ECA News

Center Hosts Adopt-a-Classroom Dedication

Children and teachers in Room 7 are celebrating.  On Friday, January 27, a group of  3- to 5-year-olds will welcome The Luminous Fund, which is adopting the classroom with a $3,000 grant in support of room improvements, sliding scale tuition, and professional development. Unveiling the dedication plaque and sharing breakfast with the preschoolers will be Kathy Carrier, Foundation Secretary and President of Briljent. The celebration is set for 9:30 am, at Early Childhood Alliance’s Downtown Learning Center (516 E Wayne St).

“My husband and I established it [The Luminous Fund] in 2016 to continue to build a foundation of service within our family and our business,” said Carrier. “We are proud of our success and what we are able to do to serve others.” Through this foundation, the Carrier and Odum families make significant donations in the communities in which Briljent operates.

Parenting and Mobile Devices: What You Need to Know

From Lanissa Maggert our Family Support Coordinator


Are you sometimes distracted by your mobile devices to the point of ignoring your children? It’s easy to do as we are instantly connected to family, friends, Facebook and more, everywhere, around the clock.

What kind of message does this send to your children?  If it has become a habit, you may be sending a message that the information coming through is more important than a child’s need to talk to you, to ask questions, to have your undivided attention.

Research has shown that relationship-based interactions — face to face — are how young children develop important social, emotional, language and cognitive skills.  These early skills are critical in preparing children for school and beyond.

For infant and toddlers, direct interactions provide lessons of trust; that is, adults responding to their immediate needs of food and comfort. And these connections are made throughout daily routines, including mealtimes, bathing, or running errands.

While no one knows the specific impact of a parent’s use of mobile devices during a child’s developmental years, experts do agree that the single most powerful predictor of a child’s vocabulary is the opportunity for conversations. A child’s brain needs regular interactions and conversations to stimulate brain development. Parents monopolized by their mobile devices more than their children are missing critical opportunities to be engaged. Over time, meaningful conversations decrease or even disappear.

A few simple guidelines on the use of mobile devices may help keep parents engaged with their children.

  • Set a limit on the amount of time spent on your mobile device
  • Put the device away during periods of time that children are interacting with you
  • Don’t allow the use of mobile devices during family time at home and away

The benefit of parent engagement is the positive impact on your relationships with your children.



  • How to Miss a Childhood:  Hands Free Mama Tells You Not Only How A Phone Can Let This Happen, But How You Can Grasp A Childhood As Well  

Substitute Teacher – Part-Time – Hours May Vary


The Early Childhood Teacher plans and provides developmental care for children in the child care center assisting each child to develop a positive self-concept and reach his or her full potential. Employee’s work is performed in an early childhood classroom within a child center setting.

Additional Information

Location(s): Beacon Learning Center, Downtown Learning Center

Job Requirements

Age Requirements: 18 years or older
Degree Requirements: High school diploma or GED with coursework and certification in ECE
Travel Requirements: No
Language Requirements: English

Schedule Details

Schedule: Hours May Vary
Status: Part-Time
Work Nights or Weekends: No

Apply Now!

Family Activity – Cleaning House

My house usually looks like a whirlwind has blown from one room to the next and left utter destruction in the wake.  Toys have made their way from the kids’ bedrooms to the living room or kitchen, and everything seems to be all over the floor.  The books are out of the bookshelf, and every video we have is piled up by the chair.  With a 5-year-old and an 18-month-old, that is exactly what happens on a daily basis.  Don’t get me wrong; the kids will help pick up if I am right there beside them, but my poor husband usually comes home to utter devastation.

A couple of months ago I came across something on Pinterest (The House Game) that has helped our family clean our house.  This simple tool gets us working together in the evenings or on the weekends to get the house clean.

It is a simple concept:

  1. Roll a number.
  2. Visit that room of the house as a team and clean.  Or do the assigned task on the chart.  Mom and Dad assign tasks to the kids, and everyone works together to accomplish the goal.
  3. Repeat until all tasks are completed.

