May 2020 Student Spotlight – Tahsin Laskar

I’m eldest of three siblings and I am a mother of two children.  I grew up in a big joint family and have spent a lot of time caring for very young children in our family. The field of early childhood education has always been a part of my life. As a high school student, I helped with lessons for my pre-school aged nephews and nieces. I always led them to arts and crafts at home and loved to see their development. We currently live in Avon, Connecticut in one of most sought after public school districts and I’m proud to say that I am the teacher at home to my 12-year-old son, Suhayl, and 8-year-old daughter, Alysha. The education system in the United States is very different from India and I continue to learn a lot in my constant interactions with their teachers (and of course my children).

Since we relocated to the United States some 12 years back, I’ve made many new friends here and I am proud to be part of the lovely community.  Actively supporting my own highly engaged kids and whenever I find some free time, I volunteer in their classrooms.  I also volunteer with multiple local food shares run by our local religious organizations, local boy scouts camps, community clean-up, town flag displays, and other conservation efforts.

The day my daughter started as a 1st grader, I walked in to apply at Educational Playcare that offers high quality early childhood care and education across Connecticut. In a week’s time, I started my early childhood educator journey!  Each morning, the Community Meeting (Circle/Group Time) is when we set-up the agenda for the day.  One of my favorite times of the day is used to promote children to develop language and communication skills.  I use storytelling as part of the start to each day.  The outdoor play area is so much fun for toddlers and preschoolers!  The toddlers love motor skill development activities like ‘Tunnels’ or ‘Water Play’.  As a childcare professional, I believe play is an important role model in children’s lives, and my interactions with children and their families leave lasting impressions.  This sense of responsibility motivates me every day I start for work.

Beyond their families, I might be the person children spend the most time with during the very critical first years of learning and development. I choose to become an early childhood professional because I love interacting with children on development that focuses on hands-on learning through experiences.  Due to my interest in obtaining a formal Early Childhood Education, my center director asked me to complete a set of 50+ online courses as part of pre-CDA coursework. Once I completed those, I was formally signed-up with CCEI’s CDA Certificate Program.  As I continue to learn more as a professional well-versed in the understanding of children’s minds, I would definitely love to take positions of higher responsibility and authority – taking on more responsibility not only for my students, but also for staff and parents.

To be very frank, I wasn’t so sure of completing my CDA until my CDA verification visit.  My PD Specialist (who also happens to be one of our CT Regional Directors) was very impressed by my classwork and professional portfolio.  She encouraged me that the CDA Credential will help with multiple course credits to take the next step working towards a Connecticut State Early Childhood Teaching Credential (ECTC).  I have been awarded my CDA Credential by the Council of Professional Recognition.  I appeared for my final exam on 12/16 evening and I noticed the confirmation email when I woke-up the next day.

I have learned so much from the CCEI course materials.  I’ve had a tremendous learning experience with high quality programs and guidance from CCEI and I plan to receive further coursework or credentials.  A special thanks to my Education Coach at CCEI for the duration of my coursework starting from May 2019.  She constantly encouraged me to stay on track to complete 4-5 courses per week as a habit to work consistently. I sincerely appreciate her dedication, the time she invested in me, and the fact that she tracked the timeline on student progress (more so for full-time working professional mothers like us).   I would absolutely recommend CCEI!  I’ve already started to advocate CCEI to fellow assistant teachers and a few have asked me to share my CDA professional portfolio for reference.

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Music in Early Childhood

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers CHD100: Music in Early Childhood a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users May 1-31, 2020.

Why is music important to children? Although many teachers and caregivers remain unaware of why they make it part of the curriculum, other than that young children really enjoy it, music is frequently an ingredient in early childhood programs.  There are numerous reasons why children should have frequent and varied musical experiences. Among them is the belief that children exposed to music have a greater motivation to communicate with the world, perhaps because music provides their first exposure to the existence and richness of their own culture, as well as the heritage and cultures of other people and regions. Perhaps it is because music can be a nonverbal form of communication and, therefore, can bridge the gaps among people of different backgrounds.

Music is vital to the development of language and listening skills. Music and the language arts both consist of symbols and, when they are used in combination, abstract concepts become more concrete. Furthermore, music activities can improve attention span and memory and expand vocabulary. The most important role of music in education may be that it helps develop children’s sensitivity to beauty.

