November 2019 Student Spotlight – Donna Ogonowski

My journey in education began when I was influenced to go to college to get a degree in education by receiving a scholarship for my first year.  I dropped out of college in my third year to marry the love of my life and moved across the country leaving all I knew, thank you US Navy.  I never returned to college to finish my degree, sometimes I’ve regretted that, but God places us in locations and orchestrates events to help us learn who we should become and where we should serve.  I began working at a child care center over 26 years ago primarily working with three-year-olds. This is one of the best things that has happened to me.

My current position is Administrator for a child development center.  I, of course, stay very busy. I love every minute of it though. There are times I sneak back into the class and just hang out with the students to have fun doing messy art or playing on the playground. I have the best of both worlds.

I love working with the three- and four-year-olds the most. They are so expressive and creative.  I love this age group as they learn new concepts, and how things work, and how to create wonderful works of art. Messy art and outside play are my favorite times of the day.

What keeps me motivated to work with children is watching the students learn new concepts. I am so proud of all they learn. I have worked in the same facility for 26 years and have watched my three-year-old students grow and some have even chosen this as their career and it’s so fun to have a student now become an employee.

I live in the Northern Virginia area and it’s a very busy lifestyle here with so many activities to get involved with. I don’t have a lot of free time, but I do enjoy counted cross stitch as a stress reliever and I’m very involved in my church and teach a great group of ladies. I am also involved in a Christian Women’s Network locally that serves and ministers to women in the community.

I learned about CCEI in the summer of 2018 and signed up our school for the center program and myself for a certificate program.  I have just completed the coursework and now applying for the credentialing from the CDA Council.  I love that the employees at my center can complete the courses they need at their pace while meeting requirements for annual training for state requirements. It’s a wonderful option for us.

I highly recommend CCEI to all that I know.  It is a wonderful program that has such flexibility. It’s a work at your own pace online study program, but there is the personal touch of the Education Coaches and other personnel that is very supportive of your growth. They have really helped me as I completed my coursework.

November 2019 Newsletter – Promoting Mathematical Thinking: Families

Because math is everywhere, families have an opportunity to reinforce math learning at home. Create resources for families that communicate the importance of early math skills. Give a list of math language that families should incorporate into their conversations with children. Be sure to explain the nature of early math and developmentally appropriate practices.  We don’t want families to feel like they have to use flashcards or worksheets to teach their children math.  There are plenty of fun ways to play with math throughout the day. You can also:

  • Establish a lending library of books that contain opportunities to discuss math at home.  Attach an index card with guidelines for parents to follow before, during, and after reading the book.
  • Create math backpacks that focus on a particular math skill. Allow families to sign out a back pack for the evening or the weekend.  Provide detailed instructions for the playful nature of the activity and describe the importance of the skill.  Help families decide which back pack to take home based on what you know about the child’s skills and abilities. 
  • Give math homework. Again, this should not be anything paper and pencil related. Ask families and children to count how many turns it takes to get from the school to home.  How many stop signs or traffic lights are between the school and home?
  • Help families see how they can incorporate math language and skills into running errands.  Create a fact sheet that explains the math language the can be used at the grocery store, for instance.  You can also include ideas for how families can keep children engaged during trips to the grocery store by incorporating a few math activities. 
  • Host a family math night.  Prepare a number of different activities and games that incorporate math skills and language.  Be a role model for families so they can hear the math language you use and take those ideas home with them.
  • Be sure to document children’s learning and display evidence of learning in a place families will see when they visit the program.  You may be able to use social media, bulletin boards, daily sheets, conferences, or newsletters to highlight math learning. 

How do you encourage families to engage in math language and exploration with their children? Tell us on Facebook.

For the main article Promoting Mathematical Thinking, CLICK HERE

For the article Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Preschoolers, CLICK HERE

For the article Kindergarten & School-Agers, CLICK HERE

November 2019 Newsletter – Promoting Mathematical Thinking: Kindergarten & School-Agers

School-Agers are already receiving math instruction during their school hours.  They don’t necessarily need additional direct instruction while they are in their before/afterschool program.  However, you can incorporate mathematical thinking into fun activities that engage children’s creativity and personal interests.  Take a look at the K-12 learning standards in your state to remind yourself of the math skills children are expected to know at different grade levels, and then try to find fun ways to incorporate some of those skills into your routine.

