Friday, September 23, 2016

Child Passenger Safety Week, September 18-24

The week of September 18 through 24 has been designated as Child Passenger Safety Week.  Obviously, parents and caretakers want to keep kids safe—the emphasis for this week is to make sure parents and caretakers are not only properly restraining kids in vehicles but using the correct car seat for each child based on their age and size.
 
A recent report released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on data from 20151 showed an uptick in the number of children killed in vehicle accidents.  Since this is only one year’s worth of data it is hard to draw direct relationships as to the cause(s) for this increase.  What we do know is that in spite of increasingly sophisticated safety technology in our vehicles and car seats—the car seats won't work if they are not used or are installed incorrectly!  Did you know that overall car seat and booster seat misuse was 46 percent in 20152?
    
Here’s the good news, you don’t need an engineering degree to correctly install a car seat—you just need to know where to go to get help.  There are a lot of resources available to help you research the best car seat option for your child.  One of the most helpful resources is the Ultimate Car Seat Guide, created by Safe Kids Worldwide with help from automaker General Motors.
 
This guide covers how to:
  •          Find the correct car seat based on your child’s age, height and weight.
  •          Make sure it is correctly installed.
  •          Register your car seat—to receive recall notices.
  •          Know when your child is ready for the next car seat option.

To get help or to make sure you properly install a car seat, check out the following link to find a car seat checkup event in your area.  And remember, children learn by following your lead—set a positive example and always wear your seat belt.

Helpful Resources:    


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Move it! DEL Promotes Health and Wellness this Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Month and it's time to get back to school for many Washington kids! This is a good time to re-commit to eating healthy, getting more active and spend less time in front of TVs, computers, and other screen time devices.

Parents and their children create and eat snacks
together at a Kaleidoscope Play and Learn group in Olympia.
According to letsmove.gov, nearly 60% of our youngest children spend time in child care, which means providers play an important part in modeling healthy behaviors.

Looking for quick and easy lessons and activities about health and wellness for kids? 


  • Team up with parents! Parents can set a great example for the whole family by making home a healthy environment. Here are a few simple ideas for parents: 
    • Keep fresh fruit in a bowl within your child’s reach to grab a quick snack
    • Take a walk with your family after dinner.
    • Plan a menu for the week. Get children involved in planning and cooking
    • Turn off the TV during meals and share some family time
    • Talk to your provider about organizing a “family physical activity day” at the child care center or family home

  • Check out “mini lessons” from Smart from the Start’s Enrichment Zone (EZ), and incorporate them into your center of family home today! These lessons are fun and play-based, and can be used by parents, caregivers, and volunteers to teach children important skills they need to develop healthy habits. More resources and information can be found Smart from the Start’s website.

Using the Updated CACFP Meal Patterns to Lower Costs
This fact sheet provides guidance for CACFP centers and family child care homes to help keep costs low while implementing the updated meal patterns. It includes examples of nutritious meals that meet new meal patterns by making simple, low-cost switches.

Child and Adult Care Food Program: Using the Updated Meal Patterns to Lower Costs

Are you practicing healthy activities with your little learners? Share with the Department of Early Learning and the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag: #HealthiestNextGen! For more information about Governor J. Inslee's Healthiest Next Generation initiative, go here: HNG.








Friday, September 16, 2016

DEL Celebrates Arts in Education

The arts are an essential part of a complete education, no matter if it happens in the home, school, or community. Students of all ages—from kindergarten to college—benefit from artistic learning, innovative thinking, and creativity. Celebrating National Arts in Education Week is a way to recognize this impact and share the message with friends, family, and communities.

National Arts in Education Week is a national celebration recognizing the transformative power of the arts in education. Designated by Congress in 2010 through House Resolution 275, the celebration is designated to bring attention to this cause for elected officials and educational decision makers across the country and to support equitable access to the arts for all students.

So what makes art so important to a child’s education?
How does learning how to draw, paint, dance or sing help children in their other subjects as well as in life in general? For children across all physical and mental abilities, various art mediums allow children the freedom to express their ideas and emotions that more structured educational subjects don’t. 

 When there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer, children have the freedom to think differently.

In standard subjects such as social studies or mathematics—there are generally, right and wrong answers and hence it is much easier to quantify the level of proficiency in these subjects. The problem is that creativity, ingenuity and perseverance are not skills that are easy to quantify. Whereas, test results can “prove” proficiency in traditional subjects like math and reading comprehension.

