August 2018 Newsletter – Planning for Family Engagement: Director’s Corner Family Engagement Competencies for Supervisors

As you take steps to enhance the level of family engagement in your program, you may benefit from exploring the relationship based competencies identified by Head Start.  Similar to the self-assessment designed for teachers, the Head Start and Early Head Start Relationship-Based Competencies Professional Development Assessment for Supervisors Who Work with Families contains a list of knowledge, skills and actions for supervisors, including:

  1. POSITIVE, GOAL-ORIENTED RELATIONSHIPS
    • Demonstrates the ability to support and model ethical practice when interacting with staff and families.
    • Helps staff develop meaningful goals that draw on families’ aspirations for themselves and their children.
  2. SELF AWARE AND CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE RELATIONSHIPS
    • Understands the importance of self-care and educates staff on the connection between self-care and the ability to build successful relationships with families and colleagues.
    • Works with program management to assure that language and culture are respected, materials provided to families are culturally and linguistically appropriate, and training to increase cultural responsiveness is provided for staff.
  3. FAMILY WELL-BEING AND FAMILIES AS LEARNERS
    • Demonstrates skills that prevent and resolve conflict amongst staff and/or staff and families.
    • Uses research and family well-being data to drive reflective discussions with staff and discuss alternative courses of action.
  4. PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS AND FAMILIES AS LIFELONG EDUCATORS
    • Acknowledges that families are vital to children’s learning and development, and educates staff on school readiness and the important role families play in achieving this.
    • Works with program management to ensure that families have access to information about their child and that the information is understandable and meaningful.
  5. FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO PEERS AND COMMUNITY
    • Is knowledgeable and ensures that staff are familiar with resources and opportunities available in the community for both staff and families.
    • Participates in the development of systems of communication which ensure staff are aware of community groups, learning, and volunteer opportunities for families.
  6. FAMILY ACCESS TO COMMUNITY RESOURCES
    • Demonstrates leadership and advocacy, particularly as it relates to ensuring that community resources are aligned and available to meet the needs of families.
    • Builds and maintains internal and external professional relationships with community, state, or national groups that will support staff work with families.
  7. COORDINATED, INTEGRATED, AND COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES
    • Has the ability to create a positive organizational culture and climate and engage in effective group processes and dynamics.
    • Has the ability to safeguard practices that protect the privacy and confidentiality of families, enabling colleagues to share only pertinent information to enhance services to families.
  8. DATA DRIVEN SERVICES AND CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
    • Helps staff gain knowledge about current research-based practices and integrate those practices into their work as appropriate.
    • Consults with parents and program management on the effectiveness of policy councils and parent committees.
  9. FOUNDATIONS FOR PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
    • Commits to professional development by setting goals to improve knowledge and understanding of supervision practices.
    • Works on individualized professional development plans and links staff members’ professional goals with related training or educational experiences.

The tool allows you to rate your ability to build relationships with staff and families and support staff as they work with families.  Once you have reflected on the skills included in the assessment, you will have a clearer picture of the professional development path that you need to pursue to build these integral skills.

You can access the full version of the self-assessment document here.

For the main article on Planning for Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Why Focus on Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Goals of Family Engagement Initiatives, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Family Engagement Reflection Tool for Staff, CLICK HERE.

August 2018 Newsletter – Planning for Family Engagement: Family Engagement Reflection Tool for Staff

Are you curious about the skills that are necessary to ensure excellent family engagement?  Head Start has created a list of skills or competencies that lead to strong relationships with families.  There are a number of different competencies broken down into the following categories:

  1. POSITIVE, GOAL-ORIENTED RELATIONSHIPS
    • Engages in mutually respectful goal-oriented partnerships with families to promote parent-child relationships and family wellbeing.
  1. SELF AWARE AND CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE RELATIONSHIPS
    • Respects and responds appropriately to the culture, language, values, and family structures of each family served.
  1. FAMILY WELL-BEING AND FAMILIES AS LEARNERS
    • Supports families’ safety, health, financial stability, life goals, and aspirations.
  1. PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS AND FAMILIES AS LIFELONG EDUCATORS
    • Enhances the parent-child relationship, and supports parents’ role as the first and lifelong educators of their children.
  1. FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO PEERS AND COMMUNITY
    • Facilitates networks and group activities that support families’ strengths, interests, and needs
  1. FAMILY ACCESS TO COMMUNITY RESOURCES
    • Supports families in using community resources that enhance family well-being and children’s learning and development.
  1. COORDINATED, INTEGRATED, AND COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES
    • Acts as a member of a comprehensive services team so that family service activities are coordinated and integrated throughout the program
  1. DATA DRIVEN SERVICES AND CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
    • Collects and analyzes information to find new solutions to challenges as part of ongoing monitoring in order to continuously improve services.
  1. FOUNDATIONS FOR PROFESSIONAL GROWTH
    • Actively participates in opportunities for continuous professional development.

