August 2019 Student Spotlight – Paula Clark

My facility is a 3 Star Texas Rising Star Center in Deer Park, Texas. We strive daily to improve our program to benefit our children, parents and staff. Laura called one day, explained who she was and what scholarship was available for our staff and how it would benefit our center. The program was CCEI’s Texas Child Care Administration and Business Practices Certificate Program. I was excited that it was all online, at my pace, I could access the program 24 hours, and I had one year to complete the course. I was hesitant at first, but I jumped in and went for it! With a lot on my plate, I knew I could do it. With my husband being in and out of the hospital, CCEI was an asset to me meeting my goals in continuing my education.

When I opened the program and reviewed the syllabus and the modules, I was not overwhelmed. It was divided into sections and the certificate course was self-explanatory. If I had questions, I called Laura, she was my Education Coach and she was awesome in explaining to me what I needed to know.

With CCEI I am able to work, spend time with my grandchildren and my children. CCEI offers many classes for child development, business management and you can get your CDA as well. If you don’t like adult learning in the traditional classroom environment, then CCEI is for you. I would recommend their program to everyone! As I mentioned before, my Education Coach Laura, was a huge asset to me completing my certificate program. Even though I am a strong, positive individual, she kept very positive and that helped me stay positive to meet my goal by completing the program. I love to teach and make a difference in children’s lives. I want to continue to gain knowledge on child development in order to make a difference in a child’s life. The more experiences I have in early childhood activities and education, the more I can introduce to children.

I grew up in Prairieton, Indiana. It was a little town and out in the country. I now live in Deer Park, Texas. It’s an awesome city to live in. I just have never liked the city life, but I have adapted and one day will be back in the country. I have dedicated the past 2 years to my husband, for he came before anything and anyone. I love going to conferences and trainings. Meeting new people in the childcare industry and learning new ideas. We can never stop learning and CCEI gives everyone the opportunity to continue their education and have a well-balanced life.

Creating Mission Statements

In the August Newsletter, we explore ways that vision building can be incorporated into your work with children and families in early learning environments.  Vision building is the first step to defining the core values of your program.  Once a vision statement is developed, organizations can develop their Mission Statement.  Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between vision and mission statements. 

Vision statements are an organization’s dreams or aspirations for the community they serve.

Mission statements  communicate broad actions that an organization will take to bring their vision to fruition.  Mission statements can include what the organization will do, why they will take these actions, and who will benefit from their actions. 

Take a moment to reflect on the vision you have for your program or classroom, whether that be a formal statement or your own personal vision.  After reminding yourself of your vision, consider the things you will do each day to make that vision a reality. 

Jot down the answers to the following questions:

  • What does our program/classroom do really well (in relation to our vision) and how can we build on this success?
  • What challenges exist in my learning environment and what are possible solutions to these challenges?
  • How do I want to be remembered by children and families?
  • What are the specific actions I need to take on a daily basis to ensure my vision is fulfilled?
  • Why are these actions important?
  • Who will benefit from the actions I plan to take?
  • How will these actions impact others in the environment?
  • What resources, knowledge, skills, or support do I/we need to move forward?

Once these questions are answered, you will have the essence of your mission statement, insight into what you need to fulfill it, and inspiration to do so.

Here are examples of mission statements to help you turn your vision into reality.

August 2019 Newsletter – Creating a Vision Statement: Program Vision Setting

Members of leadership are likely responsible for the development of the program vision.  It is a simple process for one person to write a vision statement, but if that statement does not represent the vision of all team members, it won’t be a very valuable tool. 

To create buy-in and a sense of ownership, work with staff members to create a vision statement that incorporates the ideas from the employees.  Work with teaching teams or other small groups to identify the elements that are important to each small group.  For example, infant/toddler teachers may have a different vision than preschool teachers.  The program vision should incorporate the ideas from both groups.

Once your teaching teams/small groups have worked together to identify elements of their vision for the program, shuffle the deck.  Ask teachers who work with different age groups to come together, share their vision statements, recognize similarities and differences, and synthesize their ideas into new statements.

