February 2020 Newsletter – Supporting Child Development: Tasks within the Daily Routine

Consider how the following elements of the daily routine can promote children’s development:

  • Meals and snacks – Children learn healthy eating habits when caregivers provide healthy meals and snacks. They also learn about the characteristics of a variety of food items.
  • Setting up for naptime – Getting children involved in setting up for naptime promotes independence, communication skills, and physical development.
  • Diapering – Diapering is a time for you to engage in one-on-one conversations with young children. These moments help you establishing a trusting and supportive relationship with each child. You can sing songs that introduce new language or discuss body parts and characteristics of items within the child’s line of sight.
  • Handwashing – In addition to reducing the spread of disease, handwashing promotes independence, direction following skills, and establishes a healthy self-care habit for life.
  • Completing daily reports – Daily reports are tools for building relationships with families and sharing ways they can extend learning at home.
  • Cleaning toys – Clean toys decrease the number of illnesses in the environment. When children are included in the toy cleaning process, they have the chance to practice skills across all areas of development.
  • Large group times – Group meetings are a great time for children to develop a sense of belonging and build language and communication skills.

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

February 2020 Student Spotlight – Donna Montemarano

This past month, I earned my Infant/Toddler CDA credential. It is quite an accomplishment and I am very proud. I completed the on-line coursework from CCEI. I learned valuable information to use in and out of the classroom. I highly recommend the program! I could go on the computer anytime to do my work. I liked the flexibility, materials, videos and quality of the courses. I had an excellent education coach who was so supportive, informative and guided me through the start of my program till the end of my course. I am very inspired to continue my work in early childhood development.  I will continue to do my Professional Development courses from CCEI.

I live in Edison, New Jersey. I have an Associate Degree in Applied Science. I am married and have joyous memories of raising my children. As a family, we celebrated the seasons, art, literature, nature, and music. I volunteered to read to my children’s classes, participated in multicultural nights, chaperoned class trips, and enjoyed these activities very much. Watching my children learn, discover, and explore motivated me to work with children. I loved their questions, curiosity, and laughter. I work as a Head Teacher for mobile infants ages 12-18 months. It is an amazing stage of development that I am fascinated with. I really enjoy my connection with the families. They share special stories of their child at home and I share my stories of their child in the classroom. This feedback is so important as I am an active listener. Parents appreciate this very much.

My science background trained me to develop my attention to detail and observation skills. My parenting years have led me to my career path. My years of raising my children inspired me and motivated me to appreciate and recognize all the wonderful and critical stages of early childhood development.  I read books to my children starting in infancy and I strongly believe this is so important for child development. Spoken words connected with visual images, voices, holding the child, eye-contact and tactile all contribute to a child’s development.  In the future, I would love to write a children’s book.

February 2020 Newsletter – Supporting Child Development: Tasks within the Physical Environment

Consider how the following tasks can promote children’s development:

  • Rearranging furniture – Room arrangement should evolve with the needs and interests of the children. Proper room arrangement supports child engagement and the development of independence. Well organized classrooms help children focus on tasks and encourage children to make choices.
  • Cleaning the bathrooms – Clean bathrooms cut down on the spread of germs and prevent injury so that children remain healthy and able to participate in the program on a consistent basis.
  • Taking out the trash – In addition to the sanitary benefits, taking out the trash creates a pleasant learning environment that shows respect for children.
  • Wiping tables – Cleaning surfaces is a good way to teach children about germs. They can also participate in the daily chore of wiping the tables with soapy water (not sanitizer), which promotes responsibility.
  • Conducting an inventory of materials – Taking inventory will alert you to any materials that may be missing or broken. You can then determine the best way to replace those materials so that children can take advantage of the learning opportunities the materials provide.
  • Inspecting the playground – Playground inspections keep everyone safe so that children can establish healthy physical activity habits at an early age.
  • Creating displays and bulletin boards – Displays showcase children’s work and promote a sense of community spirit and pride.

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

February 2020 Newsletter – Supporting Child Development

As an early learning professional, it is your ultimate goal to support the development of each and every child in your care. That is no small order.  There are many factors to consider and influences at play when you think about supporting individual children within a group of 6-30 children.

