May 2023 Newsletter – Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments: Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes

Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes

When it comes to making observations about the environment, it can be challenging to look with Fresh eyes. Have you ever arrived home from work at the end of the week and been surprised by how disorganized your space had become?  This is not necessarily a reflection of your neatness.  Over time, we begin to tune out that stack of mail on the kitchen table and the pile of shoes by the door.  This is called habituation, meaning our brains stop noticing or become desensitized to the clutter over time.

Clutter is one thing, but when habituation occurs in relation to health and safety practices, bad things can happen.  We may notice a glaring safety issue immediately, such as a spill that needs to be mopped up, but smaller issues may fade into the background until they are no longer as noticeable as they first were. For example, you may notice a missing outlet cover on Monday, but as the week progresses, it becomes less noticeable.

When it comes to maintaining a safe environment, there is no room for habituation.  It is essential that early childhood educators consistently look at the environment with fresh eyes.  Here are a few suggestions for how to keep safety top of mind:

  • Use checklists regularly – Most programs have a series of safety checklists, some of which have been in use for years. Checklists are great – but using the same tool repeatedly can contribute to further habituation because they can be completed in a routine way, without critically observing the environment.  To combat this, it may be necessary to change your checklists from time to time.  Rearrange the order of the checklist.  Reword the safety standards that are being evaluated. Randomize the list.  Take steps to add a sense of novelty to the checklist to encourage employees to use fresh eyes, rather than rote completion.
  • Practice mindfulness – Start every inspection or checklist with a mindful moment.  Commit to looking closely at the environment in that moment, not based on your memory of the environment. Remind yourself of the importance of the task at hand – the children depend on you to keep them safe!
  • Observe in different environments – Create a system that requires safety inspections to be completed regularly, but by someone who does not normally work in the environment. Rotate so that different people complete different inspections each month.
  • Paired completion – Ask another person to complete the same safety checklist for the same environment. When you are done, you can compare notes.  Thinking that you might miss something that another person could catch will increase the attention you pay to your task.
  • Talk with children about safety measures – It is not the children’s job to maintain the environment, but they should be encouraged to tell you when they see something unsafe. Talk with them about the steps you take to keep the environment a safe place to play.  Ask them what they should do when they see specific things in the environment, such as a wasp nest on the playground or a puddle of water in the bathroom.  Create mini-inspections using pictures that children can complete during transitions.  Assign Safety Monitors. Again, it is not their job, but these interactions will help keep you on your toes when it comes to keeping children safe.


For the article main article Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Active Supervision, CLICK HERE

For the article General Indoor Safety Considerations, CLICK HERE

For the article General Playground Safety, CLICK HERE

May 2023 Newsletter – Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments: General Playground Safety

General Playground Safety

Outdoor environments provide rich learning experiences and the chance for children to strengthen motor skills, refine muscle coordination, and burn some energy.  They also present several safety concerns unique to the outdoors.

Programs should develop systems that ensure that outdoor environments remain fun, engaging, and safe places for children to play.  Daily, weekly, monthly, and annual inspections should occur.  Programs should refer to their state’s licensing regulations and other child care safety resources to determine what items should be included as part of each inspection.

It is best if staff rotate these responsibilities to gain multiple safety perspectives. Once an inspection is complete, a plan of action should be developed to address any issues that were noted during the inspection.

Checks must be performed regularly to ensure that teachers, not children, are the first to discover hazards on the playground.


__ The equipment has adequate surface under and around the equipment (at least 12 inches of loose-fill fall-zone material or other approved surfacing).

__ Loose-fill protective covering is free from foreign objects and debris.

__ Loose-fill protective covering is not compacted (should not be hard or non−absorbent).

General Hazards

__ No sharp points and edges on the equipment.

__ All protective caps and plugs are in place.

__ No dangerous protrusions and projections.

__ No entrapment or strangulation hazards.

__ No trip hazards or pinch, crush, or shearing points.


__ No dangerous rust, cracks, or splinters.

__ No broken or missing components.

__ Equipment is properly anchored.


__ Fasteners (bolts, screws, etc.) are not loose or worn.

__ Bearings on spinning, rotating, or other moving parts are in good working condition.


__ Playground has proper drainage.

__ No standing water under swings or in high−traffic areas.

General Upkeep

__ The playground is free of litter and debris.

__ Trash receptacles are emptied on a regular basis.

__ The area is free of poisonous plants and harmful insects.

__ Shade is available and shade structures are in good condition.

Barriers and Gates

__ No holes or damaged sections in the fence.

__ Latches and hinges on gates are in good working order.

Here is another resource to review.


