June 2019 Student Spotlight – Jamie Bradley

I began my career in early childhood as an after-school provider. I currently work in a large family home. I love working with children because it is a new adventure everyday, the laughs and bonding moments. My favorite time of the day is story time. My favorite activity is anything that involves creativity, story time, crafts, and free play. What I enjoy most about my job is encouraging the children to explore their creativity and develop a new skill as well as watching them grow and thrive.

I have completed the Oklahoma Health and Safety Pre-Service Certificate with CCEI. The course helped me evaluate if my home could accommodate childcare. It helped me to make a list of items I needed, steps to pursue a license and confidence that I could do it! I would recommend CCEI to anyone that is looking for training that is very well put together, self-paced, affordable, and convenient. I dream of having an in-home daycare and want to pursue my CDA. I want to continue learning and become as good of a provider as possible. I don’t think we should ever stop wanting to learn and grow.

I currently live in Moore, OK. During my free time you can find me at a rock concert, drinking coffee, or putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Advocacy for the Center, Parents, Children and Staff

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers CCEI963: Advocacy for the Center, Parents, Children and Staff as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users June 1-30, 2019.

In the early childhood education industry, advocacy means supporting and campaigning for issues that will improve the lives of young children and their families. Such issues can include improving access to preschool for low income families, improving special needs services, preventing child abuse and neglect, promoting toy safety, increasing access to healthcare, or a host of other essential issues.  According to many educators, including members of one of the best known children’s advocacy groups in the United States—The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)—all early childhood educators and caretakers should accept advocacy as a part of the job.

Much of the growth in the early childhood industry is a direct result of advocates. Major legislation, including the formation of Head Start, was advanced for the purpose of improving children’s lives. Such legislation never would have passed without the work of advocates at all levels, from the researchers who proved the importance of quality early childhood programs to the organizational contributors who rolled up their sleeves to stuff countless envelopes and make countless phone calls, to the leaders who kept everyone focused on the ultimate goal.

As a result of advocacy over the past couple of decades, the importance for early childhood education has moved from an idea on the fringes to a mainstream movement. Today, early childhood education is a standard part of many public school systems. As a result, there is demand for higher professional standards.  No longer is child care considered “babysitting.” Rather, in most states, caregivers are required to be trained and able to demonstrate basic knowledge of early childhood development and “best practices.”

This course examines the many reasons educators should advocate for their center, parents, children and staff and effective ways of doing so. Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to define the role of an early childhood advocate; the steps required for successful advocacy and list the requirements to organize a successful advocacy campaign.

“Through various forms of advocacy, early childhood professionals help ensure that a society is always working to improve the lives of children,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI.  “Effective advocacy can make a tremendous impact on the lives of children, as well as teachers, families, and society as a whole.”

CCEI963: Advocacy for the Center, Parents, Children and Staff 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®, a division of Excelligence Learning Corporation, 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 accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

Supporting Self-Advocacy

The June 2019 newsletter focuses on things that ECE professionals can do to become strong advocates for issues that impact children and families.  Let’s take a bit of time to explore how we can help children become advocates – not for government policies or safe communities – but for themselves. 

Self-advocacy is the ability to identify our own needs, communicate those needs, and seek the support necessary to address those needs. When children are able to advocate for themselves effectively they build confidence in their own skills and a positive attitude about problem solving and learning.

One of the earliest tools we can give children to promote self-advocacy is sign language.  Imagine an infant who needs to communicate their desire for food or drink – but they do not yet have the words to do so.  Having a tool (sign language) to communicate needs is empowering and can reduce stress in children and the adults in their lives.

Elementary school children will likely be ready to take on true self-advocacy.  They will have the maturity and self-awareness to be effective at identifying and addressing needs.  In early childhood, we can help prepare children to be self-advocates by engaging in the following interactions:

  • Help children identify their emotions in a variety of situations. Use empathetic statements to help children recognize their feelings.  For example, “It looks like you are sad that Mommy went to work this morning. Sometimes feeling sad makes us cry. Are you feeling sad?” Once the child confirms your observation you could say, “When I am sad I ask my friends for a hug. If you want I could give you a hug.” If the child accepts, hug the child and say, “Anytime you are feeling sad, I am happy to give you a hug.” 
  • Acknowledge children for expressing needs, even if those needs are communicated non-verbally.  For example, if a child points to a desired toy, you could say, “I see that you are pointing to the truck. That tells me that you might want to play with the truck. Do you want to play with the truck?” Once the child confirms your observation you might say, “Thanks for letting me know that you want to play with the truck. You could also say ‘Truck, please.’ to let me know that.”
  • Teach children easy ways to ask for help.  When you notice a child who seems frustrated, acknowledge his/her efforts and remind them that you are someone who can assist them if they need it.  Attempt to identify words and actions children can take to communicate they need help.  Be sure to model these actions with other adults (and the children) in the learning environment.
  • Talk to children about their personal space and encourage them to talk to other children about maintaining personal space.  Encourage children to tell peers to step back if they stand too close.
  • Empower children to speak up about the actions of their peers that they do not like. For example, if a child is throwing sand, encourage the other children to talk about how they feel about it.
  • Help children discover strengths and areas of need. Remind children that they were not always good at the strengths that they have now.  You might say, “I know you are a fast runner, but when you were younger, you were not as fast. You practiced hard to be a fast runner.  What do you think you could do to improve your handwriting?” Let children know there are tools or strategies they can use to address the needs they have, but most things take time to develop or strengthen.

By learning to communicate needs and identify solutions to problems at a young age, children will have the tools necessary to become effective self-advocates as they age. 

Tell us how you promote self-advocacy in your learning environment on our Facebook page here

June 2019 Newsletter – Advocacy in Early Childhood Education: Incorporating Advocacy into Professional Development

The professional development of your staff includes more than just completing the required number of ongoing training hours each year.  Professional development includes honing skills, learning to collaborate with others, and increasing knowledge about the field.  Advocacy is an excellent way to boost the professionalism of the teachers working in your program.  Some states have even incorporated involvement in professional development activities, beyond training, as a requirement for teacher credentialing. 

In order to effectively incorporate advocacy into your program, you might consider including it in your philosophy or mission statement.  You could add a statement such as, “In addition to providing high-quality early learning experiences for children, we will also actively advocate for policies and practices that ensure children and families reach their highest potential.”  This will allow you to introduce the idea of advocacy as a fundamental principle of your program to each family and new staff member who joins the team.

Next, you will need to educate your employees on what advocacy is, how to engage in advocacy, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable within your program.  NAEYC has created a resource that non-profit organizations can use to guide these discussions. 

Engage staff in discovering the different topics and advocacy efforts that are available in your community, which will be unique for each program.  Recognize that staff will be drawn to different topics or issues.  Allow staff to choose their own issues and methods of advocacy.  Forcing everyone to participate in the same issue, in the same fashion, is inauthentic and defeats the purpose of cultivating the passion that advocacy can generate.

That’s not to say that you couldn’t have a program-wide issue that you work on together, but be sure to allow staff members to contribute in ways that match their personalities and levels of comfort. As you engage in new projects, you can encourage staff members to take small steps out of their comfort zones.

The Alliance for Justice has developed an online evaluation called the Advocacy Capacity Tool that can be used to reflect on the advocacy efforts of your program or organization.  The tool is available here

For the main article Advocacy in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Advocacy Opportunities in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Advocacy Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Involving Families and Children, CLICK HERE

June 2019 Newsletter – Advocacy in Early Childhood Education: Involving Families and Children

One characteristic of high-quality programs is family involvement and there is a great opportunity to engage families in your advocacy efforts. Begin by simply making families aware of the basics of the issues you are advocating. 

  • Create social media posts
  • Dedicate a section of the newsletter to the topic             
  • Send home a letter about the topic
  • Create a lobby display
  • Hold an information night

Provide information about how families can get involved.  This might include adding their voice to messages that are shared with policymakers and influencers. Connect families with organizations such as America for Early Ed, so they can stay informed about issues related to their children’s early education.  Share information about when and where to vote for important ballot measures, school board officials, or state leaders.

Children can also learn about issues related to their education. They can learn about fairness/equality, environmental/community issues, and government procedures while engaging in advocacy on their own behalf. 

  • Encourage children to create invitations to send to government officials
  • Compose letters to officials
  • Produce an informational video to post on social media
  • Design t-shirts that communicate important messages about your issue
  • Write thank-you letters to policy makers after important votes

How have you incorporated children and families in your advocacy efforts?  Let us know on our Facebook page here.