Bring the small groups together and share all of the ideas they have generated.  Work as a group to identify the most important and common elements of the vision statements and use this information to create a broad vision statement that is reflective of all employees.  This process may take a few weeks to complete.  Use time during staff meetings to have these important team-building conversations.

To add an element of family involvement, invite families and children to sit in on this process.  This will ensure that their input is reflected in your statement as well!

Here is a list of resources you may find helpful as you work to create a shared vision with your team. 

For the main article Creating a Vision Statement, CLICK HERE

For the article Setting a Vision for Your Classroom, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Families, CLICK HERE

August 2019 Newsletter – Creating Vision Statements: Vision Setting with Families

Work with families to create their very own vision statements.  Host a series of events where families are encouraged to create and commit to a family vision.  Begin by sharing information about what vision statements are and how they are developed.  Invite families to reflect on the following questions:

  • What do we do to take care of each other?
  • How do we show that we love one another?
  • What actions of behaviors can we take to show we care about each other?
  • What actions and behaviors can we take to show we care about people outside of our family?
  • What do we believe the word “family” means?
  • How do we want to feel when we are spending time together?
  • How do we want to feel when we are in our home?

Guide families to use the answers to their questions to form unique vision statements. 

Use the tools at your disposal to pass along this practice to families who are unable to attend the family involvement events in person.  Share resources with families, including feedback from families in attendance.  Ask families to share their vision statements with other families who may need examples for inspiration.  You could highlight one family each month in your program newsletter or share stories on social media, with permission. 

For the main article Creating Vision Statements, CLICK HERE

For the article Setting a Vision for Your Classroom, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Program Vision Setting, CLICK HERE

August 2019 Newsletter – Creating Vision Statements: Vision Setting with Children

Young children can create simple visions for themselves, but they will likely need a little guidance from teachers.  Find images of children engaging in different actions and encourage children to pick one or two of the actions that they want to focus on.  You could include images that depict:

  • A child comforting another child- Call this Kind Friend
  • A child working to complete a task – Call this Hard Worker
  • A child solving a problem – Call this Problem Solver
  • A child being helpful – Call this Helpful Buddy
  • A child painting – Call this Creative Thinker
  • A child taking a deep breath – Call this Calm Kiddo
  • A child engaged in any other action that you want to see more of in your learning environment

Engage in one-on-one conversations with children about what they see in the pictures.  Share the names of the pictures and talk about the actions the children are taking.  Encourage children to choose an action or characteristic that they want to focus on. This is a form of personal vision.  Children can to pick a new vision each day or even each week. 

This activity could be set up as an interactive bulletin board on the back of a storage shelf. You could also place the images on a poster that is located near the cubby area.  Try to catch each child as they enter the classroom to have the conversation about the vision they have for themselves that day!

Use the language from these images and conversations when you notice children engaged in the actions throughout the day.  For example, “I noticed that you were being a Helpful Buddy during clean-up time today. Thank you!”

Show us pictures of your Vision Bulletin Board on our Facebook page here.

For the main article Creating Vision Statements, CLICK HERE

For the article Setting a Vision for Your Classroom, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Program Vision Setting, CLICK HERE

August 2019 Newsletter – Creating Vision Statements: Setting a Vision for Your Classroom

Working with children to create a vision for the learning environment is a powerful activity.  The act of collaborating on the task helps children develop a sense of ownership and investment in their daily experiences.  They can begin to recognize their responsibilities to their peers and how their choices contribute to the sense of community in the classroom.

Vision building with children should be added to the task of determining classroom expectations. In other words, before you make the rules, agree on what kind of learning environment you want to have. 

Start by having conversations during mealtimes with small groups of students. Discuss the meaning of the word “vision” as it relates to being able to see using your eyes and your imagination. During a large group discussion, ask children to share what they remember about the word vision.  If the program has a vision statement, share it with the children.  Engage in a conversation with children about what they want to experience when they enter the classroom.  You can prompt these discussions by asking some of the following questions:

  • What is your favorite thing about coming to school?
  • What are some things that make you feel excited or happy at school?
  • What things make you sad or mad about being at school?
  • How do you feel when you have a good day at school?
  • How do you feel when you have a bad day at school?
  • What can we do to make sure everyone has a good day at school?

