition. Washington, D.C.: NAEYC, 2008
Rockwell, Robert E., Lynda C. Andre, and Mary K. Hawley. Families and Educators as Partners, 2nd edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010.