For the main article Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Active Supervision, CLICK HERE

For the article General Indoor Safety Considerations, CLICK HERE

For the article Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes, CLICK HERE

May 2023 Newsletter – Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments: General Indoor Safety Considerations

General Indoor Safety Considerations

When it comes to ensuring safety within the facility, there are many areas to consider.  It’s a good idea to start at the front door and walk the entire facility looking for potential hazards and safety concerns on a regular basis.  Be sure to look at each area of the facility from both an adult’s and a child’s perspective, which means lowering yourself to a child’s height, where you can notice things you might overlook at your normal eye level.

In addition to regular safety inspections, every employee who enters the building must be focused on identifying items or areas that may pose a safety hazard. Common items may be overlooked if staff is not completely focused on safety.  For example, a tube of lip balm that rolls under a table can pose a choking hazard to a curious child.  Plastic bags should be removed from areas accessible to children immediately.

Staff should make a point to check for items that might have been left out by cleaning or maintenance personnel. As employees walk the halls, they should make a point of checking to be sure closet doors are locked and there are no obstructions in the hallways.

Preparation is another way to ensure safety. This means gathering all necessary materials before diaper changing so that complete attention can be given to the child. Extra serving spoons should be available during mealtimes in case a spoon falls on the floor.  Ready-to-go bags should be prepped and easily accessible in case of an evacuation.

Close and engaged supervision throughout the day can also help teachers prevent safety issues, such as sitting with children as they eat meals and snacks.  This allows teachers to observe children closely and act quickly in case of an emergency. Engaging with children as they play can help teachers identify toys or materials that may have sharp or broken pieces.

Ongoing training on how to inspect learning environments for safety should occur regularly. Whenever possible, training should include some kind of practical application that requires employees to conduct safety checks or identify safety hazards in photos. Safety training can become repetitive, so it is important to find new and creative ways to engage staff in this important topic.

Here is a comprehensive checklist that you may find helpful that is available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.


For the main article Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article Active Supervision, CLICK HERE

For the article General Playground Safety, CLICK HERE

For the article Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes, CLICK HERE

May 2023 Newsletter – Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments: Active Supervision

Active Supervision

The most important way that caregivers can ensure children are safe is through active supervision. To achieve active supervision, the Office of Head Start recommends the following actions:

Set Up the Environment – Furniture should be arranged in a way that allows adults to supervise all areas of the room.  Shelves with clear or open backs can help reduce blind spots in the classroom. Avoid blocking areas of the classroom with tall furniture.  Learning areas should be organized and free from clutter to allow adults to move in and out of spaces with ease.

Position Staff – When considering room arrangement, think about the placement of tables where teachers will work with small groups of children.  These tables should be arranged so that the teacher can choose the seat at the table that allows the best view of the whole classroom.  Teachers should position themselves in different areas of the environment, allowing them to see all areas of the room or playground.

Scan and Count – Constantly scanning the environment allows teachers to notice when issues arise.  When two or more adults are present, they should work out a plan for who is going to maintain a general scan and who is going to manage the planned activity.  If both teachers are working with individual children, supervision of the rest of the children becomes a challenge. Teachers should conduct regular headcounts and document the results per program policy.

Listen – In addition to visually scanning the environment, teachers should maintain their attention on the sounds of the classroom. Teachers should listen for changes in volume and tone, as well as suspiciously quiet moments!

Anticipate Children’s Behavior – As teachers get to know the children in the group, anticipating their needs and behaviors will become easier. Teachers will be able to note how different children interact with one another and the toys in the environment.  For example, a very popular toy may cause some competition in the classroom, and recognizing that can help teachers support children as they play.

Engage and Redirect – Teachers should spend lots of time engaged with children – not managing every aspect of their play, but being close by to answer questions, encourage cooperation, and help solve problems. Teachers should use redirection when necessary to maintain safety while allowing children to work out solutions on their own.

For more information, check out this resource from Head Start/ECLKC.


For the main article Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments, CLICK HERE

For the article General Indoor Safety Considerations, CLICK HERE

For the article General Playground Safety, CLICK HERE

For the article Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes, CLICK HERE

May 2023 Newsletter – Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments

Assessing Safety in Early Learning Environments

In this month’s newsletter, we will be focusing on strategies and program practices designed to keep children safe in early learning programs. The primary focus of all employees must be to create an environment that is safe for children to explore. CCEI is offering CCEI900: Safety in the Infant/Toddler Classroom as the free trial course for the month of May to all new CCEI users.  In addition to this course, CCEI recently launched two new courses focused on safety:

  • HLTH113: Building and Physical Premises Safety: Indoor Environments
  • HLTH114: Building and Physical Premises Safety: Outdoor Environments

Be sure to sign up for these courses to make sure you are doing everything possible to keep young children safe.


