During the week of April 10, communities across the country will commemorate the Week of the Young Child (WOYC), sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This year, the week takes on a special tone, as WOYC turns 50! WOYC offers a time for you to focus special attention on the important work of early childhood programs. Communities have held family workshops, parades, potlucks, and even declared proclamations to recognize the contributions of the early childhood workforce during WOYC. We have used the daily themes for WOYC to help you plan meaningful activities for your setting and community. Additionally, you can view the NAEYC website for activity and advocacy ideas. Each set of activities listed below includes a NAEYC resource that you can share with families.
Send a special email or video or create a unique bulletin board informing parents about WOYC. Invite staff members to share reflections about their work in early childhood. Ask them to talk or write about why they became early childhood educators and to share some of their favorite memories. Share the FAQs page What Is WOYC? with families.
Keep the children’s favorite music at the forefront this week. Sing their favorite songs throughout the day, or record the group singing a favorite song and share it with families, volunteers, and local partners in a special email. Arrange a video chat with a local musician or orchestra. Keep it simple and greet each child during circle time by singing “Mary Wore Her Red Dress,” replacing “Mary” with each child’s name and “red dress” with an article of clothing they’re wearing. Share the resource Playing Music at Home with families.
For years, NAEYC has promoted the childhood food favorite, tacos, as a meal of choice for Tasty Tuesday. You can use NAEYC’s Taco Cookbook for inspiration to serve tacos as a meal today, or invite families to contribute their favorite ingredients to make a meal that reflects your group. Gather fun books about food to use as inspiration for making meals or preparing a treat. The children may especially enjoy Little Taco Truck by Tanya Valentine, Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party by James and Kimberly Dean, Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border, and Soup Day by Melissa Iwai. Share the blog post “I Helped Mama Too!” Cooking with a Tiny Helper with families.
Work Together Wednesday
Help children collaborate and problem solve together by building bridges. Create a series of bridge-building challenges for the children. Offer stations with different materials for them to stack and test. Use blocks, different types of paper, straws, boxes, plastic containers, and loose parts. Set guidelines as a group about how you will work together and the time everyone will spend at each station. Photograph the children as they build. Use simple objects such as spools, paper clips, buttons, and coins to test the durability of the bridges. Reflect with children on the process of building together. For younger children, build together with wood or soft blocks, and read books about sharing and friendship, such as Blocks by Irene Dickson and How to Grow a Friend by Sara Gillingham. Support families in encouraging making and hands-on creativity at home by sharing the resource Message in a Backpack™ Making at Home with them.
Stock your art area with new and unusual materials. Gather scented markers, special stickers, patterned paper, watercolor pencils, etc. Invite the children to create freely. Offer ‘treasure baskets’ filled with different textures such as cotton, wool, corrugated cardboard, wooden blocks, pine cones, etc., for children to explore with magnifiers. Make a basket unique to each child’s interests (this would be especially meaningful for infants and toddlers). Keep items size and age-appropriate. Set up sheets of newspaper or kraft paper inside or outside and offer various coloring tools for children to create a mural. Offer sidewalk chalk for outdoor art as well. Offer the resource Message in a Backpack™ Family Field Trips: Museums to families to support art appreciation and creativity at home.
Early childhood educators know that family engagement means everything when it comes to serving and caring for the children in their care. As the adage goes, “Parents are a child’s first teacher.” Highlight and strengthen the parent-teacher relationship today by structuring a few activities that bridge home-school connections. Create a scavenger hunt that families can do together. It could be searching for items in your setting, outside, or at a popular location where you live. Offer a checklist of items to find and invite families to photograph themselves in the process. With their permission, share the photos in your newsletter, on a bulletin board, or on your setting’s social media. Offer a challenge for the day or weekend such as read a new book, try a new food, play a new game, or practice a new skill. When families return on Monday, talk about what they did to meet the challenge at drop-off or have the children share during group time. Consider making a special early learning sign that families can hang in a window or showcase on their lawn. Possible phrases to include are “We ♥ early care providers,” “We ♥ our preschool,” “Early learning matters,” or “Early learning is the foundation for the future.” Share the article Am I Really My Child’s First Teacher? with families.
Comment to share your #woyc21 memories or use the hashtag to share on social media.