  • Estimation/prediction stations – each week, set up a station where children can estimate or make predictions. 
    • Number of items in a jar
    • Time it will take for snow to melt
    • How tall the sunflowers will grow
  • Conduct a variety of science experiments.  Ask children to make predictions, observations, and collect their data.  Then help them create visual representations of their data.
  • There are so many opportunities to use math in cooking with children.  Be sure to include cooking in your program. You could also incorporate other activities such as sewing, knitting, or crocheting.
  • Create weekly survey questions that children can ask other students in the program, teachers, or their family members.  Again, help children determine the best way to gather the data and represent in a visual way.
  • Encourage children to create their own board games. They can create the materials for the game and teach their peers how to play.
  • Plan a fund-raiser.  Include the children in planning from start to finish, including budgeting, purchasing and making materials, promoting the fundraiser, etc.

What fun and engaging ways do you reinforce math language and learning with school-agers? Tell us on our Facebook page now!

For the main article Promoting Mathematical Thinking, CLICK HERE

For the article Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Prechoolers, CLICK HERE

For the article Families, CLICK HERE

November 2019 Newsletter – Promoting Mathematical Thinking: Preschoolers

Preschoolers continue to act like scientists as they explore the environment and materials available for learning. Continue to use a plethora (a math term meaning a large or excessive amount) of math language in your day to day conversations with children.  There are other ways you can boost the opportunity to use and think about mathematical concepts throughout the daily routine. 

  • Clean up is a sorting and classifying activity. Talk with children about the attributes of the items they are cleaning up. Discuss why some blocks go in one spot while others are located in a different container.  Place outlines of the shapes of blocks on shelves so children can practice matching blocks to their outlines.
  • Encourage children to add complexity to their building projects- younger children typically build tall straight towers.  Introduce children to images of sprawling and intricate castles and famous architecture.
  • Measure the weather. Move beyond dressing the weather bear.  Track temperatures over a week, month, and year.  Measure rainfall or snowfall, determine the direction of the wind, and explore shadows. Find ways to visually represent your data.  Ask children what they notice about the data they are collecting.
  • Measure everything.  You don’t have to assign this as a task, simply provide rulers, measuring tapes, spoons, cups, scales, a balance, etc. in different learning centers and encourage children to explore attributes of the object they encounter.
  • Use a variety of shapes to build new shapes.  A simple example is the way that two squares placed side-by-side create a rectangle.  What happens when you combine triangles? Or hexagons?
  • Explore characteristics of shapes.  Introduce more advanced shapes such as arches, cones, crescents, octagons, semi-circles, trapezoids, cubes, cylinders, and pyramids (3-D), etc.  Have manipulatives available for this exploration; stay away from worksheets at this time.
  • Introduce and use more-advanced directional language such as horizontal, vertical, diagonal, etc.
  • Play with symmetry and asymmetry. Use paint, loose parts, mirrors, etc. to create different forms.
  • Time is a pretty abstract concept for children of this age.  Rather than focusing on teaching how to tell time, focus on helping children learn the sequence of the routine.  Use language such as before, after, first, next, later, etc. 
  • Play active games incorporate mathematical concepts such as sorting materials, scavenger hunts (find shapes,  things that are 2 inches long, etc.), or obstacle courses using directional language. Also think about creating math games based on children’s favorite books and stories.

This list just scrapes the surface of all of the possibilities for exploring math with preschoolers.  Add your favorite ideas on our Facebook page.

For the main article Promoting Mathematical Thinking, CLICK HERE

For the article Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Kindergarten & School-Agers, CLICK HERE

For the article Families, CLICK HERE

November 2019 Newsletter – Promoting Mathematical Thinking: Infants & Toddlers

Young children are natural explorers and observers.  During the first 3 years of life, children need the adults around them to help them make connections between what they observe and the language used to describe those experiences.  As with most development skills, early mathematical thinking is integrated into lots of other areas of development, for example – language skills. 

Use rich math language when talking to children.  They will not understand every word you use, but in order to learn the words, they have to hear them over and over again.  Try to use math language to create context or explain something about the child’s experience. Here are a few examples:

  • After feeding an infant, say “You must have been hungry, you drank your whole bottle,” or “You must not be very hungry right now, you only drank half of your bottle.”
  • When dressing a child say, “Your socks have a pattern – they are red/blue/red/blue,” or “Let’s put one leg inside the right pant leg, and the other leg in the left pant leg.”
  • While children are playing say, “You are sitting next to, or beside, Jamel,” or “You just placed the green block on top of the yellow one and the blue block is on the bottom.”
  • During circle time say, “Our group has 8 children in it today,” or “Usually, we have 8 children in our group, but David is sick today, so there are only 7 children here.” 
  • Before an art activity say, “Julianna, if you would like to paint, come sit at the blue square table,” or “Today we will be using wide and thin brushes to paint different kinds of lines.”  
  • When a child arrives say, “Your book bag is heavy today, there are many items inside it,” or “Good morning Theo, you are the first child to arrive today. I am glad you are here.”  
  • On a walk say, “Look at these two trees, one is very tall and the other one is short,” or “Can you put your hand around this small tree trunk? How many children would it take to give the big tree a hug?”
  • While children are exploring the sensory table say, “How many cups of sand fit into the red bowl?” or “Who has the biggest pile of sand in front of them?”
  • During clean-up time say, “Zoe, please pick up the circles and Max is going to pick up the squares,” or “Let’s see how fast you can put all of the blocks into the basket.”  