If you are interested in exploring the competencies or completing the self-assessment, you can access the entire document here.

For the main article on Planning for Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Why Focus on Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Goals of Family Engagement Initiatives, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Director’s Corner Family Engagement Competencies for Supervisors, CLICK HERE.

August 2018 Newsletter – Planning for Family Engagement: Goals of Family Engagement Initiatives

When starting a new project or initiative, it is a good idea to create a few goals to help guide your planning. Each new initiative or activity can then be aligned with one or more of the goals to ensure that every effort is focused and purposeful.

In the Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework Toolkit: Maryland’s Vision for Engaging Families with Young Children, the developers identified 7 goals for family engagement initiatives:

  1. Family engagement initiatives should promote family well-being
  2. Family engagement initiatives should promote positive parent – child relationships
  3. Family engagement initiatives should support families as lifelong educators of their children
  4. Family engagement initiatives should support the educational aspirations of parents and families
  5. Family engagement initiatives should support families through the care and education transitions of early childhood
  6. Family engagement initiatives should connect families to their peers and the community
  7. Family engagement initiatives should support the development of families as leaders and advocates

To gather more information about these goals and meaningful ways to achieve them, access the MSDE Family Engagement Toolkit here.

For the main article on Planning for Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Why Focus on Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Family Engagement Reflection Tool for Staff, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Director’s Corner Family Engagement Competencies for Supervisors, CLICK HERE.

August 2018 Newsletter – Planning for Family Engagement: Why Focus on Family Engagement?

Strengthening relationships with families has positive impacts on children, family members, educators, and overall program outcomes.

Families are their children’s first teachers. However, some parents may not be completely confident or have a deep understanding of child development and developmentally appropriate practices that educators receive through schooling and years of experience.  By working together, family members and program staff can create learning environments and expectations (both at home and in the early learning space) that fit the needs of each child in the program.

While family members learn new ways of supporting their young learners, educators strengthen their cultural competence as they interact with diverse families with unique needs.  This means that families are able to capitalize on more learning opportunities at home and teachers develop skills necessary to work effectively with diverse populations.

Teachers act as a link to the community services that families may require.  These range from early intervention programs to medical and social service agencies.  These services provide resources, education, and support that can strengthen children and families.  In some cases, these service providers can partner with programs to deliver services within the child care facility, as is often done with early intervention services.  Staff members gain valuable knowledge and skills through interactions with these special educators and therapists.

Programs benefit from this unified force advocating for high-quality care and living wage initiatives at the state and even national level.  Programs with strong family engagement also benefit from the word of mouth marketing that families provide as they share their positive experiences with other members of the community.

Strong family engagement has been shown to have positive outcomes for children as well.  Researchers have linked higher language acquisition, stronger social emotional skills, and overall improved school readiness to family engagement initiatives.  In older children, family engagement is linked to better attendance and graduation rates.

Early education is the perfect time to create strong relationships with families and help them establish the engagement habits that can follow the child through elementary school and beyond.

For the main article on Planning for Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Goals of Family Engagement Initiatives, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Family Engagement Reflection Tool for Staff, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Director’s Corner Family Engagement Competencies for Supervisors, CLICK HERE.

August 2018 Student Spotlight – Jasharondra Mitchell

My very first job as a teenager was at a local early childhood center. I remember being in awe of the teachers who were able to engage toddlers for a full 8 plus hours daily. They made it look effortless and fun.  Hearing the laughter of children is what drew me to the field. Children’s laughter is therapeutic, as it does not simply indicate happiness. It also signifies safety, security, and normal development. It means that they are learning to feel comfortable in their own skin. Their self-concept and esteem are growing. They are learning that they possess a unique place in the universe.

I absolutely adore activities that are science, creative arts and literacy based. Older toddlers and early preschoolers love cause and effect experiments. They adore looking at nature and asking why questions. Creative arts cause children to think critically about how they perceive the world. The world is colorful, abstract, unaligned and theirs for the taking. Process is more important than finished product. Seeing their proud expressions as they present a finished work is priceless. I have a tendency to incorporate literacy in every aspect of the day. Receptive and expressive language skills can be encouraged throughout the day.

