January 2023 Newsletter – Healthy Living in the New Year: Director’s Corner – Supporting Healthy Resolutions in the New Year

Director’s Corner – Supporting Healthy Resolutions in the New Year

Early childhood leaders are responsible for so many aspects of program operation. Safety, education, healthy menus, paperwork, and scheduling all fall into the director’s bucket of tasks. For optimal program performance, employee wellness also falls into that bucket.  Here are just some ideas for ways that program leaders can make health and wellness part of the program’s culture.

Come up with a team word. During a staff meeting, ask the team to brainstorm a list of words that they can use to guide their work with children and families throughout the year. Once a list is generated, ask the staff to pick the one word or phrase that resonates with their goals. You may decide to have a program-wide word or allow teaching teams to come up with a word that applies to the group they care for.

Provide moments for gentle reflection and realignment. When sitting down with teachers in one-on-one situations, allow time for everyone to take a breath before jumping into the meeting.  Ask questions designed to promote reflective thinking. Help teachers realign their knowledge, beliefs, and practices, especially if they are out of alignment with program values.

Make time to check in with staff. During casual conversations or meetings ask questions that promote healthy living and wellness.  Ask:

  • What have you done recently to replenish your energy?
  • How do you release your stress?
  • Do you see any opportunities to add more sleep to your routine?
  • What would be helpful to you in this moment?
  • Do you need anything?
  • How can I support you?

Act as a coach.  It is not your job to sit down with every staff member and create resolutions or personal goals for the coming year.  However, if a staff member tells you they have set a resolution that seems lofty, you can acknowledge their enthusiastic goal and ask them a few thought-provoking questions that guide them to create a plan to support their resolution or mini goals that will help them achieve the larger goal. You can also help employees realize that they can set a new resolution or goal any time of year.

Healthy competitions.  Some folks thrive on healthy competition.  Competitions can also provide a measure of accountability for people who have trouble sticking with a new practice. Participation should be encouraged, not required. Here are ideas for some healthy competitions:

  • Step or distance challenge between individual employees or teaching teams.
  • Track the number of pages/books read. You can set a team goal or make it a competition.
  • Track hours of sleep or amount of water consumed.
  • Most organized closet contests
  • Positivity challenges that recognize employees who make a positive impact on their colleagues
  • Random acts of kindness

Outdoor meetings.  When appropriate, invite employees to join you outside for your scheduled meeting. If there is a picnic table on the premises, you can have meetings there. You might also decide to make your meeting a walking meeting and take a few laps around the parking lot or take a walk around the block.

Share stress-relief strategies. Create a space in the staff bathroom or breakroom where you can post strategies that employees can do to reduce stress.  You could include these ideas in your program newsletter to share them with families as well.

Share community resources and events.  Create a space where community resources and events can be shared. This is a space where anyone can post upcoming events that other employees may want to explore. This could be a place to advertise an upcoming play or music recital. If your community is hosting free financial planning consultations, this information could be posted on the board. Does a local establishment offer free chair yoga sessions on Saturdays? Post that on the board, too.  Ask for a volunteer to help keep the board up-to-date.

Model more healthy practices.  Yep…more!


For the main article Healthy Living in the New Year, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Mind, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Body, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Spirit, CLICK HERE

January 2023 Newsletter – Healthy Living in the New Year: Resolutions for a Healthy Spirit

Resolutions for a Healthy Spirit

The purpose of this list is to provide ideas – not every idea will resonate with every person and that is okay. Maybe something on the list will spark an idea that resonates with your interests and abilities.

Most importantly, recognize that the activities and practices that rejuvenate your spirit are unique to you.  People enjoy different activities that inspire awe and wonder and a connection to something greater. Don’t expect every activity or practice to work for you. It’s okay for some experiences to be enjoyable, but not spirit rejuvenating. Stay open to different ideas and you will find the things that make your spirit smile.

Spend some time in nature. Face the sun for 1 minute – you don’t need to go on a 5-mile hike unless you want to. Sit on a bench to eat your lunch. Visit the ocean, the mountains, the desert, a pond, or a park.

Seek connection. Seek out a group of people with similar interests. You may want to join a choral group to share your voice with others. Perhaps you admire a colleague and ask them to be your mentor. Maybe a community group plays the same online game you play. Meditation groups meet regularly in many communities. Look for online options in your area if concerns about COVID-19 are prevalent in your community.