Sing songs about itsy-bitsy spiders and great big bears.  Include clapping to the rhythm of the song or poems. Songs like the Hokey Pokey can be modified to be easier for young children to understand.  You can switch out left and right for one arm and the other arm, for example.

Be sure to provide a routine that allows children time to explore the environment, experiment, and make observations.  More importantly, provide a wide variety of safe and interesting materials for children to explore. 

Go to our Facebook page to tell us how you incorporate math language into your conversations with infants and toddlers.

For the main article Promoting Mathematical Thinking, CLICK HERE

For the article Preschoolers, CLICK HERE

For the article Kindergarten and School-Agers, CLICK HERE

For the article For Families, CLICK HERE

November 2019 Newsletter – Promoting Mathematical Thinking

Math is one of the most important elements of our lives.  Math helps us understand and organize the world around us.  Math is much more than being able to count, add, and subtract – it is an approach to life and a way of thinking about the world.

Some important skills that fall into the category of early childhood mathematical thinking include:

  • Observing and understanding how things are related
  • Comparing/contrasting
  • Understanding size and shape
  • Systems of measurement (height, weight, volume, speed, time, etc.)
  • Number sense, one-one correspondence, counting, etc.
  • Understanding symbols
  • Spatial awareness
  • Classifying, ordering, patterning, sequencing, etc.
  • Organizing data, charting, graphing, etc.
  • Problem solving, reasoning, estimating, predicting, calculating, etc.
  • Understanding whole/part – foundation of understanding fractions

Mathematical thinking offers us a way to solve a variety of everyday problems and it is used in virtually every profession imaginable.  Math skills have also been found, in studies, to be a better predictor of school success than even early literacy skills. 

This does not mean that early childhood educators should begin teaching math skills that are traditionally taught to older children.  We don’t need to invest in math workbooks or abandon what we know about child development and developmentally appropriate practices. 

We should, however, become more thoughtful and intentional about how we integrate math and promote mathematical thinking in our learning environments. In some cases that might include introducing different activities and in other cases, it might simply mean adjusting the language we use when interacting with children and families. 

This month, we will explore a number of ways that early childhood educators can lay the groundwork for strong math skills by helping children develop their mathematical thinking.

For the article Infants and Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Preschoolers, CLICK HERE

For the article Kindergarten and School-agers, CLICK HERE

For the article For Families, CLICK HERE

October 2019 Student Spotlight – Debra Green

I began my career in early childhood in 1999 and started out as a cook. A couple of years later, I became an infant teacher. I love taking care of children, watching them grow up and go through the development stages of their life. Children develop physically, socially, and emotionally so fast.

I discovered CCEI in June 2018. It was such as positive experience for me. I had help when I needed it and encouragement to get me through. That made a huge difference to me. I used CCEI’s coursework to receive my Infant-Toddler CDA Certificate.

I enjoy active times with the infants in my care because it gives me time to have one-on-one with them. Music time is the best because they like to bounce and move around.  And my older infants like to clap their hands and smile. My reward is seeing them smile. I am motivated by the changes I see in my infants daily. Providing a safe and nurturing environment is very important to me. The infants in my care are our future. My job is to be able to give them all the love and time I can while they are in my care.

I live in Fort Worth, TX. In my free time I love shopping, crossword puzzles, and spending time with my husband, children and grandchildren as much as I can.

My current position as a Lead Infant Teacher keeps me very busy. I plan to keep my CDA current and continue my professional development journey. I also participate in conferences and workshops to stay active with my training.

I want to thank my CCEI Education Coach for being there for me. I couldn’t have done it without her. She consistently responded to my requests when I needed her and she always showed me examples to help work through any issues I was experiencing. And more importantly, at the end of every call, she always gave me positive reassurance to say “you can do this!”. That told me that she truly cares and wants to see me excel. I am always talking about my coach to other teachers. Because of my coach and the high quality of the coursework, I am always highly referring CCEI to other ECE professionals for all their training needs.

October 2019 Newsletter – Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment: Standards Related to Administration

Standard Food and Nutrition Service Policies and Plans has been updated to include the following element:

Early care and education programs should have food handling, feeding, and written nutrition policies and plans under the direction of the administration that address food allergies and special dietary restrictions, including family/cultural food preferences.

