Music Monday

  • Introduce a brand new type of music to the children. Explore the different music from around the globe.   Ask parents for suggestions.
  • Invite a local musician or performer in to put on a show for children and families. Encourage children to create a list of questions to ask the performer about their work.  You may be able to identify family members who have musical talents to spend time with the children instead of a paid performer.

Tasty Tuesday

  • Sponsor a food drive for a local shelter or food bank. Encourage children to create marketing materials for the project and take part in collecting and dropping off the food at the end of the event.
  • Plant some seeds. Start your garden indoors by planting seeds, then transferring them to the outdoor garden once the conditions are suitable.

Work Together Wednesday

  • Encourage children to work together to create a nature collection. Provide cookie sheets and ask groups of children to fill the cookie sheets with items from nature that they find on the playground.  Introduce new vocabulary words and math concepts related to the objects that children find.
  • Invite family members, community leaders, etc. to come talk with the children about the importance of working together. Brainstorms a list of ways that children can work together in the classroom.  Create a class book about all the ways that children can work together.  Encourage children to illustrate and bind the book for the library.

Artsy Thursday

  • Create marketing materials for quality early learning experiences. Have children create posters, brochures, commercials, or advertisements highlighting all the things they have learned in the program.  Send these materials to elected officials at all levels of government.  Ask for their commitment to support early learning in their funding decisions.
  • Decorate sidewalks near your program with chalk decorations and WOYC facts.

Family Friday

  • Invite families to volunteer. Not all families will be able to participate and not everyone will participate in the same way. Find out from family members how they might be able to donate some of their time to your program.  If you don’t have a volunteer program, you could officially launch it on this day.
  • Share learning with families.  Talk with children about what they want to be when they grow up.  Work with individual children to think of things they are learning today that will they will also use in their job in the future.  Create a representation of this information to share with families.  Copies can also be shared with elected officials in your community or in social media (with parent permission).

Music Monday

  • Introduce different musical instruments. Encourage children to explore the instruments and start a marching band that travels around the facility.
  • Sing in the park. Take a walk in the community and sing out loud.  Share copies of the resource 10 Ways Babies Learn When We Sing to Them with the people you encounter on your walk.

Tasty Tuesday

  • Encourage children to take part in making their own snacks. Take pictures of children making their own snack and share with families or on social media (with parent permission).  List the skills that children are learning as they make their own snack.
  • Introduce new vocabulary related to the foods children are eating. Talk about the colors, textures, and tastes of the foods included in the meals. Document the new vocabulary words and share them with parents so they can use them at home.

Work Together Wednesday

  • Create a Cooperation Castle. Use a large cardboard box to create a play space. Encourage children to work together to paint and decorate the play space.
  • Invite families to participate in an activity that they work on with their child. It could be a project related to art, music, science, or construction.

Artsy Thursday

  • Invite members of the community to visit your program and work on a community mural with the children. Point out the skills that children are learning as they engage in the art project.  Use language from your state’s early learning standards so community members can clearly see the connection between the activity and children’s learning.
  • Create mini paintings. Place facts about the benefits of open ended art activities on the back of each painting. Share the paintings with families or take them on a walk to pass out to members of your community.

Family Friday

  • Throw a surprise party for families. Welcome each family member who comes to pick up their child with an enthusiastic “Surprise!”  Have healthy snacks available and invite families to join you for an afternoon celebration.
  • Make Week of the Young Child 2018 Provide a variety of materials needed for homemade books that families can create with their children. Have pictures of children engaged in learning activities, sample works of art, and dictations of children’s language available. Encourage families to bring in images of their own to add to the book.

Each year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) organizes a celebration focused on early childhood education, children, families, and teachers.  They have named the event the Week of the Young ChildTM (WOYC). The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the importance of high quality early learning experiences and garner support from stakeholders, both within and outside of the early learning community.

It is a time to share the valuable short and long term contributions that early learning provides to our society and economy.  While the event is organized and sponsored by NAEYC, it is implemented in individual communities in ways that reflect the unique nature of the programs and communities that participate.

Mark your calendar; this year’s WOYC event will be held April 16-20.

NAEYC has created suggested themes for each day of the event:

  • April 16 – Music Monday
  • April 17 – Tasty Tuesday
  • April 18 – Work Together Wednesday
  • April 19 – Artsy Thursday
  • April 20 – Family Friday

More information and suggested activities related to these themes can be found here and here.  Many of the resources can be shared with parents, members of the community, or local and state government officials. It’s important to start planning early, especially if you plan to invite government officials to participate in your event.  You want to get on their calendars as early as possible.

The suggested themes are just that, suggestions – you can plan different activities that highlight the important work that you are doing in your program.  Check out the links to the different age groups for ideas that might be appropriate for the children in your program.

Whether you currently have children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or any other disability, enrolled in your program, UDL is designed to help all learners succeed.  Some of the language included in UDL is geared more toward elementary, middle, and high school learners.  However, many of the recommendations contained in UDL align with the principles of Developmentally Appropriate Practice, with which early learning professionals should already be familiar.

It is recommended that educators become familiar with both UDL and DAP, in order to create appropriate learning environments for all children.

Access the UDL Guidelines at http://udlguidelines.cast.org/.  Spend time familiarizing yourself with the different sections in the easy to read guide.  Once you have wrapped your mind around the recommendations, reflect on specific areas of your program in relation to the UDL guidelines.  This reflection will help you create a plan of action that will fit the unique needs of your program.

Consider the following list of recommendations for ways you can support your staff as they incorporate UDL in your program environment:

  • Introduce the UDL guidelines using a professional development community approach – create a plan to introduce one new guideline each month. Share information with teachers during a staff meeting and ask them to reflect and create a plan of action to incorporate the recommendations related to the guideline into their daily practice throughout the month. Establish a plan to check in throughout the month to support teachers and create accountability. Share successes and challenges at the next staff meeting before introducing the next guideline, or determine that more work needs to be done with the original guideline and rework the plans.
  • Assign each teaching team a different UDL guideline and ask them to create a presentation to share with the rest of the group during a staff meeting or professional development day.
  • Look for training opportunities that exist in your community. Arrange for a speaker to conduct professional development for your staff. Or look for online training options such as the special needs courses on CCEI, which contain many of the recommendations included in the UDL Guidelines.
  • Once the UDL Guidelines have been introduced, create a checklist for each area. You can start with the recommendations shared in the sections of this newsletter. Ask staff to conduct self-assessments using the checklists.  Work with each team to create a plan of action that will help them include more elements of UDL into their environments.

To view the article on Engagement – The Why of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Representation – The What of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Action and Expression – The How of Learning, click here.

Have you had success in implementing elements of UDL into your program?  Share your experience with us on Facebook here.

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

“Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know.”

Whether it is due to a diagnosed disability or other learning difference, children explore and demonstrate learning in many different ways. Here are a few specific recommendations that are included in UDL that can be applied to early learning environments:

  • Incorporate any adaptive equipment used by students; work with parents and therapists to become familiar with these supports
  • Allow ample time for children to complete work; some children may require extended periods of time
  • Allow children to return to their work throughout the day; use a “Save Shelf” to store ongoing work
  • Allow options for children to respond to questions by pointing or otherwise indicating their choices
  • Allow children to show what they know about concepts using preferred materials (Blocks, paint, drawings, photography, manipulatives, storytelling, dramatic play, etc.)
  • Incorporate various technology as a means for children to express their knowledge (videos, computer drawings, music producing programs, PowerPoint, graphing, storyboards, etc.)
  • Encourage children to use manipulatives to express their understanding of math concepts
  • Allow children to express their knowledge independently or within small groups
  • Provide chances for children to share what they know one-on-one with teachers, in front of small groups, or in front of the large group; not every child will perform well in each of these situations
  • Help children determine the next steps in their learning, based on their current level of knowledge/skill
  • Help children create plans for accomplishing tasks; introduce strategy and creative thinking in order to solve problems
  • Help children organize information using a variety of visual organizers
  • Ask open ended questions to promote deeper thinking about concepts and self-reflection

Adapted from: CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

To view the article on Engagement – The Why of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Representation – The What of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL, click here.

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them.”

The fact that children take in and process information differently means that teachers must be prepared to present information in different ways for different learners. Here are a few specific recommendations that are included in UDL that can be applied to early learning environments:

  • Provide materials in different formats – large print books, audiobooks, tactile experiences, digital materials, etc.
  • Present information in graphs, charts, and illustrations for visual learners
  • Utilize American Sign Language to communicate with students and enhance language development
  • Incorporate visual/picture cues with instructions and daily routines
  • Introduce new words before using them in lessons
  • Explain unfamiliar or confusing language such as puns, jargon, and idioms
  • Connect new information with prior knowledge and experiences
  • Conduct picture walks through books prior to reading to identify main ideas of the story
  • Provide manipulatives when working on math concepts
  • Connect math concepts to everyday experiences such as meal times and how many children are in line for the playground
  • Create connections between key words and concepts for English Language Learners
  • Incorporate concepts across all learning centers, including outdoor learning
  • Teach children memory tricks
  • Provide many opportunities for exploration and repetition

Adapted from: CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

To view the article on Engagement – The Why of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Representation – The How of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL, click here.

