2019 Winter Kansas Child

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Kindergarten Readiness

A publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Winter 2019 Volume 18, Issue 1

KINDERGARTEN

READINESS

CLOSING THE KINDERGARTEN

READINESS GAP DURING A

4 CHILD’S EARLIEST YEARS

12

IMPORTANT

RESEARCH

FOR PARENTS

ELECTION BRINGS NEW

FACES, HOPES FOR

20 KANSAS CHILDREN


LEADELL EDIGER

Executive Director

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Kansas Child

is a publication of

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Executive Director

Leadell Ediger

“The goal of early childhood

education should be to activate the

child’s own natural desire to learn.”

– Maria Montessori

Editors

BWearing Consulting

Angie Saenger, Deputy Director

Publication Design

Julie Hess Design

On the Cover

Samuel Miller, 19 months, son

of Chris and Callee Miller of

Goodland, KS.

Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,

1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401,

publishes Kansas Child quarterly,

which is made possible through the

financial support of the members

of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas and

sponsorships from our corporate,

private, and foundation partners.

Kansas Child is intended to provide

a forum for the discussion of child

care and early education issues and

ideas. We hope to provoke thoughtful

discussions within the field and to

help those outside the field gain a

better understanding of priorities

and concerns. The views expressed

by the authors are not necessarily

those of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

or its sponsors.

Copyright © 2019 by Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas, unless otherwise noted. No

permission is required to excerpt or

make copies of articles provided that

they are distributed at no cost. For

other uses, send written permission

requests to:

Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,

1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401

Kansas Child is distributed at no

cost to Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

donors. Single copies are available

to anyone at $5 each, prepaid.

This quote from amazing early childhood

educator Maria Montessori is a great reminder

that children come to us ready to learn. In

the first three years of life, their little brains

develop 80% of the connections they will use

for the rest of their lives! Our job is to lay the

path before them, to give them what they need

to make those connections and blossom.

So many people play a role in a child’s

development, from totally dependent infant to

independent (or so they like to assert) toddler,

to inquisitive preschooler, to wondrous schoolage

learner. It takes families, communities, and

for more than 160,000 Kansas children, it takes

early childhood educators to lay the path for

each child.

I think we can all agree that families serve as

the primary foundation for children’s learning.

Families provide the necessary space for young

children to experience, learn, and develop the

basic ingredients that will help their child be

ready for school. Ideally, they provide a loving,

safe, stable and nurturing environment that

promotes healthy development.

Communities also play an important role in

the development of children. The community’s

role is to build stable environments that allow

children and their families to live in safe

neighborhoods. Welcoming and supportive

communities provide access to public

libraries, parks, quality schools and resources

to support families who need extra help or

might experience a crisis. In short, a healthy

community provides a variety of experiences

and resources so children and their families

can flourish.

And finally, families who need child care

should have access to quality programs where


IN THIS ISSUE

p. 4

Closing the Kindergarten

Readiness Gap During a

Child’s Earliest Years ................................4

Transitioning to Kindergarten:

Everyone Must Be Ready.......................... 7

their children will learn both skills and

socialization. At Child Care Aware of Kansas,

we work every day to ensure children have

access to high-quality educational services.

These can and should include home-, center-,

and school-based settings.

Children come into this world with

the tools to be productive adults. It’s our

job as families, communities, educators

and advocates to ensure they get every

opportunity to do just that. Tomorrow’s

Kansas workforce is waiting for us to help

them flourish. Let’s make it happen.

p. 10

p. 19

Kansans CAN! Ensure Every

Child Enters Kindergarten

Prepared for Success................................ 8

Special Circumstances

Affect School Readiness......................... 10

Teaching Beyond School

Readiness Through Mindfulness............11

Important Research

for Parents...............................................12

Vroom Brain Building Basics..................13

Safe Infant Sleep..................................... 14

Children & Sleep......................................15

The Importance of a Medical

Home: A Baby’s Perspective.................. 16

School Readiness Begins

with a Healthy Smile................................17

Families as Communicators...................18

When It Comes to Car Seats,

Don’t Graduate Your

Child Too Soon....................................... 19

Election Brings New Faces,

New Hopes for Kansas Children...........20

Community Needs Assessment

Tips from the Field.................................20

Book Nook: Winter Stories

for Enjoyment and Growth..................... 22


Closing the

Kindergarten

Readiness Gap

During a Child’s

Earliest Years

KRISTIN NORELL

CEO, Children’s Reading

Foundation

Kristin Norell is CEO of The Children’s Reading

Foundation. She formerly worked in children’s book

publishing and served on the foundation’s board from

2011-2017. The Children’s Reading Foundation engages

families, schools and communities in children’s learning

from birth through third grade to cultivate early literacy

and school readiness skills.

....but for those who

enter kindergarten behind,

around 70 percent are still

behind their classmates in

the fifth grade.

It is an annual ritual. Parents flock

to stores around the country to gather

everything their child needs for the

wondrous first day of kindergarten. Aisle

by aisle, colorful options of every tool

imaginable attract parents and children

alike. But there is something every child

needs for kindergarten that cannot be

purchased in any store: early learning

opportunities.

When children have limited access to

relevant learning opportunities from birth

to age 5, the results are clearly evident on

the first day of kindergarten. Of the four

million students who begin school in the

United States each year, 40 percent show

up on the first day with the language and

literacy skills of an 8-year-old, far beyond

the expectations, and 20 percent have the

readiness skills of a typical 5-year-old. The

remaining 40 percent arrive with the skills

of a 3-year-old — one to three years below

the kindergarten level.

This five-year range of skills is called the

school readiness gap — or the preparation

gap. It manifests itself in all learning areas:

language and literacy, math, and social and

emotional.

Some parents believe children who

start school without the necessary skills

will catch up within a year or two, but

that is not the reality. Research shows that

children who are one to three years behind

when they start kindergarten usually make

a year’s worth of growth every school

year — just like all students — but

for those who enter kindergarten

behind, around 70 percent are still

behind their classmates in the

fifth grade. These students form

the largest group of high school

dropouts, and they have less than

a 2 percent chance of attending a

four-year university.

While there are exceptions, children

who start behind tend to stay behind,

and children who start ahead tend to

stay ahead. This means the learning

opportunities a child has at home, long

before kindergarten, determine his or

her academic trajectory and have lifelong

consequences.

40%

arrive with

the skills of a

3-year-old

Families, Schools and Communities

Must Work Together to Ensure Children

Are Prepared for School on Day One

Children who start kindergarten with

the language and literacy skills of a typical

5-year-old are well on their way to a

successful and satisfying education.

