April 2020 Student Spotlight – Renée LaBossiere

My name is Renée LaBossiere.  I live in Pinellas County, FL and I have been in the Early Childhood field for 20 years.  I didn’t choose this career path, but I feel like it chose me. I feel like this is where I’m meant to be.  It is a passion of mine to watch our children flourish and be who they are meant to become through nature, discovery, wonder, and fun.  I’ve always believed that children learn best through play.  It is also a passion to help educate others about the benefits of learning these ways.

I’m always learning, growing and evolving with the children and within myself, as a teacher and personally.  Continuing my education is also a passion.  After six years through Penn Foster online, I received my AS in Early Childhood back in 2016.  I have been taking courses through CCEI for ten years now and I really like all of the information I obtain.  As a CCEI course reviewer for the past four years, I enjoy seeing and reviewing the new information being presented.  My three top recommendations are SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings,  CHD109: Supporting Spiritual Development in Early Learning Environments, and the most recent one I reviewed is CUR125: Loose Parts: Incorporating Found Objects and Open-Ended Materials into the Classroom.

I was already doing many things that came naturally to me, throughout my years of learning and discovery, and I realized that I’m a mixture of philosophies – Reggio Emelia, Magda Gerber’s RIE, Waldorf, and Montessori all inspire me, among a few others.  One of my pastimes has also been running my Facebook and Instagram page, Calming Me, Calming You – The Owl’s Nest for going on three years as well. I also enjoy being outside in nature, at parks or the beach, spending time with my family, dancing, yoga, crafts, art, reading, and writing from poetry to quotes. I have a started a blog and I would really like to write some children’s books.

April 2020 Newsletter – Special Edition: Coronavirus Resources


When you have peace in yourself and accept, then you are calm enough to do something, but if you are carried by despair, there is no hope.

– Thich Nhat Hanh


We are in uncertain times right now.  The Coronavirus has caused leaders to make difficult decisions that impact each of us in some way.  Schools and business are closed in many parts of the country and there are daily reports of growing numbers of people diagnosed with COVID-19.  You probably have many questions weighing on your mind.  When will this end?  Will I have the resources I need to take care of my family?  When will I be able to return to work?  What happens if I get sick?  What if I run out of things to watch on Netflix?

Not having the answers to questions can cause some people to feel more anxious than normal.  In addition to feeling apprehension, symptoms of anxiety also include restlessness, frustration, inability to concentrate, body aches, and trouble sleeping.  Sometimes, gaining more information can help ease these feelings and promote a sense of peace. As they say, knowledge is power!

Unfortunately, we are also in an era of misinformation and it can be difficult to know where to turn to receive trustworthy information.  We have compiled a list of resources that you may find helpful in your search for information about this pandemic.

About the virus and the response:

About economic and community resources:z

For mental health resources:

For helping children and families:

For activity ideas:


We at CCEI are wishing you all the best during this difficult time.  Be well.

March 2020 Student Spotlight – Matt Rogers

My career began as an accident at first.  My sister was working with school-aged children when she asked if I wanted to work at the YMCA here in Santa Clarita, CA. When I started working with the school-age children, the preschool also needed help.  My site director sent me to assist and I impressed the director so much with the way I cared for the children that she wanted me to work for her.  After working there, I wanted to explore preschool more and ended up working at another preschool for 13 years where I grew to love not only the kids but my staff I worked with as well.  It felt like family and to this day I would still do anything for the providers I worked with.  Now some of my kids have grown and are in high school.  A few weeks ago something happened that shook our town to its core.  Even though kids I have cared for are bigger now, they are still in my heart and I am #SaugusStrong.

My favorite activity during the school day is the children’s choice time and whenever they are exploring. At that point, I’m learning from them, seeing who they are as individuals.  My heart motivates me to work with children.  Kids are kind and caring and don’t pass judgement and everyday when a kid smiles at you its genuine, not forced.  When you see a child whose day would be crushed if you weren’t there it becomes the same when the kids aren’t there for me as well.

What I enjoy most about my job and educating children is seeing who they grow up to be.  They don’t remember you as they grow, but their parents do and knowing that you were a small building block to their development makes it the most rewarding to me.

In my free time I draw and write children’s stories and I self published as a downloadable book.  I also enjoy spending time with my son whom has been teaching me the fine aspects of jazz on his saxophone and clarinet.  I don’t play but I enjoy watching and listening to him, and I am in awe of his talent.

I would love to continue my education and I feel like I’m never going to stop.  As a teacher, you learn something new everyday.  I have participated in three CCEI courses thus far:  GUI103: Understanding Aggressive and Defiant Behaviors, CUR125: Loose Parts: Incorporating Found Objects and Open-Ended Materials into the Classroom, and CUR124: Active Learning Experiences in Early Childhood so far but I am still actively taking courses.  I plan on taking and completing as many trainings with CCEI as I can.  I would recommend CCEI to anyone because the courses are so detailed and the handouts allow me to have the information I learned after taking the course even to share with my students’ parents.  I am very thankful the current owner I work for provided training for us through CCEI.  The training offered truly helps to create a resource for staff to go to when there is information we need or want to learn something new that we haven’t seen or heard about and it helps make us more prepared for issues that might arise from day to day.