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

“…learners differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn.”

Individual children have unique learning styles and approaches to learning. The goal of implementing UDL is to ensure that teachers explore many different ways of engaging learners. Here are a few specific recommendations that are included in UDL that can be applied to early learning environments:

  • Provide opportunities to work in groups and independently
  • Allow children to choose the materials and the length of time they engage with those materials (within the confines of the daily routine) -in other words, do not rotate children through learning centers
  • Incorporate children’s interest into curriculum activities and themes
  • Find out how children like to be rewarded and recognized and use these unique methods of acknowledgement
  • Incorporate concepts and materials that are relevant to children’s experiences and culture
  • Provide opportunity for children to engage in hands-on exploration
  • Encourage children to reflect on content and learning
  • Gather children’s feeling about their learning experiences
  • Promote creativity and open-ended activities that do not rely on an adult model
  • Create a safe space where children can take risks and make mistakes without punishment
  • Create a predictable routine to provide a sense of security in the environment; limit unpredictability such as loud noises and unannounced contact
  • Provide time and space for children to take breaks away from the larger group
  • Allow for alternative seating in group settings
  • Help children set achievable goals and make plans to reach those goals
  • Display goals and refer to them often to track progress with children
  • Include children in the assessment process and in evaluating their work
  • Provide a variety of materials that challenge children in different ways and on different levels
  • Plan for variations to activities and work in small groups to support individual learners
  • Adapt activities for children who experience sensory aversions to materials – for example, provide the option to use a brush or sponge during finger painting activities
  • Recognize effort and improvement over final product
  • Encourage children to contribute to elements of the daily routine
  • Teach children strategies that support social interactions
  • Encourage children to offer help and ask for help
  • Engage children to create behavioral expectations for the classroom, fieldtrips, etc.
  • Plan for how you will recognize children for completing tasks on a regular basis
  • Provide specific recognition that acknowledges children’s efforts
  • Recognize children for sticking with challenging tasks, regardless of the outcome
  • Teach children coping and self-calming strategies such as deep breathing, asking for help, or taking a break (before they need to use them)

Adapted from: CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

To view the article on Representation – The What of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Action and Expression – The How of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL, click here.

As you may know, April is Autism Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 68 school aged children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the United States. Many of these children receive a diagnosis during the early learning years and participate in child care programs on a regular basis. It is vital that teachers and caregivers understand the characteristics of autism, as well as teaching strategies that can support children’s success in the learning environment.

Some of the most common characteristics displayed by children with ASD are contained within the diagnostic criteria. The American Psychiatric Association′s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition has recently been updated to include the following ASD diagnostic criteria:

Persistent defects in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts including:

  • Lack of social-emotional reciprocity – a child may not engage in turn-taking conversations, share interests & emotions, or initiate/respond during social interactions
  • Lack of nonverbal communication – a child may avoid eye contact, misunderstand gestures and facial expressions, not be able to interpret the body language of others, or not use facial expressions or other forms of nonverbal communication themselves
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships – a child may have difficulty making friends, adjusting to different social situations, or showing interest in peers

Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities; demonstrated by at least 2 of the following:

  • Repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech – a child may wave their hands in front of their face, line up toys, spin wheels of a truck, or repeat words or phrases out of context
  • Insistence on sameness – a child may insist on a consistent routine, use the same greeting each day, eat only one type of food, or show distress if changes are made to the norm
  • Intense and fixed interests or focus – a child interested in trains may not show interest in any other topic, may discuss trains with others regardless of their interest in trains, or may become extremely attached to /focused on a particular object
  • May seek out, show sensitivity to, or avoid sensory input – a child may seek out or act to avoid sensations, smells, sounds, or visual stimuli

If you have experience working with children with autism, you may have noticed that each child is unique in how these characteristics manifest and impact children’s ability to interact and function in a classroom environment. (For even more information about ASD, consider taking the CCEI Course SPN101: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders.)

This means that we need to develop an approach to teaching that is intentional and focused on supporting the success of every unique learner in the environment. Having a clear understanding of what is known as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be extremely beneficial. UDL was developed by a group of researchers at the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) in 1984. Please visit www.cast.org to see all of the resources they have developed over the years.

The 3 main principles of UDL are based on brain research and the process of learning, which is unique to each child:

  • Engagement – The Why of learning; refers to the interests, motivation, effort, persistence, and self-regulation of learners
  • Representation – The What of learning; refers to the perception and comprehension of language, symbols, and concepts
  • Action and Expression – The How of learning; refers to the students’ expression of what they’ve learned

The UDL Guidelines (available at http://udlguidelines.cast.org/) provide specific strategies that teachers can incorporate into activities and the learning environment. These strategies are designed to enhance the learning experience for all learners, including those with diagnosed disabilities, such as ASD.

