Sunday, December 31, 2017

Excellence, the Tiger Lady, and a Lovely Couple

This Christmas I received a special and unique gift. My sister took me to Cancun, Mexico. She took me to an all-inclusive resort called Excellence. It is a spectacular place full of great service, mouth watering food, and caters only to adults. We had beautiful skies, warm water and met lots of interesting people from all over the world. I recommend you check out the place. It was the last in luxury, service and relaxation. It definitely lives up to its name!

As an aspiring entrepreneur, I was so excited that on my fifth day there I met the inventor of the most interesting self-defense weapon I have ever heard of. I was water walking in the pool, when I overheard a lady discussing her worries for her college aged daughter who was walking campus at night. Dani one of the wives of the founders and it's spokesperson was saying ,"this is the best thing a women can carty and be both safe and get way from her attacker." I just had to turn around and check out this product. She showed me how to hold it and squeeze, three claws came out. "I excitedly asked is this the Tiger Lady?" All bedlam broke loose. LOL! Apparently, I was the first person to recognize this product when shown what it was. The family was ecstatic to meet someone who recognized their product. Then I met Josh the marketing director for the Tiger Lady. He asked me a lot of questions about where I heard about the product, what I thought of it and would I use it? I answered his questions and told him I would use it and recommend all my fellow visually impaired folks add women use it too. Afterwards, we talked some more and I found out Josh and his wife Heather were with his family on vacation while their six month old son was back in DC with her parents. I was so pleased for them and I told them so.

I was excited to see a couple take the time for each other especially because they were both so busy with full-time jobs, starting a new business, and being new parents. Josh's Mom told me that he and Heather were sleeping in, getting to the nightclub for dancing, and generally spending good quality time together. I loved hearing that, I told them their relationship is the foundation of their family and taking time to build, preserve, and shore up this relationship was the glue which would hold their family together! 

After thinking about this I asked Josh if I could use he and Heather's Christmas vacay as an example to show other young and even older couples what it can look like to keep your marriage the priority in your lives as a way to do these three things.

  1. Keeping in mind you are a man and a woman, and a husband a a wife before you are parents.
  2. Remind both of you the foundation of your family life is the relationship between the two of you.
  3. Give your kids a living, breathing, vibrant example of what it means to be an energetic, happy, fulfilled couple who love one another deeply and are committed to one another.

I really enjoyed my Christmas vacation the best present ever! I got to go to the beach, meet some interesting people, got a great new self-defense tool, and found a great example of a couple doing it right. I am so grateful to my sister for an amazing trip. I hope your Christmas went as well as mine! I am looking forward to 2018.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Use Reading this Holiday to Build Relationships!

     Reading together as a family was very popular a few years ago when families read the Hunger Games together. Moms, Dads, kids, grandparents, aunt, uncles, etc all got to read the story and discuss what was going on in the books. This was a good way to form deeper relationships among family members because it allowed families to discuss, poverty, life, death, what would you do in this case, what do you like or dislike about the character? Also, it puts the family on an even playing field everyone has an opinion no one is right or wrong, everyone can discuss their point of view.

     The holiday season is a great time to build relationships among the family. I suggest doing so by reading together. I suggest picking a classic children's story that has been made into a movie. Spend the week reading the book together. You can actually read it or listen to it via audio book. Then take the time to discuss it together. You can make it a discussion over lunch or dinner. Or you can make it a discussion over snacks and hot cocoa.

     I love this idea because it allows the family to share an experience in this case a story, Then gives them a chance to talk agout what happened how it made you think and feel. It opens lines of communication and when the whole family participates it opens up how each other thinks and feels. This brings people closer to understanding each other. It is this understanding which enriches, deepens, and strengthens relationships When you have read the book together the next step is to watch the movie.

     After you watch the movie, talk about the choices the screenwriter made when editing the book for film, do you like what they did. Do you feel key elements of the story played well to the  people who will never read the book? What in the movie would you keep or eliminate? Here is a list of  book/movies I suggest reading.

The Secret Garden
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Hunger Games 1, 2, or 3
Anne of Green Gables
Little Women
Charlotte's Web
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
James and the Giant Peach

If none of these strike your fancy here is a list of others from wikipedia.