March 2020 Newsletter – Self-Care: How Can I Support Self-Care in My Program?

It is important for directors and program administrators to lead the way when it comes to incorporating self-care. “Burn out” is a huge issue in the education field and leads to high turnover rates among teachers. Encouraging staff members, children, and even parents to practice self-care can benefit everyone. That being said, being responsible for a program full of staff and students can be incredibly stressful, so it is just as important for directors and program administrators to practice self-care.

We highly recommend using a variety of methods to encourage self-care.  You can share articles, books, videos, or professional development courses, such as the one offered by CCEI (PROF100: Stress Management for Child Care Providers).  Once employees have had the chance to review the materials, hold discussions about the benefits that self-care would bring to the program, obstacles to the practice of self-care, and what you can do to support self-care practices. Some of the ways you can encourage and support self-care are:

  • Consider guided meditation or yoga before opening for the day
  • Incentivize teachers for self-care practices
  • Provide bonuses or gifts that are self-care related
  • Track self-care activities on a bulletin board on the staff lounge (here is a staff Self-Care Bingo to try)
  • Share self-care reminders and strategies via social media or email
  • When time allows offer a duty free lunch or recess time
  • Encourage teachers to recognize the good in each other
  • Give teachers the opportunity to journal about the school day for themselves not to be turned in or evaluated
  • Handle issues with compassion

These are just a couple of suggestions of how directors and school administrators could support their staff and encourage their self-care practices. Again it is important to keep in mind that self-care is important for everyone, so take a moment to evaluate your self-care practices, and even consider encouraging the parents to do the same.

For the main article Self-Care, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article How Can I Practice More Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article How Can I Help My Students Practice Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

March 2020 Newsletter – Self-Care: How Can I Help My Students Practice Self-Care?

We’ve shown you just how important self-care is for teachers as it helps them cope with daily stressors, therefore, it is logical to assume that benefits of self-care would also be good for children. While self-care becomes increasingly more important as children begin attending school, practicing these activities from a young age can help children create positive, life-long habits. Here are some examples of activities teachers can do to promote self-care in the early learning environment:

  • Kinesthetic brain breaks or movement (here is just one example)
  • Healthy snacks and lunches – talk to children about how the foods are helping their bodies and minds
  • Encourage children to drink water
  • Celebrate small moments
  • Recognize effort as well as success
  • Take a walk outside
  • Quiet time/Meditation
  • Read aloud
  • Let children acknowledge and talk about their feelings
  • Reflective prompts
  • Classroom yoga
  • Sing and dance
  • Provide opportunities to create

What do you do to help your students practice self-care? Tell us on Facebook!

For the main article Self-Care, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article How Can I Practice More Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – How Can I Support Self-Care in My Program?, CLICK HERE

March 2020 Newsletter – Self-Care: How Can I Practice More Self-Care?

It is important to understand that everyone has different lives with different needs and different schedules, so self-care will look different for everyone. Self-care is so much more than taking a bath or visiting a spa. While making time to pamper yourself does count, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  Here are some suggestions of ways you could include self-care into your daily routine:

  • Going for a walk
  • Exercising
  • Listening to music
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating health food
  • Meditation/Mindfulness
  • Aromatherapy
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Creating or engaging in a hobby
  • Learning something new
  • Doing a digital detox
  • Saying “No”
  • Practicing self-compassion
  • Setting firm boundaries
  • Taking 10 to 20 minutes a day to decompress
  • Joining social groups or communities
  • Asking for help
  • Meeting new people
  • Visiting friends and family
  • Seeking a support system at work
  • Taking professional development classes
  • Decluttering
  • Tidying up
  • Volunteering

While all of these are great self-care activities, it is important to remember that this is just a snapshot as the possibilities are endless. The bolded ones are especially recommended for teachers. Check out some other ideas on our Pinterest page!

For the main article Self-Care, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article How Can I Help My Students Practice Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – How Can I Support Self-Care in My Program?, CLICK HERE

March 2020 Newsletter – Self-Care: What is Self-Care?

Let’s start by saying the one thing everyone needs to hear, self-care IS NOT selfish! Many people have come to view self-care as an excuse to be selfish with the guilt, but really self-care is about taking the time to put your health and well-being first. This is often a foreign concept for people in the education field as they spend most of their day putting others first, which is one of the big reasons why the education field has such a high rate of burnout. When teachers constantly put their health and well-being as the last priority, it is easy to understand how stress builds up, how they could start to enjoy their jobs less and less, and how they could want to quit all together. In the end, teachers need to care as much about their health and happiness as they care about the health and happiness of their students. Here are some of the signs of burnout:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Frequent illness
  • Depression
  • Irritability with coworkers, friends, and family
  • Forgetfulness
  • General lack of interest/feeling of apathy
  • Working hard and feeling drained without signs of higher production

