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A New Perspective

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 08:00

Introductions are always a good place to start!

Hi, I’m Katie!

I wanted to use my first blog on the TLC page as a place to introduce myself. I live in Ralston, Nebraska with my husband Kent, our son Weston (7 months old) and our dog, Tilly.  I have been in the field of Early Childhood Education, working as a teacher with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and children with special needs, as a director and for the state licensing office.  I now work for Nebraska Extension with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as an Extension Educator.  My job is to utilize research based information to develop programs and help connect people to the resources they need relating to caring for children ages 0 – 8.  My extensive background in working with young children gives me a unique perspective on the experiences I now have as a mother.  In addition to my roles as mom, wife, and Extension Educator, I also am working on a PhD in early childhood at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and try to get out to a local stable to ride horses in my ‘spare’ time!  Oh, and Kent and I are remodeling our 1922 home in Ralston!  So we have a LOT going on, and it’s a blast J.

I am really looking forward to sharing stories about Weston as he learns and grows that are both from a child development perspective, and from the ‘mom’ perspective!  For now, I will leave you with his most recent picture, his ‘7 month’ photo!  Yes, he’s got lots of healthy baby rolls.

Image source: Katherine Krause

KATHERINE KRAUSE, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and Lisa Poppe, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 


Applying Developmentally Appropriate Practices: Book Club Reflections

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 08:47

For the past several months, I have been participating in a book club with other colleagues reading Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children Ages Birth through Age 8.  Each week we have explored a chapter and asked ourselves the following questions:

Image source: Reposted with permission  www.littleravenheart.com/
  • What does the author(s) tell us about this particular period of development?
  • How do we see that period of development in action with young children?
  • What can we do in our role as adult educators to support those who are working directly with young children and families regarding DAP?
  • How do we lift up the work others are doing in order to spotlight educators in the field using developmentally appropriate practices?
    • A great example of this is Jaclynn Foged, Carrie Gottschalk and Dr. Holly Hatton Bowers’ work with child care directors.

We recently finished the book reviewing some of the Frequently Asked Questions when the following question bubbled up during our discussion:

How do you support an individual, particularly an early care and education teacher who finds themselves grappling with the implementation of developmentally appropriate practices with children?

Our team had a long pause, longer than usual.  Then we began sharing examples, some that we did when we first started teaching.  I shared that when I was teaching mobile infants and toddlers, I would try and make them sit during a circle time activity which involved reading long books.  I could not figure out why they would not sit and listen to the story.  As I continued taking additional coursework and specialized in infant-toddler development, I realized that mobile infants and toddlers developmentally needed to manipulate materials using all of their senses, and have the freedom to move about their environment.  As their caregiver and educator, it was my responsibility to respect their need to play.  It was my responsibility to have appropriate and reasonable expectations for what they could do, and be patient when they asserted their independence.  During those early years of teaching, I learned the art of balancing, like a mobile hanging above a crib, staying sturdy at the center as the children spun around me.  Sometimes I turned the dial to set the pace, other times they bounced around to their own tune, and every once in a while, the batteries just ran out, and the mobile stopped.  It was during those times I learned how to be patient and use those moments as opportunities to take a step back and observe the situation for what it was, with no judgment.

Patience.  Accountability. Reasonable Expectations.

It seems we are back at the first part of the question.  What do you do?

During our call, we agreed going back to the position statement which first, and foremost states no harm to children*.  From there, the rest of the document and principles serve as a foundation early childhood professionals can use to brainstorm and create strategies on how to begin the conversation around developmentally appropriate practices.

There are several resources, but there is one document I tend to utilize to when reflection and guidance are needed.  It was one of the first items I received during orientation when I became an early care and education teacher.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children Code of Ethical Conduct has several position statements that “offers guidelines for responsible behavior and sets forth a common basis for resolving the principal ethical dilemmas encountered in early childhood care and education.”

Personally, as an adult educator, I found the supplemental document Early Childhood Adult Educators helpful and I’ve included three insights I gained directly from the position statement:

  1. To adopt an attitude of continual learning and growth.
  2. It is important that any information shared, or teaching strategies recommended are based on present and accurate research when it comes to early childhood education, child development and adult learning theory.
  3. When early childhood educators present information that is contrary to your own beliefs and knowledge, acknowledge the different perspectives and if appropriate explore your own biases.

I invite you to review each of the position statements suitable for your particular role. There are statements for educators, administrators, and adult educators.  I hope that you find it as beneficial as I did and can utilize it to address any issues you may potentially experience in your work with children, families, and adult learners.

* If you are a early childhood educator and have questions regarding mandatory reporting laws, click here.

LINDA REDDISH, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Jaclynn Foged, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and Dr. Holly Hatton Bowers, Assistant Professor of Child, Youth, and Family Studies and Early Childhood Extension Specialist Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 

 

 

 


Road Scholars: My Reflections

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 08:44

 

Last week, I had an opportunity to participate in a three-day tour that began in Douglas County and ended in Scottsbluff.  During the tour, I had an opportunity to visit the Raising Nebraska exhibit, the West Central Research and Extension Center, Cedar Point Biological Station, Lake McConaughy Visitor/Water Interpretive Center, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Western Sugar Factory, Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory and the Wagonhammer Education Center.

As a state coordinator, I wanted to take this trip for several reasons. First, as new Extension Educator personnel I wanted to learn more about UNL Extension facilities throughout the state.  Second, I thought it was important to see local communities, and learn more about the strengths and challenges each faced.  Finally, as an early childhood professional, I also wanted to network and meet innovative people in the region outside of my field’s discipline.

My favorite location was the Raising Nebraska site.  If you’d like to visit the Raising Nebraska exhibit please join me August 26th, 2017 and The Learning Child team in the Raising Nebraska exhibit at the Presentation Stage during the State Fair! – http://www.statefair.org

Our team will have an interactive hands-on activity based on Head To Toe by Eric Carle.  We will have Kids Yoga and other physical activity games for children to participate in.

 Raising Nebraska

I learned this exhibit was a collaborative effort between three major partners including the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and the Nebraska State Fair. The goal of this exhibit was designed to help visitors understand the larger picture of what it takes to plan, prepare, and present food.  It was the first time I learned about how a pivot works and the various innovations currently at work in our state addressing economic impact and local hunger. Before leaving, I took a quick detour outside to see the natural playground exhibit. Check out some of the photos to explore the outside play spaces.

 

 

Image Source: Linda Reddish

LINDA REDDISH, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Sarah M Roberts, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


Code-a-pillar! Where Development Comes into Play

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 14:18

 

Preschool teachers, imagine turning your room into an obstacle course and preschoolers working together for 45 minutes problem solving and programming.