    I hope you take this opportunity to use reading to set an example for your children on the importance of reading and perhaps start a new holiday tradition. Happy Holidays for PT&A and welcome in 2018!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Perfection at Christmas? Bah Humbug!

Yay! Christmas is 12 days away and we all know and love the song the 12 Days of Christmas.  A couple of years ago Hallmark Channel did a movie about how w woman who died of cancer sent her husband a Christmas gift where he received these gifts literally. LOL she wanted to remind him that though she was now gone life moves on and is to be celebrated! Hopefully, you do not find yourself in a similar position this year but if you do. I encourage you to just love those around you. Hold them a little tighter and smile. Even when you do not feel like it. Feelings follow actions the more you smile the more you will feel like smiling.

For the rest I want you to relax. There is no such thing as the perfect holiday. The stress and pressure we put on ourselves to strive for the impossible takes all the joy out of it. During these last few days try focusing on what you want others to feel. Happy, safe, comfortable, well, healthy, and loved. If you concentrate on this rather then trying for perfection you and everyone else will be more joyous. Perfection is unattainable, joy, laughter, peace, and goodwill are the hallmarks of this season. Focus on those things and you will find that perfection is over-rated. 

You can not give your child the prefect Christmas. What you can do is focus on giving them all the love, and joy you feel in having them in your life. Celebrating with them the joy, majic, and love this season has to give. 

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Being A New Dad!

My cousin Jason just became a Dad earlier this year. I pondered as a parent coach what advice would I give him if he asked. He did not ask and I am grateful because I really had no idea. Now, that I do I thought I would share with all of you new Dads. The first thing I would say is your wife has spent a lot of time pregnant and caring for your child. Sometimes after the baby is born she can get a little selfish and try and push you away from her and the baby. This is just a phase, be sure to push back and remind her it is not her and your child against the world. It is you and she against the world on behalf of your child. Be patient it will pass, but insist on your being a part of both of their lives. Keep in mind she is not rejecting you she is focusing on attaching to your child. Sometimes we are overwhelmed with that responsibility and cannot see clearly. We need you to help us maintain an equilibrium. Do not abandon us to the overwhelming responsibility remind us you share it.

  • Hire a postpartum doula if you think your wife needs support she is not getting. They work with women for three months after the baby comes. Or if she is pregnant now a doula helps with pregnancy and childbirth. Here is an interview I did with 2 douas.
  • Hold and talk to your infant daily.
  • Be a part of daily care: feed, bathe, change diapers
  • Give your wife time to bathe and shower
  • Insist on caring for the baby while she goes out, plan for her sisters and friends to take her out for an evening while you stay home, then plan for the two of you to go out and have someone else care for the baby. She will push back do it anyway.
  • Remind her and yourself that she is a wife first. Sometimes we get bogged down in our role as mother. Remind her in 18 years this child will be leaving buy you both will still be together. You are building a life together. Be gentle do it with cards, flowers, cooking a meal, and being her partner by talking with her.
  • Speak her love language on a consistent basis. If you have not read Dr. Gary Chapman's book on the Five Love Languages do so now and find out your wife's love language and speak it often!
  • Meet with other Dad's who have kids your age and talk about being a husband and a dad. Find out how other guys are handling the issues you face and share. Support each other. Your wife is not a man and contrary to popular opinion you  are not the same. Talk with other men.
  • Read the books the books the  Gift of Honor and The Gift of Blessing
Being a new Dad is tough you need to support both your wife who has gone a little bonkers with all the new responsibility and mothers love she is feeling. You have a new child who you need to bond with , love. and begin to parent. I love the picture above because it shows how I think most men feel abvout their wife and new born child. Loving, tender, and protective! I encourage you to fight the good fight and be the loving and tender warrior for your family. Fight to be in the midst of them as the loving protector and fight to be the one who protects them from the dangers of the outside world.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Babies R Us-Atlanta and PT&A Bring Class to Parents!