In my opinion, my job is the best job in the world. Each day, I have the opportunity to change a child’s world view, to introduce new concepts and to scaffold knowledge. Additionally, I have the opportunity to help develop the character of children. Human beings are natural change agents, and most of what we become and believe begins in early childhood.

I currently reside in Forest Park, GA.  My free time is full of family, fun, advocacy for women, children and animals. I love studying religions, playing word games, trivia, reading, music and numerous outdoor activities. I love living.

In the future, I’d like to work as an early childhood consultant because the need for quality early childhood professionals is critical. The trainings I’ve received from CCEI have fueled my desire to train other professionals. The trainings have challenged my previously held beliefs and broadened my knowledge base. They are always based on time tested research which ensures relevancy. I would recommend CCEI to anyone interested in the field of early childhood education.

July 2018 Newsletter – Performing Arts in ECE: Infant and Toddler Activity Ideas

Many activities that we naturally do with infants and toddlers incorporate elements of performance art.  Singing songs and dancing are favorite toddler activities. Here are a few specific activities that you may be able to incorporate into your day:

  • Follow the leader – Play different types of music from around the world. Encourage children to move or dance to the music. Give children turns being the leader and encourage other children to follow the child’s movements. You can play this game with an individual infant or toddler as well – copy their movements and see where the game leads.
  • Recycled Material Instruments – Check out this website for ideas for instruments (Avoid materials that may be choking hazards): https://www.howweelearn.com/spectacular-homemade-musical-instruments/
  • Dancing Fast and Slow – Play music with different tempos. Encourage children to move their bodies to match the music.
  • Music painting- Provide fingerpaint or paint and brushes. Play music of different tempos and encourage children to move their fingers or brushes in time with the music.
  • Art Stories – Encourage children to tell you stories about the pictures they create. Write down the stories and attach them to the piece of art.
  • Story Prompts – Show children interesting pictures, either drawings, painting, or actual pictures. Ask the children, “What’s happening in this picture?”
  • Puppet play – Provide a variety of finger and simple hand puppets for children. Model for children how to act out songs and nursery rhymes using the finger puppets.
  • Expand fingerplays- In addition to introducing fingerplays, encourage children to act out fingerplays using their whole bodies, rather than just their fingers.

Check out more ideas on our Pinterest page here!

For the Main Article on Performing Arts in ECE, CLICK HERE.

For Preschool Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For School-Age Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For Director’s Corner Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

 

July 2018 Newsletter – Performing Arts in ECE: Director’s Corner Activity Ideas

As the leader of a team, what you value can trickle down to the rest of your team. Make a commitment to increasing the learning opportunities provided by your program. Help teachers and families understand and buy into this commitment as well.  Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Share the benefits of performing arts with families on a regular basis. Comb through your state’s early learning standards and pinpoint the specific skills that performing arts activities help to develop.
  • Send home performing arts activity ideas. Encourage families to share pictures of themselves engaged in the activity. Ask family members and children to identify what skills they used during the activity.  Post the pictures and lists of skills in a central location for others to appreciate.
  • Share information about community theaters, and performing art center productions in your newsletters.
  • Contact local performing art centers and inquire about their calendar of events, field trip opportunities, and discounted prices for matinee shows.  Ask if the theater offers large group discounted pricing, and if so, organize a family event for a kid-friendly performance.
  • Reach out to performing arts organizations to explore possible collaborations. Many programs have community education programs that you may be able to bring into your program.
  • Incorporate some drama games into your teambuilding events or staff meetings. Be sure to make connections between the skills your employees used, the skills they want their children to learn, and how they can adapt these games for their classrooms.
  • Be sure to set aside a portion of the supply budget for materials needed for performing arts.
  • Check lesson plans for performing arts activities. Coach teachers who may need to stretch their thinking to include more engaging or intentional performing arts activities.

Does your program have an excellent performing arts program?  Share what you have done on our Facebook page here!

For the Main Article on Performing Arts in ECE, CLICK HERE.

For Infant and Toddler Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For Preschool Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For School-Age Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

July 2018 Newsletter – Performing Arts in ECE: Preschool Activity Ideas

Performing arts are usually included in early learning environments.  Perhaps you are looking for some new ideas to expand on what you are currently doing.   Some of these suggestions would be better for small groups and others would work for large group activities.