For the article Active Supervision, CLICK HERE

For the article General Indoor Safety Considerations, CLICK HERE

For the article General Playground Safety, CLICK HERE

For the article Maintaining Safety with Fresh Eyes, CLICK HERE

April 2023 Student Spotlight – Chaitanya Ravipati


I started my career in early childhood education as a parent volunteer when my children were attending preschool.  I enjoyed my experience working with early learners and their families.  It was rewarding and fulfilling.  The ability to help instill a lifelong love of learning was very satisfying.

My favorite time of the day to spend with the children is morning greeting circle. It provides a welcoming environment to the classroom and I interact with students to know their thoughts and ideas about the upcoming day’s schedule and on various other topics . I also enjoy reading a book related to the week’s theme during the greeting circle.  We update the classroom calendar, talk about the weather, make our daily commitments and share any important upcoming school events.  I also love playing outside with my students. When the children play outdoors, they have fun and benefit from running, playing and chasing each other which helps to develop their gross motor skills.

It is fun to know how curious children are at observing their surroundings, how they think and what catches their attention. Every child brings their own perception. The love deeply and the attention they give me in return is very rewarding.  Working with children reminds me of how amazing and exciting the world can be.  You’ll love seeing things from their eyes.  It makes me a happier and a more positive person in my day-to-day life. Children also encourage me to use my imagination and find new creative ways to do things.  Being an ECE professional is an opportunity to watch children grow and develop into confident, self-sufficient learners.

I currently reside in Sterling, VA.  In my free time I like to cook and watch TV shows and movies with my family.  I love reading and also spend time listening to music.

I earned my Self-Study CDA Preschool Certification from ChildCare Education Institute.  CCEI’s CDA program was offered at my place of employment.  CCEI’s CDA Certification program helped me to improve my skills in providing high-quality education and care services to young children.  CCEI’s online CDA Certification program also helped me to better learn how to plan for a safe and healthy learning environment and how to nurture and advance the emotional, physical, intellectual, and social development of children as well as how to form productive relationships with families.  In addition, the program helped me to improve skills in planning stimulating and interesting activities for children, to observe and assess children, to understand and resolve challenges in the classroom, and interact and form relationships with children and families of different cultures.  I am very thankful to my Education Coach for guiding, supporting and helping me to work towards my goal of completing my online CDA Certification program.

CCEI’s CDA Certification program content and format was clear and very well organized for me to study at my own pace.  Lessons and handouts helped me prepare for assessments and provide a solid understanding of the course material.  The course goals and format were clear, interactive, and collaborative to enhance engagement and improve knowledge retention.  Completing CCEI’s online CDA Certification program gives me personal satisfaction and confidence at work and strengthens my professional capabilities. Our center encourages CDA Credentials and incentivizes staff to pursue CDA Certification through pay increases once the program is completed.

I see myself continuing to work with children.  I am in the process of applying for the CDA Credential from the Council for Professional Recognition.  I highly recommend CCEI to anyone in ECE!

April 2023 Newsletter – Employee Relations: Boosting Motivation

Boosting Motivation

Burnout plagues the child care industry across the nation, and improving morale is one way to combat burnout which improves motivation. It is worth noting that when it comes to employee motivation, no two individuals are exactly the same. So it is important to take time to learn what motivates the center staff members.

Motivators can be broken into two main categories:

  • Intrinsic motivation is driven by the personal satisfaction of doing the task (internal). Someone who climbs a mountain or completes a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle does it simply for internal feelings of accomplishment and pride.
    • Other examples of intrinsic motivation include:
    • Positive feelings about contributing to a cause.
    • Making a difference in the lives of others.
    • Collaborating with others.
  • Extrinsic motivation comes from outside (external). It can result in receiving something positive or avoiding something negative. In the workplace, money is the most familiar extrinsic motivator. Rewards and recognition are examples of extrinsic motivation. Fear is another: fear of punishment or losing one′s job.

If you are interested in using a questionnaire to find out more about what motivates your employees, here are some suggested questions from Indeed:

  1. Are any outside factors impacting your motivation or ability to complete your work by deadlines?
  2. What makes you excited to work at this company and complete your tasks?
  3. What improvements would you make about this company or your role?
  4. Which company values do you believe align well with your values?
  5. Do any of your responsibilities feel too difficult or time-consuming to complete?
  6. Do you completely understand your role and what is expected of you?
  7. What inspires you to be successful in your role every day?
  8. What do you enjoy the most about our company culture?
  9. Do you feel comfortable speaking your mind at this company?
  10. What are your career goals? Do you believe we are helping you achieve those goals?
  11. Do you feel I support you as a manager?
  12. What career advice can I give you?

Finding what motivates staff members can help leaders boost morale, build a team environment, and improve communication.


For the main article Employee Relations, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Environment, CLICK HERE

For the article Encouraging Effective Communication, CLICK HERE

For the article Managing Conflict, CLICK HERE


April 2023 Newsletter – Employee Relations: Managing Conflict

Managing Conflict

Conflicts will sometimes arise, even on the most successful teams.