When I read the US News Insider Q&A Interview with Carla Hassan the Toys R Us Chief Marketing Officer that Babies R Us wanted to start reaching out to families and offering support through classes. I immediately knew that I wanted to work with them to bring this to light. So I contacted the local Babies $ Us store in Atlanta. Where I talked with a wonderful woman named Diane. She and I talked about what would be needed for me to teach a class and we went through the process.

The result is that we are going to offer a class to see how it goes the class is called Choosing Quality Child Care. It is based on a book and workbook I have written and the workbook is included in the cost of the class. The class is $30 a couple may attend together however. there is only one workbook per family. The class is limited to 12 participants.

This class is to coach parents in the process of identifying, investigating, and choosing a truly high-quality child care facility  which fits, supports, and enriches their family throughout their child's infant, toddler, and /or preschool years.

I am excited to join with the Babies R Us Atlanta store and will be looking to offer this class at the other stores in the Metro in the coming year. I hope you will decide to join us. I look forward to meeting you.

Registration Directions:

Zip Code 30339
Under Store Click Select
Scroll down to December 3 and click register button
Register and Pay

Click here to register!

See you on December 3rd!

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

High quality Early Education- What are the Levels?

As a parent coach I often answer questions for parents on the difference in quality levels. It does take a little detail to understand the difference and sinch choosing quality care is one of the most important things parents can do for their child here is my explanation.

 Licensing is an approval by the state which says you have me the minimum standards you need to meet to open your doors for business. It has nothing to do with how well the center takes care of children. The knowledge of the director or staff, whether the center has a quality educational program or was just opened last week with a brand-new director and barely trained staff.

Licensing has some general requirements: first it must meet the obligation of any business including: fire, sewer, water, occupancy, and zoning approval and permits. Then every state has specific requirements for child care programs. These are the basics a certain amount of space to approve a certain number of children, the age of these children, the number of materials needed to care for and provide food for the children. This is a detailed and specific list or requirements. However, again this is simply to say you may open your center and provide childcare.

Quality Rated is provided by states to get child care centers on the path to improving the quality of their centers. These programs vary in scope and design. Here in Georgia a childcare program must be in Good Standing or Support status to be eligible for the Rating Program. They must apply and be accepted. Once accepted they begin the process of working to collect data for their portfolio to become quality rated. This is the first of several; steps om the effort to become a quality rated center. The manual for the program has this to say about it.

Quality Rated is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early care and education programs. Similar to rating systems for other service related industries, Quality Rated assigns a quality rating to early care and education programs that meet a set of defined program standards. By participating in Quality Rated, early care and education programs embark on a path of continuous quality improvement.

Though not this is far from the level of accreditation quality rating is a way for states to ensure the centers in their stats are growing in quality and that they to show which centers are striving to get to the highest level of quality possible. This process takes between 4-12 months.

Accreditation is the highest level of quality in the US. Child care centers who receive this rating are among the best 2-5% in the country. There are several forms of accreditations, you can be accredited ty a state or any one of another agency which specializes in the care of children (early childhood, after-school, family home care). The level of accreditation varies. Each state does have a process. However, most states statues for “high-quality” fall far beneath the industry standards as set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This is important to know and understand because there is more stringent standard in the industry than is present in state acceptability.

Thus, if a center is claiming to be of high-quality it is important to recognize even within the context of quality there are degrees. The term ‘consumer beware” is one which applies in child care. Ask questions about the accreditation authority and check out their website, ask about the accreditation process. How did the canter obtain it? The most stringent accreditation process in the US is done by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the NAEYC. The process generally takes two years of self-study, preparation for all 10 standards which have detailed and direct specifications of what it takes to meet each one. A center must work as a team with families and staff members to get the right balance of interactions and communication to get and maintain this accreditation.  Do not assume because a center was once an accredited center it still meets that standard, because change of staff especially the director can cause a center to lose the level of quality fast!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Being an Effective Early Childhood Teacher is about Living and Breathing the Four Domains of Development

Parents and educators need to know the following information. Parents because as you choose a place for your child you want teachers who can and do focus on this in their classrooms. Teachers because you need this information to be the best possible teacher you can!