Explore a hobby. Lots of us think we don’t have time for a hobby, but between time spent on the phone or watching television, most people can probably find 30 minutes a week or 10 minutes a day to explore a new hobby. For some, this sounds intimidating. Many people feel like they have to be good at a skill before they have even practiced it. You may not paint like Monet, but you can get lost in the sensation of mixing and moving paint on a canvas. What it looks like in the end is not important – You are not doing this for profit – you are doing it for the process!

Attend a concert or performance. It could be your favorite band or musician or someone you have never heard before. Identify a local dance company to support. Find a coffee shop with an open mic night, spoken word event, comedy show, or storytelling competition. You don’t have to participate, just soak it all in, broaden your perspective and feed your spirit!

Volunteer. We are all busy, but the benefits of volunteering are well-documented.  Online services such as VolunteerMatch.com help people find volunteer opportunities in the community that align with their interests and time constraints.

Connect with animals. Even if you don’t consider yourself an animal person, spending time scratching a cat behind the ears or observing fish in a fish tank can provide periods of present-moment awareness that is so good for the spirit. Check into local animal shelters or rescue operations that may need volunteers in your community.

Organize. Take on that closet and donate items you no longer wear. Dump the Everything Drawer and organize all those spare batteries, lanyards, pens, and paperclips. Declutter your pantry, removing all of those processed foods. There is a lightness that grows from an organized environment.

Re-establish connections. Have you ever wondered how your college roommate is doing? Whatever happened to that teacher who made an impact on your life? Reach out to loved ones and friends you have not spoken to in some time. Send greeting cards or messages on social media. Let others know when you are thinking of them.

Identify your signs of stress. Everyone reacts to stress differently and some folks may not even be aware of it. Some hold it on their muscles, others withdraw, and others consume. These can be signs that you are experiencing stress and may need an outlet or practice to reduce stress in your life.

Take more deep breaths. Yep… more!


For the main article Healthy Living in the New Year, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Mind, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Body, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Supporting Healthy Resolutions in the New Year, CLICK HERE

January 2023 Newsletter – Healthy Living in the New Year: Resolutions for a Healthy Body

Resolutions for a Healthy Body

The purpose of this list is to provide ideas – not every idea will resonate with every person and that is okay. Maybe something on the list will spark an idea that resonates with your interests and abilities.

First and foremost, schedule those doctor’s appointments that you have been putting off. This includes the dentist! Get the appointments on your calendar as a form of self-care that is the foundation of healthy living. If you are not used to regular physical activity, start slowly to avoid injury. Consult with a medical professional before starting new routines to ensure they align with your unique needs.

Set reasonable distance goals. Whether you walk, run, swim, row, or bike, be sure that the goals you set are within reach. Set yourself up for success by creating easier-to-meet goals when you first start and then adjust the goals to make them more challenging as you become stronger and have more stamina.

Accountability and community. Join a walking group or download a step tracker or game (e.g., Pikmin Bloom) that promotes walking and collaboration. Virtual walking challenges allow you to join a group of other walkers and track your progress over a specific period of time.

Stretch at different times of the day. Look online or talk with a doctor or fitness expert about a series of stretches that will address areas that tighten throughout the day, like your neck or your back.

Join a challenge. Participate in a push-up challenge. Or a plank challenge. Or a yoga challenge. These challenges are usually short-term – 30 days or so. They help you build strength through daily practice and don’t take a long time to perform during the day. Get a few friends to join you to help you remain accountable.

Flow. Explore gentle forms of movement such as Tai chi, chair yoga, or Qigong. These low-impact, flowing movement activities are great for people who what a relaxing exercise experience and for folks who are easing back into the practice of exercising.

Learn more about your eating habits. When you understand your eating habits or overeating triggers, you bring awareness to your relationship with food. This may not stop you from overeating every time, but the awareness creates space for you to stop and think about what you are doing, rather than acting on impulse.

Start a food diary. Again, awareness of obstacles is beneficial when setting goals related to food. This practice may help you notice how often you are eating processed or sugary foods. Cut one of these unhealthy items out of your diet each week or each month to prevent feelings of deprivation that can lead to strong cravings. For example, instead of stopping all junk food, cut out chips or ice cream – but not both at once. Find tasty and healthy replacements to combat cravings!

Incorporate new foods. Look into gut-friendly ingredients that can help ease a number of physical ailments. Consult a nutritionist to make sure your diet meets your unique needs. Try new foods from different parts of the world. This is a great way to learn about new cultures and nurture your body.

Take your vitamins. Some people are very good at this because they have worked this practice into their routine. For other people, taking vitamins is a sporadic practice. Pick a time of day, place the bottle in a prominent location, and work with a partner to create a simple vitamin-taking routine.

Drink more water. Yep… more!