For the main article Advocacy in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Advocacy Opportunities in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Advocacy Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Incorporating Advocacy into Professional Development, CLICK HERE

June 2019 Newsletter – Advocacy in Early Childhood Education: Advocacy Strategies

One of the very first things you can do to get involved in advocacy efforts is to connect to early childhood organizations such as NAEYC.  NAEYC is focused on federal initiatives to ensure high-quality early learning experiences for every child.  They have developed many resources that you can use in your own efforts to impact change on the federal, state, and local level.  Visit NAEYC to explore these resources. 

In addition to the national organization, NAEYC also has state affiliates that you can join.  These groups are specifically focused on state and local advocacy initiatives. Most groups meet on a regular basis and publish newsletters to keep members in the field abreast of their efforts.  You can connect with your NAEYC affiliate organization here.

There are also many other state and local child care associations that work on behalf of children that you can join.  Speak to your director or licensing representative to find out how to connect with these organizations.  

While it is a good idea to become involved in organizations that are already engaged in advocacy, it is not necessary.  You can engage in your own grassroots advocacy.  Connecting with a group is beneficial because they have likely completed much of the initial legwork necessary to be effective. 

Once you have identified a topic that you are passionate about, you will need to do some research on the current state of affairs surrounding that issue. 

  • What are the research-based best-practices related to this issue? 
  • What resources are available?
  • What decisions have been made about this topic in the past?
  • Who are the decision makers that impact the topic?
  • What are other organizations doing to support or oppose this issue?

Based on your research, you can determine what the ultimate goal of your advocacy efforts will be. Once a goal set, it is time to take action. Here are just a few of the advocacy actions you can take:

  • Build partnerships – Connect with other people or organizations that have the same passion and vision
  • Education – present information to families and the community on the importance of the issue in the form of presentations, written materials, social media posts, etc.
  • Fundraising – organize events to raise awareness and donations to support your cause
  • Media outreach – reach a wider audience by submitting  a letter to the editor or op-ed, send press releases about events and achievements, utilize social media, etc.
  • Legislative initiatives – invite policymakers to visit your program, contact policymakers about important votes that impact children and families, visit government offices to speak to policymakers, engage in Get Out the Vote efforts.

Tell us about your successful advocacy efforts on our Facebook page here.

For the main article Advocacy in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Advocacy Opportunities in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Involving Families and Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Incorporating Advocacy into Professional Development, CLICK HERE

June 2019 Newsletter – Advocacy in Early Childhood Education: Advocacy Opportunities in ECE

There are many opportunities for advocacy that relate to the field of ECE, and while some are large national initiatives, there are also causes that relate directly to individual states and communities.  Below is a list of initiatives related to our field that may inspire you to get involved in advocacy:

  • Universal child care – so every child is guaranteed a high-quality experience that doesn’t cause financial hardship for families
  • Quality improvement – to ensure programs are held to the highest standards of quality
  • Expansion of current levels of subsidized care – to provide more access to care for families in need
  • Worthy wages – to ensure teachers are paid fair wages for the work they do
  • Policy and regulation changes – to create licensing regulations and policies that ensure safety and quality
  • Expansion of access to community services – so families have the resources they need to care for children at home
  • Early childhood mental health – to create services and access for families
  • Health and safety initiatives – for safer community spaces
  • Child abuse and neglect – to ensure children’s well-being
  • Anti-bullying – so children feel safe at school, at home, and online
  • Inclusion – to provide access to special education for children who have been diagnosed with disabilities
  • Early literacy/Reading  – so families are aware of the importance of reading to children each day
  • SIDS/Shaken Baby Syndrome – to educate parents on creating safe home environments for infants
  • Family engagement – so that every family feels valued, regardless of their makeup        
  • Diversity – to ensure access to services for all children
  • Play – to raise awareness of the value of play and developmentally appropriate practices
  • Nature – to educate parents and the public of the need to safe nature experiences and spaces for children

This is just a short list of issues related to ECE.  What is your favorite advocacy issue?  Tell us on our Facebook page here.

For the main article Advocacy in Early Childhood Education, CLICK HERE

For the article Advocacy Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Involving Families and Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Incorporating Advocacy into Professional Development, CLICK HERE 

June 2019 Newsletter – Advocacy in Early Childhood Education

The word advocate means to publicly recommend or support a cause or initiative. Essentially, it involves adding your voice to a larger collective that is attempting to effect change in the community.  On a broad scale, advocacy entails acts that raise awareness, influence decision makers, and advance legislative proposals.