But how do you teach skills and mental habits that are invaluable life skills such as problem solving, creativity, perseverance, or dedication? 
Photo courtesy of Kaleidescope Play and Learn, Thurston County
Through studying art and seeing a different perspective or practicing paint brush techniques—children gain skills and personal habits that help them in other areas of their education and life.

In addition, many students struggle with the structure and rigorous requirements of subjects like math, science or reading. But a child that loves to dance, draw or play an instrument can get lost in these activities for hours because they enjoy what they are doing. A child that has fun in creating a work of art or performing in a music or dance recital will learn the importance of perseverance, giving and receiving feedback, and the importance of dedication. A child’s self-confidence can’t help but flow into other areas his/her life.

So maybe the importance of art in a child’s education isn’t easily quantifiable or even going to provide the same benefits to each child. Perhaps the benefits of art education won’t sift out into a tidy equation. But, like art, the intangible skills, perspective and personal habits would be evident if children never got to experience, create or participate in it.

Introducing art in early education can contribute positively to*: 

  • Fine motor skills. Grasping pencils, crayons, chalk and paintbrushes helps children develop their fine motor muscles. This development will help your child with writing, buttoning a coat and other tasks that require controlled movements.
  • Cognitive development. Art can help children learn and practice skills like patterning and cause and effect (i.e., “If I push very hard with a crayon the color is darker.”). They can also practice critical thinking skills by making a mental plan or picture of what they intend to create and following through on their plan.
  • Math skills. Children can learn, create and begin to understand concepts like size, shape, making comparisons, counting and spatial reasoning.
  • Language skills. As children describe and share their artwork, as well as their process, they develop language skills. You can encourage this development by actively listening and asking open-ended questions in return. It is also a great opportunity to learn new vocabulary words regarding their project (i.e., texture). 
*Courtesy of Michigan State University. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Back to School Immunizations

It’s back to school time… are you and your family ready? August is typically the time of year that many families get their children ready for school, and are busy checking the school supply list to ensure their children have the proper school supplies for a successful start to the school year.  There is no denying that this is an important part of school readiness. Often overlooked, but equally important are immunizations.

Schools, child care facilities, and preschool programs are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases.  Children enrolled in these settings can easily spread illness to one another due to poor or improper hand washing techniques, interacting in crowded environments, and not covering coughs or sneezes.

Vaccines provide a safe and powerful tool to protect children from serious infectious diseases, such as measles, mumps, and chicken pox to name a few. 

When children are not immunized they are at an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases.  They can easily spread the disease to others in their classrooms, playgroups, to family members with weakened immunity due to age or health conditions, and the community they live in.

To help families navigate the requirements for immunizations and how to obtain a copy of a child’s immunization, or to answer questions about the safety of immunizations, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have the following links that can provide valuable and current information regarding immunizations and vaccinations.
    Together let’s keep all children in Washington healthy and ready to learn.

     

    Monday, August 29, 2016

    DEL Posts Approved CCDF (Federal Funding Source) Plan


    The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a Federal funding source that supports low-income working families by providing access to affordable, high-quality early care and after-school programs. CCDF also improves the quality of care to support children’s healthy development and learning by supporting child care licensing, quality improvement systems to help programs meet higher standards, and support for child care workers to attain more training and education.

    In Washington, CCDF dollars fund essential programs in early learning, including but not limited to: 

    • child care licensing
    • quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) - Early Achievers
    • data collection and analysis to better understand child outcomes. 
    The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 reauthorizes the Federal early learning law of 1996 and represents an historic re-envisioning of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program.

    Learn more about the law.

    As the lead state agency for the CCDF block grant, DEL must submit a plan every three years for how the funding will be used to improve accessibility to and quality of child care in our State. This past fall, DEL submitted the following:
    See the 2016-2018 Approved CCDF plan here: Approved CCDF Plan.

    If you have questions, please contact: Child Care Administrator, Lynne Shanafelt at Lynne.Shanafelt@del.wa.gov.

    DEL Posts Approved CCDF (Federal Funding Source) Plan


    The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a Federal funding source that supports low-income working families by providing access to affordable, high-quality early care and after-school programs. CCDF also improves the quality of care to support children’s healthy development and learning by supporting child care licensing, quality improvements systems to help programs meet higher standards, and support for child care workers to attain more training and education.

