Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where I've Been

I know that I haven’t written here for almost a year. The last time I wrote, I had just finished my capstone project and was about to graduate. With that accomplished, I focused mostly on my job. At that time, I was working almost full-time in the toddler room again. This lasted until May when more staffing changes occurred which brought me back to my previous schedule of floating between the infant and toddler rooms. I have been doing that since then. A lot has happened, which has lead me to look for new opportunities both in and outside of the early childhood field. The fact that I do not have my own classroom is one of the reasons for my lack of posts. As the floater, I am mostly supposed to follow the lead of the full-time teachers which leaves little room to come up with my own activities and ideas for setting up the classroom environment. I have a couple of posts that I never finished from my work in the toddler room from last spring. I plan to post those in the coming weeks.

 

I have other ideas for posts in mind that will be more research based which will take longer to write, but I hope you find them useful. As always, I will focus on play. I have recently contacted one of my instructors about teaching assistant opportunities so my blog may go in another direction. I am hoping to assist with teaching early childhood courses. Thank you for following my blog and stay tuned for future posts.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Assignment: Time Well Spent

When I first began the masters in early childhood studies program through Walden two years ago, I was overwhelmed. When I looked at the list of courses and thought about the time it would take, I wasn’t sure how I would balance a job, school and other obligations. It was a challenge. There were many nights when I’d come home after a stressful day working with the kids. Schoolwork was the last thing I wanted to do, but I am glad to say that I made it! Part of me is relieved that I am done with the program because I will have time for other things. The other part of me is uncertain because I’m not sure what my next step should be. The mountain in the picture represents overcoming challenges, accomplishing goals and achieving success.

We were asked to share three things that we learned from our course of study.

Connections

I have learned so much from the individuals that I have connected with because of this program. I have learned a lot of information through discussion and blog posts from my classmates. Thank you all for sharing information and your experiences as educators. In our Trends in Early Childhood course, we were asked to connect with people who work in the field from other parts of the world. My contacts were Kierna from Northern Ireland and Sherry from Australia. They are both early childhood educators. I learned that many parts of the early childhood systems in other countries are very similar to ours. Early childhood professionals are struggling to be valued and recognized for their work. In most cases, we need to fund our own studies or professional development opportunities. There are also concerns about what is developmentally appropriate. Children around the world do not get to play as much and are forced into learning they aren’t ready for at younger and younger ages. We also have similar concerns with budgeting and paying quality teachers what they deserve. Kierna has a blog called Learning for Life if you would like to check it out. Sherry shares a blog with Donna, another educator called Irresistible Ideas for play based learning. They share many activities that they have done in their classrooms over the years.

Through blogging, I have found likeminded educators throughout the country and around the world. Their posts and ideas have been informative and have influenced the work I have done in my own classrooms. It is amazing how technology has changed and how it allows us to connect with people we would never know otherwise.

Research

I learned what it means to really do research.

In our research competencies course, I designed a research simulation on infant friendships. Before I never understood how to properly read a research article or that there was even a method to do so. I also didn’t understand the concepts involved in designing a research study, but completing the simulation made it clearer. If it weren’t for researchers, we wouldn’t have the necessary information that we use to guide our practices with children. I learned that we are all researchers. We are doing research every day when we ask questions and try to find the answers. When we experiment with a new activity or technique in our classrooms, we are doing research. I want to continue encouraging the children that I work with to become little researchers by experimenting and asking questions.

Play

Finally, I learned that play is essential for child development.

This concept isn’t news to me, but my research especially in this capstone strengthened my belief that early childhood programs should be play based. Play keeps children physically and mentally healthy. Through play children learn about relationships, sharing, empathy and playing different roles. Play helps children process both good and bad events that occur in their lives. Play even helps children learn those important math, science and literacy concepts that are necessary for later success in school. One of my goals is to advocate for play. This capstone course has helped me develop a way to do that. Click here for a list of organizations and links related to play.

