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All About CLASS®: An Interview with a Program that Uses It

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Erin DelRegno

A bit about the person interviewed:

Greetings and salutations! (I am a Charlotte’s Web fan!). My name is Paula Schroeder. My mother told me that my unofficial teaching career began at age 5 when I taught my 3-year-old sister how to read. I have been a PA and NJ certified educator since 1982, teaching a variety of subjects from K-8 in Camden, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. Living abroad for 7 years, I taught both kids and adults in Mexico, Honduras, and Venezuela. After returning to the states, I continued my teaching career and am currently a certified principal and director of a 421-child preschool in Philadelphia for the last 11 years. We have risen to a STAR 4 status using ECERS, but in the last year felt challenged to switch to utilizing CLASS to measure and improve our instruction.

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World Storytelling Day – March 20th

Storytelling,Symbol.,Wooden,Small,Wooden,Circles,With,Word,’storytelling’,On

 Aimee Currier

You very likely read books to the children in your care daily. We use books for many purposes: education, entertainment, even some physical activity at times. My Kindergartners would get so excited when the Bookmobile would come, and they would have the opportunity to have books read to them by someone who wasn’t me! They were giddy with joy over getting to choose their own books to keep in our classroom for a month. Books were a central part of everything we did in class.

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Explorando libros con bebés y niños pequeños

Mother showing images in a book to her cute baby son at home

Por: Lisa Mulliken

Mire en cualquier salón de bebés o niños pequeños y verá colecciones de libros en el área de lectura o en contenedores alrededor del espacio. Puede ser abrumador e incluso frustrante a veces para los maestros cuando usan libros con bebés pequeños, bebés que quieren masticar libros o con niños pequeños que se mueven constantemente. Entonces, ¿por qué compartimos libros con bebes y niños pequeños?

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Exploring Books with Infants and Toddlers

Mother showing images in a book to her cute baby son at home

Lisa Mulliken

Look into any infant or toddler classroom and you will see collections of books in the reading area or in bins and containers throughout the space. For teachers, using books with tiny babies, older infants who want to chew on the book, or those wiggly toddlers who are constantly on the move can be overwhelming and even frustrating at times. So, why share books with these little ones?

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POI, LTQ, PD and FPOI… So Many Abbreviations that Are Resources for You!

Fyi,-,For,Your,Information,,Acronym,Business,Concept,Background

By Amy Hoffman

Have you heard the news? The Program Quality Assessment (PQA) team at the Pennsylvania Key has a lot to offer to programs. You may already know that we (usually) conduct external assessments to support early learning and school-age programs; this involves an assessor visiting your program and observing a wide range of practices including teacher-child interactions, classroom environments, and/or business practices. Because of COVID-19, we are offering programs support through an internal assessment process; program staff complete internal assessments of their practices, and we meet to discuss these practices and to partner with them in their continuous quality improvement journey.

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Keeping Young Learners Engaged

保育園で遊ぶ子供たちと保育士

Natalie Grebe

Its 9:00am in a preschool classroom. Two teachers have successfully orchestrated their class of 17 children to clean up their morning centers. One of the teachers calls out 9 names and asks those children to join her on the reading rug. The other teacher tells the remaining eight children to sit at their table seats for an activity. As the children get into their appropriate groups, they clumsily sit down, chatting and laughing, some poking their friends, others complaining they wanted to play longer. The teacher on the reading rug holds up a silver bell and rings it a few times. Almost immediately, many of the children quiet down and settle into their chairs or their space on the rug. A few continue to talk, but a gentle hand on their shoulder and one last ring of the bell tells them it is time to listen. For a moment, it is quiet and each teacher can use a soft voice to briefly tell their group what task they will be doing for the next few minutes.

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Providing Nature and Science Experiments for Young Children

Play with slime

By: Lisa Mulliken  

 

Think about yourself as a child. Most likely, much of your time was spent exploring natural materials in your environment: digging for worms, lifting rocks in the creek to find salamanders, climbing trees, playing with your dog, building a snow fort in the backyard. These experiences engaged our senses, helped us construct knowledge about our environment and taught us to love and respect the world we live in.  

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Feeling All the Feelings

Sadness

Amy Hoffman

A few weeks ago, a friend commented that her 5-year-old had been “feeling all the feelings” earlier in the day. He was reacting to those feelings by crying when she left his sight, yelling at his younger sister, and refusing to follow directions. And how did my friend react to this? She set aside her agenda and devoted time to him. She cuddled with him and gave him her undivided attention until he chose to leave her lap and resume his day. And guess what? He was able to cope with his feelings in a positive manner for the rest of the day.

Feelings can be huge and can be difficult to deal with – and not just the feelings that we consider to be “negative.” Young children often don’t have the vocabulary to talk about how they’re feeling, so they express those feelings in other ways. A huge part of an early childhood educator’s job is to show children how to manage their feelings in constructive ways. This can lead to positive experiences later in life including a strong sense of self, resiliency, and good relationships.

So, what can you do? How do you teach feelings? Here are a few ideas (and see the links below for more!):

  • Use words to name the feeling before, during, and after the child is experiencing it. This helps to develop an emotional vocabulary so children can talk about feelings. It also lets them know that it is okay to feel those emotions.
  • Identify feelings in others. Using books or pictures to guide children to discuss emotions will help them to learn empathy and to learn the names for feelings (see above).
  • Be a role model. Children learn a lot by how they see you responding when you’re dealing with strong emotions.
  • Acknowledge the legitimacy of children’s feelings instead of dismissing them or trying to make huge feelings go away. Encourage them to express how they’re feeling.

Here are some other strategies to use in your classroom to help children to release their emotions in positive ways:

  • Teach them to take deep breaths. This video from Mindful Schools includes a deep breathing practice (especially from 1:30 on).
  • Coach them to use the actual words for how they are feeling.
  • Provide a space for privacy so children can have a quiet place to calm down and escape the stress of the situation or the classroom. Encourage them to use it.
  • Encourage them to hug a teacher or to self-hug. Check out this video from Sesame Street about self-hugs.

What are some ways that you help children who are feeling all the feelings? Leave a note in the comment box.

And check out these links for more information:

CSEFEL Website (many great resources from the Center on Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning)

Helping Kids Identify and Express Feelings (an article for parents that is relevant for teachers)

Lessons from Inside Out (for adults and older children about Pixar’s “Inside Out”)

NAEYC Resources

 

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Ask More Open-Ended Questions!

Five Ws and one H

Erin DelRegno

As teachers, you won’t learn anything about the children in your classroom or about their developmental needs if you are going to do all the talking. You are there to guide children’s learning, not to give them all the answers, or ask them questions that they already know the answer to. As assessors, we hear teachers ask more close-ended questions to children when we are observing in classrooms. There are times when the children have been asked what color or shape something was so many times in a 3-hour period, but nothing else was ever asked to them. Children are learning so much more than just these simple concepts.

So, what is the difference between close-ended and open-ended questions and how can you practice and expand how you talk to children on a regular basis?

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