ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers SPN101: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users April 1-30, 2018.

Autism spectrum disorders are a group of disorders that can affect a child’s ability to learn, socialize, and communicate with those around him. There are several disorders that fall into this general disability category. These disorders include:

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Rett’s syndrome
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

The word spectrum, meaning range or variety, is significant to a clear understanding of this group of disorders. A child with an autism spectrum disorder may display characteristics that range in severity from mild to severe. In certain ways, every case is unique.  For example, some children diagnosed with autism are able to use verbal language to communicate their needs. Other children are nonverbal, but communicate through technology or picture communication systems. In the most extreme cases, some children diagnosed with autism are nonverbal and unable to communicate their needs through any means other than their behavior.  In order to be diagnosed with autism, a child must display specific characteristics with the onset prior to the age of three.

The goal of this course is introduce participants to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the characteristics of children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Participants will also be introduced to several students with autism spectrum disorders and many of the classroom strategies that support these students.  When child care providers work together with parents, therapists, and other professionals to create a plan of action, it is quite realistic to expect that the child with autism will be successful in an inclusive environment.  Open communication and creating a strong support system are the first steps to take when creating the consistency necessary for this success.

“A rise in the diagnosis rate of autism spectrum disorders, combined with the fact that such disorders develop in early childhood, makes this topic both relevant and vital for child care professionals,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “With a clearer understanding of autism spectrum disorders, providers will be better prepared to work with children of all ability levels.”

 SPN101: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders is a one-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.1 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

 ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute® provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

April 2018 Newsletter – Director’s Corner: Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 2018 Newsletter – Action and Expression: The How of Learning

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 2018 Newsletter – Representation: The What of Learning

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April is World Autism Month

April is World Autism Month, which is designed to raise autism awareness and understanding around the world.  The event was created by Autism Speaks, an organization that advocates for children and adults with autism and their families.  You can learn more about the organization and their efforts by visiting www.autismspeaks.org.

There are many ways that you can get involved with autism awareness during the month of April, as well as at other times throughout the year.   Here are a few ideas:

  • Learn the signs of autism spectrum disorder so that you can engage with families if they have questions – the Autism Speaks website provides a screening tool that you can share with families if concerns arise
  • Distribute information about autism in program newsletters and social media – a list of resources is available in the Autism Speaks Resource Library including this informative piece from the 100 Day Kit – https://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/docs/about_autism_0.pdf
  • Share information about community resources with families – you can find resources specific to your state on the website
  • Participate in an Autism Speaks walk or race – you can locate an event near you one the website
  • Volunteer to support a walk or race – many volunteers are needed to make these events successful
  • Organize a fundraiser – information on the tools available to hold you own fundraiser are available on the website
  • Follow Autism Speaks on social media and share events in your area with your contacts
  • Write letters of support to state and federal lawmakers showing your support for additional funding for research and resources for individuals with autism and their families

Has your program engaged in a successful autism awareness event?  Tell us about it on our Facebook page here!

April 2018 Newsletter – Engagement: The Why of Learning

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 2018 Newsletter – Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Strategies for Supporting all Learners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 2018 Student Spotlight – Selah Kneubuhl

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

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

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

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

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

New Course from ChildCare Education Institute on Understanding and Promoting Development in the Preschool Years

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, is proud to introduce CHD108: Understanding and Promoting Development in the Preschool Years to the online child care training course catalog.

Whether a child attends an official preschool or not, the term preschooler is used to describe children between the ages of three and five—the developmental stage before kindergarten.  Preschoolers have advanced past the toddler stage, which was an exciting time full of developmental milestones. As preschoolers, children have far more confidence and skills when it comes to moving, thinking, and communicating. They are more eager to help and often imitate adults and other children.

As in all early childhood stages, the minds and bodies of preschoolers are constantly developing. However, as children age, the changes are more gradual. By age four, children have well-developed muscles and advanced motor skills.  Older preschoolers are gaining a firm grasp on their place in the family and in society. They are aware of life’s ups and downs but they still have difficulty dealing with their emotions sometimes. They also tend to be more self-conscious and more afraid of making mistakes or being embarrassed.

This course explores the developmental milestones that children experience at 3, 4, and 5 years of age.  The course will explore growth across all areas of development. The goal of the course is to provide early childhood educators with a basic understanding of child development so that they can create realistic expectations, appropriate learning environments, and engaging curriculum for all of the children in their care.

“All providers need to be aware of current research and best practices in promoting development to ensure children are socially, emotionally and cognitively ready for kindergarten,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “The topics covered in this course are frequently cited as both essential and neglected in professional development for early childhood education.”

CHD108: Understanding and Promoting Development in the Preschool Years is a two-hour, beginner-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion. Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit www.cceionline.edu or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST

ChildCare Education Institute, LLC

ChildCare Education Institute® provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), and is authorized under the Nonpublic Postsecondary Educational Institutions Act of 1990, license number 837.