While schools don’t create the multiyear

readiness gap children exhibit on the

first day of kindergarten, it is crucial for

4 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


20%

have the readiness

skills of a typical

5-year-old

40%

begin with the

language and literacy

skills of an 8-year-old

Four million students begin school in the United States each year

districts and communities to collaborate

to close this gap by engaging parents and

caregivers during a child’s earliest years.

Once students start school, those who

need skill-building interventions,

including additional work time

and assistance from teachers

with specialized training,

present a tremendous

challenge. Children who are

behind must achieve their

normal year of growth plus another year to

catch up by even a single grade level. This

attempt, called catch-up growth, takes a toll

on economic and human resources for the

school districts and socially

and emotionally for the

students themselves.

Children who are behind

must achieve their normal

year of growth plus another

year to catch up by even a

single grade level.

The effects of

the readiness gap

have far-reaching

consequences for

students and communities. Students who

do not graduate from high school face

both a grim economic future and cost the

country millions of dollars each year. Basic

reading, writing and math skills are also

a prerequisite for most adult employment

and continued personal achievement.

Needless to say, the readiness gap is not

very different when it comes to math and

social and emotional skills.

Continued on page 6

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 5


Continued from page 5

The future for all children is brighter

when schools and communities

prioritize early learning and engage

families long before children start school.

Empowering parents and caregivers to

help nurture a child’s development from

birth through third grade considerably

increases the child’s potential to learn

and enjoy school year after school year.

Reading is Essential for Learning

Although children in all cultures

instinctively learn language from their

parents and caregivers, the brain must be

taught to read.

The Children’s Reading Foundation®

encourages parents and caregivers to

Read Together 20 Minutes Every Day

with their children, starting at infancy.

When children are exposed to the

language in books, they are developing

significant brain connections for language

development and for learning to read

when the time comes. Children are also

learning sounds, vocabulary, prereading

and multiple skills that will be reinforced

day after day at home and school.

Both educators and the medical

community recognize the vital importance

for all children to be exposed to books. The

American Academy of Pediatrics states:

Reading regularly with young children

stimulates optimal patterns of brain

development and strengthens parentchild

relationships at a critical time in

child development, which, in turn, builds

language, literacy and social-emotional

skills that last a lifetime.

90% Reading Goal

From kindergarten through third

grade, children are learning to read;

after third grade students are reading to

learn. Although reading is paramount to

learning, about 75 percent of struggling

readers in third grade won’t catch up to

their classmates.

To help reverse this trend, the Reading

Foundation encourages school districts

and communities to adopt a 90% Reading

Goal. This means 90 percent of thirdgraders

will read at or above grade level by

the end of the school year. The goal is not

easy, but it can be done with a long-term,

committed effort.

The 90% Reading Goal is how The

Children’s Reading Foundation was

formed. In 1996, a group of community

stakeholders with the Kennewick School

District in Washington state came together

to increase reading skills districtwide and

set this goal. At the time, only 55 percent

of the district’s third-graders were

reading at grade level.

Our Read Together

Read with your

child for 20 minutes

every day; five minutes

now, five later and 10

at bedtime.

20 Minutes Every Day

message was spread

far and wide and

reinforced in local

media interviews,

public service messages,

employee newsletters,

community presentations,

libraries, bookstores,

professional organizations and by

business leaders throughout the area.

As a result, reading scores improved.

However, it became clear that unless the

district engaged parents and child care

providers during children’s powerful

early learning years the district would be

perpetually reacting to the new wave of

entering kindergartners — 40 percent with

readiness skills one to three years below

grade level. The solution was READY! for

Kindergarten, a program of The Children’s

Reading Foundation.

After implementing the READY!

program, the reading achievement scores

of Kennewick School District students

increased substantially. Nine of 13

Kennewick elementary schools reached

the 90 percent goal by 2003, and the goal

was achieved districtwide in 2006. The

district continues to offer free READY!

workshops to parents within its district,

and throughout the years reading levels

have remained near 90 percent.

The READY! for Kindergarten approach

encourages parents to read with their child

20 minutes every day and Play With a

Purpose for 10 minutes each day. Through

a series of annual parent workshops, offered

in English or Spanish, participants explore

how to create a home environment where

learning happens in a fun and purposeful

way. The READY! Age Level Targets ©

are the framework for developmentally

appropriate lessons and activities using

take-home materials and tools that help

develop skills commonly associated with

school readiness in three domains: language

and literacy, math and reasoning, and social

and emotional development.

What You Can Do

Parents and caregivers: You are your

child’s first teacher. Read with your child

for 20 minutes every day; five minutes

now, five later and 10 at bedtime. No

matter their age, when you spend 20

minutes every day reading, children

are learning.

You don’t have to be a

good reader to help nurture

literacy skills in children. The

most important thing is the

time spent together around

books — even wordless

books — where stories are

made up, and each time the

book is opened a new story is told.

Having a two-way interaction while

reading not only strengthens the child’s

prereading skills, it also develops solid

foundations for critical thinking.

Sharing a book with a child has

significant additional benefits. Reading

together develops socially and emotionally

confident children who have strong

bonds. It also empowers parents and

caregivers to become their child’s first

and most influential teachers. If that isn’t

enough, reading with a child also reduces

the school readiness gap and lowers

remediation expenses by helping children

start and stay at grade level.

If you are a parent of a newborn to

5-year-old and are in a community that

offers READY! for Kindergarten parent

workshops — attend. You will learn the

readiness skills that will prepare your child

for a successful and enjoyable kindergarten

experience. You will also leave with new

ideas about how to guide your child’s

language and literacy, math and reasoning,

and social and emotional learning,

with respect to their individual stage of

development.

Schools, child care and preschool

programs, foundations, community

organizations: You are the direct link to

parents. Invest in early learning to help

close the readiness gap. This focus on

children before they start school will also

engage families in their essential role in

raising a reader and getting their child

ready for kindergarten.

It will take all of us to ensure every

child starts school prepared and eager to

continue learning to reach his or her full

potential in school and life. n

6 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


Transitioning

to Kindergarten:

Everyone Must

Be Ready

MEGAN SMITH

Community Consultant,

Child Care Aware ®

of Eastern Kansas

The transition from preschool to

kindergarten is a major milestone for most children and their

families. The expectations in kindergarten can be different

and often unknown until the child gets to school. There are

a few important things to know before a child begins this

transition to “big kid” school.