For some people, this may seem intimidating, especially if participating in advocacy efforts is something new.  Fortunately, there are many different opportunities to act as an advocate, once you have identified a worthy cause. Some of these opportunities involve face-to-face interactions with government officials, but many efforts can be accomplished in a less direct manner. 

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is one of the most valuable advocacy organizations in our field.  They work tirelessly on behalf of early childhood professionals to address the issues that impact the work you do with children and families. They have developed excellent resources that you can use to add your voice to the masses who are fighting for high-quality early learning experiences for young children.

Throughout this month’s newsletter, we will explore the place that advocacy has in our field and how it can be used to advance important issues related to early childhood education.

For the article Advocacy Opportunities in ECE, CLICK HERE

For the article Advocacy Strategies, CLICK HERE

For the article Involving Families and Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Incorporating Advocacy into Professional Development, CLICK HERE

May 2019 Student Spotlight – Lisa Stevens

I was a Head Start parent who volunteered in my daughter’s preschool classroom in the 1994-1995 school year. An Assistant Teacher position became available and I applied and started as an Assistant Teacher in 1995. I taught in the classroom for just over 20 years. I spent four years as an Assistant Teacher and then the rest of my years as Lead Teacher until I took a Mentor position.

My favorite time to be in the classrooms is still Choice Time (Free Play). The amount of discovery, “lightbulb moments”, and learning you can watch unfold, and help facilitate during that time of day is just the best! I think that, like myself, most of the children would say Choice Time is their favorite time of day!

I am currently the Education Mentor for our Head Start program and handle Professional Development tracking. At 18, I knew I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children, and I still get to be a part of that by supporting their Teachers as they reflect on teaching practices and further their work as quality preschool teachers. I was awarded my CDA early in my career and kept that until I began college for Early Childhood. I love the position I currently hold, and the agency I work for, so I can see myself staying in this position as long as that’s possible. What I love most about being an Education Mentor is being able to be a support to teachers, knowing I understand and have been in their shoes.

CCEI provides our teaching staff with SUTQ Ohio Approved training hours that are relevant to their work in the classrooms. Through coaching, we can individualize our Professional Development efforts and assign CCEI trainings to staff considering their current goals and the needs they have expressed. I have received positive feedback from the teaching staff about how CCEI courses made them dig deeper and reflect on their practices. I will be using CCEI for my own professional Development in the future.

In my free time, I love spending time with my husband and our four granddaughters. I love to do art projects or crafting with my granddaughters. I love being involved at my church because it’s really my “home away from home”. I like to read and be near the water whether that’s a lake at a local state park, a waterfall on a trail, or at the beach. Those peaceful moments help me to recharge and refocus, so that I can give the best of me to my family and my career.

May 2019 Newsletter – Engaging in Play with Children: Director’s Corner – Encouraging Teachers to Engage in Play with Children

In early learning environments, as with most other workplace settings, the tone is set at the top. This means there are things that you can do as a leader to encourage teachers to be more playful in the classroom.  Below is a list of a few things to consider – we would love to hear how you encourage teachers to engage in play in your program.

Be playful. Play games during staff meetings that build teamwork and cooperation.  Ask teachers to brainstorm ways that these games can be adapted for children of different ages.

Practice playing. Provide professional development opportunities that allow teachers to engage in play and recognize the benefits of open-ended, free play. Trainings should also guide teachers how to enter into play and ways to engage with children in meaningful ways.

Make intentional plans to play. When reviewing teachers’ lesson plans, provide feedback about ways that more open-ended exploration of materials can be integrated into the plan.  Encourage teachers to identify which times of day, or during which activities, they intend to engage children in play.

Materials for play. Review material request lists to ensure that most of the requested materials can be used during open-ended free play. During classroom inspections, look for materials that can be used creatively and in multiple ways.

Time for play. Observe classrooms in action to ensure that the daily schedule allows for long periods of interrupted play. Work with teachers to adjust their daily routine to include more time for children to engage in free play.

Model ways to engage in play with children. Set ten minutes aside each week to visit classrooms and just play with the children.  Encourage teachers to observe you, whenever possible. Afterward, talk about what they noticed you doing while you were engaged with the children.

Organize play dates. Once a month, invite parents to visit the program and engage in play with their children. Teachers can guide parents on ways to allow children to engage in child-led play and engage with them in meaningful ways. Provide a variety of resources for parents to take with them about the value of play!

For the main article Engaging in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Why Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Ways to Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article When to NOT Engage in Play with Children, CLICK HERE