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
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 kgilbert@ECAlliance.org
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.