Though it is helpful for preschoolers to know their letters

and numbers, as well as early writing skills, most kindergarten

teachers will say they are more concerned with a child’s

social and emotional development at the beginning of the

year. Children can transition more easily into a kindergarten

classroom when they can stay focused on an activity for an

extended amount of time, work both independently as well as

with others, ask for help or directions, and get along with their

peers. These skills can be more easily mastered in a preschool

classroom because of the lower adult-to-child ratios.

When children have a solid foundation for managing

their emotions, their ability to handle change improves

substantially. Preschool teachers can begin working

on these skills early by providing children the tools for

working through their problems, identifying their feelings,

being a good friend, and having patience when waiting.

Teachers can demonstrate how to use these tools through

modeling, social stories, turn-taking games, and waiting

games. The National Association for Educators of Young

Children (NAEYC) and Center on the Social and Emotional

Foundation for Early Learning (CSEFEL) offer resources on

supporting children’s social and emotional growth, as well as

kindergarten readiness.

Transition tips for families

Families can begin the transition process by touring the

prospective school and meeting with administrators about

what to expect for their child. Kansas public schools offer a

kindergarten roundup each spring for preschoolers preparing

to enter kindergarten in the fall. Roundup is where the

children can meet their potential new teacher and families can

learn more about the school.

Ultimately, families and teachers should work together

to help children become ready for their transition to

kindergarten. For many preschoolers, they will be in a new

building for kindergarten, which makes strong social and

emotional skills especially important. Talk with the child

about how they might be feeling about this change and

validate any concerns they might have, but also let the child

know that you are there to support them. Remember, for the

transition to run smoothly, everyone must be ready. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 7


Kansans Can Ensure Every

Child Enters Kindergarten

Prepared for Success

The path to success starts in early childhood, long before

a child walks through a kindergarten classroom door

In 2015, the Kansas State Board of

Education announced a new vision for

education in Kansas: Kansas leads the

world in the success of each student.

Education leaders had dozens of focus

groups with thousands of Kansans to shape

this vision. They heard loud and clear that

Kansas has high aspirations for our future,

and a key theme emerged.

The path to success starts in early

childhood, long before a child walks

through a kindergarten classroom door.

If Kansas is going to achieve the Kansans

Can vision, we all have a role in preparing

our youngest Kansans to succeed.

Early childhood educators know that

children’s early experiences shape their

future growth. During the Kansans Can

listening tour, Kansans were asked to

describe a successful 24-year-old. The

qualities that rose to the top weren’t

the ability to recite facts or memorize

information. Instead, respondents

were 70 percent more likely to cite

nonacademic skills, like teamwork and

self-control, as being just as important

to success as academic skills. Business

leaders agreed. Early childhood lays

the foundation for Kansas students to

develop these skills to be successful

throughout their lives.

Kansans also described what they

want early childhood to look like

in their communities. They shared

the importance of making highquality

early learning opportunities

— including all-day kindergarten —

available to all students.

When asked to consider the role of

a school district, Kansans emphasized

the importance of strong community

partnerships. One model or approach

won’t fit every community when it

comes to early learning. Kansans have

to come together to build the system

that best meets children’s and families’

needs in their communities.

The Kansas State Board of Education

and the Kansas State Department of

Education (KSDE) are tracking five key

outcomes to measure progress toward

achieving this Kansans Can vision:

•§

Social-emotional growth

•§

Kindergarten readiness

AMANDA PETERSON

Director of Early Childhood,

Kansas Department of

Education

Amanda Petersen is the director of Early Childhood at the

Kansas State Department of Education. You can connect

with the Early Childhood Team by emailing earlylearning@

ksde.org.

•§

Individual Plan of Study (IPS) focused

on the career interest for each student

•§

High school graduation

•§

Postsecondary success

Are Kansas children entering

kindergarten at age 5 socially, emotionally

and academically prepared for success?

Kansas needed additional information to

answer that question. The Kansas State

Department of Education collaborated

with stakeholders to determine key

principles for a developmental snapshot

tool. Stakeholders established that the

Kansas Kindergarten Readiness Snapshot

8 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


Tool must include communication

(language and literacy), problem-solving,

motor, and social-emotional areas of

development. They also determined

that schools must engage families and

caregivers in gathering information

about a child’s development and early

experiences.

Considering these core principles, KSDE

selected the Ages & Stages Questionnaires,

Third Edition (ASQ-3) and the Ages &

Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional,

Second Edition (ASQ: SE-2) to provide

a snapshot of children’s developmental

milestones when they enter kindergarten.

All Kansas school districts were required

to begin administering the ASQ-3 and

the ASQ: SE-2 for kindergarteners

between Aug. 1 and Sept. 20, 2018, and

will be required to utilize the ASQ at

the beginning of the school year moving

forward. Districts reported that more than

22,000 Kansas kindergarteners received

the ASQ this year.

This marks a big step forward as

teachers, schools, caregivers and the

state seek to better understand Kansas

children’s development. This information

offers teachers and schools the

opportunity to better design classroom

environments to meet the needs of

incoming kindergartners. Discussing

a child’s results helps families better

understand a child’s development,

and it strengthens teacher-caregiver

relationships. At the state level, this

data will provide a snapshot of Kansas

kindergartners’ development and

help create opportunities to improve

kindergarten readiness statewide.

We all have a stake in achieving the

vision that Kansas leads the world in

the success of each student, and we all

share the essential work that begins in

a variety of early childhood settings

to prepare Kansas kindergarteners for

success. An annual statewide snapshot of

kindergarteners’ developmental milestones

will provide important information

as we work toward this goal. KSDE

looks forward to using this information

and partnering with other childhood

stakeholders to advance the kindergarten

readiness of each Kansas student. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 9


THE PARENT ROLL

Special Circumstances Affect School Readiness

When considering school readiness,

it is easy to focus on the child so much

that we lose sight of the important role

that parents play. This issue can be

further complicated if there are special

circumstances in the home, such as a

parent who is undergoing treatment or

receiving other social services.

If parents are worrying about

where their children are and what is

happening to them, they cannot fully

focus on their own efforts to better

themselves. Parents working outside

the home are additionally stressed by

trying to be successful at work. Service

providers and employers alike can and

should provide support so that parents

can focus on their family. In doing so,

employers and service providers can

directly affect school readiness, a key

indicator of success for children.

Provide and increase access

to services

Businesses can help alleviate fears

that detract from being a good parent

and employee by directly providing

services or offering flexible schedules or

time off to access services that help an

employee be the best possible parent.