The Code-a-pillar inspires little learners to be big thinkers by encouraging preschoolers to arrange and rearrange the easy-to-connect segments. This learning toy helps children to learn that the arrows indicate different directions. This is a perfect time to introduce the difference between right from left by using the color-coordinated segments that hook together with USB ports. Every time a child changes or rearranges the segments the child is working on learning directions, how to problem solve, planning and sequencing and critical thinking.

Teaching preschoolers about coding and the binary system foster curiosity, experimentation and problem-solving. Allowing the children to become engineers and robots all at once allows a child to work in a fantasy world while learning. The binary system has only two numbers so preschoolers can learn and be successful almost immediately. The number 1 stands for stepping forward and 0 stands for turning right. While one preschooler writes his code on the whiteboard, another preschooler follows the directions given through the coding. The children learn very fast that they can navigate the entire room using only the two codes.

Bringing the preschooler’s attention back to the Code-a-pillar is very easy. Their little brains are ready to arrange and rearrange the segments to get their Code-a-pillar to a particular place in the classroom. They soon realize adjustments (problem-solving) are needed so they can navigate around the tables and chairs in the classroom.

Once the preschoolers understand what a sequence is or program a path, the sky’s the limit. Thinking as they figure out how to get the Code-a-pillar to go wherever they want.

Coding is an excellent way to supports children’s curiosity and develop children’s inquiry skills by asking children to brainstorm solutions, or use open-ended questions like: How did you get that caterpillar to move?

Using open ended questions encourages children to listen, reflect, and then respond back how they made decisions or describe the actions they took to reach a specific goal.  This is an important scientific skill to learn and develop because it will allow children at an early age to practice using the scientific method! (Predict, Collect Data, Describe, and Reach a Conclusion, then… TRY AGAIN!)

As an early childhood educator, and interested in learning more strategies and specific ways to increase children’s scientific knowledge, please join us for an Early Learning Guidelines training on the Science Domain.  For more information visit: Fall 2017 ELG Classes

Image Source: Linda Reddish

RUTH VONDERHOE, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Sarah Paulos, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and Linda Reddish, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


Mindful and Reflective Early Childhood Educators

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 14:36

Image source: Vicki Jedlicka

Early childhood educators work with our youngest children, 6 weeks to age 8 and often work with a vulnerable population.  Sometimes, educators are asked to work long days making minimum wage and some have more than one job.   An early childhood educator is consistently busy throughout the day, attending to children’s learning, managing the classroom and managing daily stress.  Educators benefit from practicing mindfulness and reflection.

What is being mindful?

What is being mindful?  The Association for Mindfulness in Education describes mindfulness as “…paying attention here and now with kindness and curiosity.  Mindfulness reconnects students to their five senses, bringing them into a moment to moment awareness of themselves and their surroundings”.  Dr. Amy Saltzman defines mindfulness as paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity. Simply, it is the awareness and acceptance of the things that happen in the present moment.

What is a mindful early childhood educator?  Practicing mindfulness is one way for educators to maintain their well-being while nurturing the children in their care. It is also a way to foster more enjoyment when teaching. Research finds that early childhood educators using mindfulness benefits children by increasing their kindness, enhancing their self-regulation, increasing their working memory, and decreasing their anxiety.

What is Reflection?

Reflection is the capacity to recognize the thoughts, feelings and intentions in ourselves and others.  If we think about this definition, why would it be important for childcare teachers and directors to be reflective?   Jeree Pawl gives us the answer “…it is not possible to work on behalf of human beings to try to help them without having powerful feelings aroused in yourself.”  The work our early childhood educators do naturally elicits many emotions throughout the day.

I was lucky enough to land a spot as a toddler teacher right out of college.  The first emotion I felt daily as I walked into my classroom of ten children 14 months – 24 months was happiness.  Still today, I miss the children racing to hug me and welcome me to the classroom.  I often experienced many other emotions on the job.  Joy, reading a book for the hundredth time to 4 children all scrambling for a spot on my lap.  Sorrow, when I learned a child was leaving our program.  Disappointment, when we could not go outside due to the weather. Frustration, when I was not able to reach a parent of an ill child.  Delight, when a child learned to do something new (like put on their coat or use a cup without a lid).

The bottom line is that without being reflective, I would not have been able to see each situation for what it was – a learning experience.  I learned so much from each interaction I had with my co-workers, the children and their families.  I wanted my classroom and our program to have positive outcomes for the children and families who attended.  The gift of time for reflection is valuable and can help us make better choices if we find ourselves in a similar situation in the future.

Local Management Required Trainings

Image Source: Jaci Foged

Earlier this spring I had the opportunity to work with 18 childcare directors who were participating in a mandatory management training.  These trainings were delivered twice a month over a period of four months for a total of 45 hours.

I was interested to learn if infusing brief guided reflection discussions and mindfulness meditations into the existing training would be both feasible and accepted.  I decided to reach out to Holly Hatton-Bowers, an Assistant Professor and Early Childhood Extension Specialist and Carrie Gottschalk, an Extension Educator in Early Childhood. Both have experience in mindfulness and reflection. We came together and talked about simple strategies for integrating these practices into the training.

During the first session of the training participants received an overview of reflective practice, mindfulness, the benefits of using mindfulness both personally and professionally, and were invited to participate in a guided meditation.  Participants were also invited to use a mindfulness meditation app (calm app) for at least 10 minutes 5 days a week.

Before and after the training the group of directors were asked to provide their feedback and share their experiences learning about mindfulness, practicing meditations and participating in guided reflection groups. Directors were asked, “What does mindfulness mean to you?” Reflection and being present were the most commonly stated words. (See Figure 1)

Figure 1. What does mindfulness mean to you?

“Being present” was the second concept most used to describe what mindfulness meant to the group of directors.  When we are working with young children (or parenting children), it can be easy to become distracted with a task you need to complete which may make you miss something wonderful the children are doing.  We need to take time to stop and delight in their learning.  Just the other day my 8 year old was swimming.  We have struggled for several years now to get her to go underwater due to a crazy case of swimmers ear and an aversion to ear drops.  I was elated when she said she wanted to jump in the water.  Then, she started doing cannonballs.  Next, she wanted to dive into the water!  Each time she experienced success she would swim over to me, put her arms around my neck and squeeze so hard.  She whispered, “I love you mom” and then would swim away declaring that this was the “best day ever”.  I was so happy I decided to be present, not only at the pool, but in the water to celebrate in her joy.  I encourage you all to be present; you never know what you might miss.

