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, 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.