Welcome Spring with an Outdoor Classroom

by Teresa Narey

There is no greater sigh of relief after a long day with young ones than when you open the door and they rush past you to play outside. The benefits of outdoor play for children are well researched. Ample outdoor experiences promote exercise, executive functioning, risk-taking, socialization, and an appreciation for nature. Support children’s outside explorations by welcoming spring with an outdoor classroom. Continue reading

Children and Place: An Intro to Geography

When we think of geography, we tend to imagine maps, globes, and atlases. While these tools are relevant to learning about place, the study of geography involves so much more. For children, geography involves developing a sense of place by learning about the natural environment and understanding their relationship to it. It goes without saying that children are most in touch with the places where they live.

According to research on social studies in early childhood, geographic experiences support children’s social and emotional development by allowing them to foster relationships, use their senses, and make memories. When children are given opportunities to explore a place over time, they begin to understand how places can change and the affect humans have on them. Support children’s geographic explorations with these 7 activities: Continue reading

Tips for a Successful Circle Time

by Teresa Narey

What is circle time?

Most early child care or preschool educators will tell you that circle time Singing and Clapping During Circle Timeis a staple in their settings. But what is circle time, and how can we do it well? Circle time comes from the tradition of Friedrich Froebel, a German educator responsible for implementing the first organized kindergarten in the mid-19th century. For Froebel,  circle time was a time for children to learn and play in group activities. Circle time then was much like it is now in many school communities—it happened at the beginning and end of each day to help children focus and to reinforce community. Circle time included music and movement, as well as fingerplays and storytelling, and in many settings, these activities still comprise the time. The word “circle” describes the position of the educator and children during the activities—they may sit or move in a circle depending on the activity.

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6 Ways to Handle “That’s Not Fair!”

“That’s not fair!” is a common refrain in preschool classrooms. Children often struggle to share favorite toys, take turns, and are prone to saying hurtful things such as “I don’t want to play with you,” or “I don’t want to be your friend.” As educators, we do our best to mediate hurtful situations during which children feel judged or left out. However, getting the concept of fairness to stick can be tricky. Continue reading

How to Incorporate Cooking in Your Classroom

by Patricia Dietz

Children are naturally curious and love hands-on learning through multiple senses. A great way to encourage more hands-on learning is through cooking in the classroom. Cooking with young children has many benefits for early learning and development, such as fostering early math skills, increasing fine motor skills, developing language and literacy development, engaging the senses, promoting healthy eating, and connecting cultures. Here are some tips and recipe ideas to help you get started with cooking in your classroom.

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New Approaches to Holiday Celebrations

by Teresa Narey

The month of December can feel like a whirlwind. As educators, we often think about how to approach holidays in our classrooms this time of year. Three major holidays are highlighted this month—Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah—but culturally, we know that so much more is at play in the lives of the children in our care and in the world at large. If all of the children in your setting celebrate the same December holiday, then you may simply embrace it and move along. However, for more diverse groups, it may be a struggle to know what to do—to know what families would like for you to do. Before promoting any holiday in your setting, it is best to talk with families and caregivers about their preferences. You might also consider taking an anti-bias education approach, which seeks to promote fairness and inclusion in school settings by offering alternative and informed approaches to celebrating mainstream holidays. Here are 5 examples to consider: Continue reading

Welcoming Immigrant and Refugee Families to Your Setting

by Teresa Narey

Across the country, many families settle in on the fourth Thursday of November to commemorate Thanksgiving. It’s a time to express gratitude for the many joys that have brought comfort to our lives and to bond with family. For many, Thanksgiving is a time to welcome guests, old and new, and to even extend support to those in need. Though issues regarding immigration and refugee resettlement are challenging and yet to be resolved in our country, early childhood educators across the nation have welcomed immigrant and refugee families to their settings. They have been tasked with learning and teaching new languages, customs, and habits in an effort to build trust and community. Continue reading

Using STREAM Techniques After Disasters to Keep Kids Learning and Engaged

Guest Post
by Andrew Roszak
Executive Director, The Institute for Childhood Preparedness

With natural disasters on the rise, many child care programs have endured floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe weather conditions. These programs face many obstacles when re-opening, including a lack of electricity, supplies, fresh drinking water, and food, as well as the on-set of fear and mental health conditions in children.

We are always searching for new ways to make child care providers and teachers more resilient. One new trend is to incorporate principles of STREAM into early childhood education – to help students learn about S: Science, T: Technology, R: Reading, E: Engineering, A: Arts, and M: Math.

In the absence of a standard operating environment, and without creature comforts – such as electricity, providers may want to think about how they can incorporate the principles of STREAM in a post-disaster setting.

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Encouraging Self-Awareness and Personal Space

by Teresa Narey

Teaching children about personal space and fostering self-regulation is arguably an early childhood educator’s most important job. Research tells us that children with strong social/emotional skills have more positive relationships, are happier, and are more successful academically than children who exhibit social/emotional difficulties. Children who are mentally healthy are generally more self-aware, that is, they understand their own thoughts, feelings, and actions, and how those things affect other people. The more self-aware you are, the more you understand your impact on other people. How, then, do we help young children begin to think about boundaries and self-reflect? How can we support them in naming their emotions and overcoming challenges? Below are 6 simple activities to get you started.

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