Although our intervention with the directors consisted of only 20 minutes of the 6-hour training day, I was pleased to learn that 91% of the childcare directors agreed that they liked participating in the mindfulness meditations.  One director stated, “I like relaxing and getting in the moment with my thoughts.”  Another said, “It was hard to meditate.  But I like how mindfulness has made me more aware of the present.”   Eighty-two (82%) percent of the childcare directors agreed the activities for reflecting were helpful.  A director said, “It made me think about the way I feel and emotions and I typically don’t take the time to do that.”  Additionally, 64% of participants reported they use mindfulness in their daily life.  One participant stated, “I’ve always practiced yoga.  But now I take more time for myself and notice the waves of my emotions.”

New Childcare Program Focuses on Mindfulness and Reflection

The integration of guided reflection, learning about mindfulness and practicing guided meditations was well-received by the childcare directors. I am excited to now be piloting a program with Hatton-Bowers and Gottschalk termed Cultivating Healthy Intentional Mindful Educators (CHIME) with approximately 40 early childhood teachers. This twelve-week program meets every other week for an hour in small groups where we practice guided reflections, meditations, and learn different strategies for practicing mindfulness in the early childhood classroom. One week we practiced mindful listening while listening to sounds of different items being shaken in a plastic egg.

Moving Forward

So, where do we go from here?  How do we develop more mindful early childhood educators?

Let’s start by setting a goal for being intentional.  An intention is a guide for how one wants to live.  For example, “Today I intend to be more positive” or “Today I intend to be more present during drop off” You can set your intention at any time throughout the day, just be sure to check in with yourself and reflect on if you are following through with your intention.

I think we can all agree that we want mindful educators working with our youngest population.

JACI FOGED, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Dr. Holly Hatton-Bowers, Assistant Professor in Child, Youth, and Family Studies and Early Childhood Extension Specialist , The Learning Child and Carrie Gottschalk, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 

 


The Heart of a Parent

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 16:12

This is not the typical blog that I write for The Learning Child, but I feel that all parents will benefit from hearing this message from the heart of a parent.

The school where my child attends hosted an all school assembly this month on bullying and cyber bulling. Parents and community members were invited to attend, so I took the opportunity to go and hear firsthand what the message was about.  I truly wish every parent could have heard this message from Mark and Joni Adler as they spoke from their hearts to tell the story of their son Reid, who was a victim of cyber bullying.

The Adlers introduced us to their family and told how they always strived to keep their children at the center of their lives. They described Reid as a good kid who followed the rules and befriended everyone he met.  He was the kid who always looked for the next fun thing to do.  Nevertheless, the Adlers also told us that Reid had made a mistake when he was in middle school.  Reid took a photo of himself on his phone that should never have been taken, and sent it to a girl. Reid never told anyone about this mistake, however, the girl ended up using the photo to blackmail and manipulate Reid, threatening to make it public.  The manipulation went on in such a way that Reid ended up taking his own life.

Reid Adler was close to his parents, and they could see that something was bothering their son. They opened the door for him to tell what was bothering him, and they had even sought counseling together after Reid had told his mom that sometimes he wondered if life was worth it. Still, Reid could not bear the thought of embarrassing his parents, friends and community, and did not tell about the photograph.

Suicide, according to the Child Safety network is the second leading cause of death of people age 15-24 in Nebraska. Mark and Joni Adler told me that they talk to student groups as Reid’s parents, not suicide prevention experts.  They hope to share this story to arm students with what to do if they are ever in a similar situation.

Joni told the students that day that we all make mistakes. Even your parents, who might seem to have it together now, have made mistakes.  She said she believes that we all experience different things so that we can learn from one another. As Reid’s mother, she gave this advice to our kids that day; do not take inappropriate pictures.  She also told them to follow their intuitions.  She said that she feels that Reid probably had that moment before he hit send that he second-guessed sending the photo.  She asked students to trust their intuitions, as they are usually what tells us that something is not right.

Joni’s next piece of advice was for students to pause before they say something, ask themselves, is it truthful and is it helpful. If the answer is no, then don’t say it. In her words, “Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is to shut our mouths.”  She said to the group, that some of the kids in attendance might be the bullies. It’s human nature to hurt back those that hurt us, but she asked them to stop. Mrs. Adler stated, “If we keep up this idea of an eye for an eye, we will all go blind.”

This mother’s message is that we all have value and that it does not come from possessions or their family life. She stated, “No matter what has happened to you, or what you have done, you still have great worth, and no mistake is worth your life.” She advised the students that if they ever think of attempting suicide, talk to someone they can trust such as a parent, teacher or other trusted adult. She then said that parents can’t help you if you don’t let them in. She ended by saying that suicide is not the end of pain, but rather the transfer of pain to those who love you the most.

Mark Adler then took the stage to tell the students that this message is about leadership and courage.  Everyone has someone looking up to them, and at school, taking leadership means saying that you will not accept bullying, no matter what.  Courage is being able to step up and tell the bully that we do not do that here, and telling adults if we hear of bullying or someone talking of suicide. Courage is also telling someone if you are having those thoughts. Parents cannot help unless they know what is wrong. In closing, he asked the students to be the leaders and have courage. He asked them to remember that they can always reach a little higher and to go a little farther in kindness, leadership and courage.

I cannot begin to reproduce the powerful story that I heard at the school that day, but what I can say is that it has changed my life as a parent and as a professional.  I tell my parent education groups and childcare providers to be the hands that hold the child, be the hands that allow the child to go out and explore, and be the hands that also welcome the child back in when they are struggling with a need.  Last week in a parenting group I asked this question, “What do you hope for your children someday?” One of the parents said they hoped that their child would always feel welcome to come to them no matter what.

From the heart of the parent who writes this blog today, my hope is for all families to communicate this openly so that our children will come to us with their joys as well as their struggles.  We have all made mistakes, learn from them and talk about them with your children.  Listen to your children when they come to in delight, and when they come to you with the struggles, even if it is not comfortable for you.

Click this link if you would like to hear more of the Adler Family Story

Another great resource on bullying from Nebraska Extension is this Cyber bullying Neb Guide

The University of Nebraska has also been a part of the Born This Way Foundation.  Check out this link for more information as well as the related articles on bullying available here.

LYNN DEVRIES, EXTENSION EDUCATION | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Sarah Paulos, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and Leslie Crandall, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 

 

 

 

 


Is Your Family Ready For Back To School?

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 15:25

It’s time to start thinking about getting your family ready to go back to school. As time allows in the next weeks before school, there are things we can do to make the transition easier for adults and children.

Below are some strategies from Nebraska’s Department of Education in response to families commonly asked questions about preparing for, and entering kindergarten.