Farewell

To close this entry, I want to thank my classmates for sharing their experiences, offering feedback and being a source of support. There are a few of you who were there when I needed help with some of the assignments. I want to thank Dr. Davis for offering feedback as well. You helped me narrow down my topic which was difficult. You also made me rethink my goals and turn them into something measurable and manageable. I wish you all success and I hope you achieve your goals. If any of you would like to keep in touch, my E-mail address is darceylynn@gmail.com or I can be found on Twitter @play2grow. I hope to cross paths with some of you in the future.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Assignment: International Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community

I have never thought of looking for a job internationally. First, I have never thought of actually living in another country. Also, I do not know a second language so finding work in another country especially in this field would be difficult. You really need to be able to communicate with the families and children you work with. However, this week, we were asked to explore roles and or jobs in the field on an international level. It gave me an idea of what is out there.

The first organization I explored is Save the Children. This is an organization that makes a difference in the lives of children around the world. They assist in the rebuilding of areas that have been devastated by natural or other disasters. One position that is currently available is the coordinator for their Early Steps to School Success program. “Early Steps to School Success provides early childhood education services to pregnant women and children birth to five years of age, education services to their parents, and ongoing staff training to the community early childhood educators” (Save the Children, n.d.). Responsibilities of the job include recruiting pregnant families and children ages birth to five into the program, developing and scheduling the program activities, including home visiting parent/child groups, toddler playgroups, transition to school activities and other programmatic activities and providing regular home visits to families using STC approved home visiting curriculum. The candidate must also organize and conduct parent/child groups in the elementary schools, conduct child screenings and make referrals to community providers and coordinate/Collaborate with program partners. This job sounds interesting, but I am not sure how I feel about home visits. They require someone with a degree in early childhood or a related field which I have. However, I do not have experience working for a program that does home visits. However, I do have experience working with infants and toddlers.

I was having difficulty finding other positions that interested me so the rest of this entry will focus on international communities of practice. The next organization I came across is OMEP. “OMEP is an international, non-governmental and non-profit organization concerned with all aspects of early childhood education and care (ECEC). OMEP defends and promotes the rights of the child to education and care worldwide and supports activities which improve accessibility to high quality education and care. OMEP is currently established in over 60 countries and is represented at meetings of UNESCO, UNICEF, and other international organizations with similar aims” (OMEP, n.d.). OMEP USA

This organization interested me because they work on a variety of projects around the world. Their current projects include donating books or materials that support preschools and or programs that teach early childhood educators in other countries, earthquake and other natural disaster relief and Collaborating with UNICEF in the development of OMEP's Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) initiatives in early childhood settings in the developing world. Members of this organization include policy makers, lawyers, therapists, early childhood educators, students and parents or grandparents. this organization invites anyone who wishes to advocate for and make a difference in the lives of children and families around the world.

Another interesting organization I found is The International Society on Infant Studies I had never heard of this organization before, but I am interested in learning more about them and reading some of their journals. “The International Society on Infant Studies The International Society on Infant Studies is a not-for-profit professional organization devoted to the promotion and dissemination of research on the development of infants through its official journal and a biennial conference where researchers and practitioners gather and discuss the latest research and theory in infant development” (The International Society on Infant Studies, n.d.). Membership is open to anyone with an advanced degree in any discipline related to infant development. This organization caught my attention because I work with infants and I think it’s important to stay up to date with the latest research.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Assignment: Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community: National/Federal Level

This week, we are continuing to explore various roles or jobs within the early childhood field. We were asked to search within national or federal organizations. I found this difficult, but after searching a variety of websites, I found some available jobs.

The Ericson Institute is looking for an early childhood developmental screener. Erikson Institute is one of the nation's leading graduate schools in child development and early childhood education. The purpose of this job is to assess parents and their children birth to age three with the goal of identifying and recommending appropriate services to maximize child and family functioning. The applicant must be a graduate level professional who is self-motivated and reflective. The candidate must have knowledge of child development, relationship based practices and experience with working with children and families. The responsibilities of the screener will range from doing assessments, making referrals to Early Intervention or other necessary systems and training and consulting with caseworkers and foster parents on early development and infant mental health issues. Many of these requirements match my knowledge skills and experience. I have knowledge of child development, have worked in the early childhood field for several years and have a bachelors degree in mental health and human services. This program through Walden has expanded my knowledge of child development, communication and best practices in the field. However, I am not bilingual so would not be qualified for this specific position, but I am posting it anyway because I found the job description interesting. I am also unfamiliar with the assessment tools they use such as Denver II, Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Socio-Emotional (ASQ:SE). click here for the job description.

