Helping Young Children Get Ready to Read

Even very young children are learning to listen to words in order to gain speech and language skills. While this is happening, they are exploring print in books and throughout their environment in order to make connections between print and spoken words. This tool kit will provide information on print awareness, oral language, phonological awareness, letter knowledge, and beginning writing and how all of these pieces fit together to help children master the skill of reading.

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Helping Children with Big Feelings

Big feelings such as frustration or being upset can lead to strong reactions in adults and children. For children who have little control over their environment, these feelings can occur for reasons adults see as inconsequential or silly. Regardless of what causes a meltdown, teaching, modeling, and supporting them to calm down in that big feelings moment will help them learn a valuable life skill. Children will be faced with things that make them feel upset or mad many times in their lives. Teaching these skills early promotes resilience in the face of difficult situations.

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Developmentally Appropriate Practice 101

Developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) was developed in the 1980s to give early childhood educators a framework of high-quality and appropriate teaching practices for young children. DAP are learning experiences that promote the development (social, emotional, physical, health, cognitive) and general learning of each child served. NAEYC’s 2020 Developmentally Appropriate Practice Position Statement gives educators guidelines and recommendations for implementing DAP with children ages birth through age 8. This Q&A is intended for early childhood educators just learning about DAP who are thinking about how to use DAP in their classrooms.

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Carson’s Fishing Project

Carson’s interest in fishing began during previous trips to his grandparents’ farm in southern Missouri, where opportunities to fish in rivers and lakes are readily available. His first-hand experiences using worms and minnows for bait, and the excitement of catching a fish with his grandfather and then frying it for dinner, provided a tangible basis for understanding the basics of fishing. His interest in fishing was revived over the summer while spending days at home during the COVID-19 quarantine. He also had moved to a new home where he had access to a neighborhood lake, had spent time helping his grandpa stock his newly constructed pond, and had fished on Stockton Lake from a pontoon boat.

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Creative Arts for Young Children

Creative arts are activities that actively engage children’s imagination through movement and dance, drama and storytelling, music, and visual arts. Creative arts engage children across all domains—cognitive, language, social, emotional, and physical. This toolkit will describe four different types of creative arts and will provide ideas for encouraging and supporting young children in creative arts activities at home and in the classroom.

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Inclusive Practices and Remote Learning

During the Covid-19 pandemic, some early childhood professionals have transitioned to remote learning. This has been a new way of teaching young children for many early childhood educators. While learning remotely, children with disabilities continue to require the accommodations, modifications, and support noted in their IFSP/IEPs. This toolkit will support teachers with ideas for anytime inclusive practices, ways to become an effective remote teacher, tips for both synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning, and stories from the field with a focus on inclusive preschools.

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Childcare During COVID-19: Two Parents’ Perspectives

On this podcast, we talk with Haley and Bob about the impact of COVID-19 on childcare and their family. These parents have three young children who attend the Child Development Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

This podcast is the third in a three-part series on childcare during COVID-19. Part 1 focuses on a director’s perspective, and Part 2 focuses on a teacher’s perspective.

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Curriculum Modifications: Materials Adaptation

When you have a child with disabilities or developmental delays in your class, you will be considering how to make your day-to-day classroom life more accessible to them. One way of doing this is through materials adaptation. Materials adaptation is when you change an activity, manipulative, or toy slightly to meet the needs of a child with a disability or developmental delay.

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COVID-19 Parenting Pep Talk: Make Time for Connection

Before the COVID-19 situation, many of us, myself included, were used to taking our young children to childcare or preschool on working days. Now, we may be working from home or different hours, and we may have lost many of our predictable daily routines. In addition, many family, friends, and coworkers are no longer part of our routines. This can leave us feeling grief and sadness about the missed connections.

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How Teachers Can Help When a Child Says, “Mommy, I Don’t Want to Go to Preschool!”

While there are many reasons a child may not want to come to school, there are a few things teachers can do to support children during this difficult time. Things that help build a sense of belonging may increase the child’s willingness to come to school. These include providing positive interactions, creating equal opportunities to participate in events, and maintaining attitudes of acceptance.

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Press Here

Jayden (20 months), Mason (21 months), Spencer (20 months), and the teacher, Sui Ping, are sitting on the floor engaged with an activity box. Sui Ping is demonstrating for Mason how to make the small bear “jump” off the toy by pushing a button. The other two boys are also trying to play with the toy, but the teacher and Mason remain focused on getting the bear to “jump.” Although the teacher could have asked Jayden to wait his turn when Jayden pulled on the toy, simply saying “please” worked and gave Mason an opportunity to make the bear “jump.”

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Let’s Get Up

Micah (30 months) is lying on the ground next to the slide. The teacher leans down and teasingly touches both of his hands before lifting him up to his feet. Micah walks over to the corner, picks up a ball, and throws it off-camera to the teacher, who tosses it back. Micah had shown very little interest in activities that morning, but the teacher was able to engage him briefly in a game of catch.

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I Don’t Like That

This video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Jordan (29 months) has put on sunglasses, and Sadie (25 months) walks up and stands very close to him. He tells her “I don’t like that,” but she stays close to him. The nearby teacher steps in and tells Sadie that Jordan “does not like that. Please stop.” She then attempts to turn Sadie in another direction. Her interaction with Jordan and Sadie was brief but effective in eliminating a potential conflict.

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Filling the Trains

This video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Daniel (25 months) and Sadie (26 months) are playing with trains and putting people back into their trains. The teacher is nearby talking with them, narrates their activities, and helps Sadie to see that she needs to put the people into another train because she is out of room in hers.

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Down There

The video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Max (19 months) and Levi (27 months) are in the glider chair looking at a nursery rhyme book together. They are engaged in the books for a short while and then begin to rock the chair together. The nearby teachers did not intervene in the interaction after setting the stage for them.

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All Done

This video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Daniel (25 months) and Mia (23 months) are standing at the Lego table. A teacher is helping Mia ask Daniel to share the blanket he is using when he is done. The teacher provides her with words to use, expands on what they are saying, and asks them both questions.

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A Big Tower

The video takes place in a toddler room of a university laboratory child care and preschool. Anna (28 months) is building a tower alone with large interlocking blocks. Kenyon (26 months) runs in and knocks over her new tower. Anna takes it in stride, and Kenyon helps her rebuild. He promptly knocks over their new tower. Although the teacher is off-camera interacting with other children, she comments on Anna’s work and is aware of what was happening.

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Making Pizza Together

Preparing meals is part of the “real work” of family life. Preschoolers can help their parents fix simple foods. The whole family can benefit when parents involve preschoolers in cooking activities. Doing this kind of “real work” together gives family members something meaningful to talk about. It also gives children a chance to learn life skills by watching and listening to real “experts” on family life—their parents. Working together also helps members of a family to feel connected to each other.

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