Separation Anxiety

If you have a young child entering kindergarten, even if they have attended preschool or gone to childcare, there will be separation anxiety for both the parent and the child. This anxiety is a normal growth pattern for children. It is part of their development. Always let your child know you are leaving. Say goodbye even though it may be difficult for both of you.

How do I help my Kindergarten aged child transition to school?

  1. Give plenty of notice that the change will be occurring. You can use phrases like, “In 5 days you will be starting Kindergarten. You will be going to a new classroom but, the teacher will be there to support you.  I will be there to support you too!”
  2. Be positive, speak about the transition using an excited and confident voice. If you do this, so will your child.
  3. Acknowledge any feelings your child might have about the transition, “You said you feel nervous about the first day, that’s okay. I get nervous sometimes when I try new things too. When I feel nervous, I take a deep breath to help me calm down.”
  4. Get to know your child’s teacher, ask questions about homework expectations, start and release times, and other classroom-specific rules or behavior expectations.
  5. On the first day if possible arrive early, give your child plenty of time to settle in and give yourself time to transition too.
Medical Records

Review your child(ren)’s medical files and make sure all their vaccinations are up-to-date and all school physicals are complete, or appointments have been made. If children are involved in sports, do they have their physicals?

 

School Supplies

Check what school supplies will be needed and watch for sales or, if necessary, learn what organizations are willing to help provide these items. Generic pencils, folders, and backpacks work just as well as the latest fad ones. These things are also good to put on birthday and gift lists for grandparents, etc.

Transportation

Plan the transportation that is used and practice safety tips for children walking and/or riding the school bus. If there are older children and they will be walking to school, practice the path. If your family will be carpooling, check with the neighbors or friends to work out a schedule.  For a list of school bus safety and tips for keeping your kids safe in and around the school bus, click here.

 

Morning and Night Routines

Start early planning and practicing the new fall bedtime and wake-up schedule. Work on methods that were not used during the summer. These might be breakfast, bath time, homework and bedtime routines. Perhaps set aside some time each evening to play a quiet game or read starting 2 weeks before the start date. Stress the importance of being awake and alert for the school day by getting enough rest.  In addition to these recommendations, the American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) suggests that “all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children’s bedrooms.”

Double Check

Check with the school or make sure you have read and kept up-to-date on correspondence, so your children have everything they need for the new school year. Ensure that you have the start and dismissal time of school.

And remember to talk with your children about the new school year, so they’re prepared for the changes that will take place and are ready for a productive school year.

Resource: Ready for Success What Families Want to Know about Starting School in Nebraska

Original Author: Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator | The Learning Child Revised and Peer Reviewed: August 4th, 2017 by Linda Reddish, Extension Educator |  The Learning Child Image Source: “Laughing children playing in a gym” by 2xSamara.com, used under license from Shutterstock.com

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


Nothing Can Compare to my County Fair

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:33

The sights, smells, tastes of the county fair will forever be a magical memory for the children and parents in my community.  I had the privilege as an Extension Educator to be a part of it all, working with Clover Kid 4-H youngsters from 5-8 years and their families at the Adams County fair in Nebraska.

What is a Clover Kid?

Clover kids are our youngest 4-Hers that enroll in the program at age 5.  At this age level, the focus is on helping the children to grow and develop physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually.  They learn by doing and can get involved in a variety of project areas including cooking, crafts, gardening small animals and livestock projects such as rabbits, poultry, bucket calves, or lambs to name a few.

Involvement at the fair

In Adams County, I offer a Clover Kid day camp where the children can learn by doing as they create a few projects to display at the fair. This year the children made their own stick horses, hand print t-shirts, painted a hummingbird feeder, planted seeds to make a plant person, and created a spiral painting with a pendulum.  These fun activities offered a variety of sensory experiences, as well as encouraging problem solving and creativity.  I included a literacy component by sharing the books, “A Place to Grow” by Stephanie Bloom, and “In the Tall, Tall Grass” by Denise Fleming. The children also made their own lunch by rolling biscuit dough to make pigs in a blanket, spreading “wow” butter on celery for “ants on a log”, and building a “campfire” using grapes, pretzels and cheese.

 

The Clover Kid exhibits are non-competitive and are for exhibition only.  I was at the fair on entry day to greet the children as they entered their projects.  The children could “show and tell” by visiting with me about what they learned and sharing their favorite part in creating the project. Each child received a ribbon award.

 

Parent/child activities

A family tradition at our county fair is making ice cream in a bag.  Parents help the children read the recipe instructions, measure and mix ingredients in a zipper baggie that is placed inside a larger bag of ice and salt.  The giggles and smiles say it all as everyone has a ball tossing the bag back and forth.  The best part is tasting the yummy ice cream together with their family.

The day would not be complete without the stick horse races! The children go to the exhibit hall to collect the horse that they made and then bring it to the “race track.”  I had one of the 4-H Junior leaders demonstrate how to weave in and out of the cones for the “pole bending” race and how to maneuver around the buckets for “barrel racing.” I don’t know who had more fun, the parents or the children. I definitely had a fabulous day at the fair with my Clover Kids!

If you would like to know more about 4-H or Clover Kids in your county, be sure to check out the Nebraska Extension website and click on Nebraska 4-H or check out the Learning Child website

Image Source: Lynn DeVries, Extension Program image

Lynn DeVries, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Linda Reddish, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 


Parents Ask Questions about Feeding Young Children

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 08:00

This week a local parenting home visiting program invited me to present a short program on feeding infants and toddlers to a group of teen parents.  The topics requested included“picky” eaters and family meal times. I was asked to keep the program short and to the point.  I decided to turn to a trusted resource for feeding young children.  I first became aware of Ellen Satter’s work through my involvement in the Head Start Programs years ago.  What I like about her research, is that she translates it into simple terms that parents and childcare providers can easily understand and apply.

Questions parents ask around feeding younger children include:

  • How often should I feed my child?
  • Am I feeding my child enough?
  • Am I feeding my child too much?
  • What should I do about my picky eater?

Begin with the Division of Responsibilities:

Satter explains the parent is responsible for what, when and where, and the child is responsible for how much and whether they choose to eat.  According to Satter, “Fundamental to parents’ jobs is trusting children to determine how much and whether to eat from what parents provide. When parents do their jobs with feeding, children do their jobs with eating: – See more at The Ellyn Satter Institute

 What about picky eaters?

