July 2022 Newsletter – Community Building: Building a Team Community

Here are a few ideas that can be implemented to build community between staff members.

Common goals

    • Create teaching-team goals, in addition to goals for individual teachers to achieve.
    • Explore quality improvement initiatives available in your region. Help each classroom evaluate their practices and identify new strategies to implement.
    • Create goals for a grand total number of training hours completed each month or year.
    • Recognize staff for the most family referrals as an example of a program-wide enrollment building goal.

Freedom of expression

    • Establish an open-door policy to help employees feel safe sharing concerns.
    • Include employees in the development/revision of the program’s vision and mission statements.
    • Conduct mock exit interviews with staff members to uncover any issues that need to be addressed. This can be done through anonymous surveys to encourage honest feedback.

Address member concerns with sensitivity

    • Sometimes, people just need to feel heard. Listen openly to employees and ask questions that prompt them to reflect on the situation at hand.
    • Maintain confidentiality and put a stop to gossiping whenever it arises.
    • Recognize when additional support may be needed to address concerns and present that information in a positive light.

Set clear policies and obligations

    • Help staff understand the reasoning behind program policies.
    • Encourage employees to work together to devise new policies and revise old ones when necessary.
    • Charge your staff to come up with a code of conduct each year. These are the behaviors that everyone agrees to engage in throughout the year.


    • Recognize the unique needs of staff members and work to address those needs in a private manner.
    • Hold all staff accountable in an equitable manner.

Celebrate heritage and traditions

    • Highlight a different staff member each month. Ask them to share experiences, perspectives, and cultural influences.
    • Create staff traditions like original songs or dances that can be used as energizers or morale boosters.
    • Reflect diversity in displays and materials available in the building.

Promote interactions among members

    • Create a coaching or mentoring program for your staff.
    • Empower staff members to take on part of new-employee orientation procedures.
    • Allow for time to share ideas and interact during staff meetings and professional development events.
    • Plan team building activities.

Elect leaders that stand by community values

    • Delegate event planning to committees made up of staff members and when appropriate, families. Encourage staff to take on leadership roles within these committees.
    • Identify an accreditation expert or curriculum planning pro that others can turn to for guidance.

Prioritize effective communication

    • Encourage team members to generate their own solutions to problems that arise. Leaders may need to facilitate these conversations, but the solutions should come from the staff members.
    • Ask employees who complete training to develop a summary of what they learned to share with the group at the next staff meeting.
    • Help teachers prepare for family/teacher conferences by role-playing challenging conversations.

Make smart decisions

    • Encourage team members to consult with their peers (and families, if appropriate) about proposed solutions before implementing them. This will help staff collect and consider the perspectives of others before moving forward.
    • Help employees generate proactive strategies designed to prevent challenges before they arise.
    • Assure that all decisions and solutions are aligned with the program’s philosophy and mission.


For the main article Community Building, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics of Positive Communities, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Families, CLICK HERE

July 2022 Newsletter – Community Building: Building Community with Families

Here are just a few ways that programs can build a sense of community with families:

  • Common goals
    • Collaborate with families to identify learning and development goals that are appropriate for children. Share activities that can be done at home.
    • Hold contests and other friendly competitions between classrooms in which families can participate.
    • Identify opportunities for families to advocate for ECE initiatives alongside staff members.
  • Freedom of expression
    • Collect feedback from families on a regular basis through anonymous satisfaction surveys.
    • Create an open door policy that encourages regular feedback – both positive and constructive.
    • Show genuine appreciation for families’ concerns – they are an opportunity for growth.
  • Address member concerns with sensitivity
    • Maintain confidentiality with families at all times.
    • Acknowledge concerns with empathy.
    • Respond to concerns in a timely manner.
    • Follow up with families after an incident to ensure it was handled in a satisfactory manner.
  • Set clear policies and obligations
    • Ensure families receive a copy of the programs policies and procedures.
    • Provide reminders of policies in newsletters and other forms of communication.
  • Fairness
    • Ensure policies are enforced evenly.
    • Offer opportunities to all families equally.
    • Ask families to provide feedback on certain program decisions.
  • Celebrate heritage and traditions
    • Periodically pick one family to highlight in a program-wide communication. Publish an article that explores the family’s culture and traditions.
    • Invite families to share stories, music, food, hobbies, occupations, celebrations, and traditions with their child’s class.
    • Encourage families to create “All About Us” books that can be put in the class library. Highlight one book each week in the lobby for everyone to see.
    • Reflect diversity in displays and materials available in the building and field trip locations you visit.
  • Promote interactions among members
    • Identify families who will welcome and build connections with newly enrolled families.
    • Host frequent family events and family/teacher conferences at different times of day.
    • Open up professional development events to families.
    • Invite families to volunteer in a variety of ways.
    • Allow families to place business cards on a community board to share their services with others.
  • Elect leaders that stand by community values
    • Invite families to participate in the family committee. Encourage them to take on leadership positions within the group. They can also take the lead on event planning initiatives.
    • Review the program’s philosophy and mission statement at the beginning of each family committee meeting to ensure all topics covered align with the program’s values.
  • Prioritize effective communication
    • Use multiple forms of communication to share information with families, including digital options.
    • Listen and ask lots of questions when addressing families.
    • Utilize a translator if necessary.
  • Make smart decisions
    • Recognize situations that require deeper investigation and gather as much information as possible from everyone involved before acting on a solution.
    • Provide resources and information that families need to make the best decisions for their children.