The National Institute for Early Education Research is looking for research assistants. “Founded in 2002, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) is affiliated with the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. NIEER supports early childhood policy development by providing independent research, analysis, and technical assistance” (NIEER, 2013). This job description interested me because I would be qualified and it is a completely different role but just as important to the field. The research assistants can either be graduate or under graduate. Applicants should be enrolled in education, child development, psychology, economics, statistics, public policy or a related Field. The candidate must have excellent written and oral communication skills, the ability to meet deadlines and enthusiasm for bringing change to early childhood policy. Click here to see the job description.

The final job I thought of for this assignment is an instructor. I could complete training through Maine Roads to Quality to provide professional development workshops, apply for an instructor position at a community college or work as an online instructor or professional coach for the Childcare Education Information Institute. I thought of this because I have completed two of their certificate programs and several professional development workshops. They have regular instructors and coaches that assist students as they work through their programs. I did not find a list of requirements for this position, but I imagine that one would need at least a masters degree in early childhood education or related field, direct experience in the field and excellent communication skills. I found their career opportunities page, but it only had an opening for recruiting coordinators. Career Opportunities.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Assignment: Exploring Roles in the ECE Community:

This week, we are exploring various roles or jobs that one can have in the early childhood field. We were asked to search for job opportunities in our neighborhood, community or state. As I already knew, opportunities in this area are quite limited. Two of the job postings I found are old and they have already filled the positions, but I will use them anyway because they are different roles and require different qualifications.

The first position I came across was the director of the Children’s Center at Bowdoin College. They serve children from six weeks to five years of age. They have four classrooms and I have done some substitute training there. There was a long list of qualifications which included a bachelor's degree in child development, early childhood education or a related Field. A master's degree is preferred. Applicants must possess excellent oral and written communication skills; demonstrated leadership abilities; excellent interpersonal skills; the ability to work cooperatively and communicate well with others; demonstrated administrative skills including budget management, scheduling, training, etc., in addition to strong computer skills (MS Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook); and the ability to maintain confidentiality. A minimum of five years' experience in the early childhood education field with at least three years in a direct supervisory role within this field is required. Extensive experience evaluating and developing age appropriate curriculum, and experience and understanding of state and federal regulations and licensing procedures is required. This job is out of my reach at this point since it requires at least three years of supervisory experience and many administrative responsibilities that I have limited experience with. The add can be seen by clicking here.

The second position available is the lead infant teacher at an agency called Opportunity Alliance. Opportunity Alliance provides early education and child care, nutrition programming, advocacy, information and referral, mental health and substance abuse treatment, as well as meeting basic needs for people living in poverty. This job sounded interesting to me because I already work with infants and toddlers and it would be the next step up. This agency provides a wide variety of programs and services which means there will be more employment opportunities in the future. This job requires a bachelors degree in early childhood education or related field, at least two years working with infants and toddlers and supervisory experience is preferred. One of the roles of the job is to supervise assistant teachers in the room. The job description is here.

The final position I found is an early head start home visitor. The agency responsible for this program is called Community Concepts. They offer a variety of housing, economic development and social services for the communities of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties of Maine. The home visitor works with families with young children- birth to age three- and expectant parents, delivering developmentally appropriate activities by partnering with parents to utilize their teaching & parenting skills within the home environment. Qualifications for this position include an associate’s Degree in Social Work, Early Childhood Education or related field, obtaining or maintaining CPR and first aid certifications and at least two years with home visiting experience is recommended. The job description can be found here.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'm Still Here

I know I haven’t written in my blog for months. I have been really busy with work and school. I realize my blog is missing the photos and I hope to have them back up soon. I have switched my file hosting to dropbox and need to redo all the links which may take me some time. I usually use this blog to post activities that I do with the children, but over the past year there have been many changes. I began 2012 as a preschool teacher. Then in March, I took a job as a toddler teacher at our second center which only lasted until late April when they decided they had too many teachers on staff. Meanwhile, I looked for other jobs and I stayed on as a long-term sub until they hired me in December to work as the floater in the infant and toddler classrooms. This is why I haven’t posted any activities. I haven’t had a classroom that was my own. As of now, I am still the floater, but I am covering for one of the full-time toddler teachers for the month of March. In April, I should go back to my floater schedule, but as I’ve learned there are always changes going on where I work. Also, my last three courses through Walden have not required that I post blog entries. Now, I am taking my final course and will have to start posting. I am glad to be taking my final course and look forward to networking with everyone through the blog again. I wish everyone good luck in this course.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

10% Off Holiday Special from MPMSchoolSupplies.com

The people over at MPM School Supplies generously gave me a $25 gift certificate to put towards the purchase of any product on their website. Since I work with infants and toddlers, I wanted to find something that we could use in the classroom. I bought a set of Textured Blocks 1In Thick 30 Pc.