If parents are consistent with the division of responsibilities, over time, their children will become well-adjusted eaters.  Ellyn Satter says that most children are more or less picky eaters. Their likes and dislikes can vary from day to day, and it may take time to warm up to unfamiliar foods. Parents may need to introduce a new food 15 times or more before a child is willing to try it.  A suggestion offered by Satter is to be sure to offer other options with a meal that are familiar to the child, but not to offer alternatives.  If there is something served with the regular meal that the child can eat, the parent is the one responsible. Let the child pick-and-choose from what is already on the table. The goal is to keep meals positive without putting pressure on the child to eat. Keep in mind that you should also try to stick to consistent meal and snack times, offering only water between these structured times.

 Will snacks spoil the child’s meal?

Growing children need snacks, as their stomach capacity is small and limited.  They need meals that are more frequent.  According to Satter,

Here is what to keep in mind about snacks:

  • Sit to snack, don’t allow yourself or your child to eat on the run or eat along with other activities.
  • Have snacks be sustaining: Include 2 or 3 foods. Include protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
  • Time snacks between meals so that your child will be hungry at the next mealtime.
  • Use snack time to work in foods you didn’t get otherwise, such as vegetables

Click here for more information on Sit Down Snacks

You can also check out The Ellen Satter Institute Facebook page  if you would like to hear more about their research on children’s eating.

What are some of your favorite recipes for children’s meals and snacks?  Comment below

Image source

Lynn DeVries, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Jaci Foged, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 

 


Learning to Read

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 09:52

Recently I listened to a webcast presented by Dr. Victoria Molfese, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Interim Associate Dean for Research, Chancellor Professor and Co-Director of Early Development and Learning Lab on the research she and others have been conducting for about forty years on how children develop the ability to read. She joked that even though they have been studying this for forty years they still don’t know the answer; she said they are getting close but they still need answers. She began with the statistic that about 17% of the 4 million children born in the US each year will have difficulties learning to read. And in Nebraska that number is 4,555 children. She also stated that 85% of the children in the juvenile justice system are illiterate.

So what are the benefits of reading?

Dr. Molfese listed these four benefits: learn what is and what can be; learn skills for careers or professions; provides insight into communication; and allows the reader to be able to access information and expertise. If you are reading this you probably have trouble imagining what it would be like to not be able to read or to have extreme difficulty with reading. The ability to read opens up whole new ways to discover our world. It presents opportunities for human growth and development and learning skills that can enable a person to find a rewarding career or profession.

Current research

Dr. Molfese talked about her current research which focused on phonological awareness skills and alphabetic knowledge. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate separate sounds within words for example va vs. pa or ba vs ga. Alphabetic knowledge is understanding that sounds of a language are represented in letters and that letters combine to form words. What she has found is that newborn responses to speech predict later reading skills. She stated that intervention, even intensive intervention, has not shown to ever fully bring a child to the developmental level of where fully developed peers are with their reading skills.

To learn more about her research you can access her presentation online at The Nebraska Lectures, Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture Series The presentation is titled, “Learning to Read: Making Sense of the Evidence.”

Featured Image

LEANNE MANNING, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


The Power of Play

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 09:30

Play has a very vital role in the normal development of animals and humans. This lesson was brought home in a myriad of ways in the book, “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” by Brown, S.L. & Vaughan, C.C., (2010), NY, NY; The Penguin Group. Here are some of the salient points from their book about the importance of play in our lives; it just may make you want to drop the work you’re doing and run outside and play!

Have you ever heard of the term “snarly”? Apparently cats and other social animals can become that way if they miss out on play. Without play, cats lose the ability to sense others’ emotional state and to respond appropriately, thus they become overly aggressive or retreat and not engage in normal social patterns. We have a cat named Angel (she’s not one)  if anyone or any creature comes within a foot of her, she usually lashes out at them. You never see her play and she’s pretty aggressive as a result. If you have a snarly friend, you might invite them out for some serious playtime.

Providing infants and young children the chance to play and enjoy friendships with others helps their whole-brains grow and develop. If they are not engaged in play and participate in solitary activities then neural growth occurs in only one area of the brain. Play also aids in developing new connections between neurons and brain centers that did not exist before. These neural pathways that are lit up during play are essential to continued brain organization.

When we can’t play, over the long term, our mood darkens. We become hopeless and anhedonic or incapable of feeling sustained pleasure. My aunt used to say, “all work, and no play makes (insert name) a dull boy or girl.” It is an old saying, but it does ring true.
Some of the benefits of play include, the capacity to become smarter, to learn more about the world than what genes alone could ever teach, and the ability to adapt to a changing world. We all want these things for our children, our family, and ourselves. Now go find a friend or friends and some children and take some time to have some fun!

Featured Image Source: Leanne Manning

LEANNE MANNING, EXTENSION EDUCATION | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


Makerspaces in Early Childhood Settings

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 08:00

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Many adults have fond memories of tinkering with random items and making something from them.  Perhaps you remember making a ramp for your toy cars, or building a playhouse out of a cardboard box, or building a fort with old blankets and sticks. Often times these projects would take days to build as you encountered problems with the design and had to start over, or perhaps you needed to gather more materials as your idea emerged.  A Buzz Word is going around the early childhood education community that is fashioned out of similar experiences for young children, the Makerspace.

What exactly is a Makerspace?

In the early childhood classroom, children are provided materials with which to work together to solve a problem.  The concept requires that children cooperate, use creative thinking related to the use and manipulation of the materials.  NAEYC describes two levels of making; “Tinkering” is playful exportation and curiosity in finding out how things work. Here you might see children taking things apart.  I remember my son’s preschool teacher telling me about how he was more interested in the mechanics of the stapler than the actual project and how she allowed this exploration, which ended up in a stapler in many pieces.  Tinkering is the beginning of engineering, which starts with a problem to solve. For example in the book Brown Bear Brown Bear, how could we get over the river?

The child’s role: NAEYC breaks it down into three simple steps

  1. Tinkering: “Using the stuff”
  2. Making: “Using stuff to make stuff” that sometimes does stuff, but sometimes is just cool.
  3. Engineering: “Using stuff to make stuff that does stuff.”

 

image source

The teacher’s Role:

 Provide a variety of materials

  • Helping children to problem solve by encouraging thinking through open-ended questions
  • Give the children plenty of time to design, build, and test their products
  • Help children to fix mistakes, do not take over this role, as children will make new discoveries on their own and use trial and error along the way.
  • Safety Note: The teacher’s role involves teaching children how to safely use the “real tools” and to monitor them when in use. Teachers will need to establish rules for how to use the tools and to help the children to see and manage risks.

What kinds of materials can be found in a makerspace?

According to Cate Heroman, author of Making and Tinkering With STEM, your makerspace  doesn’t have to include all of the items listed here and it is recommended that you adjust materials based on the children in your group.  Classrooms can start small around a central problem and add as they go.

