July 2020 Newsletter – New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education: Recommendations for Administrators

As leaders of equitable learning environments, administrators must act as role models of behaviors ranging from talking about equity to addressing biased attitudes out-loud.  Contemplating equity can also inform decisions that are made that uphold the value of all children and families.

These decisions can include:

  • The diversity of the staff
  • The way one evaluates and communicates employee performance goals
  • The building of partnerships and the promotion of community agencies
  • The types of family involvement opportunities offered
  • The supplemental classes and activities that are introduced
  • The fieldtrips and visitors that are invited into the program
  • The types of professional development that is arranged for employees
  • The languages spoken throughout the day in the program
  • The curriculum and assessment tools that are used in classrooms
  • The policies and procedures that are in place and how they are enforced
  • The way that money is allocated in the budget

Ultimately, it is the role of directors and administrators to view each family as unique and work with employees to build their capacity to do the same. Work gently, yet firmly, to encourage employees to explore their own biases. There are many resource articles and books listed in this newsletter that you can use to start these conversations with your employees.

Evaluate the program on a regular basis to identify and address practices that may be based on those conscious or unconscious biases. Unfortunately, unconscious biases are challenging to identify because they are not obvious – they are opinions or attitudes that the individual is not aware they are holding on to.

Collaboration and conversation with other members of leadership, mentors, or administrators from different programs can assist with shining a light on practices that are based in bias.

NAEYC’s Position Statement on Advancing Equity on Early Childhood Education provides significant guidance on equitable learning opportunities for young children. The full position statement plus additional guidance can be found at https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements/equity.

For the main article New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Everyone, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; When Building a Community of Learners, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; Working with Families and Engaging in Advocacy, CLICK HERE

July 2020 Newsletter – New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education: Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; Working with Families and Engaging in Advocacy

When working with families, caregivers should honor the opportunity to collaborate with children’s first teachers, their family members. It is important to recognize that the culture within which a child is raised inherently impacts how a child develops and grows.  Parents make decisions for their children based on the cultural norms with which they are most familiar. Caregivers should respect decisions that families make without unjustly judging these decisions based on their own cultural upbringing. At the same time, efforts should be made to have open conversations with families about parenting decisions that have been shown to have negative outcomes for children, such as using spanking as a form of punishment.

It is also important that caregivers recognize and convey value for the many different types of family structures. Something as simple as changing the language used in conversation and on forms from “parents” to “family” can show respect for different family make-ups.  Family make-up is another area where caregivers may have unconscious bias; perhaps viewing families headed by single mothers/fathers differently than they view families made up of the traditional 2-parent household consisting of a mother and a father.

Becoming aware of your biases will empower you to take action to address them, which will allow you to have deeper and more trusting relationships with families and children within your care. It will also position you to become an advocate for the establishment of equitable learning opportunities for all children. Whether you challenge biases as they arise within your home and workplace, or decide to act within your community, this advocacy is essential in the field of ECE.

NAEYC’s Position Statement on Advancing Equity on Early Childhood Education provides significant guidance on equitable learning opportunities for young children. The full position statement plus additional guidance can be found at https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements/equity.

For the main article New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Everyone, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; When Building a Community of Learners, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Administrators, CLICK HERE

July 2020 Newsletter – New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education: Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; When Building a Community of Learners

For teachers and caregivers working directly with children and families, it is important to use an anti-bias approach.  This includes recognizing the uniqueness of children and families. The goal is not to be blind to differences between individuals, but to celebrate those differences.  The goal is to make each and every child and family feel valued for what they contribute to the community of learners, regardless of the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, the disability with which they have been diagnosed, etc.

This work is based in the relationships caregivers establish with children and families. By getting to know the individuals with whom you work, you can begin to understand how culture and socio-economic status play a role in how they move through the world. From this understanding, you can begin to make decisions about which activities, supports, materials, and expectations are appropriate for individual children.  You can also gain a better understanding of the resources that families may require to meet their needs.

It is also important to teach children to identify and fix biased thinking as it arises. For example, if a boy is overheard telling a girl that she is not allowed to play in the block area because she is a girl, the caregiver should be prepared to have a conversation with the children about the assumption they are making based on gender and help them unlearn those generalized ways of thinking about which activities are suitable for boys or girls.

NAEYC’s Position Statement on Advancing Equity on Early Childhood Education provides significant guidance on equitable learning opportunities for young children. The full position statement plus additional guidance can be found at https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements/equity.