Supportive businesses have policies that

offer employees access to programs such

as: parenting skills training, health and

wellness services, family therapy, and

assistance in identifying and accessing

other resources to address physical,

emotional, and educational needs for

themselves or their children. And of

course, access to high-quality child

care is a critical factor in parental and

employee success.

Whole person

Supportive businesses view an

employee as a whole person, with

multiple roles, often including the role

of a parent. According to 2017 data

from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,

among families with children, 84.7%

of fathers were employed and 73.2%

of mothers were employed. This

creates a great opportunity for service

providers and businesses to affect

school readiness in a significant way.

A parent who is learning skills to

balance the stresses of parenting and

work will perform all their roles best

when supported and treated as a whole

person by those providing services, and

by their employer. A healthy parent is

better able to support a child making

the transition to kindergarten.

Stability & Routine

Stability and routine are important for

all children, and especially important for

children who have experienced trauma.

All parents, but particularly parents who

ERICK VAUGHN

Director of Strategic

Initiatives, DCCCA

Erick Vaughn is a LMSW and has practiced

administrative social work for more than 11 years.

He is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at DCCCA.

Previously he was Executive Director of the Kansas

Head Start Association. He has also served in various

roles in the state mental health program.

are undergoing treatment, must provide

a routine for their children. Service

providers and employers can support

stability and routine by establishing set

schedules. For service providers, it can

also be powerful, when appropriate, to

allow children to be present so they can

observe their parent working to heal. n

DCCCA is a nonprofit organization in Missouri, Kansas

and Oklahoma that provides behavioral health and

treatment services, child placement services, and other

social and community services that improve the safety,

health and well-being of the people it serves.

For more information and resources to support

parents and school readiness, check out Substance

Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

(www.SAMHSA.gov), the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), and quality early

childhood programs that focus on school readiness

and parent engagement such as Head Start and

Parents as Teachers.

10 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


Teaching Beyond School Readiness Through Mindfulness

“Mindfulness is awareness that

arises through paying attention, on

purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally”,

says Jon Kabat-Zinn, the

founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress

Reduction. (Mindful, www.mindful.

org, November 2017) Studies in both

medicine and neuroscience are showing

how mindfulness practices support and

enhance learning, emotional intelligence,

and overall well-being across the lifespan.

While various mindfulness programs

have been developed for adults, practices

are becoming more popular in work

with children. Educators, mental health

professionals and other caring adults

are interested in approaches beyond the

typical academic ones to help put children

on the path of success. It is now recognized

that emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a

greater predictor of life success than IQ.

There is also better understanding now

about the harmful effects of excessive

stress on young brains. Young children’s

brains are particularly vulnerable to the

effects of toxic stress, which can inhibit

cognitive function, self-regulation and the

ability to form healthy relationships. This

information led the Center for Healthy

Minds at the University of Wisconsin-

Madison to study the impact of a new

mindfulness-based curriculum for prekindergarten

students designed to promote

social, emotional and academic skill.

Researchers hypothesized that

integrating what they called the Kindness

Curriculum into existing curriculum could

enhance children’s self-regulation skills,

such as emotional control and capacity

to pay attention, and also influence

other positive development traits such as

impulse control and kindness.

The Center for Healthy Minds brought

the 12-week Kindness Curriculum to

six Midwest schools. The lessons were

administered for 20 minutes twice a

week, to pre-k students. Students were

introduced to stories and practices for

paying attention, regulating emotions and

cultivating kindness. Initial findings from

the research have been promising. Students

who went through the curriculum show

more empathy and kindness and a greater

ability to calm themselves when upset.

These children also had higher grades by

the end of the school year. The Center

for Healthy Minds continues its research

to see if there is also success in different

contexts and if changes can be seen in

similar studies.(Center for Healthy Minds,

www.centerhealthyminds.org, 2017)

In a foreword for the book Sitting Still

Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids

by Eline Snel (Shambhala Publications

2013), Jon Kabat-Zinn speaks about

mindfulness practice as an essential life

MARY WILLIAMS

Early Care and Education

Program Manager, The Family

Conservancy

Mary Williams is the Early Care and Education Program

Manager at The Family Conservancy in Kansas City.

Mary has a M.Ed. in Counseling and Guidance and is a

nationally certified counselor. Mary currently chairs the

Family Conservancy’s Resiliency Connection Committee,

Which is responsible for supporting trauma-informed care

practices within the agency. She has a passion for training

early childhood professionals on trauma-informed care and

implementing mindfulness practices in their daily lives and

the lives of the children they serve.

skill — much like learning how to tune an

instrument before playing it. He asks why

we wouldn’t want to tune our instrument

for learning before we use it, before and

during the school day, every day? This

is referencing a practice that easily can

be integrated into a child’s daily routine,

whether it is taking a belly breath or a

short and quiet meditation.

If mindfulness brings stress reduction,

better self-regulation, a greater capacity

for learning, and increased kindness to

oneself and others — all skills we want for

our children — then perhaps this practice

is the key to not only true school readiness,

but even beyond, for life readiness. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 11


Important

Research

for Parents

Have you heard? It seems as if

everybody is talking about “brain

development” — the term used to describe

new research into the importance of a

child’s earliest experiences. You might have

read about it in a magazine or seen it on

the Web. Maybe you’re hearing about it

for the first time right here. What parents

have known for years — that good, early

experiences are good for our children

— is now being proven by doctors and

scientists at multiple research centers and

universities.

Attention to every stage of a child’s

development is urgent. Research now

shows that the care babies get has dramatic

and long-term effects on how children

develop and learn, on how they cope with

stress, and on how they react to the world

around them. In fact, science tells us that

the right kind of experiences in their early

years can actually help children’s brains

to grow! And, that it can affect how they

continue to learn later on in life.

Just as good food and exercise can help

our bodies grow, good early experiences

can help our brains grow. Now there is

even stronger evidence that there is a link

between brain activity and brain growth.

Brain Development:

What You Should Know

Confused by all the research? You don’t

need to be. The basic message is very

simple.

•§

Good early-care experiences expand

your child’s capacity to learn.

•§

Holding, cuddling and talking actually

affect how your child’s brain grows.

•§

Loving and supportive child care can

program the brain to handle stress

and control emotions.

•§

The first years of life lay the

groundwork for future experiences.

•§

Reading to and singing with your child

every day is a simple and effective way

to help brain development.