In 1995 I created and developed an Early Childhood Development Program for Ozarks Technical Community College. I purposely set the program up to be different than any other program in the country. I was heavily focused on the deep study of each of the four area of domains. In fact I wanted the students of this program to be able to walk into a classroom and with in two weeks be able to see where children were having issues in the domain areas and be able to ascertain the best way to help them. Most early educators have only a 3 hour course in the  understanding of development and an overemphasis on classroom management and other "teaching" practices. 

The Early Childhood and frankly the Elementary education field has put more emphasis on what teaching is versus who we are teaching. If teachers were more focused on understanding child development with a lesser focus on how 5to teach. We would be a lot further along with learning in America.

In my opinion educating children is more about having the agility to see what is happening with the child and have the ability to pivot to meet the needs of each individual child rather than knowing the techniques to teach him or her. Teaching is not about the subject matter. It is about helping the children to absorb the subject matter in such a way it becomes a part of they way they think about, interact with, and change the world in which they live.

I took a look at OTC's website today and saw the proaram is now like everyone else's it makes me sad because it means my vision was lost to the wide space of the establishment of education based not on innovation or what is best for children. But, based on what the educational establishment has deemed important. 

This is what can happen if you need to move on and are not there to protect the innovation of your efforts. Keep this in mind. I know moving on is exactly what I was supposed to do. Sometimes, being unique and innovative can be threatening to others. All I know is while I was at OTC my students became experts in the four domains of development. They told me how learning about the domains made being in the classroom easier because they knew the children better and were able to pivot to meet the needs of that child and often became a resource within their center to support their teams. If you are seeking to become a stellar teacher drill down and focus on becoming and expert in the four domains of development. I promise it will serve you better!

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why do Early Childhood Teachers need a College Degree?

Over the last ten years there has been an ongoing debate  do teachers of children younger than five need college degrees? There are those who believe that taking care of children who "play all day" do not need a college degree. If it were true and all children did all day was play I would probably agree with them. However, child play in early education goes beyond enjoyment by a wide margin.

Let me tell you my story:

After two and  a half years in  college,I started my degree in elementary education and the following year I began to serve in the two and three year old class st Grace Church St. Louis. I fell in love with the two's and decided to switch my major to early childhood education. I was surprised to find out there were 90-semester hours difference between the two majors.I was perplexed, how could two fields that shared one title education be so different that they basically shared only the college general requirements? Upon counsel from my college advisor I opted to get my Masters of Art in ECE rather than start all over since I was a second semester junior.

I graduated and taught first grade and junior high school science before I went back to school to get my Masters of Art in Early Childhood Education. It was over the course of this year, I began to realize why there was so much difference in the two fields. It was literally necessary for me to set my elementary education degree  on a shelf and ignore what I knew before in order to learn about early education. It is not an exaggeration to say they are polar opposite in theory and practical application.

First an early childhood teacher has to know the ins and outs of the four domains of development (physical, intellectual, language, and social/emotional). Knowledge of these four areas has to become almost innate. Early Childhood is based on observation, interaction, listening, and asking questions.   Using these foundations a teacher then must set up the environment to support each child's individual scope of learning. This scope of learning shifts and changes depending on the child and what other lessons the children are developing. A teacher has to keep up with every shift of development for each child and change the environment accordingly.

Young children use play to act out, practice, and absorb all the things they have observed, heard, been involved in, or want to know more about. Kids under 5 can not yet think in abstract terms. So, as they play they often think out loud to themselves. Teachers listen to what is called thought-speech and ask questions that get kids to expand their thinking and move along the process of learning more about what they are thinking. Based on this teachers choose books, activities, and cooking experiences that will help the children build on what they are learning.

In addition, the largest area of development in the ECE classroom is social/emotional development. This starts by teachers learning about and using a standardized assessment called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. This assessment is a combination of teacher observations, questions discussed with parents, and evaluating a series of developmental exercises children are asked to perform. All the data is collected and sent off to the testing center where it is evaluated and returned. This one time assessment is used as an starting point on which teachers  can build upon to guide each child's learning start.

