a monthly e-newsletter for Delaware's early childhood and school age programs

   December 2019
You're here for Delaware's children and families. 
We're here for YOU! 
December and Managing all the Holidays
TIP:  Celebrate Throughout the Year
For teachers, December lesson plans and days can be jammed with activities and events, adding to the stress and busyness that often feels like it can spiral out of control. At the same time, we want to give voice to all children and families with opportunities to celebrate traditions that are important and meaningful to them.

Culturally responsive teachers know that to build strong relationships with children: we value the diversity of holidays and celebrations; we honor and acknowledge our own cultures in a way that is self-aware; we recognize the value of knowing about diverse cultures, and we intentionally make our programs inclusive. How then can we enjoy the celebrations instead of feeling overwhelmed and then care for and teach children who are equally overwhelmed with information, celebrations and questions?

One of the ways suggested by Heather Bickley, Professional Development Manager, Catapult Learning, is to think of celebrating culture all through the months and not just in December. There are many traditions and holidays that fall in the days of December; however, doing a little of each of them is not necessarily honoring the values and beliefs of various cultures. The connections often get lost in the sheer volume and the fact that then we only give them a "nod" instead of being able to make sincere connections. 

If we loop back to them in meaningful ways throughout the months, with the many holidays to choose from, we may not be so compelled to do as much in one month. Instead of "ramping up," we "level out" the joy of festivals.

Another way to manage the December frenzy of Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, New Year's (to name but a few) is to focus on one aspect of them.  For example, focus on either music, OR decorations OR foods/cooking. Then have the children deeply engage in this one element of celebration, with the ability to compare, write about, discuss and create in a meaningful way. The following year you can focus on a different aspect. This lends itself to the added dimension of memory, bringing out the photos and scrapbooks and having children tell stories of the past celebrations while trying out new ideas.
To read the rest of the article click  here.

For more information and ideas, look for  DIEEC's workshop Culturally Responsive Teaching. 
On-Site Training
Fee Reduction - Plus Giveaways!
We are pleased to announce that effective immediately the fee for on-site trainings will be a flat $200 for three hours.

And on top of that, all participants will receive a giveaway for attending the learning session.

More information on on-site trainings and how to request is available here.

New Leadership  Seminar 
A Director's Guide to Ethics
It's not too late to sign up for the upcoming leadership seminar in December.

This seminar will focus on ethics as it relates to administrators.  Peter Pizzolongo, a veteran in the early care and education field, will provide insights and guidance on an administrator's role in managing and guiding your staff on this important topic.

Participants will receive three quality assured hours.

Mark your calendar:

A Director's Guide to Ethics:
Leadership Seminar
Friday, December 13th
9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
501 S. College Ave.
Newark, DE

Register here.
"Promoting Social and Emotional Wellness PLUS:  Teaching Tools for Life to Maximize Children's Potential"

Did you know you can teach children skills so they learn to cooperate and become more resilient?  These life skills are the keys for setting children up for all life-long learning. 

Be sure to check out "Promoting Social and Emotional Wellness PLUS" to learn how to intentionally teach these skills.  This training also includes PLUS, follow up coaching that will help you implement what you learned at your program.

Take a look at this training and others offered in the next couple of months to get the new year off to a great start.

To facilitate planning, we have provided training by county for the next few months. 

Sussex County

Holiday Office Hours
Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) 

Please note the DIEEC Offices will be closed during the holidays beginning Tuesday, December 24th and will reopen on Thursday, January 2nd.  

Keep up with our Quality Assured training sessions by following us on Facebook.

Linda's Angels Child Care & Development Center
Building a Community of "Mindfulness"
In recent years, "Mindfulness" has become a popular topic in many circles but particularly with education. Research indicates that mindfulness practice decreases stress and anxiety, increases attention, improves interpersonal relationships, and increases compassion. Moreover, for children, practicing mindfulness can build social and emotional resilience and improve their ability to learn.

So what is mindfulness? Simply stated: It means paying attention to the moment without judgment. For a classroom, it can be about creating calm.

Linda's Angels Child Care & Development Center serves as a great example of an early care and education center that embraces the power of this concept. Located in New Castle, Del., the center provides care and education for 234 children, ages infant through school age. What started out as a family child care program in Linda Bright's home thirty years ago, is now a flourishing hub of community for its families and staff alike.

"We believe in investing in the staff," said Linda Bright, site owner. "We do this through multiple ways such as professional development opportunities. This includes providing social/emotional techniques and strategies."

One of those techniques is the program "Mindful Mondays." Brinetta Bright, program director, shares by email a topic that will help sustain and encourage staff and families throughout the week. The staff in turn takes the topic and shares a developmentally appropriate activity with the children.