Self-care is any action that you use to improve your health and well-being. That being said, it should also be something you enjoy, so even though going for a run is good for your health, if you hate running, then it shouldn’t necessarily be considered self-care. Self-care should also be practiced daily, even for just a few minutes. It is not something to be put off for the weekend or for vacation. The six elements of self-care, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), are:

  • Physical Self-Care: involves movement of the body, health, nutrition, sleep, rest, and physical touch.
  • Psychological Self-Care: involves learning new things, applying consequential thinking, engaging intrinsic motivation, and practicing mindfulness and creativity.
  • Emotional Self-Care: involves enhancing emotional literacy, navigating emotions, increasing empathy, managing stress effectively, and developing compassion for self and others.
  • Spiritual Self-Care: involves the beliefs and values that are important to you and guide your life. This includes pursuing your noble goals and the practices that support you developing spiritual awareness.
  • Social Self-Care: involves having a supportive group and network of relationships around you whom you trust and turn to when required. Having caring and supportive people around you builds a sense of belonging and connectedness.
  • Professional Self-Care: involves sharing your strengths and gifts, and having clear professional boundaries, whilst living your purpose.

Try this self-care inventory to see what areas you might need to adjust your self-care routine.

For the main article Self-Care, CLICK HERE

For the article What is Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article How Can I Help My Students Practice Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – How Can I Support Self-Care in My Program?, CLICK HERE

March 2020 Newsletter – Self-Care

During these difficult and uncertain times, it can be incredibly beneficial to focus on self-care.  At this point, many have forgotten all about that New Year’s Resolution, and reverted back to old habits especially with the added stressors within our current environment. Take this time to reflect upon how well you are taking care of your own needs.

In this newsletter, we will explore the benefits of self-care for the health and wellness of everyone, but especially teachers. In this busy day and age, where we are connected twenty-four/seven, it is important to stop and take stock of individual needs. If you are feeling stressed and you are interested in finding ways to reduce your mental load, check out one of CCEI’s courses, PROF100: Stress Management for Child Care. This course is the free trial course of the month for individuals who are new to CCEI, so be sure to share with your colleagues!

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.”

-Audrey Lorde

For the article What is Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article How Can I Practice More Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article How Can I Help My Students Practice Self-Care?, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – How Can I Support Self-Care in My Program?, CLICK HERE

February 2020 Newsletter – Supporting Child Development: Interactions with Adults

Consider how the following interactions with adults can promote children’s development:

  • Day to day family conversations – Brief conversations with families help you build trust with parents, which will be useful when challenging conversations arise.
  • Family/teacher conferences – Conferences promote collaboration on goals for children’s future development, which will help parents promote development at home.
  • Email or paper communication with families- Teachers can share a wide variety of activity ideas via family communication tools. In addition, teacher can share positive guidance strategies that families can use to create a consistent approach to helping children learn self-regulation skills.
  • Staff meetings – Staff meetings provide an opportunity for staff members to learn from one another, brainstorm solutions to challenging situations, and address quality improvement efforts that will benefit children and families.
  • Disagreements with coworkers – When differences arise between coworkers, teachers have the opportunity to model compromise and problem solving skills. It is also an opportunity to consider solutions that will be best for children’s development.
  • Providing feedback on performance – Coaching or providing feedback on performance can help teachers improve teaching strategies, reduce stress, and develop deeper relationships with children.
  • Interactions with visitors and perspective families – These interactions provide children with examples of greetings, manners, and turn-taking conversations.

For the main article Supporting Child Development, CLICK HERE
For the article Tasks within the Physical Environment, CLICK HERE
For the article Tasks within the Daily RoutineCLICK HERE
For the article Interactions with Children, CLICK HERE

February 2020 Newsletter – Supporting Child Development: Interactions with Children

Consider how the following interactions with children promote development:

  • Greetings and departures – Welcoming children warmly sets the tone for the child’s entire day. It creates a sense of belonging, which children need to settle in and focus on learning. A sincere ‘good-bye’ lets children know they are valued and it models good manners.
  • Responding to behaviors/emotions – Caregivers can help children develop self-regulation skills and language skills during interactions related to challenging behaviors.
  • Conflict resolution – When teachers coach children through conflicts, they promote cooperation and problem solving skills.
  • Bottle feedings – Holding an infant during bottle feeding is a great time to make eye contact and talk with infants. You can sing songs and strengthen your bond with individual children, which is important to help them development attachments to others.
  • One-on-one conversations – Making time to have personal discussions with children is a great way to model patterns of language and rules of conversations. Teachers can introduce new vocabulary words and build relationships with children.
  • Planning and reviewing play- When teachers talk with children about their play, both their plans for play and reviewing accomplishments, it is a great way to build focus, self-confidence, and goal-setting skills.
  • Small groups- Small group times are usually used to explore math and early literacy concepts. Using small group instruction also allows children to learn from one another, practice cooperation skills, and communicate with each other.

For the main article Supporting Child Development, CLICK HERE 
For the article Tasks within the Physical Environment, CLICK HERE
For the article Tasks within the Daily Routine, CLICK HERE
For the article Interactions with Adults, CLICK HERE