 Tools

  • Child safety goggles, low temperature glue guns, measuring tapes, rulers, scissors, funnels, child size hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.

Materials

  • For building: popsicle sticks, straws, paper plates and cups, corks, wood scraps, pipe cleaners
  • For Connecting: A variety of tape such as masking, duct, and cellophane, staplers, glue sticks, brads, sting, clothespins, rubber bands, paperclips and binder clips
  • Sculpting: modeling clay, playdough, and tools such as rolling pins, plastic knives
  • Mixing tools: plastic bowls, spoons, pitchers, and ingredients for science exploration such as corn starch, and vinegar
  • Fabrics and decoration: pom-poms, feathers, buttons, fabric scraps, felt,
  • Writing materials: markers, pencils, pens, crayons
  • Electronics and technology: batteries (keep in a battery holder) flashlights, beginning circuitry kits ( These items would be for the more advanced engineers)

image source

Where does the Makerspace fit in my classroom?

The items found in a Makerspace are similar to items found in the Art Center.  These areas could be set up adjacent to one another to make use of common materials easier to access.

Ideally, makerspaces should be organized in a way that children can easily see all the materials they have available.  Recycled clear plastic jars or drawer organizer trays work well. If children can see all that is available, they can consider which items will work best for a particular task.

 image source

To find out more on the concept of Makerspaces for early learners, check out Making and Tinkering with STEM  at the NAEYC bookstore.  This publication is full design challenges appropriate for children 3-8 years, and here is an example of Maker Stations in another early childhood setting.

Do you have a makerspace in your early childhood setting? How did you get started?  comment below

LYNN DEVRIES, EXTENSION EDUCATION | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Linda Reddish, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 

 

 

 

 


Playful Learning

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 09:16

According to Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Department of Psychology, Temple University, humans learn best when they are active and engaged. Playful learning works and it is one of the areas in which families engage in active, engaged, meaningful, and socially interactive learning where humans can grow important skills in and out of school. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek distinguishes the difference between free play and guided play as free play being when the child both initiates and directs the play whereas with guided play the adult initiates play and the child directs it.

An example of guided play would be a children’s museum where the exhibits are designed by adults and children come and play as they wish with the exhibits. In guided play the adult plans the play environment and plays with children. The adult also asks stimulating open-ended questions that build upon the discovery found in play. And adults also suggest ways to explore materials that children may not think of. Research shows that guided play can advance young children’s skills in: reading, language, mathematics, spatial learning, executive function, and social emotionally.

Hirsch-Pasek shared some ideas of how a community can be involved in guided play and park-based learning. She talked about the Ultimate Block Party they held in NYC’s Central Park where Legos were available for building all types of structures, 28 science experiment stations were set up for such discoveries as pouring and measuring water, and where they played the largest game of Simon Says which enhances executive function. She referenced Parkolopy which was currently being developed and will be a life-sized game board where participants move themselves through the game. Players roll life-sized die that have regular faces on them and faces expressed as fractions. And she told of Urban Think Scape where benches at bus stops had turning puzzles behind them and other benches that acted as scales lowering themselves as more people sat upon them. Another idea was that of using multi-colored street lights with cranks on them that allowed children to turn the light to whatever color they wanted and other street lights that had a moveable shadow-pattern that children could manipulate and see the show upon the ground as they turned the cranks on the light poles.

Dr. Hirsch-Pasek closed her presentation with a paraphrased quote from Carla Rinadi, President of Reggio Children, which reads, “It is unclear how play and learning were ever divorced from one another. They are like the wings of a butterfly—one play and one learning and without both the butterfly will never take flight.”

Featured image source: Extension CJ&J.jpg

LEANNE MANNING, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


Grape play dough made me want to become an early childhood teacher

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 08:48

Have you ever heard this statement “So, I have a silly question.”

As an early childhood specialist, I listened to teachers ask this question only for it to lead into a richer discussion regarding their classrooms.  For many years, I coached infant and toddler teachers, and I used this statement as an opportunity to introduce the importance of responding to young children’s curiosity.  Whenever a teacher led with that comment, I would either start the coaching conversation or end the conversation sharing the following story…

When I was three years old, my mother attended ESL classes at the county’s local community college.  Adjacent to the college was a small childcare lab school that I attended for preschool.  It was an incredible program. Well-defined learning centers with warm, patient, and interactive teachers.  Now knowing what I know, the program was certainly a high-quality early childhood program.  I am confident my preschool experiences reinforced my aspiration to become an early childhood professional.

One day, I asked my preschool teacher if she was a magician.  Every day, my preschool teacher offered in the art center a fruit-scented play dough. I was perplexed by the possibility that play dough could smell sweet like grape juice, or citrusy like lemons. It was beyond my imagination.  I remember her response, and all these years I have carried it with me.  She said, “What a silly question, and I am so glad you asked it. Tomorrow you can help me make it, and I will show you the magical powder that goes into it.”  My preschool teacher met my curiosity responsively instead of dismissing it.  She relished in my joy; I can still hear her laughter as I helped her make the play dough.  That day my teacher taught me that play dough was not just pliable dough; it could be so much more.  It was beyond anything I could have imagined.  My teacher recognized this question as a teachable moment and an opportunity to strengthen our relationship by affirming my question instead of dismissing it.  This experience inspired the creation of my twitter handle @beyondplaydough (I invite you to follow me).

Have you ever wondered what it is like for young children when they ask adults questions? 

If we are hoping to instill a sense of joy in learning, it is up to us as early childhood educators to respond authentically to young children’s bids and questions, no matter how silly they may seem.

As the mother of a preschooler who is currently in this state, I can relate to my teacher’s delight many years ago.  The other night, while reading Duck on Bike by author David Shannon I paused on the hilarious page when all of the animals hop on the bicycles.  I wanted to focus on defining new words by using what he already knew about bikes and then conceptually map the different types of bikes while introducing new vocabulary.  As I pointed to each bike, I explained how Chicken was actually on a tricycle because it had three wheels.  I noted that Pig and Pig were on a tandem bike built for two!  Then, our son noticed one of the bicycles had a different shaped seat.  He pointed at it and I told him it was called a banana seat, and immediately giggling ensued.  He turned his head to look up at me and said, “You cannot sit on a banana Mama, it would be all mushy, that is just so silly. Why would anyone be so silly Mama and sit on a banana?”

Right on little guy, why would anyone be so silly?

What is the silliest question a child has asked you?  Did the question delve into a deeper level of learning? Were you able to use it to further a child’s understanding of a particular concept, if so how?

Comment below!

Source: Linda Reddish, personal image

Linda Reddish, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator, The Learning Child and

John Porter, Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 


What’s the Buzz on Insect Repellant and Kids?