For the main article New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Everyone, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; Working with Families and Engaging in Advocacy, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Administrators, CLICK HERE

July 2020 Newsletter – New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education: Recommendations for Everyone

When creating learning environments that are equitable for all, NAEYC recommends that everyone take time to reflect upon and begin to understand their own beliefs and biases.  Bias presents itself as a set of stereotypes or beliefs about a group of people that is formed based on one’s personal experience moving through the world. Bias can exist based on (just to name a few):

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Ability status
  • Social status
  • Economic status

Bias exists when one feels that individuals from one group fall higher or lower on the societal scale. It also presents as the assumptions people make about an individual based on their race, religion, gender, etc.

Because everyone has some type of conscious and/or unconscious biases, it is important for us all to identify them, own them, and work to address the harm that they cause. Through these actions, we can begin to eliminate them.

Learning more about different perspectives and individuals who are different from us is a great place to start this work. It is not easy or comfortable work.  Early childhood educators are encouraged to commit to this ongoing practice of eliminating bias as it appears, on an individual level and systemically. Creating a learning environment steeped in this work is called anti-bias education.

NAEYC’s Position Statement on Advancing Equity on Early Childhood Education provides significant guidance on equitable learning opportunities for young children. The full position statement plus additional guidance can be found at https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements/equity.

For the main article New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; When Building a Community of Learners, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; Working with Families and Engaging in Advocacy, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Administrators, CLICK HERE

July 2020 Newsletter – New NAEYC Position Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education

In 2019, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) published a position statement entitled Advancing Equity is Early Childhood Education. The goal of this position statement is to provide guidance to early childhood professionals as they work to create equitable learning opportunities for all children.

This work includes the recognition of conscious and unconscious bias that individuals hold and the purposeful elimination of those biases.  NAEYC concludes that it is only after doing so that early childhood educators will be able to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all children and families, regardless of their abilities, cultural backgrounds, or personal identities.

In addition to individual biases, NAEYC also acknowledges systems of discrimination and oppression that have been woven into the fabric of our society. It is important to reflect upon and take action to undo these systems that stand in the way of equity in early learning environments.

The position statement is supported by years of research and a wealth of supplemental resources.  It has been endorsed by over 100 organizations, all of which are dedicated to equity in early childhood education.

NAEYC’s Position Statement on Advancing Equity on Early Childhood Education provides significant guidance on equitable learning opportunities for young children. The full position statement plus additional guidance can be found at https://www.naeyc.org/resources/position-statements/equity.

Let’s highlight some of the recommended practices from the position statement.

For the article Recommendations for Everyone, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; When Building a Community of Learners, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Early Childhood Educators; Working with Families and Engaging in Advocacy, CLICK HERE

For the article Recommendations for Administrators, CLICK HERE

July 2020 Student Spotlight – Joy Ellis McLemore

In seven decades of living a charmed life, the best times I’ve known included children, my own and dozens of others.  Though near the top of my small-city class in eastern Texas, my greatest ambitions included a large family, say five or six children. Having adored my large family of dolls, I also dressed up cats, rabbits, and stuffed animals in order to play mother and teacher.  These two roles, though financially frustrating in the US, reap the greatest reward: shaping human beings toward building a better world.  Every hour spent in this endeavor also shapes a mother’s and a teacher’s soul.

A watershed period in my own life came with the birth of my older sister’s son when I was fifteen. As a self-centered adolescent, I had a new doll, a living, breathing, growing human.  Half a century later he’s still one of my best connections. Since our family had cattle ranches, I didn’t even mind his dirty diapers.  Gardening’s still fun; all that fertilizer just takes me back to the barn climbing on bales of hay.  Oh, the adventures David and I had!  Reading stories to him in funny, varied voices prepared me for reading stories to my own three children years later.   One day we were left alone at nap time, and I was left to shelter him in my arms on the couch.  I went to sleep too.  Awakening with him still safe in my arms let me know that being a mother topped my list of life’s priorities. A little time on the stage in our community didn’t hurt either. Part of my volunteer work included children’s theater, entertaining several thousand children a year.  The children took our glass beads for diamonds, believed me to be a real witch, thought I could spin straw into gold…children have the most wonderful capacity to believe.  Those of us who still have our little child within our hearts are lucky indeed.

I currently live in Columbus, OH and hold a doctorate (Ed.D.) from the University of Northern Colorado and came back to an early love, my own church’s  kindergarten, after a full career teaching literature at the university level. A fan of Maria Montessori’s approach to childhood learning when my own three offspring were young, I have greatly enjoyed the less-stressful but equally rewarding five years of teaching Spanish and soccer to preschoolers in recent years.  Reading stories, and telling them, to small children delights me.  I never know where I’m headed when starting out on an old classic (‘The Three Bears’ remain my favorite with those great voices) but can keep young audiences entertained with my variations.  At age 74, I have decided to retire again because of the COVID-19 pandemic and my grown children’s concern for my safety.