Conflicts can arise for various reasons, including:

  • Poor communication
  • Stress
  • Misunderstandings or lack of knowledge regarding expectations or policies
  • Rumors and gossip
  • Skill deficits and lack of training
  • Differing communication styles or personality conflicts

Most issues can be eased or prevented altogether before they become full-blown conflicts. Workplace conflict can turn a workplace toxic when not handled correctly. It can lead to resentment among staff members and a decrease in the overall function of the center.

UC San Diego recommends these strategies for resolving workplace conflicts:

  1. Talk with the other person: Make sure to find a time and location that works for both of you where you will not be interrupted.
  2. Focus on behavior and events, not on personalities: Make sure to focus on the event and not the person. Try using the phrasing, “When this happens…”
  3. Listen carefully: Use active listening techniques from the previous section to reassure the other person that they are being heard.
  4. Identify points of agreement and disagreement: Pinpoint where you both agree and disagree, then fine-tune until you both agree on the conflict.
  5. Prioritize the areas of conflict: Decide what needs to be resolved for both parties to walk away resolved.
  6. Develop a plan to work on each conflict: If needed, plan follow-up meetings.
  7. Follow through on your plan: Maintain a let’s work it out attitude.
  8. Build on your success: Celebrate progress.


For the main article Employee Relations, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Environment, CLICK HERE

For the article Encouraging Effective Communication, CLICK HERE

For the article Boosting Motivation, CLICK HERE

April 2023 Newsletter – Employee Relations: Encouraging Effective Communication

Encouraging Effective Communication

It is important for all staff members to feel seen and heard for a program to function properly. Each person needs to feel that they have value and that their input is appreciated. Improving staff communication skills can help programs reach this goal.

Penn State offers these tips for speakers:

  • Decide if the purpose of your message is to obtain information, initiate action, or persuade.
  • Clearly state your idea.
  • Consider the environment to maximize understanding.
  • Check your tone and body language. These can easily turn the listener off, which means whatever you are trying to communicate is lost.
  • Verify that the message you intended to convey is the message received by the listener.

Mind Tools shares these active listening techniques for listeners:

  1. Pay attention: The speaker should have your full attention.
  2. Show that you are listening: Use body language to show you are listening.
  3. Provide feedback: Paraphrase what the speaker said to clarify their meaning. Use, “What I hear you saying is…” or “Sounds like you are saying…”
  4. Defer judgment: Do not interrupt.
  5. Respond Appropriately: State your opinions respectfully.

Another strategy that can help improve communication between team members is learning their personality types.

The most common personality type tests are:

Additionally, offers 24 free personality tests for team building.


For the main article Employee Relations, CLICK HERE

For the article Building a Team Environment, CLICK HERE

For the article Managing Conflict, CLICK HERE

For the article Boosting Motivation, CLICK HERE


April 2023 Newsletter – Employee Relations: Building a Team Environment

Building a Team Environment

Child care will always have its challenges, but you will have a much better chance of overcoming those challenges and achieving your loftiest goals if you make it a team effort. A collaborative team environment is essential for the team’s success. While it is impossible to create the perfect environment, it is possible to create a team that is willing and able to tackle the challenges that arise. This is done by instilling a sense of team spirit and shared responsibility.

Individual team members need to:

  • Feel safe and secure.
  • Know that their skills, ideas, and experiences are important and recognized.
  • Understand their job expectations.
  • Feel motivated to achieve personal and team-based goals.
  • Feel empowered to solve problems and bring new ideas to the table.
  • Have a feeling of belonging and a special position on the team.
  • Give and get feedback on their job performance.
  • Laugh and have fun.
  • Be trusted to do their jobs.
  • Hold themselves accountable.

All team members need to:

  • Get to know each other.
  • Work together as well as play together.
  • Learn to trust each other.
  • Complete and take credit for projects together.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management recommends the following practices to create a collaborative team environment:

  • Have a common purpose and goal: A team is defined as a group of people working together toward a common goal, so without a goal, there is no team.
  • Trust each other: Team members must trust each other if they are to work together successfully.
  • Clarify roles: Knowing everyone’s role and being familiar with the responsibility of those roles create efficiency and flexibility.
  • Communicate openly and effectively: Miscommunication can create hard feelings and undermine the success of the team.
  • Appreciate diversity: Team members come from all walks of life with different backgrounds and perspectives.
  • Balance the team’s focus: Sometimes team members get so involved in the process of becoming a team they forget the reason they were made the team in the first place or vice versa.


For the main article Employee Relations, CLICK HERE

For the article Encouraging Effective Communication, CLICK HERE

For the article Managing Conflict, CLICK HERE

For the article Boosting Motivation, CLICK HERE