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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Getting to Know Your International Contacts – Part 3

Even though I have tried to contact numerous international early childhood professionals, I have only received two initial email responses back. After both of those organizations were contacted again for further information, I did not hear anything in return. Therefore, I have opted to finish up this course’s blog assignment with the podcast and new insights gleaned from UNESCO’s “Early Childhood Care and Education.”

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in International Contacts, Week 7

 

Sharing Web Resources – Part 3

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I have continued to explore in-depth the website of Zero to Three, which has challenged me to think and learn about early childhood education in new and exciting ways. My personal and professional growth has deepened, and I am gaining additional tools to utilize for my current and future work with children, families, and the community. Below you will find new pieces of information, fresh insights, and fantastic resources that I have recently found through this website.

New Discoveries of External Links ….

While Zero to Three contains wonderful resources and information within the context of the website without having to go to another external source, I decided to peruse a few outside links to see where I would end up. I discovered …

  • In the About Us section, one can easily access the Funded Projects tab on the left hand side that leads to a few external links of how Zero to Three supports additional projects to help foster healthy development during the early years. (You can find this Funded Projects page here.) Simply click on your choice of funded project, which will take you to a description page of how Zero to Three provides supports, and some are followed by an external link for more information. These were two of the external links I explored:

    • bannerEarly Head Start National Resource Center works on the communication systems and people network, building up knowledge, and providing development for programs. When you click here, you will be directed to the Zero to Three page about this project, which will then have the link for Early Head Start National Resource Center. Upon clicking on this external link, I was propelled into a world of fascinating information about the support of the Early Head Start programs in the field of education.
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    • National Center on Child Care Professional Development Systems and Workforce Initiatives
      (PDW Center) The description on the Zero to Three website can be located here. After reviewing this page, there is an external link connecting readers to the Office of Child Care‘s website. This website provides excellent resources in regards to funding, initiatives, policy and programs, and technical assistance. 

  • Nearing the bottom of the website of Zero to Three, there are four teal-green buttons with a few external links. While one of them directs reads to Early Head Start, as listed above, another button directly links followers to the website of Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Technical Assistance. ( You can find it right here.) This website provides additional information about the Home Visiting program, as well as grant opportunities, webinars, and technical assistance guidance in regards to this program. This external link provides outstanding resources about the home visiting initiative.

Thorough Evaluation of Early Childhood Mental Health

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Throughout my educational journey, my awareness about child development, early learning, and early interventions has widened extensively. However, I am still learning about the impact of early childhood mental health, as I was never fully aware that this was a significant issue for young children. Therefore, I opted to explore this area on the website in-depth to discover more about this topic. I found …

  •  … On the Main Page of Early Childhood Mental Health (found here)
    • A description of infant mental health and what research and practice is actively doing to help promote healthy development in this area
    • A short video clip of an experiment called “Still Face” paradigm, which looked at the reactions of an infant when a parent/caregiver suddenly stopped being responsive
    • Additional resources that support this issue
  • …. Little Kids, Big Questions Podcast (listen here)
    • A series of 12 podcasts that cover a range of tough issues when dealing with early childhood
    • While the topics covered topics on a broad spectrum, a few of them were pertinent to early childhood mental health like:
  • Effective strategies that help promote a healthy sense of mental health development (see full descriptions here)
    • Promotion: Reaches out to families to answer questions about usual behavior/development
    • Prevention: Helping families who are in stressful situations
    • Treatment: Direct intervention to help deter the negative impact of stressful situations on a child’s mental health
  • Connections to the DC:0-3R, a Zero to Three diagnostic manual for early child mental health. You can access this phenomenal resource here.
  • Additional resources, reports, and papers that highlight early childhood mental health (Full access and complete list of resources is located here.)

After evaluating this area closely, I was shocked to see the amount of research and support this issue has been receiving, both in past and current. As more research and data documents the development of young children additional investment in early childhood mental health will be made, which will hopefully help identify and address potential problems in young children before they get out-of-hand. This area made me realize how important a holistic approach to child development is, as the entire child needs to be address in order to ensure optimal growth and success.

E-Newsletter: Not a Reality

Even though I subscribed to two different e-Newsletters in the beginning of January, I still have yet to receive anything from Zero to Three in my inbox. In lieu of this missing information, I decided read the policy blog, which discusses policy issues that impact children and families. (Read the entire blog here.) Several of the issues discussed in this blog are related to those that are currently being studied throughout this course. Some new pieces of information I picked up were:

  • President Obama’s Second Inauguration challenges early childhood educators to seize the moment and advocate for the policies that create equal opportunities for all children, especially for those in poverty or at-risk. This blog post helped me see that early childhood educators are on the front-line defense in advocacy. We must raise our voices to start policy awareness.
  • Another blog post discussed the issue of accessibility (or lack thereof) in early childhood education. It discussed how important strong relationships and positive early learning experiences, both of which are in quality early learning programs, are in the life of a child. However, supply and access to such programs remains varied across the state. This post helped me to see how access to quality early childhood education needs to improve in order for all children to have an opportunity.