With everything that’s on your plate – from diapering and daily reports to mealtimes and medication administration – it is easy to lose sight of the big picture. Every action you take is designed to support child development, even when things seem like menial tasks.  Even tasks specifically designed to help you, like conducting assessments and compiling portfolios, can seem more like paperwork that pulls you away from your ultimate goal of supporting the development of children.

If you start to feel frustrated with all of the job responsibilities, the first steps is to realize how you are feeling.  Notice the sensations in your body and the thoughts that are running through your mind.  Make note of them, so you can recognize them in the future. Then make the intentional decision to shift your thinking. Make a connection between the task and your ultimate goal of supporting the development of every child in your care.

Use the ideas shared in this newsletter to remind you of the benefits of how to incorporate learning opportunities that promote development throughout the day.

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 Children, CLICK HERE
For the article Interactions with Adults, CLICK HERE

January 2020 Student Spotlight – Laura Brown

I began my career as an assistant teacher in the Early Preschool room at Oregon Park Primrose School in 2017.  By 2019, the center had earned the privilege of having the teacher of the year at their school and becoming the Best of Cobb for childcare.

My training with ChildCare Education Institute has helped me meet state requirements for my position.  I have completed the GACE and want to continue my education with CCEI to be a better teacher.

My favorite activity and part of the day is morning Circle Time because the children are ready to start the day and so eager to learn!  As I began working in the school, I felt so drawn to the children as they clearly need love and affection in a safe environment and as such, they can learn so much about life.  The motivation that keeps me going is when they have an “Aha” moment and began to build on their own skill set to improve the language, social skills and cognitive abilities.

I currently live in Marietta, GA.  During my free time I am painting or crafting or refurbishing/recycling household items or I cycle with other bicycle enthusiasts. I am an amateur photographer and love to travel to destinations that lend themselves to photography.  I also enjoy opportunities to spend with my children and grandchildren and for ways to volunteer and give back to my community.

In the future, I see myself as lead teacher at Primrose and eventually running my own franchise or at least being part of their management team.  I have and continue to seriously consider adding CCEI coursework in an effort to have credentials such as my CDA.

I absolutely recommend CCEI to my coworkers and friends as it is incredibly convenient to anyone’s lifestyle and the support is invaluable. I truly feel like my thoughts and opinions matter to the people who work to make CCEI the awesome teaching platform that it is.   I look forward to taking more CCEI courses and continuing to make a positive difference in our youth’s future.

January 2020 Newsletter – Exploring Loose Parts: Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Get Started with Loose Parts

It is important for directors and program administrators to lead the way when it comes to incorporating loose parts. Your guidance, knowledge, and excitement about loose parts will be invaluable to staff members who are new to using these kinds of learning materials.

Use a variety of methods to introduce the concept of loose parts play.  You can share articles, books, videos, or professional development courses, such as the one offered by CCEI (CUR125: Loose Parts: Incorporating Found Objects and Open-Ended Materials into the Classroom).  Once employees have had the chance to review the materials, hold discussions about the benefits that loose parts would bring to the program, as well as the challenges that might arise.

Before collecting any new materials, take some time to guide teachers through a few of the following reflections:

  • Consider your program’s philosophy and mission statement. Work with staff members to align the benefits of loose parts to the overall mission of the program.
  • Work with individual teachers and teaching teams to reflect on how loose parts play relates to the goals teachers are attempting to reach in their learning environments.
  • Ask teachers to evaluate the materials that are currently used in the environment. How many could be considered loose parts? Which materials could be used in conjunction with loose parts? Which areas of the classroom could be enhanced with loose parts?
  • Ask teachers to consider the storage of loose parts. Where will materials be stored when not in use? What needs to happen to make space for the storage of loose parts? For example, do teachers need time to clean out a closet before bringing in new materials?
  • Work with teaching teams to identify a few simple, starter materials that teachers can introduce in to the learning environment. Help teachers decide how the materials will be introduced to children and a few guidelines for the use of the materials – but keep in mind that the use of these materials should be largely child-driven.

As teachers become more comfortable and confident with the implementation of loose parts, challenge them to continue to think outside of the box about the materials they use in the classroom.

You can find more tips for getting started in this resource here.