When parents hear about brain

development, they sometimes have the

urge to run out and buy new books or

toys, or to change their child care right

away. But, brain development is not about

creating “super kids” who are smarter

than others. Nor is it about teaching your

baby to read, or your toddler to recognize

Mozart. Instead, it’s about making sure

your children have the attention they need

in their early care experiences, both with

you and their caregivers.

Continued on page 15

12 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


Even before babies can talk, they’re showing

you what they’re interested in. Look into their

eyes, or at what catches their eye, and begin

brain building!

Powerful brain-building moments are created

when you let children lead the way, and you

follow by responding to their words, sounds,

actions, and ideas.

It might not seem like it, but the sounds and

gestures young children make are their way

of communicating with you! So talk out loud

together and keep chatting as your children

grow to engage them in learning about the

world around them.

Back and forth interactions between you and

your children are one of the most important

ways to help their brains develop. So be sure

to take turns while you’re talking, playing, or

exploring with your children.

Make the moment last longer by building

on what your child says, or asking followup

questions that expand your child’s

thinking and learning. When you stretch the

conversation with questions like, “What do

you think about that?” or, “How does that

make you feel?” you’re stretching the brainbuilding

moment, too!

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 13


Safe Infant Sleep

As a direct response

to the rate of infant

mortality in Kansas,

The KIDS Network,

Safe Kids Kansas,

Child Care Aware® of

Kansas, and The Kansas

Department of Health

and Environment

encourage everyone to practice safe infant sleep practices

when caring for a child under 1 year of age.

A safe sleep environment consists of one infant, on her

back and in a bare crib/bassinet/portable crib.

A sleep-related death is the sudden and unexpected

death of an otherwise healthy baby. According to Kansas

Department of Health and Environment Public Health

Informatics data from 2017, 217 Kansas infants died before

their first birthdays, representing an infant mortality rate

(IMR) of six deaths per 1,000 live births.

Of the 217 deaths, the three leading causes of death were:

congenital anomalies, low birth weight/prematurity and

sleep-related deaths.

While some of the sleep-related deaths are attributed

to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), many were

complicated by factors related to unsafe sleep environments.

Of the sleep-related deaths, more than half were found

unresponsive in an adult bed. Furthermore, research

found that 98% had one or more elements of unsafe

sleep (adult bed, smoking, sleeping position, etc.).

Therefore, it is especially important for EVERYONE to

follow the safe sleep recommendations.

To Learn More

CHRISTY SCHUNN,

LSCSW

Executive Director,

Kansas Infant Death

and SIDS Network

Strategies to create safe infant sleep environments can

be found by visiting kidsks.org. n

14 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


Continued from page 12

By Donna Martinson

Donna Martinson was a county Extension family and consumer sciences agent in

Elk County for 10 years and in Geary County for 28 years. Donna authored three

K-State Research & Extension group teaching materials, including Brain Blitz;

Sleep: Want It, Need It, Get It; and Living Life Richer.

As parents’ and children’s lives become more hectic, and

schedules more demanding, families often try to squeeze

more into a day by sleeping less. Negative long-term

consequences can result from inadequate sleep.

It is important to understand that being tired affects

children and adults differently. A tired adult will seek

out ways to rest while a tired child becomes more active,

often in a frenzied fashion. A tired child is emotionally

overloaded. Emotions are more powerful, negative, and

volatile when a child is exhausted. Self-restraint takes

energy and restraining those surging forces takes more selfcontrol

than is available. As a result, he “loses it” over little

things. He is easily frustrated, becomes upset by changes

in routine or surprises, is difficult to calm or comfort, is

easily overwhelmed, is anxious and resistant, is irritable

and cranky about everything, and nothing — no matter

what happens — will be right. In contrast, a child who is

well rested is calmer, more flexible, more cooperative, more

attentive, more energetic, more independent and more

helpful. A well-rested child has a greater ability to follow

rules and behave in an acceptable manner.

Not all sleep experts agree on the amount of sleep

needed for good health and optimal functioning. General

sleep recommendations are: infants 16-18 hours; toddlers

12-14 hours; preschoolers 11-13 hours; school-age children

10-11 hours, teenagers a minimum of 9 hours; and adults

7-9 hours daily.

It is important to make getting an adequate amount of

sleep a priority for your family. The sleep environment

should be comfortable and feel emotionally and

physically safe. n

Adapted from the original article in Kansas Child, Winter 2012

No Flashcards Needed

Things you can do to support your child’s brain

development:

1. Talk with your child. “Baby talk” — the art of repeating

sounds and words — is great for infants and toddlers. Ask

and answer questions with your preschooler. Make time for

conversations with your school age child.

2. Read to your child every day. No child is too young for

story time! Board or cloth books with colorful pictures

and simple words are perfect for your newborn or older

baby. Toddlers and preschoolers love to hear simple stories

such as Goodnight Moon, Where’s Spot or The Very Hungry

Caterpillar over and over again. Read some new stories

and many familiar stories as your child moves through the

preschool years, and even after he learns to read.

3. Sing children’s songs or nursery rhymes. Simple songs and

finger play activities are easy and fun ways to interact with

your baby or toddler. “Pat-a-Cake,” “Where is Thumbkin”

and “Old MacDonald” are always favorites. If you don’t

know any songs for children, ask your child care provider

to teach you the songs and games she likes. The interaction

you have with your child when singing and playing games

is an essential part of brain development. And, just as with

sounds and stories, old favorites are helpful to your child,

no matter how tired you get of them. No time for games and

songs? On the bus, in the car, waiting at the doctor’s office

or in line at the grocery store are good times for baby talk,

games and songs. Shy about singing in public? Hold your

child close and sing just to him. You can turn boring waits

into learning moments and good memories for both of you.

4. Feed your child well. Good nutrition is important for

growing bodies and minds. Check to make sure your

child’s diet includes a variety of foods, including meat or

meat substitutes, green leafy vegetables, fruit and milk or

soy milk. If your child is a fussy eater, try to think about

nutrition in terms of a week at a time, rather than day

by day. Think: “Over the past week, has my child eaten a

variety of each type of food?” Talk to your preschoolers

and school age children about food that helps them grow

and ask them to help you plan nutritious meals. If you are

worried about your baby’s level of nutrition, check with

your pediatrician for ideas and support. Don’t put it off.

Good food every day is very important to the growth of

babies’ brains and bodies.

My child is in kindergarten.

Am I too late?

Not at all! Although the first year is the most important for

brain development, there is a strong message that all of the

early years — from birth to age 10 — are important. Talk with

your child about his interests and ideas. Listen to his responses.