Music is mood−altering. Whether a teacher/caregiver is trying to bring peace to overstimulated children, make routine activities more enjoyable, or provide a little extra energy to a low point in the day, music can be the key to altering the mood in the room.  More and more research is being conducted on the power of music to alter moods and even restore and maintain health. Hospitals are using music to hasten the healing process and supplement the use of anesthesia, as music has been found to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Studies show the body’s rhythms—brain frequencies, heart rate, and respiration—also work in greater harmony when tuned to music. But even without the benefit of research studies, most of us know from experience that music does indeed have the power to energize, soothe, and change moods – an important element to help with coping in today’s current environment.

This course is written by well-known author and national trainer, Rae Pica. The goal of this course is to provide an understanding of the importance of music in the early childhood years and the ways in which it can become part of the curriculum and of children’s lives. Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to define the role of music in a child’s development, the role of both quality and variety in the selection of music for children, the impact of music on children’s moods and behaviors, the musical elements young children can and should experience, and list appropriate musical activities.

“Benefits of this course include familiarity with the ways in which music contributes to child development, as well as with the elements of music, and suggestions for choosing and using music in an early childhood setting,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “Because music enriches children’s lives and contributes to their development, teachers who understand this and who know how to choose and use music for young children will be able to make it a part of their programs, even without previous musical experience.”

CHD100: Music in Early Childhood is a one-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.1 IACET CEU upon successful completion.  The course is also offered in Spanish as ESP_CHD100.  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 www.cceionline.edu 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).

Common Signs of Stress

Whether your daily routine has remained the same or been turned upside down by the Coronavirus pandemic, you are most likely experiencing more stress than usual.  It is important to keep the common signs of stress front and center in our minds so that we can take action to reduce our stress when it begins to impact our lives in a negative way. If you experience any of these signs of stress, reach out to friends, family members, or medical professionals for support.

According to the CDC, common signs of stress include:

  • Disbelief and shock
  • Tension and irritability
  • Fear and anxiety about the future
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Feeling numb
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nightmares and recurring thoughts about the event
  • Anger
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Sadness and other symptoms of depression
  • Feeling powerless
  • Crying
  • Sleep problems
  • Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems
  • Trouble concentrating

May 2020 Newsletter – The Arts and Stress Reduction: Which Activities are Included in the Arts?

When we use the phrase the arts, we are referring to a wide variety of activities ranging from music and dance to painting and sculpting. One of the most important features of the arts is the opportunity for freedom and self-expression.  The following list contains just a few of the possible art activities you can explore, either alone, with family members, or with the children in your care.  Be sure, though, that freedom and self-expression are at the heart of the activities you choose.

  • Drawing and coloring – While we advocate for children to draw and color their own pictures, adult coloring books are a great place for adults to start expressing themselves, especially adults who are apprehensive about their artistic abilities.
  • Painting – There are so many styles of painting to explore, including abstract painting, where one can simply experience how the paint moves and mixes on the canvas. The Product is not important; this is all about the Process!
  • Sculpture – You may choose to use clay, modeling compound or even recycled or found objects. Items from nature provide unique shapes and textures for creating works of art.
  • Fiber arts – This area of the arts includes things such as knitting, cross stitching, sewing, quilting, etc. If those activities are not something you are interested in, you can still explore the materials by creating illustrations out of yarn, mosaics out of fabric, or friendship bracelets out of embroidery floss.
  • Writing – Again, you do not have to be a literary scholar to engage in meaningful, creative writing. You can begin by journaling or writing simple poems. You might also try free-association writing, where you begin with your favorite song lyric and just right whatever comes into your mind for the next five minutes.
  • Music – Some people have more skill when it comes to playing an instrument or holding a note. But that does not mean that we can’t all participate in musical activities. Sing along with the radio, change the words to your favorite songs, or create drums and bongos that you can play freely, without worrying about knowing how to read music.
  • Dance – Move your body.  Move it slowly and smoothly. Move it quickly and angrily. It doesn’t have to look good; it just needs to feel good.