Overall, this blog provides practical suggestions and tips for effective policy advocacy from families and professionals.

Equity and Excellence … Additional Insights

One of the many aspects that I admire about this website is the wide audience it appeals to. Professionals can find endless resources to help support their knowledge, families can find practical (and helpful) information specifically geared to their child’s age, and even policymakers are able to learn how various policies and legislation are influencing this field. Therefore, the Zero to Three website contains an array of resources and policy briefs about the issue of equity and excellence in early care and education. Some of the information I gleaned that added to my understanding was:

  • Even though at-risk children would probably receive the most benefits from quality early childhood education, this group is more likely to have access poorer quality early learning programs, which will not help with optimal growth and success. Congress has the position to create supports and help expand the accessibility issue for at-risk children through a variety of resources, including the Child Care and Development Block Grant. This piece of information taught me that the government plays a vital role in this field and needs to increase their involvement if all children are to be reached. (To read  this brief in full, please click here.) 
  • In order to be responsive in early childhood education, it is imperative that educators are well-compensated and have a expertise in the specific development of young children. This will increase the level of effectiveness and quality in a program, as teachers will be able to adequately respond to the specific needs of children.
  • In conjunction with professional knowledge, as stated above, it is imperative that teachers have training in how to handle early childhood mental health. Children are being exposed more and more to depression and trauma at a young age, which could increase the level of referrals and interventions through a mental health spectrum. This tidbit of information really helped me to see how vital high levels of education among professionals, including knowledge about child mental health, is in this field. Without this knowledge, children will not be effectiveness reached or responded to. (For additional information about professional development as stated in the two above points, please read this brief.)

Additional New Insights Gleaned …

In addition to the above information, there were a few new insights I gained along the way above the issues and trends in early childhood education.

  • On the Federal Policy Updates page, I discovered a link about the federal budget process. This article documented the step-by-step process that the federal government takes to enforce a set budget in the field of early childhood education. This article was excellent, as it describes very clearly how a budget is passed. In addition, there are practical suggestions for advocating. This article taught me that I have numerous opportunities to advocate for funding through the budget process. I don’t have to wait for a specific period to raise my voice. Advocacy efforts can and should occur from the beginning of the proposed budget to the end. (To read this article, please click here.)
  • As I briefly explored the Health and Nutrition page, I stumbled across an article about optimal eating. Since my son has profound feeding difficulties, I have always assumed that I need to remain in charge and in control when it came to feeding times. However,this article shared that children can regulate their own food and must be able to initiate the acceptance of food. This new insight about the feeding relationship showed me how I was approaching feeding incorrectly. Not only will I be able to improve feeding times with my son, but I will also utilize this new insight in my professional career as well. (To read about The Feeding Problem, click here.)

Overall, exploring the Zero to Three website has expanded and deepened my current knowledge about early childhood education. I discovered numerous pieces of new information and insights, which has shaped and guided my professional development.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Early Childhood Resources, Week 6

 

Getting to Know Your International Contacts – Part 2

Despite numerous attempts to contact international early childhood educators through different outlets, I have received little correspondence back. I sent out over 50 emails to various international early childhood professionals and organizations, but I didn’t receive anything in return. Therefore, I turned to the popular social media resource of Facebook. I discovered two different international organizations and sent emails to both of them. I was elated when I received a response back from both of them. However, although I sent emails with this week’s inquiry, I have not heard anything back. Hence, I have turned once again to the alternative assignment of listening to the World Forum Radio, discovering new insights from two pod casts.

Meridas Eka Yora, Yayasan Fajar Hidayah Foundation  radio_yora
(click here to listen)

Meridas Yora is the founder of an institution for Islamic education and currently serves as the director of an organization that runs boarding schools for children who were left orphaned as a result of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Aceh, located in the southern tip of Indonesia. With more than 130,000 children left without families, Mr. Yora worked with others to create three different boarding schools for these young lives. Since many of them witnessed the death of their parents and/or families, the traumatic event still runs deep for many children. Therefore. Mr. Yora spoke about the fact that this foundation zones in  on the teachers and provides them specialized training when they work with these children. Before academics, these teachers must take on the role of mother and father to help ease the hurt and to promote healing. In the beginning of the program, there was a time set up each night for the teachers to sit with the children as they wept. Overall, the organization helps to promote a family-like environment for the orphaned children. Many of the older ones have begun to watch out for the younger ones, acting as if they are brothers and sisters. For those children who really struggle months later with this trauma, Mr. Yora and his wife treats them like they are their own children, which helps with a more normal life (Yora, 2010).