For the main article Community Building, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics of Positive Communities, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Community, CLICK HERE

July 2022 Newsletter – Community Building: Building Community with Children

Keeping in mind the characteristics of positive communities, here are some ways programs can build a sense of community with children.

  • Common goals
    • Set book-reading or physical activity goals that the class can work toward. Celebrate when goals are reached.
    • Introduce project-based learning that encourages children to cooperate and explore new topics together.
    • Identify a local charity to support by raising funds or collecting goods.
    • Before children enter learning centers, encourage them to create a plan for their play. The plan will likely change as children dig into their play, which is perfectly acceptable.
  • Freedom of expression
    • Ask children to share their opinions about a variety of topics during planned and spontaneous conversations.
    • Allow children time to share their feelings, especially if they are upset about something.
    • Collect children’s thoughts about their work. Write down the stories children tell about their construction and artwork.
    • Encourage children to share their interests and gather their input on topics and activities to explore.
  • Address member concerns with sensitivity
    • Make time to listen to children’s concerns without dismissing their feelings.
    • Address children privately. Avoid public shaming.
    • Acknowledge and validate their feelings, while encouraging them to consider the perspectives of others.
    • Offer children options for solving problems in the future. Help them create positive plans, rather than punishing them.
  • Set clear policies and obligations
    • Work with children to create classroom expectations (rules). These expectations should be positively worded.
    • Develop classroom books about options children can use to solve problems or express their emotions safely.
    • Explore different prosocial traits such as kindness, helpfulness, and caring. Read books, and plan activities that allow children to practice these skills. Point out when children engage in these skills often.
  • Fairness
    • Hold all children to the same standards and expectations and respond to situations in a consistent manner. Ensure this consistency exists across all staff members.
    • Encourage all children to participate in cleaning up after meals and playtime.
    • Ensure all children have the same opportunities to interact and explore. Seek support from others to support children’s unique needs.
  • Celebrate heritage and traditions
    • Encourage children to share their favorite traditions and celebrations with the group. Collect their stories in a class book.
    • Invite children to share stories and symbols of their cultural celebrations with others.
    • Integrate words and phrases from the children’s home language into daily conversations.
    • Reflect diversity in displays and materials available in the building and field trip locations you visit.
    • Share stories about inventors and contributors from different cultures.
  • Promote interactions among members
    • Encourage children to engage with others. Provide sample language they can use to enter into play with others.
    • Assist children in solving conflicts with other children. Help them come up with possible solutions and put the solution in place.
    • Play team and paired games that rely on cooperation.
    • Utilize small group learning as much as possible.
    • Help children connect to the broader community through field trips, visitors, and positive interactions with neighbors.
  • Elect leaders that stand by community values
    • Encourage children to recognize other children who display the character traits the group is exploring, such as the Helping Hand award. Look for opportunities to spread these recognitions to each child throughout the month.
    • Invite children to participate as student representatives on the family committee or other event planning committees.
  • Prioritize effective communication
    • Model active listening skills. Remind children to listen to other children when they are speaking.
    • Start spontaneous and meaningful conversations during mealtimes.
    • Show genuine enthusiasm and interest when interacting with children.
    • Greet children each day by using their name and a special greeting of their choice, such as a hug, high-five, or special handshake.
  • Make smart decisions
    • Help children make connections between their actions and how others feel. Promote empathy.
    • Remind children about the expectations, character traits, and solution options that they created. Help them to compromise and make good choices.
    • Talk about the choices characters in books make. Ask children if they think the decisions are the best ones or whether they would make a similar decision if they were in that situation.
    • Create opportunities for children to vote on activity ideas or make group-based decisions on elements of program planning.