To learn about the other items that are required in a written nutrition plan, visit

Updates to Standard Emergency and Evacuation Drills/Exercise Policy include the following language:

Early care and education programs should have a written policy documenting that emergency drills or exercises are regularly practiced for geographically appropriate emergencies, natural disasters and violent/hostile intruder events.

a. Evacuation emergencies (e.g., fires, floods, gas leaks, chemical spills)

b. Shelter-in-place emergencies (e.g., tornados, earthquakes, threatening person outside)

c. Lockdown emergencies (e.g., violent/hostile intruders, threatening/dangerous animals)

More information about Standard can be found here:

Language has been updated in Standard Evacuation and Shelter-In-Place Drill Records. Here is some of that language:

Records of the practiced emergency drill procedures and reviewed emergency policies should be completed regularly and kept on file. Staff training in proper record-keeping should be conducted annually.

Administrators should check with their state regulations and licensing requirements to adhere to the frequency of emergency drills and keep a record of the date, time, and name of the individual drill reviewer when each of the following drills are performed.

For the main article Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Medical/Emergency Response, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Interactions with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Health and Safety, CLICK HERE

October 2019 Newsletter – Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment: Standards Related to Health and Safety

An update to Standard Situations that Require Hand Hygiene includes the following language:

Hand hygiene after diaper changing must always be performed. Hand hygiene before changing diapers is required only if the staff member’s hands have been contaminated since the last time the staff member practiced hand hygiene.

Note: your state licensing regulations may require handwashing prior to diapering. Always follow the strongest rule.

The following language has been revised from previous versions of Standard Inclusion/Exclusion/Dismissal of Children: Fever without any signs or symptoms of illness in infants and children who are older than 4 months regardless of whether acetaminophen or ibuprofen was given. For this purpose, fever is defined as temperature above 101°F (38.3°C) by any method. These temperature readings do not require adjustment for the location where they are made. They are simply reported with the temperature and the location, as in “101°F in the armpit/axilla.”

Transportation Standards

Updated language to standard Availability and Use of a Telephone or Wireless Communication Device includes:

While operating a motor vehicle to transport children, drivers should not use wireless communication devices when the vehicle is in motion. Drivers should never send and receive text messages, use social media, or use other mobile applications (“apps”)—with the exception of the use of a navigational or global positioning system device—while transporting children.

Standard Route to Emergency Medical Services has been updated to include the following information:

Drivers who transport children to or from a child care program should keep written directions and a physical map in the transport vehicle providing the quickest route to the nearest emergency medical facility. Driving children is a significant responsibility. Transportation technicians and drivers need to be prepared and think quickly on their feet in the event of a medical emergency while on route.1 At any point during the route, should an emergency arise, drivers are equipped with the quickest route for obtaining any needed medical attention.

For the main article Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Medical/Emergency Response, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Interactions with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Administration, CLICK HERE

October 2019 Newsletter – Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment: Standards Related to Interactions with Children

Updates to Standard Personal Caregiver/Teacher Relationships for Infants and Toddlers include:

Child–caregiver relationships based on high-quality care are central to brain development, emotional regulation, and overall learning. The facility should encourage practices of continuity of care that give infants and toddlers the added benefit of the same caregiver for the first three years of life of the child or during the time of enrollment. The facility should limit the number of caregivers/teachers who interact with any one infant or toddler.


The facility’s touch policy should be direct in addressing that children may be touched when it is appropriate for, respectful to, and safe for the child. Caregivers/teachers should respect the wishes of children, regardless of their age, for physical contact and their comfort or discomfort with it. Caregivers/teachers should avoid even “friendly” contact (e.g., touching the shoulder or arm) with a child if the child expresses that he or she is uncomfortable.

The updated version of Caring for Our Children also provides specific guidance on methods of supervising children:

  • Set Up the Environment – Caregivers/teachers set up the environment so that they can supervise children and be accessible at all times.
  • Position Staff – Caregivers/teachers carefully plan where they will position themselves in the environment to prevent children from harm. 
  • Scan and Count – Caregivers/teachers are always able to account for the children in their care
  • Listen – Specific sounds or the absence of them may signify reason for concern.
  • Anticipate Children’s Behavior – Caregivers/teachers use what they know about each child’s individual interests and skills to predict what he/she will do. 
  • Engage and Redirect – Caregivers/teachers use what they know about each child’s individual needs and development to offer support. 

You can read even more information about methods for supervising children here:

For the main article Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Medical/Emergency Response, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Health and Safety, CLICK HERE

For the article Standards Related to Administration, CLICK HERE