For the main article The Arts and Stress Reduction, CLICK HERE

For the article What Happens When We Experience Stress?, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Engaging in the Arts, CLICK HERE

For the article Creating Realistic Expectations, CLICK HERE

May 2020 Newsletter – The Arts and Stress Reduction: Creating Realistic Expectations

It is very important to use the strategies suggested in this newsletter in the manner in which they are intended. In other words, in a stress-free manner!

For example, you are not expected to learn to play a new instrument during this crisis. You are not expected to create a painting that looks like a masterpiece.  You are not expected to produce a signature line of fine porcelain.

You are expected to explore activities and materials that make you feel comfortable and authentic.  Pick materials that are of interest to you. If you are not a writer, don’t write. That will only cause stress.

You are expected to experiment and play. If you are drawn to clay, but are not confident in your sculpting skills, that’s okay. Just squeeze the clay in your fist, pinch it between your fingers, and smash it with your palm. Find objects with interesting textures and press them into the clay to create interesting surface effects.

Be sure to create the same expectations for children. Give them freedom to experience the stress relieving benefits of sensory materials. Use more finger paint, doughs, and personal sand boxes (to cut down on the spread of germs).

Don’t put pressure on children to create something that looks like an adult model. Just introduce the materials and let the children express themselves freely.  Put the teacher directed art projects away and see what the children come up with as they explore.

Everyone deserves stress-free moments throughout the day – and exploring the arts can provide that!

For the main article The Arts and Stress Reduction, CLICK HERE

For the article What Happens When We Experience Stress?, CLICK HERE

For the article Which Activities are Included in the Arts?, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Engaging in the Arts, CLICK HERE

May 2020 Newsletter – The Arts and Stress Reduction: Benefits of Engaging in the Arts

Whether you are dancing aggressively to your favorite song or smashing black paint onto a canvas with a sponge, activities in the arts provide an opportunity for self-expression and an emotional release.  Art activities can help people reduce stress by promoting:

  • Relaxation of mind and body – Artistic movements are often repetitive and fluid, which can help some people feel more relaxed. Many people enjoy the tactile sensations that are experienced during art activities.
  • Distraction from daily stressors – When engaged in artistic activities, your mind can become absorbed in the present moment, rather than worrying about the future.
  • Feelings of accomplishment – Completing a project can make people feel proud of themselves and the work they have produced.
  • Self-confidence – As a person engages in activities, their level of comfort and skills can improve, which may also lead to feelings of self-confidence. A person can also feel more confident in their ability to manage emotions and stress, even if their artistic skills never improve.
  • The recognition and release of pent up emotions – When overcome with emotions, sometimes there are no words to express how we are feeling. Sometimes, putting emotions on paper or releasing your feeling through physical activities such as drumming, can provide a way to express yourself without using words.
  • Creativity – Creativity is an important life skill that children and adults use to come up with solutions to problems at home and in the workplace.

For the main article The Arts and Stress Reduction, CLICK HERE

For the article What Happens When We Experience Stress?, CLICK HERE

For the article Which Activities are Included in the Arts?, CLICK HERE

For the article Creating Realistic Expectations, CLICK HERE

May 2020 Newsletter – The Arts and Stress Reduction: What Happens When We Experience Stress?

Any time we find ourselves in a position where we feel the demands being put on us are greater than our ability to handle them, we experience stress. This includes demands at work, demands from our children and families, and demands that threaten our health and well-being.

These experiences trigger a stress response that occurs on a chemical level within your body.  The body floods with stress hormones that cause the heart to beat faster, breathing to quicken, and muscles to become tight. These physical responses are very useful if you need to swerve to miss a dog in the street, move away from a snake while walking in the woods, or make a stand against an injustice. They are our fight or flight responses that help us respond to challenging situations.

Unfortunately, if our bodies are constantly flooded with these hormones, physical and mental health problems can arise.  You see, your body is designed to use the hormones to manage the stressful situation. Once the stressful situation has passed, hormone levels are supposed to return to normal.

In times such as this, we are likely living with a near-constant feeling that the demands being put on us are greater than our ability to handle them. If your body is constantly flooded with stress hormones, you may be experiencing chronic stress, which is harmful and requires remediation.

For the main article The Arts and Stress Reduction, CLICK HERE

For the article Which Activities are Included in the Arts?, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Engaging in the Arts, CLICK HERE

For the article Creating Realistic Expectations, CLICK HERE

May 2020 Newsletter – The Arts and Stress Reduction

A recent study, published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, determined that engaging in artistic activities can reduce the level of stress hormone present in the body.  This is great news during the COVID-19 crisis, when stress levels are so high.