Teachers of children from birth to age 5 are teaching children how to put things where they belong, how to follow directions, sitting still during circle time, waiting their turn, and learn to listen. Teachers also guide children in how to interact with one another learning to negotiate, consider the feelings of others, share, and be kind. This is the greatest impact teachers have on children as they get ready for the Kindergarten classroom.

Brain research shows that in the first five years of life is when the brain makes it possible to develop these pathways. The early childhood classroom is an ever changing environment allowing children the opportunity to look at a situations and circumstances in a variety of ways. A teacher who has studied child development, classroom organization, classroom environment, observation techniques, open-ended questions, and a variety of other skills learned in a college classroom is far more equipped to support children in their learning and development.

The final reason an adult in an early childhood classroom needs a college education is above all the most important is called Developmentally Appropriate Practices or DAP for short. This is the concept of ensuring children are in an environment and are participating in activities which are geared toward the development of where they are in age and developmental stage. When children are pushed it can cause stress and overwhelm which  can damage brain development, but also can keep children from gaining the skills necessary for future success. ECE Teachers are tasked with ensuring children have a balance of activities which help kids build upon the skill they already have and stretching them to acquire the ones in a way which causes them to grow without causing undue stress. This is the purpose of knowing and understanding the principles of developmentally appropriate practices and the  signs of stress in children and doing everything necessary to maintain this balance.

Do adults who teach young children need college degrees? The answer is yes. There is so much going on in a child's life and development, that they need adults who understand how they learn and what to do to support that learning. This by the way is the foundation for everything they will learn in the future. ECE professionals are our first line of care and support for our youngest learners. They deserve to have adults who are fully able to help and support their learning and development. Childcare is very expensive parent should get what they are paying for someone who can step in and help their child to develop fully and be ready to step into the Kindergarten classroom ready to learn.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sometimes the answer is: 'Because I Said So'

I remember being a kid and my Dad saying "because I said so". As a kid I said I will never say that to my kids. That was before I reached adulthood and realize that sometimes that is the only answer. One of my favorite ages is the curious, questioning, adorable, laughing 4-year-old. This is the age of the infinite list of questions and where many parents are endlessly answering questions. Why? Where? When? Next, there are those times when your eight-year-old really wants to do something ridiculous like build a treehouse on their own in the tree in the backyard. You discuss doing it together and they they do not need either help or supervision. Then the greatest of all challenges the teen who wants to go to the  rock concert 500 miles away with a group of unsupervised kids.

These are all times when parents may drag out the dreaded statement by all kids.

Because I said so!

Do you feel guilty for using it sometimes. Of course. This past Saturday Rabbi Kevin Solomon made the point; it is about the fact that you simply have lived longer and know a few more things our kids do not. Sometimes we need to assert our authority, not because we want to "Lord it" over our children. But, simply because it is our job to keep them safe and see dangers that exist from benefit of having lived longer than our children have lived.

I am writing this blog to offer you some support! You love your kids and much of the time you know best. While it is our job to ensure our children can look at a situation and figure out and do the right thing. Sometimes, this is beyond the scope of their years; because of this you may need to say no. When the challenge is on and the real reason is because you have lived longer and see the dangers they can not. You may find yourself using the dreaded "Because I said so!" It is okay because that is a valid response.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Parent Classes For Centers

In 1995 as I was creating the early childhood training program for Ozarks Technical Community College, I went all over the city talking with child care providers. I met many directors and owners looking for ways to support their parents. It turned out their parents wanted to be able to ask questions of an expert and other parents. Parent support groups became a regular practice among centers. I was asked to lead several a month. It was an exciting time as I watched parents grow and expand their knowledge.

Once I moved to Georgia I tested out my parent program called PT*A Parent Program. It is a curriculum designed to first help parents reach Maslow's top tier of self-actualization. Then moves on into child development and other programs. PT&A is short for Parents, Teachers, and Advocates. We are a parent development group in Atlanta, GA. We offer trainings here for parents and have worked with two of the most noted centers in the Metro Atlanta area: Child Development Association of Roswell and Gate City Day Nursery established in 1905. We are looking to expand into more areas of Metro Atlanta. It our goal to bring parent programs to early childhood enters around the city.