When all three of my preschoolers became eligible for a neat new Montessori school in town, I applied for my first real job and went to school with them three mornings a week.  That first year I decided that I was “called” to teach.  Therefore, I began a two-day a week commute to a university where I received my master’s. It took two summers of taking the children with me and living in an apartment, but we did it.  All four of us loved those summers.  From there our journeys took us to Colorado to ski and of course attend graduate school.  I loved graduate school.  In no particular hurry the doctorate happened, and I was launched into a college-teaching career. Three travel-study courses took me to Europe, French kindergartens, and much observing and picture-taking of children. Then the university decided that because of my having three children and degrees in literature, I should teach children’s literature.  A new world opened for me.  The books that I’ve read since then, including the new ones discovered in the past five years teaching preschoolers at my church’s school, have enriched my own life beyond belief.  Both Theodore Giesel (Dr Seuss) and CS Lewis have said, in different words, that anything worth reading to a five-year-old is still worth reading as an adult.  I agree.  Although there’s a lot of “trash” out there in the world, even in ‘kiddie lit’, there’s also ample treasure.  A critical educator can find the themes that we treasure  from the classics in children’s literature as well.  Before regular school years, young ones can encounter art appreciation, literary appreciation, VALUES that this troubled world needs to affirm again and again.  And the earlier the better.

St. Francis’ prayer is my favorite. Having had the privilege of studying Italian, I translated the prayer into my own favorite words, including both “channel” and “instrument.”  A teacher gets to be both– one passive, one active. Leaving first person in the objective case, we become God’s agents instead of our own.  At our best we can work small, but divine miracles with children.  Such magic surely comes from beyond ourselves.

I believe any of the seventeen courses that I’ve taken through CCEI would prove helpful to workers in child care.  A “greenie” tree-hugger ever since our Colorado days, I chose CCEI110B:  Outdoor Safety in the Early Childhood Setting and learned that even drawstring hoods can be dangerous.  Also, both classes on Eco-Friendly Child Care (ADM 100, 101) reinforced my belief that we must always remember safety first.  Our little ones’ curiosity and adventurous nature may delight us, but there’s danger even on the walls indoors and in the plants on the playground. We can afford no lapses in our vigilance.

Loving Math, I enjoyed CCEI430, realizing once more that concepts related to higher mathematics begin on playgrounds and even the floor with shapes, sorting, counting colors and more.  ADM 108 and 109 confirmed that some of us, while lacking administrative skill and interest, can be natural mentors.  I loved the idea of being a catalyst towards adults’ as well as children’s perpetual progress–without even having to give a grade! (Remember that I’ve taught legions of adults.  The hardest part is the grading.)  CUR 111 and pieces of other courses expanded my understanding of the need for not just accepting, but embracing, diversity in our classrooms, for all ages.  Having grown up in a small, sheltered town in eastern Texas I look back over the decades and wonder why we weren’t bored silly.  Everybody tried to be just alike it seemed to me. Believing that variety truly is the spice of life, I have loved the multicultural metropolis of Columbus, Ohio.

Loose Parts: Incorporating Found Objects and Open-Ended Materials into the Classroom is my favorite course taken with ChildCare Education Institute.  A good planet is hard to find, even harder to reach, so we’d all better get busier with our ecological interests.  In “Loose Parts” there appeared a pod shop full of loose parts–containers, lids, cloth, paper, bottles, popsicle sticks, lots of usable trash (and more)– that creative little ones could help organize on shelves, then use on rainy days.  Having their own little warehouse combined with grocery store (make believe) and arts/science museum appeals to the child in even this grandmother. Another of CCEI’s courses featured some delightful art work created from playground finds: leaves, limbs, sticks, mulch, inedible berries, bark, dirt. . . . Add shells, buttons, and pipe cleaners to the supplies and who knows what they could imagine?  Wouldn’t hurt teachers either, once initial inventory and organization are established in good boxes, take-out food containers and the like. Everybody at preschool could love rainy days, even the teachers!

June 2020 Student Spotlight – Bertha Fernandez

I’m from San Angelo, Texas.  I became a teacher in 2001 and I absolutely loved it.  My favorite time of the day to spend time with my students is in the morning after meet and greet and breakfast when the teaching begins.  Seeing their faces light up as we are learning together just brightens up my day!!

My favorite activity is teaching sign language and Spanish.  When the students respond back with the correct response or sign it is very rewarding.  What I enjoy the most about teaching is watching my students progress and actually learn.