By helping your older child to pursue his interests and explore

new skills such as music or reading, and by supporting his

work at school, you are building on the brain development

started earlier in his life. n

Reprinted with permission from Child Care Aware of America, Newsletter — The Daily Parent, http://

childcareaware.org/important-research-parents/

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 15


The Importance

of a Medical Home

A Baby’s Perspective

As a baby, I have one real job, just one. Yes, I’m sweetness and

light. I bring joy and make people laugh. I cuddle

and snuggle. I wake up when the big people are

trying to sleep. I embarrass the parents when

I don’t want to say hello to new people. I

make messes that they need to clean up

and I demand to be fed often. All those

are important, but they

are just part of that

one job that only

I can do —

that job is

growing

up.

PEGGY KELLY

Executive Director, Kansas

Head Start Association

Peggy is the Executive Director of the Kansas Head

Start Association. She has continued the work of KHSA

to create opportunities for parents to advocate and to

support their voice in issues around children, families

and early childhood services. She has specifically

worked to build a network of parent advocates who can

encourage other parents to find their voice.

Prior to working with Head Start she directed TANF

and Community Collaboration programs with the State

of Kansas and was a Medical Social Worker.

I’m already pretty darn good at the growing thing by the time

I arrive. Think about it, I went from being just two cells who

bumped into each other, into a fully functional baby in just 280

days! The project wasn’t complete when I was born, though. That

was just phase one. Phase two takes a little longer, about 1,080

days.

By the time I reach 36 months old, my brain will be 80

percent grown. I will have connected zillions of synaptic

nerve endings to enable me to talk, interact with others,

understand the full range of human emotion and use my

physical body to its full capacity.

So, how will my folks know if I’m on track and being successful

with this project? After all, I do want to get a good performance

review and have a solid platform for everything else I will do in

life. One good way for them to know is to have a second home —

a medical home. This is a place we can periodically go to see how

my performance measures up to standards.

I’m unique, and with all this growing work going on I’m

constantly changing. It really helps to have a place that knows

me to give my parents feedback on whether what I’m doing

is healthy and normal. There’s no, one right way to do

things. Getting to know me as I work through the tasks

of growing can help you understand my way of doing

things. It also helps show if there are areas where I might

need some extra help or if something isn’t quite right.

At my medical home they have a record of every time

I come by to be sure I’ve gotten all the right “inputs”

(even though I really don’t like those needles) and how

I’ve done on the performance checks. If something looks

awry or is off the scale, catching it now can make all the

difference in my future.

Having a medical home is a big help to my folks. Everyone

there has a voice, including my mom and dad. It takes everyone

to understand me and how to support my growth. Here’s one

resource to help explain more about how things at a medical

home can make a difference. http://www.fv-impact.org/

files/6213/8498/3002/Family-Support_new_red.pdf

Been nice talking with you. I hope your current project is

coming along as well as mine is. Thanks for the support! n

16 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


KATHY HUNT, RDH,

ECPII

School Readiness Begins

with a Healthy Smile

Dental Program Director, Oral

Health Kansas

Kathy Hunt, RDH, ECPII, is the Dental Program

Director at Oral Health Kansas and serves as the

Head Start Dental Hygienist Liaison for Kansas.

A dental hygienist for 38 years, she is an advocate

for improved oral health for pregnant women and

children birth to 5. She can be reached at khunt@

ohk.org.

What happens during a child’s first five

years of life is critical to the child’s health,

development, and ability to succeed in

school and beyond. Children must be

healthy to be ready to learn. Oral health

plays an important role in a child’s overall

health and school readiness.

Oral Health and

School Readiness

Tooth decay is the most common

chronic childhood disease. It affects more

than a quarter of 2- to 5-year-olds and is

more common than asthma. Poor oral

health can have a negative effect on many

aspects of school readiness.

Concentration/achievement: Oral pain

makes it hard to concentrate and learn.

Pain can also lead to poor eating habits

that can result in nutritional deficiencies

that hinder physical and cognitive

development.

School Attendance: Nearly 51 million

school hours are lost each year by children

due to dental-related illness. Children

from low-income families have nearly 12

times as many missed school days because

of dental problems compared to children

from higher-income families.

Overall Health: Dental decay is an

infection and can spread to other parts of

the body, if not treated, resulting in serious

complications.

Self Esteem: Children with poor oral

health tend to withdraw from family,

friends, and teachers and not smile

because they are self-conscious about the

appearance of their teeth.

These issues have led researchers to the

conclusion that children with poor oral

health are more than twice as likely as

those with good oral health to experience

oral pain, miss school, and perform poorly

in school.

Keeping Teeth Healthy

The good news is that cavities are 100%

preventable. Adopting good habits right

from the start increases a child’s chances

that they will be cavity free for life. Here

are evidence-based ideas that you can use

to promote better oral health:

•§

For children under age 2, brush twice

a day with a tiny smear of fluoride

toothpaste. For child over age 2,

increase that amount to a pea size.

Adults should help with brushing

until age 8.

•§

Eat regularly scheduled healthy meals

and snacks. Save sugary treats for

special days.

•§

Drink only water between meals. Kids

who drink water are better learners.

•§

Have regular dental visits, getting

preventive services and treatment

as needed. n

Visit these websites for more

information about keeping kids

cavity-free and ready to learn

Head Start Early Childhood Learning

and Knowledge Center:

•§

Brush Up on Oral Health Tip Sheets:

The monthly tip sheets provide child

care providers with practical tips to

promote good oral health. Every tip

sheet also includes a simple recipe for

a healthy snack. https://eclkc.ohs.acf.

hhs.gov/oral-health/article/brush-oralhealth-tip-sheets

•§

Healthy Habits for Happy Smiles:

This series of handouts in English and

Spanish provides simple tips on oral

health issues to families. https://eclkc.

ohs.acf.hhs.gov/oral-health/article/

healthy-habits-happy-smiles

National Maternal and Child Oral Health

Resource Center: a national resource

with high-quality oral health technical

assistance, training, and resources.

https://www.mchoralhealth.org/

Oral Health Kansas: OHK works to

create a culture that values oral health

as a part of overall health for Kansans

of all ages, cultures and resources.

http://www.oralhealthkansas.org/

Consumers.html

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 17


Families as

Communicators

The Kansas Family Engagement and Partnership Standards for Early Childhood

By Barbara Gannaway

Assistant Director,

Kansas Parent Information Resource Center (KPIRC)

Family engagement is a critical

component of high-quality early care

and education. Engaging families in

their children’s growth and learning can

support the healthy social, emotional,

cognitive and physical development

of young children. The Kansas Family

Engagement and Partnership Standards for

Early Childhood were recently developed

by Kansas early childhood educators to

provide guidance for early childhood

providers and educators, families,

communities and educational systems on

the effective engagement of families.