 We are also looking to train others to do our program. We require out teachers to have a minimum of a AA in early childhood. Our 16-week training program would allow staff members to carry on parent programming as a long-term program where parents would have ongoing direct access to their parent development coach.

Would you like to check out the curriculum? Click here.

If you would be interested in starting a conversation about which option would be best for your agency. Please call Coach Barb Harvey at 770-256-3281. 

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Who I serve and how I can help!

When I think of rich content it is hard for me not to think of what my ideal client most needs. 

She is between 25-45, a mom with children under the age of five. In addition, she is a committed christian, she's married, works full-time either as an employee or an entrepreneur, loves cooking and gardening, Her number one fear is not being able to handle her work and be a great wife and mom.

She may or may not have a full grasp on God's purpose for her life, but she is committed to finding out what that is and how it works in her life and family.

I am committed to helping this woman build a great life. I want to help her do several things.
1. Build and authentic relationship with God, herself, her husband, and her children.
2. Create a personal mission statement that will guide her to stay focused on what God has for her and a foundation from which to choose wisely where she spends her time.

3. Equip her with the tools she needs to be an exceptional Mom.
4. Coach her into becoming a Psalms 31 woman; whose life blesses her family first and the world second and she has a stellar reputation in both areas of influence.
Is this woman you? I have been coaching since 1995; I have helped literally thousands of parents get to the place they want to be.
Here is the first exercise I give my clients.
Write down your top 10 values. Then look them over and put a check next to the most important and an x next to the least important. Write down five ways you have lived out your top value in the last week. Then your least. If you want to talk about me possibly coaching you. Do this exercise and email me the results. 

Have a great day!

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ECE: K-3 Parent Engagement in November!

November is parent engagement month and I want to encourage all levels of early childhood education programs to think about what this means.I love early childhood most people consider that early childhood ends at preschool. In actuality early childhood extends through the third grade. So, as a first grade teacher I was as much a part of the early childhood experience as I was when I taught 3-year-olds. One of the major standards needed in our field is family engagement. Getting parents involved right from the beginning by encouraging them to take an active role in the educational process is the ideal if we want them to continue throughout their child's school career.

As a teacher who started out in inner city schools I can tell you this becomes so very important. As a first grade teacher I made it my business to visit the homes of every child in my class. I talked to parents about my plans for the school year, what activities I was panning, and how they could help. I taught in a neighborhood school and could do that. What my visit did was to let parents know I cared not just about a child in my class, but how I engaged with the family as a whole.

Schools today are rarely so engaged in the process of putting the family first in the educational process. However, if schools do so they will find great success in the education of the students they serve. So, I encourage parents to look for schools which support their families and not just their child. One such charter school system serving inner city students is called Rocketship Education in this blog post they talk about the 10 lessons they have learn in serving inner city families. Parent empowerment is number 3. This shows me the level of dedication they have to family engagement. if you are in the inner city of the Bay Area, Milwaukee, Nashville, or DC then check them out. If you are not as I noted above family engagement and parental support is key in the process of education.

How can today's educator empower parents to engage  themselves in the early years of education? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Send home or email a newsletter to parents each moth about the goings on in your classroom. Give them a heads up on ways they can participate far in advance so they can plan.
  2. Create homework assignments which involve parents and children doing things together. Plan an activity at school where kids need to bring in family pictures, tell a story about their mom or dad as a kid, or share a family recipe.
  3. Invite parents into your class to speak about their culture/job/hobby/interest which can expand the kids knowledge of the world and how people engage in it.
  4. Ask parents to volunteer to read or do math work with a child who needs extra help.
  5. Chances are some of your parents have jobs with ultra flexible schedules. Ask them to com in and help with any ambitious classroom project you know you will need extra adult eyes and hands to pull off.
The truth is we as educators, make parent engagement difficult mainly because we think parents do not care. When mostly it is just that parents are not sure how to help. If we open up our mindset to the ways parents can help, explain those ways, and give them enough time to arrange their schedules to do so; I think most educators will be pleasantly surprised. Do not let your preconceived notion of what parents will or will not do prevent you from asking. Give parents the benefit of the doubt. They deserve to be invited to engage in their child's education. All they need is a little guidance in the process.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ECE Support for Multiracial Families