We will explore these three areas of UDL in the next sections of the April 2018 newsletter below:

To view the article on Engagement – The Why of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Representation – The What of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Action and Expression – The How of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL, click here.

I was a single mother of three young boys, two of which were in daycare and had two to three years left in early childcare before they could get into public schools. At this time I was starting my career as a real estate agent for charter schools. I had been doing site selection and micro school development consulting. As I gained more knowledge of America’s Public School System and the lack of attention and funding for Early Childcare, I saw an opportunity to spend more time with my children while developing a micro program that would allow me to incorporate things I longed to see in the early childcare industry. As I contemplated my path, the only things that came to mind were, “why can’t my children benefit from having mommy be their teacher?” So in November of 2015 I opened EDUS Primary Prep in South Austin.

My favorite time of day to spend with the children is Table Time. This is during lunch time when children are eating and getting the lesson of the day. Whether it’s about the new leaves on the trees or the new decorations we have up to celebrate the new season. It is our one on one time, where the kids learn good table manners, family bonding time, and whatever they wish to know about. I think the children truly enjoy table time as much as I do. They always seem to be truly involved and attentive.

My motivation to work with children surrounds our world and its future. If we can’t foster healthy beginnings then no one will have a chance. I enjoy seeing my work through their work. When a child starts displaying the behaviors or lessons we have shown and taught them, it fills my heart. I would like to expand in the future. I feel I have created something unique and special that has shown significant success from the children who have moved on to primary school. I will do this until I am able to retire but for now this is where I belong.

I currently live in Austin, TX.  In my free time, I spend every chance I get with my three sons, whether it be coaching their t-ball games or golfing together. They are so much fun and my world would be boring without them.

I just renewed my CDA with coursework from CCEI.  I plan on pursuing my education in the future and through educational programs like those that CCEI has to offer it has allowed me the opportunity to be a mom, business owner and student.   Because of CCEI’s convenience and flexibility, I feel I can do any future continuing education courses or certifications through them.  The staff, including my Education Coach, Laura, have always shown and displayed a true concern for my progress and success in the program. This truly is motivating and goes a long way.  I have always appreciated this program and will continue to support and refer the programs CCEI has to offer to others.

ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI) specializes in providing online training and certificates, child care registry development, and administrative solutions for the early care and education industry. As a leading distance training provider in child care, CCEI offers professionals 100+ online child care training courses in English and Spanish to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start requirements. Coursework offered by CCEI is used to meet the education needs of practitioners in a range of settings, including family child care, preschool, prekindergarten, childcare centers, and more. In addition to professional development, CCEI offers online certificate programs that help meet the coursework requirements for national credentials, such as the Child Development Associate, Online Director Credentials, Early Childhood Credential, renewals, custom programs, and other continuing education options.

Currently, CCEI has provided over Director Credentials hours of online coursework and has graduated more than [studentsGraduated] early childhood professionals from certificate programs. CCEI also maintains excellent student satisfaction scores and 99.4% of students say they would recommend CCEI to others.

CCEI coursework is delivered through an online learning management system that provides students with user-friendly technology, an engaging distance learning environment, and certificates of documentation available immediately upon completion. The system’s self-paced format automatically saves the last point of completion within a course, allowing users to resume where they left off upon login. The 24/7/365 accessibility helps students enjoy a life-work balance while conveniently continuing their education. Coursework is competency-based, which facilitates information retention, and each successfully completed clock hour awards 0.1 IACET Continuing Education Unit (CEU).

Online child care training courses offered by CCEI cover topics applicable to the child care industry. Course categories include Environments and Curriculum, Health and Safety, family and Parenting, Nutrition and Food Service, Child Development, Inclusion and Special Needs, Guidance and Discipline, Administration and Management, and many others.

CCEI provides several online certificate program options that meet the training requirements of the Council for Professional Recognition’s Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential and CDA Renewal. Additionally, CCEI provides the Online Early Childhood Credential (ECC), Online Director Credentials, several state-specific certificate programs, such as the Florida Child Care Professional’s Credential (FCCPC), Texas Director’s Certificate, and several others. Programs are designed around the diverse needs of students. While certificate programs of study are self-paced, CCEI provides access to an Education Coach and customer support services to deliver assistance, encouragement, and feedback throughout the duration of the program.

Custom course hosting, research-based Pinnacle Curriculum®, and the child care workforce management solution RegistryOne® are also offered through CCEI. For additional information, please call 1.800.499.9907.