The site has the printable available with either 9 rooms or 12 rooms.  I downloaded the 12 room printable and then customized it for our family.  I wrote in all of the areas of our home, or tasks that we can do together, i.e. Kitchen & Dining Room, Living Room, Laundry, Hank’s Room, Faith’s Room, Mom & Dad’s Room, Bathrooms, and Dusting/Sweeping/Mopping.  I also filled in the leftover numbers with some kind of physical activity, i.e. Jump up and down 10 times, Walk around the house backwards, Hugs all around, Hop like a bunny around the house.  I put our game board in a picture frame and we use a dry-erase marker to check off the numbers as we complete our tasks.  But you don’t have to go through all that work.  Just use a scrap piece of paper and write down the numbers.  Then as you complete each task, use a crayon or pencil to color the numbers that are done.  To make sure we hit all of the rooms/tasks, we roll only one dice until we get the first 6 numbers checked off.  Then we add the 2nd dice and play until the end.

The kids (and my husband) love it.  We go from room to room and really work together.  Hank loves to race back to the board and roll for the next job.  We get so much more done when we play the game rather than just try to “clean the house.”   So if you are looking for a nice change of pace with cleaning the house, I would recommend trying a variation of The House Game.

What ideas do you have to get your kids involved with helping around the house?

Have a Great Week!


ECA Hires Quality Improvement Coach

Carrie Murphy has joined the staff of Early Childhood Alliance (ECA) as Quality Improvement Coach for the 10 northern Indiana counties that ECA serves. In her position, she will work one-on-one with family child care homes in making quality improvements to enhance child care and early education. Along with recruiting new providers, she will work with new and current providers in obtaining certification, enrolling in Paths to QUALITYTM and/or moving to higher levels of Paths to QUALITYTM, Indiana’s quality rating and improvement system.

This position was funded by Partnerships for Early Learners, a project of Early Learning Indiana, and is funded through the generous support of the Lilly Endowment.

Planning a Dynamic School-Age Summer Program

I spent my past fourteen summers working directly for summer school-age child care programs, otherwise known as summer camp. I have worked the front-line as a Summer Camp Counselor followed by many more years as Coordinator and Director.  In all of these roles, I dabbled with being a nurse, referee, coach, entertainer and advisor.  My summers were dedicated to long days and long weeks-sometimes unbearably hot, sometimes ridiculously cold.  I was always exhausted by Friday afternoons and ready-to-go on Monday mornings. It wasn’t always easy and I learned something new every day. One thing I learned quickly about summer programs is that they are complex with a lot of moving parts. I came to realize that the key to a successful summer was having plans in place before the start of summer.

High quality summer programs include a wide range of academic and personal achievement opportunities that deliver positive youth development outcomes.  Planning this type of program requires reflection, strategy and time. It is best practice to plan several months before the summer to allow sufficient time. Or, use the off-season to plot the course for the upcoming summer. During this time you’ll reflect on the previous summer.  You’ll review feedback from the kids, parents and staff – maybe complete a program assessment yourself.  You’ll identify strengths and weaknesses and adjustments that need to be made.  At this point you’ll have boundless amounts of information and ideas!

SA_Summer__Planning_Timeline – This month-by-month timeline is a useful planning tool. It allows you to organize your work while keeping your focus in your program goals.

Here’s what you need to know about the timeline:

  • The process of planning, delivering and improving summer learning programs is continuous. Just as the summer ends, planning for the next year begins.  This timeline is year-round, January through December.
  • Customize this schedule to meet your needs; make it work for you. The timeline is a guideline. You may find that your program is ahead of this schedule or needs to play catch-up.  Some of the tasks may not apply to your program, or you may have tasks to add.
  • Compare this timeline to your work calendar and set due-dates for each task.  Hold yourself accountable. Directors and Teachers should work together on this.
  • Once your planning is underway, track and document your progress along the way so you can adjust next year’s planning calendar. (Get some tasks done way ahead of time, or allowing more time for other tasks, etc.)
  • Collect ideas and organize your plans in a binder, folders, or resource packets.

Here’s to a successful school-age summer program! Contact me if you need further support in planning your summer program or other school-age related needs. Watch ECA’s website training calendar and our on-line training newsletter for my mid-summer training, “Summer Survival Tips: Strategies to Stay Focused and Avoid Burnout.”


Karin Gilbert is ECA’s School-Age Specialist, serving Allen, DeKalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, St. Joseph, Steuben, Whitley Counties.  Karin has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University-South Bend and an Indiana Youth Development Credential.  She has 16 years of experience in school-age youth work.  Karin provides support for providers of SA programs to increase the quality of SA care. Contact Karin at 574-360-3070 or

How Are You Teaching Children to Love Learning?