I decided on these after browsing their site for a while. They have everything including blocks, art supplies, classroom decorations, pretend play toys and even sand and water tables. I found many products I’d like to have in my classroom like these shimmering water rainbow blocks Or this pretend food set Or if our center somehow got a lot of money, this light table, Once I decided on the blocks, the checkout process was quick and easy. I was done in less than five minutes. Just follow the simple steps on each page and you’re done! The next day, I received a tracking number and the package arrived a couple of days later.

The blocks were well packed and come in a plastic bag with a zipper. I introduced them to my toddler class yesterday and they loved them! We talked about textures like bumpy, smooth and how some of the blocks have squiggly lines. We talked about shapes like rectangles, triangles, circles, half circles, squares etc. Some toddlers even figured out that you can put two shapes together to make another. One girl was proud of herself when she discovered that putting two triangles together make a diamond. There was a lot of learning going on already and we haven’t even begun building.

Overall, I was happy with the pricing, product selection and customer service at MPM School Supplies! I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to purchase a new product for my classroom. In addition, they are generously giving a discount to my readers! Click here to get 10% off the first 10 purchases to help you buy those much needed classroom supplies!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Winners

Here are the winners of the What to Expect books giveaway!
Mags comment 3.
And
Jhanell T comment 11.
I have sent you both an E-mail. If it isn’t in your inbox, check your junk folder.
Thanks to everyone for participating even if you didn’t win. I hope to offer more giveaways in the future. Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 13, 2012

What To Expect Books Giveaway

The What To Expect series is now on its fourth edition!

The most recent updates to the What to Expect When You’re Expecting book include answers to dozens of new questions and a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. There is an expanded section for work place concerns and additional material covering physical, emotional health and nutrition.
Since I am not a parent, I have never read any of the What to Expect books, but when they generously offered to give two sets of books to two of my readers, I wanted to check them out. So I decided that since I work with babies, it would be useful to read What to Expect the First Year.

So far, I have been surprised about how much information this book covers. It covers everything from baby’s first medical exam, advice for soothing a colicky baby, signs of common illnesses in babies to baby’s first bath. It has a detailed section on breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding and the advantages and disadvantages of both. The month by month chapters show you what to expect during each month of your baby’s first year. The developmental chart of milestones is meant as a guide, but as the book reminds us, each baby is different and will develop at their own pace.




After your baby’s first birthday, What to Expect The Second Year picks up where What to Expect the first Year left off.
This book covers milestones (from first steps to first words, first scribbles to first friends). There are chapters on growth, feeding, sleeping, behaviors of every conceivable kind, discipline (including teaching right from wrong), and keeping a toddler healthy and safe as he or she takes on the world. There is a developmental timeline of the second year with special milestone boxes which help parents keep track of their toddler’s development.


Two of my readers will win a copy of each book! Meaning three books for each winner!
How to enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post telling me which book you would find the most useful.
Additional entries:
2. Follow @play2grow on Twitter and leave a comment on this post letting me know.
3. Follow @whattoexpect on Twitter and leave a comment on this post.
4. Follow play2grow via Google Friend Connect or subscribe by E-mail and leave a comment letting me know.
Please be sure that you leave an E-mail address in your comments so I can contact you if you win.
If I do not hear back from you within 48 hours, another winner will be drawn.
The giveaway ends on Friday July 20th at midnight Eastern

Thank you and good luck!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bugs & Beans Sensory Tub

For spring, we set up a bugs and beans sensory bin in the toddler classroom.
Here’s what’s inside.



I found these Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch Bugs
On Amazon. The kids liked the bright colors and I liked that they were big enough for them to safely play with.
My co-teacher found these bugs from Oriental Trading Company. The kids did okay with them, but I thought they were a bit small for toddlers.
For filler, we added a variety of beans, scoops and cups for scooping and pouring.
The children loved this sensory tub and asked us to open it everyday. Their favorite parts were scooping and pouring the beans and finding the hidden bugs.

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