After listening to Mr. Yora pod cast, I was encouraged to hear about the proactive work that is occurring in Indonesia for those children who began orphans within minutes. I learned that it is important to set up a firm family foundation for children before attempting to focus on academics. Without that family support, children will not be able to reach optimal success. Mr. Yora was aware of this by encouraging the teachers to take on the role of like a mother and father before even doing academics. As these children heal and feel a family environment once again, learning will become a positive experience. Mr. Yora also gave me the insight that children who have been traumatized need additional support and help if learning and development is going to be a positive experience. Without this extra support, these children will not be able to succeed to the best that they could.

radio_chehabMaysoun Chehab, Beirut,Lebanon
(Click here to listen)

Maysoun Chehab serves as the Regional Early Childhood Care & Development Program Coordinator for Arab Resource Collective, a non-governmental program in Beirut, Lebanon. This organization works with “EDC practioners, policymakers, and ACD community ,,, to raise awareness about early childhood development and child’s rights” (Chehab, 2009). In additional to making various resources available for parents, caregivers, and the community about issues relating to early childhood development, Ms. Chehab also trains early childhood professionals about best practices, Ms. Chehab spoke highly about a recent a psychological support project that targeted children and families affected by the 2006 Lebanon war. Although only 33 days long, this war destroyed about 126 primary schools, impacting hundreds of children and families. This support project brought in training for parents about the emotional and social reactions that children would have from a post-conflict situation. In addition, this project focused on a lengthy training for mothers, fathers, and teachers about coping techniques and strategies, which left these individuals feeling more competent to hand the children’s reactions. This is aimed to provide support for the adults, for “if adults aren’t supported themselves, they can’t support young children” (Chehab, 2009).

Listening to Ms. Chehab’s pod cast, I learned how important it is to support the families and adults who are in direct contact with children on a regular basis. In early childhood education, we sometimes get tunnel-visioned on the academics and development of the child, easily forgetting to support the adults within that child’s life. Ms. Chehab taught me that if these adults don’t have support, then they can’t truly guide those children. Without this support for young children, optimal success will not be achieved. Therefore, as I continue throughout my educational journey, I now have the heightened awareness that I need to support not only children, but their families as well.

In addition to attempting to contact Ms. Allen and Ms. Mitchell from my previous post (dated 1/26/13), I also sent emails out to Mr. Yora and Ms. Chehab to gain further insight and knowledge about the programs they work with. Although emails were sent out to all four pod cast speakers, I have not heard back from any of them. Follow-up emails will be sent in hopes of receiving a response. In the meantime though, I explored the “Global Children’s Initiative” on the Center of Developing Child (Harvard University) website. Listed below are several bits of information and insights I gleaned from this website.

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The Global Children’s Initiative is an “international approach to child survival, health, and development” (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012). Through joining together numerous disciplines and institutions, this Initiative is attempting to address the needs of all children, as well as advocating for an investment in “the root of economic productivity, positive health outcomes, and strong civil society in all nations” (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012). It focuses on three main areas:

  • influencing high-end policymakers
  • supporting various projects and research
  • creating leadership “capacity in a child development research and policy” (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012).

Based upon these three areas, there are numerous activities being created that fall into one of these three categories:

  • early childhood development
  • child mental health
  • children in crisis and conflict situations (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012)

After reading thoroughly about this international initiative, I gained several new insights about child development and the field of early childhood education:

Early childhood education requires many players from numerous fields for ideal success, quality, and effectiveness. 

  • While the knowledge and hard work from teachers directly influences children and their families, there are many sources that play indirect roles in the world of early childhood education. Without these participants, the success of early learning would not have reached the level it has today. The Global Children’s Initiative works with a variety of people, ranging from researchers to public leaders. Through this multi-level collaborative effort, early childhood education is able to reach children and families through quality education and care. Without this collaboration, I can now see how this field wouldn’t advance.

Teacher professional development needs to increase throughout the world, not just in the United States.

  • Throughout this course, I have been learning about the dire need to increase the teacher quality through the United States. I primarily assumed that other leading nations were not affected by this issue. However, after reading through this Initiative and the projects that are occurring in Chile to “improve teacher professional development” (Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012), I was able to see that this is a international issue that all early childhood programs need to continuously work to improve the teacher education. In addition to advocating for higher teacher education in the United States, I am now challenge to advocate for this issue internationally.