  • Fabric dancing – Introduce a variety of different fabrics to dance time. Encourage children to use fabrics in different ways and to compare and contrast how the fabrics behave when moved to the music.
  • Adapt popular games – Vary the rules to favorite games to make them more challenging. For example, when playing freeze dance, rather than the children freezing when the music stops, then can freeze when they hear drums playing in the song.  Involve the children in changing up the rules.
  • Role plays – use role-playing to help children create solutions to common preschool challenges such as sharing materials, making friends, and being cooperative. Ask two children to pretend to have a challenging interaction.  Ask them to freeze at the point of conflict, then ask the other children to come up with possible solutions.
  • Act out favorite stories – Introduce a variety of materials that promote acting out familiar stories. Include puppets, felt pieces, dolls, laminated cut-outs of characters, story stones, etc.
  • Emotions Dice – Create a die that contains different emotions on each face. Have children roll the die, then act out the emotion that they roll.  You can add different scenarios and more complex emotions as children develop their skills.  For example, you could add another die with the names of animals on them, which may result in a child acting out an excited elephant or a sad snake.
  • Storytelling and Playacting – Encourage children to make up their own stories and then act them out with a cast of their peers or with puppets. You could use interesting pictures, famous paintings, or random photographs as story prompts.
  • Sound walls – Create a sound wall with recycles pots and pans on the playground. Provide a variety of drumsticks and types of metal for children to explore.
  • Theme or project related drama – Be sure to change up the materials in the dramatic play area to reflect the theme or project that you are exploring with the children. Change the dramatic play area into an airport, animal hospital, or farm.
  • Outdoor theater – Establish a space on your playground for a stage. Provide costumes and props that children can use outside to engage in dramatic play.
  • Art stories – Capture the stories behind children’s artwork. encourage children to act out these stories with their peers. An excellent resource that shows how this can be done in early learning environments is Vivian Gussin Paley’s book, The Boy Who Would be a Helicopter.

Check out more ideas on our Pinterest page here!

For the Main Article on Performing Arts in ECE, CLICK HERE.

For Infant and Toddler Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For School-Age Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For Director’s Corner Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

July 2018 Newsletter – Performing Arts in ECE: School-Age Activity Ideas

Many school age programs are short on time to produce large scale productions, but summer months provide the opportunity to explore performing arts more intensely.  Offer some of these activities to help fill those long summer days:

  • Play Drama Games – This website included many ideas for drama games that may be appropriate for children in your care: http://www.bbbpress.com/dramagames/
  • Put on a play – Adapt a favorite story or write your own play with the children. Take steps to put on the production for the other children in the program, including creating the sets and costumes.  This could be adapted to be a puppet show as well.
  • World Music – Explore instruments and music from around the world. Ask families to share instruments or music from their culture or region of the world.  Encourage children to compare and contrast different music focusing on the sound of the music and the way the music makes them feel.
  • Perform a concert – Introduce songs from around the world to the children. Ask children to teach the other children their favorite songs from their childhood.  Include songs that are sung in different languages.  Put on a concert for the other children in the program.
  • Interpretive Dance – Encourage children to listen carefully to a piece of music and determine the mood of the piece. Ask them to create a dance that matches the mood of the piece of music.  Introduce children to different types of music and dance throughout the year.
  • Mime – Introduce the children to mime and encourage them to create an act for other children. You could introduce this as a game of charades where the children have to guess what the performer is doing or it could be a comedic act.
  • Improvisational theater – The basic concept behind improv is “yes, and,” meaning that performers create an idea, they all agree to act out that idea, and build upon it. Each new idea is agreed to, adapted to, and built upon to create an entertaining performance.
  • Cheers, chants, and raps- Encourage the children to create their own lyrics. If they want, they can also create the music and dance moves to accompany their cheer, chant, or rap.

Check out more ideas on our Pinterest page here!

For the Main Article on Performing Arts in ECE, CLICK HERE.

For Infant and Toddler Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For Preschool Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

For Director’s Corner Activity Ideas, CLICK HERE.

July 2018 Student Spotlight – Cynthia Christmas

I started my career in early childhood education by helping a friend and I just fell in love with it.  My favorite time of the day to spend with my children is circle time and free play.  Watching the children’s growth, the milestones, and my love and passion for the children motivates me to work with children.  I love my job because EVERY DAY is different and EVERY CHILD is DIFFERENT.  I also love seeing their little minds just absorb everything.  I live in Portland, Oregon.  In my free time, I take online classes, read, travel, and go shopping.

I see myself in the near future owning and operating my own child care center.  I have plans on obtaining my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and I plan to continue taking classes with CCEI.  I also have plans to receive my CDA credential.  I would recommend CCEI to EVERYONE.  Anybody who is going to further their education should most definitely enroll with CCEI.  I LOVE CCEI!