Five standards provide a framework

for achieving a high level of engagement.

Families as:

1. Foundation

2. Communicators

3. Advocates

4. Partners

5. Community Members

Each standard in the resource

contains a definition with strategies

for implementation. Results of the

implementation strategies promote

optimal child development as well as other

benefits for children.

In this article we take a more in-depth

look at communication.

Families as Communicators

Early childhood providers and

families have effective and ongoing

communication.

•§

Program staff and family consistently

initiate communication and

share knowledge that is timely

and continuous through multiple

methods.

•§

Practices, supports and resources

are responsive to the cultural,

racial, language and socioeconomic

characteristics and preferences of

families and their communities.

Included in the strategies for Families

as Communicators; “early childhood

professionals offer formal and informal

opportunities for families and educators

to build an interactive relationship.”

Building relationships depends upon

strong, open and honest communication

between families and early childhood

professionals. Examples of building

interactive relationships through effective

communication, formally and informally,

might include:

•§

Providing opportunities for family

participation

•§

Approaching families with a

strengths-based viewpoint

•§

Trusting that families are experts on

their own children

•§

Treating each family member as an

individual and calling him/her by

name

•§

Offering positive feedback and

encouragement to families

•§

Keeping families informed

•§

Responding to requests for

information

•§

Encouraging families to share

strengths and interests with you about

their children

Effective communication leads to

positive family partnerships that are based

upon respect, dignity, information sharing,

participation and collaboration. When

families and educators share information,

everyone can be aware of children’s

strengths and challenges and can work

together to support children’s social and

emotional well-being.

When their teachers and families

communicate well, it helps children build

comfortable relationships with their

teachers and enables them to focus on

learning. To learn more about the Kansas

Family Engagement and Partnership

Standards for Early Childhood visit:

https://ksdetasn.org/resources/424. n

18 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


When It Comes to Car Seats,

Don’t Graduate Your Child Too Soon

CHERIE SAGE

Safe Kids Kansas

Watching your child reach milestones

is exciting. But don’t be in a hurry when it

comes to their safety.

Many children are moved out of harness

car seats too soon. While booster seats

are effective at protecting children from

injuries during a crash, they are not as

protective as a 5-point-harness car seat

— just ask a race car driver! A 5-pointharness

car seat provides an enhanced

level of protection — especially during

side-impact and rollover crashes —

keeping children contained within the

shell of the car seat. By comparison, a

booster seat works by giving the child a

boost, so the adult seat belt fits better and

helps to reduce injuries during a crash.

How do you know when your child

is ready to graduate to a booster?

Once children reach the upper weight

or height limits of their harness car seats,

they might be ready for a booster seat.

Children should not only fit the booster

seat according to the manufacturer’s

guidelines, but also be ready in terms of

their own behavior. They should be able to

sit correctly in position for the duration of

the drive. If not, a higher-weight harness

seat might be a better and safer option.

Luckily, there are lots of car seat options

available at many retail stores and online.

How long do children need to

ride in a booster seat?

By law, Kansas children must ride in

a booster seat until they reach either age

8, 80 pounds or 4’9” in height. But we

know that children come in all shapes and

sizes. Your child might meet one of these

requirements but still not fit well in a seat

belt. It’s best to do the seat belt fit test.

Your child’s knees should bend at the edge

of the seat. Feet should touch the floor.

The vehicle lap belt should fit snug and

low against the hips or top of their thighs,

not on their tummy. The shoulder belt

should fit across the shoulder and chest,

and not across the face or neck. Most kids

will be between ages 8 and 12 before they

are ready to ride alone in a seat belt.

If you are feeling uncertain about

whether your child is riding as safely as

possible, or if you have limited income and

are in need of a car seat or booster seat

for your child, contact a Child Passenger

Safety (CPS) Inspection Station near

you by visiting www.kansascarseatcheck.

org. Click on Kansas Car Seat Inspection

Stations, enter your city or county, and you

will find information on the CPS stations

nearest you. You can make an appointment

to meet with a certified CPS technician and

find out if you qualify for a free car seat.

If there’s not a CPS technician located

near you, you can still find advice. Visit

www.UltimateCarSeatGuide.org to help

you choose the right seat for your child.

The site is available in English and Spanish

and you can get recommendations on the

type of seat your child should use. The

website also has tips for correct use and

installation of your car seat and lots of

videos so you can feel confident your child

is safe on the road.

We all love watching our kids growing

up and taking on the world, but moving

from car seats to booster seats is one

graduation you don’t want to rush. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 19


Election Brings New Faces,

ADRIENNE OLEJNIK

Kansas Action for Children

Adrienne joined Kansas Action for Children in

September 2018. Before joining KAC, she worked in

the gaming, finance, and library industries. She has

been actively involved in local and state community

work through service as a city council member,

community foundation chair, leadership program

graduate, and non-profit board positions. She is a

graduate of Washburn University where she studied

finance and management.

No matter the results on any given

election night, half of those on the ballot

have an exciting evening, while half

want the ordeal to end. This November’s

Kansas elections were no different, with

voters selecting a mixture of new and

familiar faces. The state now has a new

governor, former state Sen. Laura Kelly,

and a new mix of faces in the Legislature.

Whether they’re old or new, Republican

or Democrat, Kansas Action for Children

is exited to work with them all.

Our greatest successes have come when

both Republicans and Democrats have

worked together for the good of all Kansas

children. Kansas Action for Children,

for example, worked with bipartisan

majorities to end the failed Brownback

tax experiment and defend the Children’s

Initiatives Fund, which supports the state’s

entire early childhood infrastructure.

Community Needs Assessment Tips from the Field

“Is it already time to update the

Community Needs Assessment?”

If this task falls to you each year, you have

asked this question at least once, especially

if you tend to procrastinate. The report

is required, but is it helpful? Here is the

question we need to ask ourselves: “does

the Community Needs Assessment (CNA)

determine the structure of our program or

does our program structure determine what

we include in the CNA?” The answer is

probably somewhere in the middle.

Like many projects, the hardest part

of the CNA is usually getting started. My

catalyst is typically the release of the “KIDS

COUNT” data or the announcement of

the new Kansas Vital Statistics Report. I

find these both to be real “page-turners.”