For the main article Exploring Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Older Children, CLICK HERE

January 2020 Newsletter – Exploring Loose Parts: Loose Parts for Older Children

Once children have stopped mouthing materials and have better muscle coordination, many different loose parts materials can be introduced.  Practically any safe material can be used as a loose part in a preschool classroom. The items provided to infants and toddlers can be enhanced with:

  • Various lengths of string, yarn, and ribbon
  • Sand paper scraps
  • Wooden sticks, disks, and logs
  • Polished and unpolished stones and rocks
  • Prisms, sea glass, and glass pebbles
  • Wire
  • Items made from cork or sponge
  • Dried and fresh flowers
  • Various seeds and pine cones
  • Clothes pins
  • Straw bales
  • Tires
  • Milk crates
  • PVC pipes and tubing
  • Pool noodles cut to different lengths
  • Buttons
  • Clothing made from a variety of fabrics
  • Dirt, mud, clay, etc.
  • Magnets
  • Dice and other random game pieces
  • Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors

Check out tons of other ideas on our Pinterest page here!

For the main article Exploring Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Get Started with Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

January 2020 Newsletter – Exploring Loose Parts: Loose Parts for Infants & Toddlers

When choosing loose parts for infants and toddlers, avoid materials that are choking hazards. That being said, there are many different materials that can be introduced to infants and toddlers:

  • Cardboard food and packing containers
  • Plastic bottles, yogurt cups, and empty spice containers
  • Various fabric scraps or doilies
  • Pots, pans, funnels, and utensils
  • Large spools
  • Baskets and tin containers
  • Various lids
  • Paper towel rolls and tubes of various sizes and materials
  • Pompoms and cotton balls
  • Various sizes and shapes of foam
  • Large beads and napkin rings
  • Nature items such as mini gourds, leaves, shells, etc.
  • Wooden pegs and dowel rods
  • Tile samples
  • Wooden planks

There are many other materials that you could use – what loose parts have you used with infants and toddlers?  Tell us on Facebook here!

For the main article Exploring Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Benefits of Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Older Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Get Started with Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

January 2020 Newsletter – Exploring Loose Parts: Benefits of Loose Parts

Because loose parts can be used in many different ways, they are a great tool for strengthening all areas of development.  Sometimes, children will use materials in ways that support hand-eye coordination and fine muscle development. Other times, they may use those same materials in a cooperative way that promotes communication, negotiation, and problem solving. Some loose parts lend themselves to the exploration of early literacy concepts, mathematics, or scientific thinking.

Loose parts are open-ended, meaning there is not a predetermined right way to use them. Using loose parts is an active, child-led process. This gives children an opportunity to express themselves creatively and use their imagination. Children can use materials that have multiple purposes in their storytelling and pretend play. These activities typically involve a group of children, meaning that they are also practicing cooperation, collaboration and negotiation skills.

As children explore, they are able to make connections to prior knowledge, learn from others, and conduct their own experiments. Because the exploration is child-driven, children strengthen their concentration skills, increasing their ability to focus their attention and ignore distractions. These learning experiences improve critical thinking and self-regulation skills, which are essential to success in school and in life.

Introducing loose parts outdoors can have the benefit of helping children connect to nature, which has scientifically proven benefits to health and well-being.  Items from nature can be used as loose parts that children can use to construct new creations and explore engineering and design.

What other loose parts benefits can you think of?  There are many, many more!

For the main article Exploring Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Older Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Get Started with Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

January 2020 Newsletter – Exploring Loose Parts

Happy New Year!  Happy New Decade!  What a great time to adopt new strategies to promote children’s creativity and exploration!

An easy and inexpensive way to do so is by incorporating loose parts into the learning environment.  “Loose parts” is a term used to describe any material that can be used in an open-ended manner.  These are materials that can be used in many different ways, or for many different purposes.

Loose parts can be recycled materials, found objects, or items from nature. Ideally, the materials are free, but some loose parts can be found in stores or from supply vendors for very little investment.

In this newsletter, we will explore the benefits of loose parts and materials that are appropriate to use with children of different ages. If you are interested in learning more about bringing these valuable learning materials into your environment, be sure to check out one of CCEI’s newest courses, CUR125: Loose Parts: Incorporating Found Objects and Open-Ended Materials into the Classroom. This course is the free trial course of the month of January 2020 for individuals who are new to CCEI, so be sure to share with your colleagues!

For the article Benefits of Loose Parts, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Infants & Toddlers, CLICK HERE

For the article Loose Parts for Older Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Get Started with Loose Parts, CLICK HERE