Several years in America General Mills highlighted the cutest kid in their commercial. Little did they imagine that the little girl's parentage would spark such an ugly debate. Yet, race in America is still a large issue. This black man/ white woman intercultural; couple is just the start of the of the process.  Many black women are also choosing to marry from other racial groups and the more our children share high school and college experiences the more families we will see with intercultural couples. In February 2012 the Pew Group released a report on this issue .The report shows that 8.2% of married  couples are multiracial. This means that at least 8.2 % of children entering into early childhood programs are going to either see or be in a multi-racial family.  

We here in the US have such a problem with cultural differences it is often astounding.  I remember when I was 16, I was in line at Venture (wow throw back!) I was standing in line with a friend who was older and I babysat for; a very light skinned black woman. She had run out of a conditioner she used on her daughter's hair, She had been out playing in her kiddie pool, we ran to the store to get it. While in line; a woman behind us said very loudly,"I just hate it when these white women marry black men and have no idea how to take care of their children's hair." It was the first time I had ever heard something so blatantly racist and mean. My friend turned to the woman and said in her very inner-city St. Louis dialect, "I ain't white, and I know exactly what to do with my baby's hair. Life might be easier for you if you minded your own business." The other woman's mouth dropped open in surprise and she tried to apologise. But, my friend who had had a bad day already was not in the mood for apologies and just ignored her. I share this story because it is important to realize that mixed cultural families face bigotry, and prejudice in today's world as shown with the Cheerios commercial as they always have. They should not also have to face it in their ECE community.

The facts are children who are taught to accept all of who they are develop a stronger and more well-developed sense of self. In her blog Chantilly from Bicultural Familia writes there are ( things families can do to raise conficent kids. Who know who they are as a person.(

Those of us in early childhood can help children of mixed heritage by helping them and their peers understand a variety of cultures. Learning to accept all kinds of cultural and famiiy member make-ups; help children learn from the wold around them. As they participate in the ECE classroom children become exposed to a variety of cultural differences which help then learn to value themselves and others. This is clearly a component of  social/emotional development and learning about it  must be supported. Here are a few suggestions:

Books about multiracial families
No Tildes on Tuesdays: by Cherrye Vasquez
The Aunt in Our House by Angela Johnson
Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff
Brown Like Me by Noelle Lamperti
Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan
Hope by Isabella Monk
How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman

Cooking Experiences
Create snacks that showcase a variety of multicultural tastes and talk about differing ways people prepare foods in dinfferent cultures. Discuss how in a multiracial family cooking practices are mixed.

Pictures and Posters
Hang a variety of pictures and posters that showcase all kinds of family groups and multiracial families.

Circle Time Discussions
Teachers can use circle time to discuss family. Invite children to bring in pictures of their own families to share and discuss all the differenes the children's pictures exhibit.

Parent Involvement
Because teaching culture has often included asking parents to bring in dishes, tell stories, and give children a picture of their lives as part of our cultural teachings. Inviting parents iof multicultural families to come in and talk about how their family meld the two cultures in their homes.

Using these tools will expand the social/emotional aspects of ECE classrooms and help children like the little girl in the Cheerios commercial begin to accept themselves as a single person who is a reflection of two or many other cultures. This is a large part of family engagement and support we in the field of ECE can do to support our families.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lessons From Legacy Academy Snellville

Here in Atlanta there was a newsreport regarding an incident where a Mom of a 4-year-old went to the director of the center to inquire about a bruises on her daughter and was told her daughter was no longer welcomed at the center. After doing some investigation I discovered this center received it's inicial licensing review on July 17, of this year. Which makes me sure of two things: this director is new to the field and she had no real support to find out how to handle this issue.

I suspect Mom's version of this story is the accurate one, why I have been there. When you are new and a situation comes up like this you panic. Thus, you say something stupid like "your daughter no longer meets the parameters of this center she is excused from the program". In other words, I am scared and I have no idea what to do except to solve the problem by getting rid of you. A more experienced director would have said, " This is the first I am hearing of this. Give me a few days to investigate what happened and I will get back to you. I ensure you the safety of the children is our paramount concern."