Learning is so much easier when you want to learn and have the tools to do so (i.e. concepts and vocabulary). Therefore, it is easy to understand that at the foundation of the early education teacher’s job is to know where children are in their development and what they are interested in, and then extend that knowledge to establish and support a love of learning.

To that end 70 preschool teachers from across ECA’S 10-county service area recently attended ECA’s workshop, “Preparing preschoolers to become successful learners: A day devoted to literacy and math.” The day long program featured two early childhood professionals: Jan Sarratore, early childhood consultant/educator; and Dawn Cole-Easterday, former ECA trainer/center curriculum coordinator.

Throughout the presentations, the speakers demonstrated techniques that not only provided ways to introduce concepts, but also fit with Indiana’s Foundations to the Academic Standards for Children, birth to age 5.

“The Foundations include skills and experiences for a child’s development and address skills and competencies that children are to achieve from birth to age five. …they serve as a guide for educators to use in assisting young learners gain knowledge and skills in the early years that will prepare them for success in school.” 1

At the preschool level, teachers introduce concepts that will help children transition to the traditional activities and vocabulary of kindergarten. For example, preschool mathematics is much more than counting to 30. Through basic activities, children are learning number sense and operations, geometry, measurement, algebra and data analysis. However, those concepts are introduced through age-appropriate techniques, such as:

  • Using cardinal and ordinal numbers and symbols (zero, one; first, second; 1, 2, 3)
  • Understanding adding and taking away
  • Understanding that the whole can be divided and parts can be added to make a whole

Some of the strategies presented for making literacy visible were:

  • Associating writing with words
  • Adding writing to a picture story
  • Following printed words as a story is read
  • Representing action with drawing
  • Writing from left to right with strokes and shapes that represent letters
  • Correctly grasping a writing tool

Today parents, educators and community leaders understand the impact of early care and education more than ever before. And research has shown that a key determinant in early childhood education is the teacher/caregiver. Continuing education for early childhood teachers is critical in ensuring the best outcomes as children transition from preschool to kindergarten.

1 Indiana Department of Education, Family Social Services Administration. (2012). Foundations to the Academic Standards for Young Children Birth to Age 5.

Article reprinted from the past community newsletter.


Family Activity – Fun Throughout the Year

Looking for ideas to do with your kids?  If you’re like me, I am always on the hunt for quick, simple activities to do throughout the year.  During the holiday season, we always have an activity a day to do together that is a lot of fun.  This year I want to try to do more hands-on activities with my kids throughout the entire year.  I want to make it as simple as possible, so we are using activity calendars, bucket lists, and fun lists that others have already created.  Then I can pick and choose the activities from the various calendars to keep us busy every month of the year.

It is my goal to have at least one fun family activity each week.  Won’t you join me in spending more time with our kids?

Here some of my favorite resources to draw inspiration from for activities – ideas for play, movement activities, reading ideas, and healthy eating, and more.  My favorite resources are activity calendars that have one idea for each day, or a list of ideas for the month or season.

  • An Activity A Week – 52 fun, simple indoor and outdoor activities to do with kids.  I created this resource as my starting point to make my goal a reality.  Whether we do the activities one-on-one during the day or during family time in the evenings or on weekends, it really doesn’t matter.  The point is to start doing more things with the kids.  It is a compilation of some of my favorite activities listed in the resources below.  Enjoy!
  • 10 Ways to Play, by Let’s Explore – Each month has simple, creative play inspiration. Print it out, hang it up, and have fun!  The 10 activities each month don’t require a lot of special supplies or preparation and can be enjoyed by a wide variety of ages.
  • Reading Activity Calendar –Wondering what to do with your child today? Whether you’re at home, at school, or out running errands, use the Reading Activity Calendar to find fun, simple ways to make reading a part of your everyday life. Flip through the calendar above for ideas, activities, and silly holidays to celebrate together.
  • Healthy Calendars from Nourish Interactive – Calendars are a great way to remind children of healthy actions they can take each day to promote general wellness. A variety of calendars that you can print to post in classrooms or after school activity programs, hand out to children to follow individually or as part of a family project.

Do you have a favorite activity resource?  Please share!


Have a Great Week!