Although the data they contain is two to

three years old, the information is valuable

in determining trends over time.

One way to simplify the gathering of

information is to call upon your partner

agencies. Most of us have Partnership

Agreements and Memorandums of

Understanding that must be in place and

updated frequently, and many of these

partners also are required to have a CNA.

Extend the invitation to work together. The

most effective CNAs contain information

that is recent, relevant, and reliable.

Agency annual reports are another

great source of information. They typically

include the number and types of services

provided. If past reports are available, you

can chart data over several years. Take

the time to review the mission and vision

statements of other community agencies.

These statements might change and evolve

over the years to correspond with their

program goals and services, even if the

name of the agency remains the same.

Although they take the most planning,

individual and group interviews provide the

best information. Use the information you

have already gathered to compose questions

that support your preliminary findings, and

that will help fill in the blanks where your

research fell short. Decide which groups

or individuals could best answer your

questions. Does your community have a

committee dedicated to early childhood? If

not, have you considered proposing such

a committee? Other potential community

contributors might include: chambers of

commerce; advisory committees such as

CASY ZIEGLER

Program Coordinator,

Heartland Early Education

Casy Ziegler is Program Coordinator at Heartland Early

Education in Salina, KS. She is the Eligibility, Recruitment,

Selection, Enrollment, and Attendance (ERSEA)

coordinator and is primarily responsible for the community

needs assessment. Casy has worked in the field of early

childhood education since 1988 and has been employed at

Heartland Early Education for 21 years.

a Head Start Policy Council; Interagency

Coordinating Council; frontline staff;

enrolled families; local health department;

law enforcement; homeless shelters; drug

prevention programs; domestic violence

agencies; and child abuse and neglect

prevention agencies.

Once the research is complete, the

information is organized, and you have

written the CNA, it is time to summarize

the findings. This final and important

step requires a team of people vested in

drawing the correct conclusions. After the

summary is complete the CNA can be an

effective tool to support the structure of

your agency. n

20 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


New Hopes for Kansas Children

We achieved those wins because

politicians and policymakers of all

parties and ideologies understand that

when Kansas children excel, we all win.

And that’s why KAC has chosen policy

priorities for the next two years that have

exactly that kind of wide appeal.

Our first goal is making child care more

affordable and accessible.

This would allow parents to work

and contribute to the economy while

children experience high-quality,

nurturing early education. It would also

allow providers to be fairly compensated

for their work, rewarding one of our

state’s toughest jobs.

The second goal is the creation of a

statewide, paid family leave program.

Outgoing Gov. Jeff Colyer already

embraced the merits of this concept

by issuing an executive order creating

a paid parental leave program for state

employees. That’s a great first step in

recognizing that paid family leave is a

program that could benefit all Kansas

workers — not only after the birth of a

child, but also when family members are

ill or need attention.

Finally, we want to continue our efforts

to improve infant and maternal health.

While Kansas has seen reductions in

infant mortality, those gains haven’t been

shared equally. Communities of color in

our state have higher rates of low birth

weight babies and pre-term deliveries —

factors associated with infant mortality.

Expanded health coverage for new

mothers is critical in preventing serious

postpartum complications. By educating

providers and parents-to-be and through

legislative advocacy, we can tackle these

daunting challenges.

It is really important to build

authentic relationships with

lawmakers. To find out who your

lawmaker is and how to contact

them, go to www.kslegislature.org.

We know these goals are big, and we

know that many across the state have

previously worked to address them. KAC

looks forward to collaborating with local

communities, advocates, lawmakers, and

policy experts to improve outcomes for

every single Kansas child.

Every election night brings its share of

ups and downs, its winners and losers.

Let’s all make sure that Kansas kids are

the winners this time. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 21


Winter Stories for

Enjoyment and Growth

By Alice Eberhart-Wright,

Child and Family Specialist

It is winter. Most days it’s too cold to

spend much time outdoors, making it the

perfect time for stories!

The Hat

When it is time

to venture out, the

search begins for

mittens and hats and

boots and scarves.

In The Hat, written

and beautifully

illustrated by Jan Brett, we laugh at the

little hedgehog who found a woolen

stocking that he thought was a hat. It’s

a wonderful book for naming animals,

talking about cold places across the

world and tales of hanging clothes on a

clothesline — something many children

probably know nothing about.

Activity tip: Nurture children’s

creativity by providing them with little

folded books and a variety of pencils,

crayons, and markers to create their own

winter stories.

Where’s Bunny?

From the time they are born, little

human beings must organize themselves

with important rituals. Where’s Bunny?

by Theo Hera and illustrated by Renne

Benoit, is perfect for outlining a

comforting bedtime routine for children

and parents. With few words, it includes

a lovely bedtime checklist for parents and

shares the importance of a teddy bear,

blanket, or other special security object.

Activity tip: Make or find flannel board

objects that allow children to organize and

show their routines. Talk to parents about

what happens at their house and offer

guidance if needed.

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Kevin Henkes’ books are some of my

favorites for dealing with the intense

emotions of young children. Lilly’s Purple

Plastic Purse will be loved by both children

and adults as they travel with strong-willed

Lilly through her soaring emotions about

wanting everyone to know how fortunate

she is to have something no-one else

has. Her behavior forces the teacher, Mr.

Slinger, to put the purse and its things

in his desk until the end of the day. Mr.

Slinger quickly becomes the evil teacher

in Lily’s eyes, and she vents her anger by

telling him exactly what she thinks with

drawings and words. When Mr. Slinger

returns her purse with a note reassuring

her that he cares for her and knows she

will have a better day, she is mortified

at her own behavior and puts herself in

timeout. She then writes an apologetic,

illustrated note. She takes her note and

another note from her mother, as well

as snacks that her father baked, to the

teacher, who now is her hero. All the

children decide they want to be teachers

when they grow up.

Discussion tip: This is the perfect book

for discussion between children and adults

about what to do when things go awry.

It’s probably too long for preschoolers,

but would be great for kindergartners and

first-graders.

Marveous Maavilloso: Me and My

Beautiful Family

Finally, I offer Marveous Maavilloso: Me

and My Beautiful Family, by Carrie Lara

and illustrated by Christine Battuz. This is

one more excellent book to stop racism in

its tracks.

Discussion tip: A special section at

the end of the book guides adults in

understanding how children react to skin

color and helps us understand how to

listen and respond to children’s questions.

22 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


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