I am almost positive what happened in this case is primarily about inexperience and not callous disregard for a parents concerns. This is why I think parents need to ask about the director's experience when checking out centers. While a new director can be effective it usually takes between 2-4 years to be comfortable unless they have dealt with children or been in a center for a long period of time before becoming a director.

I want to use this example for several things:

  1. I would like to see owner and franchisers of childcare to hire a director/assistent director for training purposes. You should not hire a new director unless absolutely necessary.
  2. If you are a new director call your local National Association for the Education of Young Children state office and request a meeting. Once there ask if they can suggest a possible mentor for you to call if you hit a problem.
  3. Remember as a director it is your job to ensure you are meeting the needs of your team (staff), customers (parents), and your clients (children) at all times. The only way to do this is to talk to everyone and find out what happened and then make your decisions.
  4. Parents be sure to investigate by asking a lot of questions before you place your child in a center.
  5. PT&A teaches a class on choosing quality childcare, contact us for help!
You can avoid these situations on both side it just takes a little time and asking lots of questions!

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Friday, October 13, 2017

How to Effectively Engage Parents in ECE!

The National Association for the Education of Young Children   (NAEYC) has standards for accreditation. One standard is for Family Engagement and Support. Teachers are the staff which engage with families on a daily basis. They are the ones who need the greatest training in customer service. Many times we in the field of education do not consider ourselves in the customer service industry. However, early education is the one field where we have both clients and customers. Clients are people who depend on our knowledge and skill to help them move on to the next station of life. A customer uses services to improve or enrich their lives in some way. ECE has children as clients and parents as customers.  While it is true most centers do an excellent job with our clients; we often fail miserably  serving our customers. Customer service is about meeting customers needs even when sometimes they have not yet realized they have that particular need.
There are three services I believe every child care center in the nation should be providing to parents. 1) Training in child development from six weeks to eight years. 2) Training in positive guidance. And 3) a program for meaningful engagement in the center both in decision making and participation in their child(ren)'s education.
Child Development
In every state early childhood professionals are required to take training hours. Having staff use the trainings they take and then offer them to parents is a great way to meet this need. In addition, there are parent education experts who work with parents on a regular basis. EC Centers can partner with these professionals to bring training to parents. One way to find professionals in your state is to visit the website for parent educators. It lists agencies by state.  The website for the National Parent Educators Network is If you are in the Metro Atlanta, I can support these efforts in your center. My website link is at the end of the article.
Positive Guidance
In 2011  UNICEF released a report stating the most effective  parent trainings that support parent-child relationships are those which focused on positive guidance. This means building loving, respectful, and nurturing relationships with children based on their development and ability to engage in being responsible. At the time the report said only 2% of programs emphasized this concept. Early childhood practices are all about using positive guidance principles. Teachers have great opportunities to be role models for parents. Directors can share articles regarding the use of these principles. Also, this would be another opportunity for teachers to offer sessions to parents. Here is a blog post from Kars4Kids you can share with parents.
Meaningful Engagement
The truth of the matter is people engage in things which are meaningful to them. If early and even on higher educational systems want parents to become true members of the community it has to be worth their while. This means going beyond the fact their children attends here. Centers need to find ways where parent input is both valued and put to use in meaningful ways. Parents can become part of a parent advisory team which works directly with center staff to make programming and practical decisions.
Parents can be asked to do a center newsletter working with staff to plan pictures and articles about center happenings. Parents can also offer support by teaching children about their occupations.  Centers could invite parents to come have lunch and put their child down to nap. Parents can be asked to come in long enough to read a story. Also, having family fun nights where families engage in fun activities after hours which promote parent-child interactions around fun and educational activities. One local Atlanta center has two late evening events parents can sign up for during the Christmas season.

These three areas can help centers support families as they begin the educational process. Centers can be supportive through offering education and meaningful experiences to families. It is these programs which will give families the tools they need to continue to engage in the process during their children's entire educational experience. Ir is also the tools you can use to offer excellent customer service to the families you serve!

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