Early Childhood Express November 2020

Little boy playing with a leaf

Typically, at this time of even years, I’m visiting my friend, Fotene, in New York, and hanging out at the Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, across the river. But, sadly, COVID has kept me at home. So, no visit with my friend and eating amazing Greek food in her Greenwich Village walk-up. But, Dodge Festival is online…so I’ve been distracted by listening to poets while I make decisions about what information might be important to you at this time.

First up, from Katy and Joel over at Head Start: the Institute for the Advancement of Family Support offers free home visiting webinars. These webinars are highly recommended for home visitors. Great topics for those of you still communicating virtually with families and children including parent groups, engaging with fathers, families who learn differently, and several more. Although they were recorded in August and September, they are available On Demand just by clicking on the topic and registering with your name and e-mail. Many come with extra resources you can download.

Some of you may be old enough to remember The Still Face Experiment. In this experiment, a parent and baby play together, the dad smiling and cooing, and the baby clapping and laughing. Then, prompted by the researcher, the dad turns his face away and when he turns back his face is completely expressionless. The baby tries to get dad to smile again, but he keeps up the flat affect, remaining neutral and unresponsive. Quickly, the child dissolves, desperately trying to make a connection. On a second prompt, dad looks away, then turns back and when he looks at baby again he’s his normal self, soothing the baby who quickly recovers. The baby seems fine; the viewer is left shaken. This article shares findings of similar results that occur when caregivers shift attention from a baby to a phone.

Some of you will continue working with children and families online; some will be going back to in-person soon. The ECTA webinar, Bringing Inclusion to Life in a Virtual World, explores how inclusive practices can be implemented by providers delivering services remotely, in a hybrid manner (with some in-person learning and some remote), or in-person but with health and physical distancing restrictions. Developed and presented jointly by ECTA and the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI), the webinar includes examples from sites and guiding questions that support innovation.

After these months of seeing children and parents at home, you have possibly become more aware of their potential financial situations. Perhaps you’ve been able to provide some resources to help out, not just with their child’s education, but with housing, food, and other social service resources. But do you have a good understanding about how a family’s poverty might be impacting their children’s learning and development? This article from Forbes, 5 Ways Trauma And Poverty Affect Childhood Development details how ‘poverty, neglect, housing instability, violence, food insecurity and separation from parents all affect childhood development – and thus, lifelong health.”

COVID, and especially its current surge, has created additional financial difficulties for families. In Why COVID-19 Is Disproportionately Hurting Working Moms, “coronavirus job losses are hitting women harder than men and leading to impossible dilemmas for many mothers and caregivers.” The search for child care and the need to protect older family members can clash in a woman’s need to head back to work.

You’ve been tied down to a computer for months, and still may be…or, you are headed back to a live classroom. Either way, your daily routine and practices are about to change, adding new or additional stress. Harvard Business Publishing’s Faculty Lounge October 13 edition has some terrific tips for recognizing and managing the stress…including the Worry Container, which has a lot of appeal for me!

If you’re looking for more opportunities to connect with other preschool teachers, Kerri Blankenship is offering Early Learning L.I.N.C. (Learning, Imagine, Network, Collaborate) on the first Wednesday of every month (except April) from 3:30-4:30. The first session is live in PDEnroller.

BREAKING NEWS from Katy and Joel at Head Start: Washington has a special fund for COVID relief for undocumented Washingtonians. If you have undocumented families in your class you can call WAISN at 1-844-724-3737 for more information.


Gnight, November
Come in from the cold
We’re making hot cocoa
with WHOLE milk: we’re bold.
CHILL, November. CHILL.”
― Lin-Manuel Miranda

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