December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude: Things to be Grateful For

In his article, The Six Things We All Need to be Thankful For, Glenn Gesher, Ph.D., encourage us to first look to the things closest to us to cultivate gratitude. According to Gesher, focusing on the following things is a great place to begin our gratitude practice:

Food, shelter, and the basics: Instead of focusing on the fact that you don’t live in a mansion, you can focus on the fact that you have a dwelling that protects you from the elements and allows you and your family to gather and sleep safely. It doesn’t matter if you rent or own your home, if it is an apartment or a 3 bedroom home with a yard. You may not have the finest foods in the refrigerator, you may not have a fully stocked pantry, but being thankful for the last meal you ate helps shift the focus toward abundance rather than lack. Showing appreciation for the basics is the very first step in cultivating gratitude.

Family: This includes partners, parents, children, in-laws and other extended family members. Do they always meet all of our expectations? Probably not; but shifting focus away from that and toward what they do provide us is the next step in cultivating gratefulness in our lives. Perhaps they listen to us, or help us get from place to place; they may share vegetables from their garden, or tell us funny stories. Focus on these positive aspects more often that you focus on the frustrating things that family members do and watch your feelings of gratitude soar.

Pets: Take time to appreciate the love and comfort that is so freely given by the animals in your life. Again, pets can cause frustration in our lives from time to time. That frustration can actually act as a signal to intentionally shift your focus to something you appreciate about your pet.

To add to Gesher’s list, you can also find opportunities throughout the day to appreciate some of these things:

  • Your health: Identify elements of your health that serve you well.
  • Your skills and abilities: Find ways to acknowledge how your abilities have helped you get where you are in life.
  • Your friends: How do your friends support you during challenging moments?
  • Your coworkers: Identify the things coworkers do that contribute to the success of the program.
  • Community helpers: Recognize the service of people who dedicate their lives to making sure your community continues to function smoothly.
  • The Internet: List the ways that the internet helps simplify your life and keeps you in contact with friends and loved ones.
  • Modern transportation: Think of the ways that the modes of transportation you use have a positive impact on your life.
  • Indoor plumbing: This may seem like a stretch, but somedays this might be all that you can find to be grateful for… but even on our toughest days, we can all be grateful that we no longer use outhouses!

For the main article Cultivating Gratitude, CLICK HERE

For the article Research on Gratitude – The Benefits, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies for Adults, CLICK HERE

For the article Introducing Gratitude to Children, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude: Research on Gratitude – The Benefits

Social scientists have been interested in the impact of gratitude in the lives of people from around the globe. They have found that gratitude can have positive social, emotional, and health benefits.

Below is a list of just a few of the benefits reported by scientific studies. The list was originally compiled by the folks at Happier Human. Check out the original list for links to the research studies. (LINK TO https://www.happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/)

Studies found that people who practice gratitude:

  • Have increased self esteem
  • Are more optimistic
  • Are kinder
  • Have more friendships that are deeper in nature
  • Feel more relaxed
  • Have happier memories
  • Are less self-centered
  • Show increased productivity at work
  • Demonstrate better decision making skills
  • Experience better sleep
  • Have increased energy
  • Exercise more

One study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that:

“Grateful people report themselves as being less materialist and less envious. In particular, grateful people report being more willing to part with their possessions, more generous with them, less envious of the material wealth of others, less committed to the idea that material wealth brings happiness. Apparently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.”

This finding is especially relevant to the field of early childhood education, where salaries tend to be lower than other fields. It can be easy to slide into negativity due to the financial challenges that being part of this field presents. Cultivating gratitude for the people, events, and opportunities in our lives can help us maintain a positive perspective on our lives.

For the main article Cultivating Gratitude, CLICK HERE

For the article Things to be Grateful For, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies for Adults, CLICK HERE

For the article Introducing Gratitude to Children, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Newsletter – Cultivating Gratitude

Regardless of your religious or cultural background, the end of the year is usually a time for gathering with family and friends, reflecting on the year, and planning for the future. It is also a time of increased stress and pressure to consume; whether that consumption is related to food or the biggest, newest, fastest, most popular toy or gadget. We are bombarded from images in the media and advertising designed to influence our purchasing decisions. We may also feel pressure to meet the perceived expectations of family and friends to bring the best dessert to the party or buy top-of-the-line gifts.

Our consumer society isn’t going to change any time soon. So, how do we combat the pressures that sometimes overshadow the end of the year celebrations and gatherings with friends and family?

The answer is surprisingly, very simple. It is free, accessible to everyone, and readily available day or night. The answer is Gratitude.

In the simplest terms, gratitude is the act of appreciating what is present in your life. Expressing gratitude involves shifting your focus away from what you wish you had and turning your attention to the conditions that serve you in your life. Gratitude is also one of the most important things that you can do in your effort to incorporate self-care into your professional practices.

In this month’s newsletter, we will explore the benefits of gratitude, ways that you can cultivate more gratitude in your life, and how to introduce this concept to the children in your care.

For the article Research on Gratitude – The Benefits, CLICK HERE

For the article Things to be Grateful For, CLICK HERE

For the article Strategies for Adults, CLICK HERE

For the article Introducing Gratitude to Children, CLICK HERE

December 2018 Student Spotlight – Jacqui Syers

My name is Jacqui Syers and I live in Wayland, Michigan.  I began my career in early childhood right after college, 4 years ago.  I was a Spanish teacher for a preschool when I first started my career. It really launched me into my love for teaching.  I am now a Pre-K teacher at Wayland Union- Baker Elementary.

My favorite time of the day to spend with children is during lunch.  They are so full of questions, stories, and eager to show you what they have learned.  Between counting their food, asking what my fourth favorite type of dinosaur is, and telling me all about their time at the park.  My children’s favorite time if the day is recess.  They love the playground.

My motivation comes from my passion of being a self-taught teacher.  I love watching the progress that children make through the year, academically and socially.

What I enjoy most about my job is being able to wake up in the morning and love the fact that I love going to work.  I love my job.  I love that I get to shape the minds of the future every day in my classroom.  I love that they teach me as well, I never stop learning.

In my free time I fish with my husband, John.  I enjoy gardening flowers, vegetables, and fruits.  I love to bake anything, mostly my grandma’s recipes.  I also love to cook Pinterest dinners with my husband.

I participated in the Early Childhood Credential Certification program.  I am so excited to have this certification and continue on with my education.  My coach has continued to push me to do my best.  She always takes time to encourage me and compliment me on my successes.  I feel so blessed in life in general.  I plan to keep in contact with my CCEI coach and taking further education courses for my professional development hours.  In the future I believe that my career will be taking me to get my Masters in Education and becoming a Principal of an Elementary School.

I would recommend CCEI to anyone!  It has been an awesome program for me and helped me learn a lot about my job.  I am fortunate to have a great coach that has helped me through this process.

October 2018 Newsletter – Bullying: Director’s Corner Bullying Prevention Reflection

Here are a few questions the program leaders can ask themselves about the anti-bullying environment they are trying to establish.

Is everyone in your community clear on the definition of bullying?  Conflicts occur between children on a regular basis.  Not every conflict is an instance of bullying.  Remember, children who display bullying behaviors are manipulating the power imbalance that exists between themselves and the other child(ren). Encourage employees to take training on bullying to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Is everyone clear on how to respond to instances of bullying when they occur?  It is good practice to implement conflict resolution activities in the classroom so that children are able to work out their conflicts.  However, bullying is not simply a disagreement and it requires a different response.  Experts recommend that teachers work with a child who bullies separately from the child who is bullied.  This will prevent re-traumatizing the child who was bullied by forcing them to confront the other child when they are not yet ready to do so.

Do all children, families, and employees feel safe in the environment?  Consider the steps that you have taken to communicate that your environment is a safe place.  You might consider adding a question about safety to your customer satisfaction survey or employee performance reviews.  Ensure that teachers are routinely sending messages of safety to children and families.

Do teachers model appropriate behaviors that are consistent with bullying prevention strategies? Take time to reflect on how employees interact with one another and with children. Be sure to address any instances of bullying that occur between staff. Coach employees to utilize their compassion and empathy skills when interacting with children and families.

Would the program benefit from a more formal bullying prevention curriculum? If so, check out the resources provided throughout this newsletter to identify a curriculum that matches the philosophy of your program.

For the Main Article on Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Bullying Warning Signs, CLICK HERE.

For Creating a Learning Environment that Addresses Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Book Lists and Classroom Resources, CLICK HERE.

October 2018 Newsletter – Bullying

According to the CDC, bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.

Most people understand that bullying consists of repeated, aggressive behaviors.  But what exactly does the CDC mean when they say observed of perceived power imbalance?  A child who bullies could use any of the following to gain the upper hand during an interaction with another child:

  • Size or strength
  • Social standing
  • Socioeconomic standing
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Skills and abilities
  • Group size
  • Access to weapons

When developing strategies to address bullying, adults must consider the notion that children are exploring the power that they can wield over other children.

In addition to direct bullying, where a child is confronted face-to-face, indirect bullying also exists.  Examples of indirect bullying include spreading rumors about a child or promoting social isolation.

As children gain more access to technology and media, social media becomes another forum in which bullying can occur.

To learn more about bullying and resources you can access, review the information contained in the links below.

For Bullying Warning Signs, CLICK HERE.

For Creating a Learning Environment that Addresses Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Book Lists and Classroom Resources, CLICK HERE.

For Director’s Corner Bullying Prevention Reflection, CLICK HERE.