Record the children’s answers on chart paper.  Use the lists to guide the next discussion, where you will work with children to create a vision for your classroom.  This process may take several days to complete. 

The age and abilities of the children in your group will determine how you proceed from this point.  You may ask older children to work in small groups to write down some ideas they would like to contribute to a vision statement.  Bring groups together to share their ideas and vote on the elements that should be included in the vision statement.  Help children recognize similarities in statements and broaden language to include as many ideas as possible.

With younger children, you may need to turn their answers to the questions above into a few sample vision statements that children can vote on. Say something like, “I’ve been thinking a lot about the lists we created the other day and it seems to me that you want to come to school each day to play and be happy.  It looks like you have a vision of our classroom as a safe and happy space where everyone can grow and learn.”

Children may not have much to add to the statement, but ask for input anyway. Encourage children to tell you if they agree with the statement.  Write the statement on a large piece of paper and post it in the room.  Refer to it often and revise it as necessary.  Use the vision statement to create the class rules with the children.  Say, “If we all agree that our classroom is a place where all children are safe to play and explore, what rules must we have to make sure this happens every day?”

For the main article Creating Vision Statements, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Program Vision Setting, CLICK HERE

August 2019 Newsletter – Creating Vision Statements

A vision statement communicates what an organization believes to be possible in a perfect world. It clarifies the values and aspirations of the organization. It is a statement designed to drive the decisions made by individuals who represent that organization.  Here are a few examples of vision statements from notable organizations:

  • Feeding America:  A hunger-free America.
  • Habitat for Humanity – A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
  • ASPCA – That the United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness.
  • Special Olympics To transform communities by inspiring people throughout the world to open their minds, accept and include people with intellectual disabilities and thereby anyone who is perceived as different. 
  • CCEI – To foster a trusted partnership with the child care industry in our mutual commitment to the ongoing education and professional development of teachers and management staff.

According to the Center for Community Health and Development as the University of Kansas, there are a few characteristics of well-written vision statements:

  • Understood and shared by all members of the community
  • Broad enough to include a diverse variety of local perspectives
  • Inspiring and uplifting to everyone involved in the effort
  • Easy to communicate

As a professional in the field of ECE, you should spend time developing your own vision statement.  Use this resource to get started here.  Once you are clear on your personal vision, you can begin to work with others on developing effective vision statements!

In this month’s newsletter, we will explore ways that early learning programs can develop program vision statements and ideas for incorporating vision building in classrooms, with individual children, and with families.

For the article Setting a Vision for Your Classroom, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Vision Setting with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Program Vision Setting, CLICK HERE

July 2019 Student Spotlight – Marcy Vargas

My early childhood career began when I, being a first-time parent, was seeking quality childcare for my daughter. I was looking for a program where I could trust that my child would be in a safe environment, where she would be with caring people, and that she would be taught more than what I was able to teach her at home. In order to assure this was happening, I began volunteering at her school. Through this volunteer work, I realized how much I enjoyed working with young children. I decided to enroll in early childhood courses and later earned an Associate Degree in Child Development/Early Childhood.

My first teaching position started in the preschool classroom with four-year old’s and “Center Time” was my favorite part of the day.  Listening to the children’s conversation, asking those open-ended questions, hearing their responses, and then being able to scaffold their learning is what motivated me to continue working with children. I took pride in seeing how excited they would get when they could master something or see it in a different manner.

I currently live in Corpus Christi, Texas. In my free time, I enjoy being with my family. I have three children ages 21, 16, and 12 (they are growing up fast) so spending quality time with them means everything to me.

What I enjoy most about my job is having the opportunity to be part of an outstanding program where the children are our first priority.  I work hand in hand with our families making sure our program offers an environment that is safe, nurturing and appropriate.