Child mental health is a huge issue that is often undermined.

  • Child mental health is a “massively under-addressed issue that has significant implications for broader health and development of children and societies” (Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012). This statement really caught my attention, as I have been so focused on the learning and development of children that I failed to acknowledge that child mental health needs to be addressed.My eyes were really opened to this issue, as more and more children around the world are being exposed to negative situations that could lead to an impacted mental health status. Rather than placing such an emphasis on academics, we need to take a step back and address the child holistically, looking at every developmental domain. Through doing this, educators will be more aware of the need for assessing a child’s mental health status. This new insight has encouraged me to incorporate more holistic assessments for children, in order for them to reach their optimal level of success.

To continue to read about the Global Children’s Initiative, please click here.

Overall, this assignment taught me a lot about the direct and indirect sources that affect a child’s learning and development. It was a refreshing assignment that made me more aware of the collaboration that takes place in early childhood education to help produce quality and effective early learning and care.

References:

Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2012). Global children’s initiative. Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/activities/global_initiative/

Chehab, M. (2009, November 13). Episode 4: Maysoun Chehab. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_04_MaysounChehab.mp3

Yora, M. (2010, January 6). Episode 6: Meridas Yora. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_06_MeridasYora.mp3

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in International Contacts, Week 5

 

Sharing Web Resources – Part 2

As I continued to evaluate the website Zero to Threethere have been several new insights I have gained, new information I have learned, and new ideas I have discovered along the way. I have found that my knowledge about early childhood education has grown by leaps and bounds through this fantastic resource.

Specific Information Relevant to My Current Professional Development

While this website have an enormous about of information, there were two particular sections that very well to my current professional development:

  • School Readiness Interactive Tool (click here to access this resource)
    This interactive tool is an excellent resource to help caregivers, parents, and families learn how to shape and guide early learning for children. This resource breaks down the early childhood years into three categories: Birth to 12 months, 12-24 months, and 24-36 months. Within each age category, there are four different groups: language and literacy, thinking skills, self-control, and self-confidence. With a click on each of these groups, there are video clips, parent-child activities, frequently asked questions, and (coming soon) related resources. Since I currently have a three year old, I explored the 24-36 month section. Below is just a snippet of what I found
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    In the Language and Literacy section, it talked about teaching language and literacy through everyday moments. One of the suggested parent-child activities was to go pretend shopping. In the Self-Control section, one of the tips was to respond to tantrums in a way that helps teach self-control. An activity is to play red light, green light to help improve self-control skills. One of the frequently asked questions was how to shop with an active two year old (Zero to Three, 2012).Overall, I found this resource to be very relevant in my current professional development, as it covers significant learning areas in a child from birth to three years old. Furthermore, I can utilize a lot of the activities within my daily activities and lesson plans, with follow-up recommendations to families. This resource connected well with me, as it will be one I use on a regular basis in my personal and professional development.
  • Developmental Screening, Assessment, and Evaluation: Key Elements for Individualizing Curricula in Early Head Start Programs (click here to read this article)This in-depth article covers developmental screening, assessment, and evaluation in early childhood education. It begins with definitions of the above terms. It is then followed by an approach and guideline to screening, assessment, and evaluation, which includes using multiple resources, involving the family, remaining culturally sensitive, and ensuring that the staff is well-trained. This article also discusses what the avoid and how plan for curriculum and ongoing assessment. A list of resources and reviews of screening and assessment tests are included in the appendix.

    Considering my background in special education, I am hoping to bring this into my everyday work environment. However, instructing other staff members how to accurrately and appropriately screen, assess, and evaluate young children for suspected delays can be a challenge. When I came across this resource, I was impressed by its depth and coverage for how to apply developmental screenings, assessments, and evaluations for young children. This resource is relevant in my current professional development, as it will come in handy as I work with more children from various backgrounds and development levels. In addition, as I begin to take on the role of administration, I will utilize this resource to help staff members under my leadership to learn the proper way to screen and assess a child with developmental delays.

Ideas/Statements/Resources that Made Me Think In a New Way

As I explored this website, there were a few sections that really put a new light on some issues within early childhood education. While I had previous thoughts and ideas related to certain issues, the way Zero to Three presented information challenged me to see things in a new way.