For example, for the week prior to Thanksgiving, the theme was gratitude. At the annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, together with their families, the children released "light balloons" at the end of the event that included a message of thankfulness.

Miss Brinetta also visits the four-year old classrooms with a "Mindfulness Cart." The cart includes ideas and topics that help students and staff bring a gentle, accepting attitude to the present moment. "The best way to teach mindfulness is to model it and then practice it," added Miss Brinetta.

Miss Linda and Miss Brinetta's commitment to their vision of investing in their staff and children has paid off. They have very little turnover with their employees and the center is growing exponentially. In fact, in March they opened a second building that includes an indoor gross motor area.

Delaware Stars Technical Assistant Dena Nacci has had a front row seat to their success. "Linda has created a culture of continuous improvement," said Dena. "She and her staff are fully committed to working with Stars in every aspect such as on-site consultation, assistance with assessment tools, and help with curriculum planning and training."

"Linda is committed to her vision of providing loving care and education to Delaware's children and support to their families," added Dena. There is no doubt that Linda and her staff are mindful of their goals.
Stars Resources
Curriculum & Assessment (C&A)
Technical Assistants 
Stars has a team of C&A Technical Assistants who are available to support you in all aspects of curriculum and assessment. 

More details are included here.
Contact Jen Potts at 302-463-8128 or jpotts@udel.edu
Ages & Stages Update - Portal Deadline Approaching
Attention All ASQ Users!
Please note that y ou will have access to the ASQ information on your original ASQ portal until Dec. 31, 2019. 

Be sure to run reports, make hard copies of summary sheets, or do whatever is needed for you to keep the record you want. If you need a child's records after Jan. 1, 2020, please contact Jamie Walko.

Additionally, another major challenge is that families are using the incorrect screening link.  Please remind your families that if they have children aged birth to 35 months they must use the "Birth to Three" link.

More details on the ASQ transition are included  here.
Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5)
Update and Next Steps from the Office of Early Learning - We need your help!
My name is Caitlin Gleason, and I am the program director for the  Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) . I am writing to explain more about the grant, share the findings of our needs assessment, and hear your solutions for new and improved EC programs and services.
This federal grant requires Delaware to complete a comprehensive statewide birth through five (B-5) needs assessment and subsequently develop a strategic plan by February 2020.  All state departments are committed to improving the design of our system so that all B-5 children and their families receive high quality early childhood (EC) programs and services.  Please see more information in our  FAQs, here.
  • We have recently completed our needs assessments- although we recognize there is still much to uncover in our ECCE landscape. You can find our report on our human-centered family experience assessment and on our qualitative EC landscape assessment on our website. **If you see gaps in our information, please email me with what to include or research.
  • Since the strategic planning kicked off, we have been iterating on the overall vision for the B-5 system and translating that into a set of guiding principles and goals for the strategic plan. We have been building off the rich research from the needs assessment and partnering with stakeholders across the system (staff across departments, Early Childhood Council subcommittees) to generate a list of emerging approaches for the plan.
  • Our ask of you: Please read this fact base and provide feedback by Wednesday, December 4th.
    • Please review the guiding principles and potential goals for the strategic plan. What resonates? What is missing?
    • Please review the emerging approaches identified within each opportunity/enabler - slide 20 has additional guidance.
      • When you are reviewing, we encourage you to think about your role in the system. Are there connections to your work/department that are missing?
      • In addition, the opportunities are interdependent. We'd encourage you to take a step back and reflect across opportunities/enablers - are there any system-wide approaches that may not be reflected in the materials thus far? 
  • We welcome any/all feedback- please send directly to Malavika. If you'd prefer to connect via phone, the EY-Parthenon team is happy to chat and walk you through the materials and discuss opportunities for improvement (Malavika can help schedule).
Please also see the  calendar of upcoming public DECC meetings where we will continue iterating and revising our draft plan. We hope you can join us to share your input.
Thank you so much! Please email me with ANY questions !

Happy Holidays from the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood
December and January Calendars
Our staff wishes you a very happy holiday season filled with lots of special moments with family and friends.  We hope you get time to rest before the start of a busy new year.

The following calendars include free activities for your children that might fill in as a nice break during the busy month of December.  And in January, these activities could help break up what typically feels like an extra long month.

Please note more activities have been added to the December calendar.
         Be Sure to Follow Delaware Stars on Social Media

                   Like us on Facebook               View on Instagram                 Follow us on Twitter                
Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood
Delaware Stars for Early Success
Professional Development Department
Main (302) 831-3239 | Fax (302) 831-4223
Visit PD at www.dieecpd.org
Visit DE Stars  at: www.delawarestars.udel.edu