For the main article Community Building, CLICK HERE

For the article Characteristics of Positive Communities, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Community, CLICK HERE

July 2022 Newsletter – Community Building: Characteristics of Positive Communities

Early learning programs play an important role for children and their families. They exist as more than a place where children are supervised while families go to work. The building becomes a community when program employees take steps to create a sense of community between themselves, children, and families.

Behavioral scientist, Nicole Celestine, Ph.D. has compiled a list of characteristics that positive communities embody.  As you read through the list, you may become inspired to think about ways to bring some of these characteristics to life in your program.

  1. Common goals
  2. Freedom of expression
  3. Address member concerns with sensitivity
  4. Set clear policies and obligations
  5. Fairness
  6. Celebrate heritage and traditions
  7. Promote interactions among members
  8. Elect leaders that stand by community values
  9. Prioritize effective communication
  10. Make smart decisions

Take some time to explore the other sections of the newsletter for ideas on how programs can strengthen the sense of community that is experienced within the walls of the program.  We have created lists of practices that can be used with children, families, and colleagues based on the 10 characteristics above.

You can read more from Dr. Celestine about positive communities here.


For the main article Community Building, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Community, CLICK HERE

July 2022 Newsletter – Community Building

When you think about the word community, what comes to mind? Perhaps you envisioned your town, a specific neighborhood within your city, or a special place you visit when you travel. Maybe you thought about a particular group of people connected by common interests or characteristics. Truth be told, community is one of those words that can be defined in several ways, but is better understood when it is experienced. 

Community is greater than just the physical structures of a place, it is the feeling of connectedness that exists between the people who occupy that space. They are drawn together by shared experiences, goals, interests, or identities. Community is the coming together of people in a way that fosters relationships and positive interactions, even when things aren’t perfect.

Thinking about child care programs and individual classrooms as communities can help us build relationships and bring about big changes in the lives of everyone involved with the program.

In this month’s newsletter, we will explore the characteristics of strong communities and strategies for building community throughout ECE programs.


For the article Characteristics of Positive Communities, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Community with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Community, CLICK HERE

What Community Means in Early Childhood Education

CCEI’s July newsletter focuses on ways that ECE programs can strengthen the sense of community between every person who walks in the door.  The goal is for every child and adult to feel a sense of belonging, respect, and connection. This is the foundation for all learning that occurs within the walls of the program.

We can refer to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and their most recent position statement on developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) for guidance on what community means in early childhood education.

Specifically, NAEYC states, “The role of the community is to provide a physical, emotional, and cognitive environment conducive to development and learning for each child.”

According to NAEYC’s DAP position statement, in an early learning community:

Each member of the community is valued by the others and is recognized for the strengths they bring.

      • When teachers model behaviors that communicate respect, it is possible for children to learn these skills as well. This is accomplished by honoring the unique makeup of each family and working to build on the strengths of both children and their family members.

Relationships are nurtured with each child and educators facilitate the development of positive relationships among children. 

      • Educators who are community builders recognize that strong relationships make everything else just a bit easier. Whether faced with a challenging conversation with a parent or helping a child work through challenging behaviors, the trust that blossoms from a positive relationship will be beneficial.

Each member of the community respects and is accountable to the others to behave in a way that is conducive to the learning and well-being of all. 

      • Teachers set the tone of respect but every member of the group is responsible for maintaining the sense of safety, caring, and cooperation that keeps a community strong. This is accomplished by focusing on ways to communicate needs and emotions and work within a set of expectations that keeps everyone safe, both physically and emotionally.

The physical environment protects the health and safety of the learning community members, and it specifically supports young children’s physiological needs for play, activity, sensory stimulation, fresh air, rest, and nourishment.

      • This means that teachers manage the daily schedule to ensure that children have the opportunity to explore an engaging selection of activities. The flow of the day should allow ample time to complete tasks, rather than rushing through them.

Every effort is made to help each and every member of the community feel psychologically safe and able to focus on being and learning.

      • This is accomplished through reflective and responsive practices teachers put in place in response to individual children’s needs. Teachers look for signs of stress and act to reduce it. They reflect children’s home lives within the classroom and maintain an organized environment that promotes play and exploration.

Sometimes, the idea of creating community seems like an abstract concept.  It may seem more difficult than it actually is.  Shifting the focus from a purely academic approach to a more social and emotional approach is the first step to building community.  That means slowing down, getting to know children and families, and putting practices in place that meet their unique needs.

Best of luck!