As an early childhood professional, we must acquire annual training hours required by our state’s licensing standards. CCEI offers the professional development courses that meet these requirements. I enrolled in CCEI online courses because they are easily accessible, and they offer courses that align with the requirements for professional development. I have continued my education through CCEI, earning the Texas Child Care Administration and Business Practices Certificate. I would highly recommend CCEI to others seeking a certificate program or to further their professional development. The support I received from my coach, Laura Hamilton, is what made it possible for me to complete my certificate program.

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Focusing on Expressive Play and Artistic Development

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers CHD105: Focusing on Expressive Play and Artistic Development as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users July 1-31, 2019.

It is important for teachers to understand the stages of play in order to put the right materials or supports in place in the classroom. For instance, if a teacher expects two−year−olds to engage in cooperative play, she or he will face frustration because that is not a developmentally appropriate skill to expect from very young children. Instead, the teacher can promote the transition from parallel to associative play by encouraging and modeling language and social skills during children’s play.  It is also important for teachers to understand that by the age of four, children should begin to play cooperatively, at least for parts of the day. A lack of cooperative play by a four−year−old may be an indication that further supports are needed for that child. 

In early childhood education, all areas of development are closely linked. In addition to fine motor skills and cognition being linked to expressive play, here are a few other examples

  • When children engage in forms of expressive play, they are also building communication skills and language acquisition.
  • When children talk about their drawings and creations, they are practicing putting thoughts into words and demonstrating their own thought processes.
  • When teachers comment positively about what they notice in a child’s drawing, the child feels good about his or her skills and safe in the expressive environment, which builds confidence and leads for future explorations with art materials.

Teachers should have a goal of incorporating multiple areas of development into single activities.  This type of integration builds skills and supports learning better than isolating skills and activities. This section of the course will discuss ways in which teachers can add more opportunities for expressive play and drawing into daily activities.

This course focuses on the importance various forms of play have on the development of the whole child, with emphasis on expressive play, which can be incorporated throughout most activities in the early childhood environment. Because drawing is an important element of expressive play, this course explores the typical development of drawing skills in children and how those skills relate to other areas of development. With a better understanding of the expressive play needs of young children, early childhood professionals can support children’s healthy, optimal development across all developmental domains.

“Not only can teachers get to know children on a personal level and make them feel safe in the environment, but teachers can also discern information about children’s physical and cognitive development,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “The goal is to put in place the materials and supports necessary to move the children along the developmental spectrum, at the pace that is most suitable for each individual child.”

CHD105: Focusing on Expressive Play and Artistic Development is a two-hour, intermediate-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute®, a division of Excelligence Learning Corporation, provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

July 2019 Newsletter – Using Recycled Materials in ECE: Setting up a Recycling Center in the Classroom

Once you have gathered materials, you want to give some thought to how you will present these materials to the children in an organized and inviting way. Sort like materials into labeled bins and place those on shelves that are also labeled, just as you would do with other materials in the classroom.  This supports children’s independence and is a great matching activity that engages children during clean-up time.

Talk with children about recycling and how you would like to think of new ways to use some of the items that we typically throw away in order to help keep the planet clean.  You can learn more about recycling here.

Introduce small amounts of recycled materials at a time.  Add new materials regularly as children become accustomed to using these open-ended materials.  Each time you add a new material, show the children what you are adding as part of your large group meeting.  Ask the children to think of ways that the new material could be used. 

Allow the recycled materials center to be open throughout the day so that children can use the materials freely.  If a child is struggling with a building project in the block area, say something like, “I wonder if there is anything in the recycled materials area that could help you?”  This type of language encourages children to think of different ways to use materials and solve problems creatively. 

Share images of your recycled materials center on our Facebook page here!

For the main article Using Recycled Materials in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Why Introduce Recycled Materials, CLICK HERE

For the article Materials to Use in a Recycled Materials Center, CLICK HERE

For the article Collecting Materials, CLICK HERE