Celebrating Sukkot

Harvest BasketThe Jewish holiday of Sukkot is the perfect time of year for family engagement and community-building in preschool settings. This year, the holiday begins at sundown on October 2 and continues through October 9. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which Israelites wandered the desert, living in temporary shelters. Sukkot is also a harvest holiday about coming together and sharing food. Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Sukkot is a structure built for outdoor eating and sleeping called a sukkah. The sukkah, emblematic of the temporary shelters used during this period of wandering, can be made of any material, as long as it is stable enough to survive the wind. The roof, however, is typically made of natural materials, i.e., leaves, bamboo, etc. Once established, the sukkah is a space for family and community gatherings.

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Tips for Reopening Childcare

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

As restrictions from the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic begin to ease, many early childhood programs are thinking about reopening. This is not an easy task and many find themselves attempting to balance feasibility versus safety. FunShine had the opportunity to talk about reopening child care with the executive director of the Institute for Childhood Preparedness, Andrew Roszak. Roszak has been working on emergency preparedness issues for over 20 years, including his service as Senior Director of Environmental Health, Pandemic Preparedness and Catastrophic Response – where he worked each day with the CDC and local health departments to better prepare communities for pandemics. Roszak submitted the following tips.

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15 Activities to Make Week of the Young Child Memorable

This year, the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) occurs from April 11-17. As many of you know, the WOYC was established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to shed light on the needs of young children and families and to recognize the work of early childhood educators. This year marks the 49th celebration of WOYC! Be a part of this amazing lineage by celebrating in your setting and encouraging families to commemorate the occasion at home. Make the WOYC memorable by celebrating with something special each day! Choose from the following activities, and get the word out by choosing one of NAEYC’s recommended activities for Kick-Off Saturday.

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Resources for Children During COVID-19

As we strive to work and play from home, it’s helpful to have easy-to-find, accessible resources for children. Much of what we do during this time will take place online. Save time searching for things to do or view by choosing activities from the resources below. We’ve compiled a list of learning and play tools, including digital books, kids podcasts, yoga workouts for children, and age-appropriate science experiments. You can even visit several zoos and aquariums across the country by accessing live webcams!

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Parents Are a Child’s First Teacher: Homeschooling with FunShine

by Teresa Narey

As news rapidly evolves regarding the spread of COVID-19 and precautions we should take, parents continue to face child care challenges. Questions about how to care for children and how to maintain and promote learning are abundant. While K-12 institutions have widely moved to online learning, parents of young children, especially those in preschool or Pre-K, are at a disadvantage. It is likely that many child care providers and early learning centers will offer parents guidance and resources for working with their children, however, these items may be limited and only reflect a fraction of what your child’s experience might have been like in child care.

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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

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

Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World on Earth Day

As early childhood educators, we know that supporting children’s social-emotional development is crucial to their success in the primary grades, their relationships, their choice-making, and in essence, life. Every child has his own unique challenges in developing a sense of responsibility, self-regulation, and self-care. As we support children’s personal growth, we also need to consider how to encourage them to care for one another and for the world at large.

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