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 15:07

Spring is in the air and we will soon see families and children enjoying time outdoors, in backyards, and in the parks.  One thing that can spoil this picture are the annoying biting insects and mosquitoes.  I wanted to know what the experts say about the safety of insect repellents on small children, and I was surprised to find out that deet is not as bad as I had thought.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that insect repellents containing deet are safe for children as young as 2 months. Bug repellents with deet come in varying strengths – some contain up to 30-percent deet. A higher concentration of deet does not mean a product is stronger, only that it lasts longer.

Another ingredient similar to deet in some repellants is Picaridin, which has been used in European countries for 10 years and is becoming more popular in products available in the U.S.  There are also natural repellants made with oils such as lemongrass and citronella.  Along with repellants, parents and caregivers can prevent insect bites by dressing children in long sleeve clothes and socks and shoes.  It is suggested that parents avoid products that combine sunscreen and insect repellant.  While it is good to reapply sunscreen often, it is not recommended to reapply the insect repellants.

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Parent’s Magazine highlights many of the products you can buy in their Ultimate Guide to Bug Repellant for Kids, with specific application information for each product. Check out what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says about Insect Repellant Use and Safety in Children. It is always a good idea to ask your trusted pediatrician what they would recommend for your child. The Center For Disease Control also has recommendations for Insect Repellant Use and Safety.

There are so many positive reasons to get children outdoors to play and explore.  Be informed on how you can prevent insect bites from scratching your plans.

Featured image source:

LYNN DEVRIES, EXTENSION EDUCATION | THE LEARNING CHILD

Peer Reviewed by Sarah Paulos, Extension Educator, The Learning Child

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

 

 

 

 

 


High Quality Child Care Depends of Effective Family Engagement

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 09:28

Creating Opportunities for Parent Partnerships

Opening the doors to meaningful contacts and connections with parents is a fundamental piece in building relationships with families.  Early childhood professionals who insure this is done well and in accordance with best practices are getting to know their families well.  They understand the backgrounds and special talents and skills that their family clientele bring with them and they work to incorporate these gifts into activities and learning in their child care homes and centers.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) outlines 6 principles of and also gives insight in to specific ways early childhood programs can meet this standard of excellence in their day to day practices.

Six Principles of Family Engagement Recognized by NAEYC:

  1. Families participate in decisions and goal setting

Invite families to participate in decision making and goal setting for their child.

This can be done through initial intake questionnaires, regular parent teacher conferences, and a consistent staff person to follow the family throughout the program.

  1. Teachers and Programs Engage Families in Two Way Communication

Face to face, written, and on-line communication that is both school and family initiated and in the family’s preferred language that invites a dialogue about the child’s educational experiences as well as what is happening in the early childhood center.

  1. Reciprocal Relationships

Staff are connecting with families to learn about their lives, communities and cultures, and work to intentionally integrate this into the curriculum and instruction.  Programs also work to help families to share some of their own special skills, talents, and knowledge and invite them to take an active role in the school environment.

  1. Learning Activities at Home and the Community

Programs are educating families about child growth and development and connecting families to other services available in the community to support their child’s education.  Many times communities have free or low cost events for families with young children.

  1. Families are involved in Program Decision Making

Family members are asked to serve on committees and boards that help make decisions to shape the policies of the program.  Families have input on hiring of personnel, admission policies, and input on menus to name a few. They can also lead the way in raising funds for special projects.

  1. Programs implement a comprehensive program-level system for family engagement

Programs are intentional in reaching out to families in a variety of ways and teachers are given support and training in effective family engagement strategies including having a diverse staff that mirrors the community in which they serve, and ensuring that the curriculum that serves as the foundation for educational experiences and environments is anti-bias and inclusive for all participants.

Check out the full article from NAEYC Effective Family Engagement

At a recent early childhood conference, I attended, the Buffet Early Childhood Institute gave this advice on creating parent partnerships:

Listening Conferences

Prior to the start of school, invite parents to do the talking at a special parent-teacher conference. The idea is to engage the family before school starts to gain valuable new information about the child and family, which can be incorporated into the learning environment.

Conference Artifact Activity

Another helpful strategy to learn about children at conferences is to invite the parents to share one artifact or special item that has a special meaning to their child. When parents share their story about the item, it gives them a voice in the meeting, and provides the teacher with important insight into who the child is.

The Buffett Institute is dedicated to research, practice, policy, and outreach initiatives to improve the early life experiences of children from birth to age eight.

What strategies are you using to engage families in your early childhood care and education programs?

LYNN DEVRIES, EXTENSION EDUCATION | THE LEARNING CHILD

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


Get Back to Nature!

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 09:00

After 70 degree temps earlier this month, I was snowed in at home due to ice and white out conditions.  That’s nature in Nebraska.  We could think of all kinds of reasons to be negative about the weather, but I say, “Let it Snow!”  I remember as a child the many fond memories of playing in the snow with my family, and it was something to look forward to each winter season.  Sledding, making snowmen and snow forts and exploring the different types of snow (such as the kind that easily packs together for building versus the light and dryer type of snow) allows children to connect with nature and the outdoors, while at the same time building their sense of creativity, problem solving, motor skills, and social emotional development.

Last month I delivered a program to childcare center directors where we focused on spaces to learn and grow and the importance of designing outdoor spaces for children in our care to experience nature.  No matter what season it is, research indicates that children who have opportunities to experience their natural environments have the ability sustain concentration, delay gratification, and cope with stressors in their lives.  Research done in the Netherlands demonstrated the distance one lives from the nearest green space and the prevalence of many major illnesses including Anxiety disorder and depression in children under age 12. According to Louise Chawla, Professor of Planning and Urban Design from the University of Colorado, “Adults in many studies report that memories of a special place in nature experience in their childhood gives them a pool of calm on which they can draw in difficult times.”

When designing spaces for children, I advise childcare providers to include a balance of natural spaces and play equipment. Include areas with small trees, and perhaps a water feature and patches of soil to explore as well as to garden in. Play equipment that is safe for children can be interspersed within the outdoor space and the natural additions of plants and pathways can create natural barriers to define the purpose of these areas.  Check out Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature for some great before and after outdoor spaces designs in childcare settings as well as a detailed explanation to the many benefits of natural environments.

Bringing the outdoors in to the classroom or center is also essential in early childhood curriculum. Consider the many classroom centers and the possible items from nature that could inspire and challenge children’s exploration.  Classrooms can add sticks and rocks or tree cookies to the building area, or introduce seeds and leaves to the science center.  Could these items be used in the art area? If you have small group experiences, you might explore the seeds inside of a pomegranate or pumpkin.   NAEYC shows how early childhood settings can introduce nature in the classrooms and allow children to take the lead in exploring these materials by Connecting Young Children With Nature .