  • Play (click here to learn more about play)
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    While I am beginning to see how significant play is in the lives of young children, the Zero to Three resources shed a new light on just how crucial this issue is. 
    On the Move is a booklet that shares the significance of play during the first three years of a child’s life. There are suggested activities to incorporate into daily playing, tips on what toys to buy, and what to do for children with special needs. This resource helped me realized the the environment that a child is playing in is important. If it is too cluttered or has distraction, play may not be as beneficial. I never considered the physical environment as a factor in play, however now I can see how important it is to create a child-friendly environment for play. To read more from this booklet, please click here.
    Playtime True and False really helped to dispel a lot of myths I carried about play during early childhood. This power point presentation explained that play happens everywhere and doesn’t have to be organized. While I have somewhat grasped this concept, I was able to gain a new view on how we as caregivers and parents need to utilize every moment we have, as children are constantly learning. In addition, this presentation also emphasized that it is important for children to receive outdoor play, as it addresses more gross motor skills. I typically considered play as an indoor activity, however this resource showed me that it is vital for children to get outside to stretch, run, and play. A final thing I learned about play is that sharing is a complex skill. As children are play, professionals often urge them to share their toys. However, the trait of learning may not be developed yet in young children, so they may not actually know how to play. I was fascinated by this fact, and I have found that this new view on play has changed what I expect from children. To view this power point presentation and additional resources on play, please click here.
  • Social Emotional Development
    The section on social emotional development (click here to access this page with plenty of resources) provided a new light on different aspects that influence young children. Specifically, there was an article about the male influence on young children and the positive effects that this brings. This helped me to see that it is important to encourage both parents (if there are two parents) to actively participate in their child’s learning and growth. (To read this article, please click here.) In addition, I also gained a new insight about music and the impact that it leaves on the quality of life. (This article is found here). The social emotional development resource page contained excellent resources that showed me the different factors that shape this developmental domain in young children.

Neuroscientists, Economists, and Politicians: Their Support

The Zero to Three website contained valuable information on how neuroscientists, economists, and politicians support the field of early childhood education. Below are just some of the resources that this website shared:

  • Since maltreatment in early childhood education leads to high rates of disorganized attachment and developmental delays, developmental neuroscientists have documented how early intervention and child welfare policies can help reduce or reverse these adverse effects of maltreatment. (Full article is located here).
  • Child abuse and neglect should become a public health priority, as scientists have discovered how abuse and neglect could produce negative implications on the brain, often lasting into adulthood. If public health made this issue a prior, the adverse effects of child abuse and neglect could be properly addressed, producing more optimal results for the child and the society at large. (Click here for full PDF article.)
  • Trauma carries significant long-term effects on children. Emotional regulation and other developmental areas are negatively impacted, adversely influencing a child into adulthood. Developmental psychologists have documented the research about the negative implications expose to trauma brings and have identified different protective factors that could help counteract the negativity this issue brings. (Find the full article here.)

Through reading about these research findings and different contributions from neuroscientists, scientists, and psychologists, I was able to further understand how important the role of these individuals plays in the field of early childhood education. While educators can apply their experience-based knowledge, they usually are not able to provide the researched-based findings. They must rely on neuroscientists and economists for this information. Utilizing this information, politicians will hopefully be able to see that further investment is needed for these young children. I am now able to understand that neuroscientists, economists, and politicians play a valuable role in supporting early childhood education to advance funding and more research about the development of young children. Pairing this with the knowledge from educators, more children will be able to reach, which will optimize their learning and development.

New Insights

I am amazed that I never stop learning through reading from the Zero to Three website. There are always new insights about the issues and trends in early childhood education that I gain each time I visit this website.

  • When I explored the public policy section, I learned about the different types of systems are are used to build up a high-quality early childhood program. In addition, I also discovered how the Congress and administration can further enhance the young lives of children through legislation and policies. I also gained new insights about the state and community involvement in early childhood education. Through this section, I learned that public policy is a significant factor in the issues and trends in this field and carry a heavy influence both directly and indirectly in the lives of children.
  • Another insight I gained is not particularly an issue or trend, however it is related. The Zero to Three website has a special section for grandparents. I was curious about this section, so I decided to browse through the resources. I was shocked to discover the large influence that grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren. So often we tend to focus on parents and caregivers that grandparents are sometimes forgotten. However, it is important to remember that they impact their grandchildren in unique ways. This section has several resources specifically geared towards grandparents, including how they can work with their adult child to parent the young child. This new insight challenged me to encompass all of the people who influence a child during development, as each person is significant. If there is not a smooth connection between a parent and a grandparent, the child may feel (or even receive) the consequences from this. As an early childhood professional, it is crucial to stress the importance of positive interactions between all generations that will leave a good influence on the learning and development of young children.

Overall, this website continues to challenge and shape my personal and professional growth. I am excited to continue to explore the numerous resources that Zero to Three has to offer and apply it to my life journey.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Early Childhood Resources, Week 4