For the main article Healthy Living in the New Year, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Mind, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Spirit, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Supporting Healthy Resolutions in the New Year, CLICK HERE

January 2023 Newsletter – Healthy Living in the New Year: Resolutions for a Healthy Mind

Resolutions for a Healthy Mind

The purpose of this list is to provide ideas – not every idea will resonate with every person and that is okay. Maybe something on the list will spark an idea that resonates with your interests and abilities.

First, if you are working through mental health concerns, seeks support from trained professionals. Therapists, members of the clergy, support groups, and other online and community resources are all options you can explore to support your mental health.

Moments of quiet and solitude. Whether you spend this time praying, meditating, or just observing the environment, make time for peace and quiet. Start with short increments – even one minute after you park your car before walking into the building. You can extend the practice to longer increments over time or just stick with short periods of quiet time.  Remember, these moments of quiet are not wasted time. They give you time to transition from one role to another and allow you to decompress before moving on with your day.

Notice your thinking. Are you spending time overthinking situations? Do you find yourself spending lots of time rehearsing for future encounters or replaying past encounters in your mind? It is fine to make plans. It is fine to collect your thoughts before interacting with people, especially people who challenge us. It is fine to reflect on past experiences to learn from them. It is not healthy to spend time obsessing, rewriting, and ruminating over things that we are unable to change.

Catch yourself in cycles of negative self-talk. When you notice that you are getting down on yourself, ask “Would I talk to my friends like this?” or “Would I let my friends talk about themselves like this?” The answer is probably no. You would likely help your friend see the positive in the situation, reflect on their actions, and find something they can learn from the situation. You would not berate them and make them feel terrible about themselves – and you shouldn’t do that to yourself either.

Read more, binge less. Some people set a reading goal to complete a certain number of books by the end of the year – some people may have a goal to read one book this year. You may be more interested in reading articles. It’s all good. To stretch yourself, pick a book or one article each month that is about a topic outside of your normal comfort zone.

Write. There are so many ways to incorporate writing into your day. Some people enjoy writing their thoughts in a journal. Some people like to record events of their day in a diary. Other folks enjoy stream-of-consciousness writing that can be fictitious and fantastical. You don’t have to write for a long period of time, either. Set a goal to write for five minutes before you go to sleep or to jot down your thoughts while you have your morning coffee.

Work on puzzles. All kinds of puzzles have been found to be beneficial for maintaining a healthy mind. You might choose jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles. Sudoku is another option. Wordle and its many variations are also fun and quick puzzle options.

Save (some) money. Financial concerns are a common cause of stress for many people. Early childhood is not known for its high salary opportunities, so saving may not look the same for everyone. But when it is a possibility, set some money aside to help with future expenses. Knowing that you have some breathing room can help lower your stress levels.

Get more sleep. Yep… more!


For the main article Healthy Living in the New Year, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Body, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Spirit, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Supporting Healthy Resolutions in the New Year, CLICK HERE

Prosocial Behavior in Early Childhood

Did you know prosocial skills in preschoolers begin to develop before most children turn two? Studies have even shown that children as young as one demonstrated the ability to try and comfort others in distress.

Prosocial behavior is conduct intended to help others, which includes actions such as comforting, cooperating, sharing, and more.

For toddlers, prosocial behavior in early childhood plays an enormous role in their overall development. By teaching prosocial skills in early childhood, it will impact your students’ academic performance, attitude, emotional state, frame of mind, motivation and so much more.

Prosocial behavior in early childhood begins with small, kind, and thoughtful actions that show regard for others (you’ve witnessed this anytime you’ve seen a child hand a toy to another person). And the great thing is you’re likely already promoting prosocial skills in preschoolers by encouraging these types of behaviors.

There are a number of tactics you can use for teaching prosocial skills in early childhood.

Sharing is caring 

Whether you first learned this from the Care Bears, your parents or a teacher, this is perhaps the most well-known (and important) prosocial behavior in early childhood to teach. And the best part is you can incorporate this into just about every lesson plan.

For instance, choose any of these stories from Teaching Expertise’s list of 22 children’s books about sharing to read during storytime. Then, after reading the story, talk to your class about why sharing is good.

You can also incorporate games and activities that promote sharing to help develop prosocial skills in preschoolers. We love this list of easy activities from Love to Know.

Finally, one of the best ways to reinforce this important prosocial behavior in early childhood is to acknowledge good examples of sharing in your students and give children plenty of praise when you see them sharing.

Teamwork makes the dream work 

Teaching cooperation is another key skill to address when discussing prosocial behavior in early childhood.