Children spend a good majority of their time in childcare, and therefore it is essential that we include natural outdoor learning environments and experiences to enhance their overall growth in development in all domains.

What are you doing in your childcare home or center to Get Back to Nature?

LYNN DEVRIES, EXTENSION EDUCATION | THE LEARNING CHILD

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  

Image: ShutterStock

 


Got the Urge to Splurge?

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 10:17
Image Source

Marketers make it easy to want “more bang for your buck” such as up-sizing your meal at the fast food restaurant or upgrading a cell phone or cable package. It is very tempting to receive “more” for what appears to be a relatively small additional cost. Resist the urge to splurge as those extras definitely add up! For instance, if a family of four eats out three days a week, the family will spend nearly $4000 a year on fast food.

Every year, families should review their communication (cable, satellite, phone, internet) service plans to see if they are fully utilizing their contracted services.

Explore the following:

  • Do you pay extra for an unlimited data plan, but only use a small amount of data every month?
  • Do you send numerous texts each month, but only have a small number included on your plan?
  • Do you have premium movie packages on your cable or satellite plan but find you do not watch any movies? If you do like to watch movies, be sure to compare the cost of adding on premium movie channels to using online streaming services.
  • Do you have a land line phone with unlimited long distance and have a cell phone with unlimited minutes? If you have an unlimited cell phone plan, you may decide to completely cut your land line or that you only need a very basic land line.
  • Do you need higher internet speeds? If you only surf the web and send emails, low bandwidth may be sufficient. If you stream high volumes of content or online gaming, you many want a higher bandwidth.
  • If you decide to switch providers for better or different services make sure you check with your current provider first. Many will have customer retention agents who will work with you to offer you a better plan or a better rate.
  • Bundling packages can be beneficial however evaluate each component of the bundle separately. For example, if you are considering a home cable, internet, and land line phone bundle, price each option separately for the exact service or product that would best meet your needs. Also, if there is a promotional pricing with the bundle, be sure and check long-term costs of the service (i.e. what will it cost when the promotion ends) and how to change your plan when the promotion ends. Be certain to mark the date on your calendar when the promotion ends so you remember to take action.

Source: https://militaryfamilies.extension.org/tag/30-days-of-savings/

LEANNE MANNING, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


6 Tips for Savvy Online Shopping

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 10:10

  1. Look for coupon codes before buying. If you search the merchant’s name and “coupon code” you should be able to see the latest coupons for things like free shipping or a percentage off. Check the coupon’s expiration date and if it requires a certain dollar amount be spent before using.
  2. Consider setting up a separate email account just for coupons to go from stores where you shop. You only need to check the account when you want to make an online purchase.
  3. If you are not needing to make a purchase right away, leave the items in your virtual shopping cart. Many time, after a few days, the merchant will contact you with a coupon to encourage you to complete the purchase.
  4. Daily deals (usually for 50% off or more on retail prices) are growing in popularity. Be cautious not to click to buy just because it’s a great deal, make sure it is something you really need.
  5. Safeguard your personal information when shopping online. Be sure the website you use is secure (https) and that you are on the legitimate retailer’s site. Knock-off sites do exist and it may be hard to tell the difference from the real thing. 6. Use a credit card, as opposed to a debit card, when shopping online. With credit cards there is a time period after making the purchase before you need to pay your bill (not the case with debit cards where the money comes out of your account immediately). You can use this time to settle any disputes that may arise on transactions.

Source: https://militaryfamilies.extension.org/2016/07/26/cybershopping-saving-strategies/

LEANNE MANNING, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

Make sure to follow The Learning Child on social media for more research-based early childhood education resources!

  


It Can Take A Village to Support Breastfeeding Moms

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 10:03

I knew the many benefits of breastfeeding many years before having my own child. I taught education classes to soon-to-be parents about these benefits. I shared how breastfeeding is an important practice for both the baby and the mother. During these classes we talked about how breastmilk has nutritional, immunological, and psychological benefits and provides all the nutrition and sustenance a baby needs for the first six months. We talked about how the nutritional benefits continue into the second year of life and how the nutritional components of breastmilk change over time to meet the nutritional needs of the child. I shared how breastfeeding may help reduce the chance that a child becomes overweight or develops certain diseases in the future. We also discussed the benefits of breastfeeding for women. Women who exclusively breastfeed typically lose more weight after giving birth (who doesn’t want that!) than women who use formula, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, protects against osteoporosis, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Finally, breastfeeding can benefit both mother and infant by helping to create a close emotional bond.

Knowing these benefits, I was completely committed to the idea of breastfeeding when I learned that I was pregnant with my daughter. I was so excited to be able to finally have this experience with my baby. After a somewhat traumatic childbirth I was finally able to hold my newborn baby daughter and excitedly prepared to breastfeed her. Despite her “great latch” as described by the nurses, I was challenged to produce milk. I became anxious and worried. Nurses would come in and “rate” the quality of my continued attempts to breastfeed which only made me feel more anxious. A lactation consultant met with me and I cried. I felt like a failure as a new mom as I was told that I would need to supplement with formula. My husband was a great support and said, “you can keep trying and we can supplement too. You are the best mom.” Then my mom and sister visited and provided some emotional support as well.

I continued to breastfeed with my limited milk supply and extremely sore bleeding nipples. I remember crying with my toes curled under with the first latch. I would nurse for what felt like hours hoping that my daughter was getting the nutrition she needed. Soon I received in home support from a certified lactation consultant who showed me different positions to use to breastfeed. She weighed my daughter and assured me she was healthy and growing. Eventually I was able to exclusively breastfeed and my anxiety dissipated. When I returned to work after 6 months, my in home child care provider provided a quiet relaxing place for me to breastfeed my daughter which allowed me to continue breastfeeding. I was not able to pump enough milk so having the opportunity to come at breaks and for lunch was immensely helpful. I share this experience in hopes that others see the value of serving as support system to moms. I share so that others do not pass judgement on moms as we never know the possible struggles they are experiencing.

I share so that moms know breastfeeding is beneficial and may be easy for some but not for all. I share because support for breastfeeding is important and can come from many different sources, including health professionals, mothers, grandmothers, trusted friends and community members. Think of how you can serve as a support to a mom if she decides to breastfeed. You never know what that support can do for a mom and her baby.

For additional information and resources, look at:

Kelly Mom Parenting and Breastfeeding http://kellymom.com/category/bf/

HOLLY HATTON-BOWERS, EXTENSION EDUCATOR | THE LEARNING CHILD

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