    Authorization with CCDF has allowed essential programs in early learning to thrive including but not limited to: 

    • licensed child care
    • quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) - Early Achievers
    • homeless child care
    The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 reauthorizes the child care program for the first time since 1996 and represents an historic re-envisioning of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program.

    Learn more about the law.

    As the lead state agency for the CCDF block grant, DEL must submit a plan every three years for how the funding will be used to improve accessibility and quality of child care in our state. This past fall, DEL submitted the following:
    See the 2016-2018 Approved CCDF plan here: Approved CCDF Plan.

    If you have questions, please contact: Child Care Administrator, Lynne Shanafelt at Lynne.Shanafelt@del.wa.gov.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    Washington's Kindergarten Entry Assessment Report


    This descriptive study examines the development and early implementation of Kindergarten Entry Assessments or KEAs in 12 districts and 23 schools within four RTT-ELC states (Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington) during the 2014–15 school year. To see the entire report, go here: Case Studies of the Early Implementation of Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs).

    The study is intended to help states learn from the experiences of other states as they work to develop and implement their own KEAs and to use KEAs to improve instruction and learning.
    Key findings:

    State officials and stakeholders in all four case study states considered multiple criteria when developing or adopting KEA measures: 
    • reliability and validity, 
    • appropriateness for all students, 
    • usefulness for informing classroom instruction, 
    • usefulness for informing early learning policies and program improvement, 
    • feasibility of administration by teachers, 
    • and cost. 
    The four states trained teachers on KEA administration through self-paced webinars, in-person presentations, and train-the-trainer models. A majority of the interviewed teachers said the training prepared them to administer the KEA to students, though many teachers reported that they had difficulty in determining what were appropriate accommodations for English learner (EL) students or (dual language learners) and students with disabilities and indicated that they needed further assistance. 

    Recommendations for Policymakers & Administrators

    • Be clear about how KEA results will and will not be used by interested groups (i.e early childhood programs, Kindergarten teachers, school administrators, parents and legislators). 
    • Use KEA tools that will take into account students with disabilities and EL student populations. 
    • Be aware of other assessment requirements placed on this population of students and if possible eliminate or combine other skills assessment/inventory requirements. Provide the teachers taking the inventory with assistance to minimize time collecting and reporting assessment data. 
    • Properly prepare, train and provide guidance and coaching to teachers that will be administering KEA. This will help ensure consistent and uniform results to provide the most accurate snapshot of students’ abilities. 
    • KEA results must be delivered in a user-friendly and timely report in order for educators and parents to best utilize the information to help address each student’s needs. 
    • Tie results back to preschool instruction and analyze data in order to identify instructional areas that early learning programs could help children be better prepared for kindergarten. 
    Washington State’s KEA is called the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills or WaKIDS. As with much of the work surrounding the early learning environment in Washington State, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) worked with public and private partners in developing WaKIDS. This includes:
    • The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction 
    • The Gates Foundation 
    • Thrive Washington 
    • The Early Learning Regional Coalitions 
    There are three components to WaKIDS:
    • Family connection welcomes families into the Washington K-12 system as partners in their child’s education. 
    • Whole-child assessment helps kindergarten teachers learn about the skills and strengths of the children in their classrooms so they can meet the needs of each child. 
    • Early learning collaboration aligns practices of early learning professionals and kindergarten teachers to support smooth transitions for children. 
    The intended purposes of the Whole-Child Assessment component (i.e., GOLD®) of WaKIDS are to:
    • Help kindergarten teachers plan classroom instruction and individualize educational supports for each student. 
    • Engage, welcome, and partner with families and inform them about children’s learning strengths and needs. 
    • Inform decisions about early learning and K–12 education policy and investments at the community, district, and state levels. 
    • Inform early childhood education providers about children’s learning strengths and needs.

    Washington WaKIDS Timeline

    (Information from Exhibit 8)

    2009: Legislature appropriates funds to identify and evaluate a KEA process.
    2009–2010: Advisory team and committees review tools, select GOLD®, and develop WaKIDS administration process.
    2010–2011: Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) is piloted and evaluated.
    2011–2012: Legislature passes SB5427; WaKIDS is voluntary in state-funded full-day kindergartens this school year.
    2012–2013: WaKIDS is mandatory in all state-funded full-day kindergartens this school year.

    Exhibit 9. Percentages of Washington Students Demonstrating Kindergarten Readiness


    Exhibit Reads: 40% of all Washington kindergarten students demonstrated skills indicating full kindergarten readiness. SOURCE: Data from State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction n.d.