Even better news – You don’t have to be an artist, or even good at art, to benefit from the stress reducing qualities of art experiences.  And while children were not included in the study, findings showed that younger people experienced even greater stress reduction than older study participants. The author of the study believes that this is because younger people have less experience managing stress and have not yet developed an arsenal of coping mechanisms. Do you know who has even less experience managing stress than young adults? Children!  Engaging children in the arts could provide them with invaluable coping tools they will use throughout their lives.

Whether you are still working with children, staying at home with your family, or surrounded by other adults during this crisis, we hope this newsletter about the arts and stress reduction provides you with some ideas you can use in your daily life.

For the article What Happens When We Experience Stress?, CLICK HERE

For the article Which Activities are Included in the Arts?, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Engaging in the Arts, CLICK HERE

For the article Creating Realistic Expectations, CLICK HERE

New Course from ChildCare Education Institute on Foundations of Positive Guidance

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, is proud to introduce GUI106: Foundations of Positive Guidance as a new course to the online child care training course catalog.

Researchers have been recommending a positive approach to child guidance for nearly 100 years.  Positive discipline is a fairly well-known philosophy of parenting and teaching that dates back to the 1920s and the work of Austrian educators Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs. Since the 1980s, the phrase has gained more prominence thanks to the Positive Discipline book series by Jane Nelsen, ED.D.  Within the field of ECE, it is common to see the word discipline replaced with guidance. This change in language highlights the role of the teacher as a guide; as a person who is available to help children navigate social situations, express big emotions, and learn self-regulation skills.

Positive guidance is an approach to working with children that considers the physical environment, the emotional environment, children’s development, adult expectations, and the learning opportunities that exist within every interaction.  Positive guidance is more than just using positive language, although that is part of it.  Strategies exist to address challenging behaviors as they occur, as well as ways to prevent behaviors from occurring in the first place.

This is an introductory course to positive guidance, a philosophy and strategy for guiding children’s behaviors and learning experiences. The course will explore the elements of child development that influence positive guidance strategies and some basic implementation practices for use in the child care setting. The course will also discuss the importance of working with families to establish consistent positive guidance practices at school and at home.

“Positive guidance is a way of interacting with children that teaches them the skills they need to be successful members of the community,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “As with any set of skills, the development of social and emotional skills is complex and takes time and practice to master.”

GUI106: Foundations of Positive Guidance is a two-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion. The course is also offered in Spanish as ESP_GUI106.  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 www.cceionline.edu 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).

April 2020 Student Spotlight – Renée LaBossiere

My name is Renée LaBossiere.  I live in Pinellas County, FL and I have been in the Early Childhood field for 20 years.  I didn’t choose this career path, but I feel like it chose me. I feel like this is where I’m meant to be.  It is a passion of mine to watch our children flourish and be who they are meant to become through nature, discovery, wonder, and fun.  I’ve always believed that children learn best through play.  It is also a passion to help educate others about the benefits of learning these ways.

I’m always learning, growing and evolving with the children and within myself, as a teacher and personally.  Continuing my education is also a passion.  After six years through Penn Foster online, I received my AS in Early Childhood back in 2016.  I have been taking courses through CCEI for ten years now and I really like all of the information I obtain.  As a CCEI course reviewer for the past four years, I enjoy seeing and reviewing the new information being presented.  My three top recommendations are SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings,  CHD109: Supporting Spiritual Development in Early Learning Environments, and the most recent one I reviewed is CUR125: Loose Parts: Incorporating Found Objects and Open-Ended Materials into the Classroom.

I was already doing many things that came naturally to me, throughout my years of learning and discovery, and I realized that I’m a mixture of philosophies – Reggio Emelia, Magda Gerber’s RIE, Waldorf, and Montessori all inspire me, among a few others.  One of my pastimes has also been running my Facebook and Instagram page, Calming Me, Calming You – The Owl’s Nest for going on three years as well. I also enjoy being outside in nature, at parks or the beach, spending time with my family, dancing, yoga, crafts, art, reading, and writing from poetry to quotes. I have a started a blog and I would really like to write some children’s books.