Early Childhood Express March 2021

Little girl standing in the grass.

Snow is gone…and so is February! One more suite of days gone by on the, seemingly, slow approach of spring, summer, and a fall that we hope will start to loosen our lives, provide opportunities for more people to occupy our lives, and a new crop of children and their families as we wonder how we will be teaching. But that’s thinking waaay too far ahead. Let’s focus instead on this March toward spring…crocus have recovered from the snow and I’m certain the purple muscari has popped up along my old sidewalk. Time to reflect a bit on where our families are…what are their needs; what have been their gains and, unfortunately, losses over the past year.  Here are some resources that may help you in looking forward…and back.

Currently, with the pandemic, we may have many parents and other caregivers who are essential workers…which often entails irregular schedules. A new policy brief from ZERO TO THREE takes a closer look at unpredictable work schedules and the impact they have on child development. The brief offers policy recommendations to ensure healthy child development and economic security for families. Although it addresses the infant/toddler years, it is equally true for those preschoolers in your caseloads.

Longing for field trips but stuck on Zoom?  Here’s an article about a teacher and his far-ranging field trip bus. But you don’t need a decked-out bus (though its bathroom might be convenient,) to take your children around their community to the places you would normally go…just load up your computer or phone and head out to video. A trip to the grocery store to talk about fruit and vegetables; a sojourn down to the creek by your house to show how the snowmelt has impacted the water flow;  a trip around your community to show early signs of spring? These can be wonderful springboards for curriculum as you pair these “field trips” with books and activities and encouraging families to take advantage of outings right in their neighborhoods.

Do you know about the website Teachers/Books/Readers? They have a blog and an e-mail that brings you information about children’s books and how teachers have used them. Most include a teacher’s guide and information about the author and illustrator. The books are not always preschool books but the information can, for the most part, easily adaptable for preschool children and their families.

A New Resource from ECTA & DaSy, Determining a Child’s Eligibility for Early Intervention Services Remotely, is available online. This infographic summarizes guidance and considerations to support state staff and local practitioners in determining a child’s eligibility for early intervention services remotely, which requires effective state policies, procedures, and practices. It is a companion piece to the full guidance which includes resources and associated tool tables. Don’t be stopped by the fact that it says ‘early intervention.  The information will be useful regardless of age level if you are doing remote assessments. But most valuable are the listings of evaluation and assessment tools at the end.  If you are looking for new tools, this is the place to start.

“We know that responsive relationships and language-rich experiences for young children help build a strong foundation for later success in school. The rapidly advancing frontiers of 21st-century biological sciences now provide compelling evidence that the foundations of lifelong health are also built early, with increasing evidence of the importance of the prenatal period and first few years after birth. “ The February 18 issue of The Developing Child focuses on Health and development with many useful resources you can use and share with families.

We can be our own worst critics, and the very drive that pushes you to do more can quickly turn into self-condemnation for not doing enough, or even failing. This can leave you feeling defeated and demoralized—and frankly, if there’s ever a time you could use a break, it’s now.  Here are some lessons from a recent Harvard Business Review article to help you take charge of those critical voices in your head—and to instead show yourself the compassion and understanding we all need right now.

Take care of yourselves.  Change will come.

“Follow effective actions with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
Peter Drucker

This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter.