Newsletter - October 2020
SPARK is the hub of a valuable wheel. An education initiative of Fox Valley United Way, SPARK (Strong, Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten) connects underserved Aurora, Illinois, families with early education and childcare opportunities that prepare their young children for success in school and life.
SPARK Calendar
Our SPARK monthly calendar has been created to share ideas for activities for young children, including easy things you can do at home as well as new places to explore in the community. The month of November is National Family Literacy Month and we have included several links to fun activities that promote literacy in young children. We are also highlighting a book that encourages young children to recognize and celebrate differences
Drive-thru Resource Fair
Fox Valley United Way is committed to ensuring all local children birth to five are strong, prepared, and ready for kindergarten. During this unprecedented season of remote learning we want to reach all of the families in our communities to connect them with any resources they many need to help their children succeed in school and life.

To help reach the families in our community we hosted our first ever drive-thru resource fair! It was a fun event with many of our partner agencies and we were able to provide support to over 40 families. PNC Bank donated Learn At Home kits so our local families can continue to SPARK a love of learning while at home. We look forward to similar events in the future.
Partner Spotlight: Your Children's Bookshelf
One of our wonderful partners that participated in our drive-thru resource fair is Your Children's Bookshelf!

Your Children’s Bookshelf is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing FREE children’s books to families and children; encouraging the love of reading, fostering literacy and education. They receive their books through donations from friends and family, local sales, book drives, donations, and developing relationships with publishers.

Your Children's Bookshelf has several programs they offer to bring children's books to families. During the drive-thru resource fair they offered their “Our Books to You” program which was developed as an opportunity to continue their mission of providing FREE new and gently used books to families and children during these trying times. Each Tote is filled with 6 age-appropriate books.
 
To date Your Children's Book Shelf has supplied over 1,600 books thru “Our Books to You”

To learn more about Your Children's Book shelf or to donate books check out their website here.
Virtual Play. Learn. Connect.
Check out our VIRTUAL Play. Learn. Connect. from Fox Valley United Way's Education Initiative SPARK Aurora Early Childhood Collaboration. Check out this quick STEAM themed video on how to make homemade playdough with flour, salt and water.
Gateway to Early Childhood: Virtual support now available for our families
The goal of SPARK is to connect families with children birth to 5 to quality early childhood supports and services. If you are looking for a program for you child, please watch this short video for more information on how to connect with our staff.
El objetivo de SPARK es conectar a las familias con niños desde el nacimiento hasta los 5 años con servicios y apoyos de calidad para la primera infancia. Si está buscando un programa para su hijo, mire este breve video para obtener más información sobre cómo conectarse con nuestro personal.
Tip Sheets Supporting Social & Emotional Development
This continues to be a stressful time for children, families, and early care and education providers. Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 are ever-present. Children may be struggling with significant adjustments to their routines, which can interfere with their sense of security and ability to learn. Pressure on parents, caregivers, and providers can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of helplessness and frustration. 

The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), in partnership with the Illinois Pyramid Model Statewide Leadership Team, has developed social-emotional toolkits to help manage stressors and promote wellness during these challenging times. 
Media Literacy in Early Childhood Report, Child Development Guidelines, and Tips for Implementation
The TEC Center at Erikson Institute has complied a report about Media Literacy in Early Childhood, which is the result of a nation-wide collaboration that convened in 2017 to examine how practitioners and parents are using technology with young children.

The definition of media literacy is to help young children begin to understand the role of media and preparing them to be creative and healthy consumers and creators of media throughout their lives. 

Media Literacy has been broken down into six fundamental actions including:

  1. access
  2. engage and explore
  3. comprehend
  4. critically inquire
  5. evaluate
  6. create.

Each section gives detailed descriptions and examples for parents and practitioners and includes cultural considerations as well. The report concludes with a realistic look at ten barriers that parents and practitioners are currently facing to provide access to all children. Please click here to read the full report
Providing encouraging words to your child can ignite self-discovery
English:
Providing encouraging words to your children can ignite self-discovery and growth. Saying “I believe in you,” “You are important,” and “I’m proud of you”, are a rich source of internal motivation and guidance to children. Encouragement can help children feel good about themselves and develop self-confidence. To view the Encouraging Tip Sheet, please click the link below:

Spanish:
Brindar palabras de aliento a sus hijos puede encender el autodescubrimiento y el crecimiento. Decir "Creo en ti", "Eres importante" y "Estoy orgulloso de ti", son una rica fuente de motivación interna y guía para los niños. El estímulo puede ayudar a los niños a sentirse bien consigo mismos y a desarrollar la confianza en sí mismos. Para ver la Hoja de Consejos Alentadores, haga clic en el enlace abajo:

Spotlight on Children's Books that Promote Diversity
This board book version of Harriet Tubman—from the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series—follows the incredible life of Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad conductor who "never lost a single passenger."

Little Harriet was born into slavery on a plantation in Maryland. Though life was hard, Harriet persisted. She used all of her strength and bravery to escape slavery and journey north on the Underground Railroad. Harriet made the dangerous mission back to the South many times, fighting her whole life to bring others with her to freedom. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this courageous activist, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!
Virtual Play. Learn. Connect. Activities
We have added a running list of virtual activities you can do with your children while you are home. We will continue to add this page as we find more activities. You can find virtual zoo tours, tours of national parks, hear a bedtime story from outer space, activities you can do with your children focusing on all different topics from math to literacy and everything in between. We are all in this together let's Live United and SPARK a love of learning while we are all staying home.
Preschool openings for children 3-5 years old in Aurora
East Aurora School District 131 has openings for children 6 weeks to Age 3 and Preschool For All openings for children ages 3-5. For more information please call (630) 299-7460
Resources