When you teach a child to cooperate, you teach him or her to work with someone else in a meaningful way where they learn to balance their own interests with another person’s wants and needs.

That’s why this ranks so high on the list of items for teaching prosocial skills in early childhood.

There are several ways to incorporate cooperation into your classroom.

For starters, have your children take turns. This may come in the form of turn-taking games, building turn-taking into play time, incorporating books about teamwork into story time (here’s a wonderful list from Imagination Soup), and more.

You can also incorporate turn-taking into every aspect of your classroom routine. For example, when lining up to go outside, make sure each student has a turn being at the front of the line.

There are also several ways to help reinforce turn-taking and cooperation when teaching prosocial skills in early childhood. It’s helpful to use language such as “my turn, your turn,” visual cues and music to measure the length of a turn (this can help them predict when their turn begins/ends making it less likely they’ll become frustrated).

Again, as we mentioned above, it’s important to always reinforce good behavior by pointing out and applauding when your students demonstrate good examples of cooperative behavior.

I feel ‘ya

You can’t discuss prosocial skills in preschoolers and not cover empathy.

Toddlers will begin to exhibit genuine empathy around the age of two (and even respond with care by trying to soothe another child’s pain).

There are several ways you can promote this prosocial behavior in your classroom.

For starters, choose books that teach empathy and kindness (check out this Brightly list for inspo). After you read the story, talk to your students about the kindness displayed in the book. You can also discuss how your kids can model the same behavior in the classroom.

Another great way to promote empathy and kindness is by discussing others’ feelings and going a step further by suggesting how a child can demonstrate empathy. For example, if Suzy falls down on the playground, you might say, “Suzy is sad because she fell down and scraped her knee (talking about her feelings). Let’s get her a bandaid for her ouchie (demonstrating empathy).”

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, CCEI offers a number of courses to help you with teaching prosocial skills in early childhood and ways to encourage prosocial behavior in early childhood.

If you’re looking for a place to begin, our one-hour beginner-level course Promoting Empathy and Other Prosocial Behaviors is a great place to start. This course examines recent social research into empathy and other prosocial behaviors, as well as recommended strategies and practices for guiding children through the early phases of empathy’s long developmental process.

You may also want to explore Building Social and Emotional Competence. This two-hour beginner-level course explores how social and emotional skills develop over time and ways that teachers can use their understanding of this development to create an environment that supports children’s individual needs.

For more on these courses that will help you instill prosocial skills in preschoolers, as well as our entire catalog of courses, click here.

January 2023 Newsletter – Healthy Living in the New Year

Healthy Living in the New Year

As we begin another collective trip around the sun, many of us will take time to reflect on the status of our lives. This reflection often focuses on improvements that we would like to make to how we are experiencing life. There is a lot of pressure to create meaningful resolutions and stick to them… and we know how that usually turns out!

The whole idea that it is a new year and you can create a new you is filled with pressure and unrealistic expectations. Change is challenging – recreating yourself takes more time, effort, and attention than most of us have to spare after working and caring for loved ones. The commitment it takes to stick with a resolution can wane quickly if the goal is not fully aligned with our values and resources.

Sticking to resolutions is possible, especially when the resolutions are realistic.

Think about how you would talk with a parent of a 2-year-old who wants their child to write their name. You would likely agree that writing is an important skill. You would skillfully describe everything that you are doing in your learning environment to promote the development of the skills required to reach that goal. You would also recognize that this skill is likely far beyond the child’s current capabilities while knowing that they will get there with time, practice, and effort.

As you think about what you would like to see for yourself in the New Year, consider how the idea of developmentally appropriate expectations can be applied to your goal setting. Consider the skills you currently have, your established patterns and habits, and the supports and resources at your disposal. Then consider your goal. Identify the gaps that may need to be bridged to achieve your goals. Perhaps those skills are your goals for 2023?

Maybe, instead of a goal or resolution to change, you pick a word or value that you would like to embody throughout 2023. This practice requires less disruption to your current routine, while still allowing you to align your actions to your values. Your word could be anything that resonates with you, and when you land on the right word it will feel very comfortable. You could pick any word; here are some examples:

  • Joy
  • Initiative
  • Peace
  • Speak up
  • Love
  • Commit
  • Move
  • Stay true
  • Forgive

Click here to visit a Word of the Year generator.

This month’s newsletter will provide ideas for entering 2023 with a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Whether you decide to set a big goal, work toward small goals, or pick a meaningful word to embody, we wish you all the best in the coming year!


For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Mind, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Body, CLICK HERE

For the article Resolutions for a Healthy Spirit, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Supporting Healthy Resolutions in the New Year, CLICK HERE