In my free time, I look up new ways and new things to teach my students to keep it exciting for them and myself.  I’m always looking for new things to study especially in education.  My future is looking good.  I’m in the process of opening up my very own preschool.

The program that I participated in with ChildCare Education Institute was the Texas Child Care Administration & Business Practices Certificate 100 clock hours and a few courses that will help during the COVID-19 pandemic.  I will always look to CCEI courses to further my education and for meeting annual state professional development requirements.  I will definitely continue my education with CCEI and I absolutely recommend CCEI!  It has been an amazing learning experience for me!

June 2020 Newsletter – Preparing Children and Families for the Return to Care: Establishing and Communicating Policies

Prior to reopening, administrators will need to establish a number of new policies and procedures. The CDC is recommending that all children be screened each day before being allowed to enter the facility.  Your program will need to determine the best way to conduct those screenings.  You will also need to have the protective gear and equipment on hand to meet new requirements.

There is much to consider before opening to the public.  Use local, state, and national recommendations to create these new policies and procedures. Here is a link to the CDC recommendations. You will also need to consult your local health department for additional recommendations specific to your region.

Your planning should address:

  • How you will respond when a child becomes ill while in your program
  • How you will respond when an adult becomes ill while in your program
  • Staffing to cover teachers who become ill
  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing measures
  • Appropriate social distancing
  • Changes to daily routines
  • Changes to teacher ratios
  • How you will enforce new policies

Use a variety of methods (in writing, in person and electronic) to share new procedures and policies with families.  Be sure to do so well in advance of reopening so that families have time to prepare themselves and their children for the changes in routine.

For the main article Preparing Children and Families for the Return to Care, CLICK HERE

For the article Preparing for New Routines and Separation Anxiety, CLICK HERE

For the article Talking to Children about COVID-19, CLICK HERE

For the article Managing Adult Emotions, CLICK HERE

June 2020 Newsletter – Preparing Children and Families for the Return to Care: Managing Adult Emotions

Many adults are going through this pandemic with a great amount of stress on their shoulders.  Around the world, people are experiencing feelings of fear and apprehension. As our nation reopens, family members may be feeling forced to go back to work. Others are eager get back to work, needing to reestablish their income.  And still others are feeling like this has all been a waste of time. Be prepared for the fact that some of these strong emotions are going to be expressed in your presence.

Maintain professionalism when engaging with families and coworkers:

  • Establish firm boundaries. If another adult tries to pull you into a conversation about the politics surrounding the shut-down, simply acknowledge that this is a challenging time and remind them that your focus needs to be on the children.
  • Do not engage in disagreements about COVID-19. If you disagree with the person’s statement, you could respond by saying, “That is an interesting point of view.” or “I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective.” Remember, you don’t need to attend every disagreement you are invited to!
  • Consider sharing informative articles and resources with families and coworkers. Here are a few possible sources of reliable information:
    • Local health departments
    • gov websites
    • CDC
    • AAP

For the main article Preparing Children and Families for the Return to Care, CLICK HERE

For the article Preparing for New Routines and Separation Anxiety, CLICK HERE

For the article Talking to Children about COVID-19, CLICK HERE

For the article Establishing and Communicating Policies, CLICK HERE

June 2020 Newsletter – Preparing Children and Families for the Return to Care: Talking to Children about COVID-19

Chances are, at some point during this pandemic, you have been confused with all of the information out there about COVID-19.  Recommendations and safety practices change weekly as scientists and health department officials learn more about the virus. If you are confused, you can bet that children are confused as well.  Not only have children’s routines been turned upside down, they are likely overhearing bits and pieces of adult conversations about the pandemic.

Children are probably hearing new vocabulary words, paired with the underlying anxiety family members are expressing related to health and economic concerns.  It is important to talk honestly with children about COVID-19, using words that they can understand. Be prepared to repeat yourself often as children process the information you are sharing. This article discusses why it is important to discuss COVID-19 with young children and natural, child-led ways to do so.

It is a good idea to get in contact with families prior to reopening to find out how they have been talking to their children about COVID-19.  What words and phrases are they using? Share resources with families to help them with these conversations.

Children’s literature can also help start conversations with children about current events.  Here is a list of children’s books recommended by Bank Street College of Education.  For older children, one expert recommends encouraging children to read science fiction and fantasy books as a strategy for developing resilience. Characters in science fiction and fantasy novels often find themselves in situations where they have to survive, and eventually thrive, in extremely challenging conditions.  Sound familiar?

For the main article Preparing Children and Families for the Return to Care, CLICK HERE

For the article Preparing for New Routines and Separation Anxiety, CLICK HERE

For the article Managing Adult Emotions, CLICK HERE

For the article Establishing and Communicating Policies, CLICK HERE