October 2018 Student Spotlight – Nancy Ann Villegas

My child care career started when I turned 16.  I lived in Michigan and there was an opening for a teacher aide at Telamon Migrant Head Start.  I really didn’t think I would want to do this as a career because at that time I just wanted to stop picking vegetables in the field for a living.  I started college once I graduated but 3 semesters later dropped out to marry my finance of 2 years.  A divorce and 2 children later, I was still working at Migrant Head Start but wished I had pursued my education to better provide for my children.   In my free time, I coach the All American Blue Jays tee ball team in which my youngest son is the catcher. I sing in a country/oldies band occasionally.

I really enjoyed spending time with the children, seeing them grow and share their smiles. I figured why not get my education in this field. More than anything, I believe giving all children a chance at being happy is the best medicine for both children and teachers. Therefore, this was my chance for making sure I could help children.  I will be completing my Associates Degree in Education this December 2018. I was awarded my CDA by the Council of Professional Recognition in 2012.  I plan to pursue my bachelor’s Degree then my master’s and finally my Doctorate Degree in Education.

I continue to work for Migrant Head Start that sends me to different states in the summer. I have taught in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and now Missouri. I absolutely love what I do. I wanted to be a director for 2 years and decided this year to take this course. I dedicated myself, I worked full-time at the head start, provide for my 2 children 12 and 6 years old. Once my home responsibilities were done, I would do my work from 10pm to 3am and of course weekends. I was tired, I was sleepy, I even cut down on TV but so worth it. Thanks to our Good Lord I finished. I am blessed to say now I am a Director of Migrant Head Start in Lexington, Missouri. The program that prepared me was CCEI. They know how to motivate you. I recommend this program to all who want to make a positive difference in children’s lives. Thank you for your support my children Roland, Nathaniel, Mom and Mrs. Laura Hamilton. You sent me emails to keep me going. Thank you.

October 2018 Newsletter – Bullying: Books Lists and Classroom Resources

There are many resources available online that are free and easily adapted for children of different ages. Teachers can use books as conversation starters, or as inspiration for role plays or theater arts activities.   Below are links to book lists, lesson plan templates, and other activity ideas that can help you create an environment that works to prevent bullying.

For the Main Article on Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Bullying Warning Signs, CLICK HERE.

For Creating a Learning Environment that Addresses Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Director’s Corner Bullying Prevention Reflection, CLICK HERE.

October 2018 Newsletter – Bullying: Creating a Learning Environment that Addresses Bullying

Creating a safe, respectful classroom environment in which all children feel valued is a key recommendation from many experts who develop anti-bullying programs. Below is a list of practices that contribute to an anti-bullying environment. Programs that effectively deal with bullying:

Talk about bullying regularly – Rather than waiting for instances of bullying to occur, successfully programs intentionally talk about bullying to students, parents, community members, and employees. Programs work to share information about the effects of bullying with each of these audiences in an effort to decrease bullying behaviors.

Promote empathy and compassion – Through planned activities and spontaneous responses, teachers work to help all members of the community to interact with one another in an empathetic way.  Teacher use a variety of resources, including children’s literature, to help children practice being compassionate and empathetic.  Members of the program also model these skills for other members of the community.

Communicate the value of similarities and differences – Programs use classroom design, conversations, decorations, toys, and materials to convey messages of worth and value.  These elements are present each and every day, during planned activities and spontaneous interactions.

Empower children – By making sure each child feels empowered programs take steps to decrease bullying behavior, which occurs when there is an imbalance of power between two individuals. Teachers can provide social scripts for students who may need support feeling comfortable speaking up for themselves. Teachers find positive outlets for children who may be tempted to explore their ability to capitalize on power imbalances through bullying behaviors. Teachers also role play steps children can take if they witness an act of bullying, which empowers those children who find themselves in the roe of bystander.

Create trusting relationships with children – When a program teaches children to talk to a trusted adult about being bullies or witnessing bullying, they then must respond when children report these instances.  Tattling is something that early childhood educators often discourage. However, it is important that caregivers be responsive when children share their reports, otherwise they will learn that making reports is pointless.

For the Main Article on Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Bullying Warning Signs, CLICK HERE.

For Book Lists and Classroom Resources, CLICK HERE.

For Director’s Corner Bullying Prevention Reflection, CLICK HERE.

October 2018 Newsletter – Bullying: Bullying Warning Signs

It is important that educators become familiar with the warning signs that a child may be involved in bullying.  Some warning signs that a child is being bullied include:

  • Changes in behavior, eating, and/or sleeping habits
  • Nightmares or difficulty sleeping
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Ripped clothing or lost personal items
  • Physical ailments – headaches, stomach aches, etc.
  • Loss of interest in school and social events
  • Self-harm behaviors

Some signs that a child is bullying other children include:

  • Increase in aggression
  • Possession of extra money or items that do not belong to them
  • Overly concerned about their reputation
  • Competitiveness
  • Blame others for problems and don’t take responsibility for their own actions

You can find out more about warning signs here.

For the Main Article on Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Creating a Learning Environment that Addresses Bullying, CLICK HERE.

For Book Lists and Classroom Resources, CLICK HERE.

For Director’s Corner Bullying Prevention Reflection, CLICK HERE.