Early Education Newsletter

January 2022

CASY Office Will be Closed:

Monday, January 17th in observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

URGENT! Deadline to apply for the Stabilization Grant is HERE!

With the hustle and bustle of the end of the year, don’t wait any longer to apply for a Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant. Grant applications are due no later than December 30, 2021.

To date, $129 million in funding has already been approved for over 2,200 programs statewide. These programs are using the grant funds to help stabilize business operations and build for the future, creating a solid business foundation for 2022. Get started with your application today to gain immediate access to your program’s grant funding. In most cases, programs that apply this week should have their grant funding by mid-December.

Visit the grant webpage for an application walkthrough and user guide, introductory webinar, eligibility criteria, FAQs and more. The application is accessible through I-LEAD once you log in.

Contact SPARK Learning Lab with questions or application support by phone at (800) 299-1627 or via email at help@indianaspark.com.

Child Care Closure Grants

Child Care Closure Grants have been extended. Programs facing the temporary closure of a classroom or program due to COVID-19 can apply for a Child Care Closure Grant through March 30, 2022. Learn more or apply here

ILEAD Juvenile Fingerprints and Consent Forms for Minors

Anyone assisting in a child care setting must be fingerprinted and complete a consent form for background checks. This includes teenagers who are volunteering for educational purposes or working as a temporary staff member during the summer. Parents or guardians of a teen wishing to assist with child care will need to schedule fingerprints on behalf of their child and submit a background check run by the Sheriff's Department. Learn the steps by clicking here.

Professional Development

Intentional Preschool Environments Set the Stage for Young Children, by Laura Delgado

January 5, 2022

2:00 PM Eastern Time

Every early childhood program’s physical environment, both indoor and outdoor, sets the stage for learning and engagement. The physical environment sends strong messages to children and adults about what is valued, who is valued, and what learning can occur within the spaces. It is up to family child care providers, directors, and teachers to carefully design their environments with absolute intention.

Making modifications to your environment to reflect and support the children you currently serve can take place any time of year. In fact, observing the design in action can reveal opportunities for improvement. Click here to register.

Even Superheroes Need Support: The Power of Emotional Intelligence for Early Childhood Educators, by Dr. Donna Housman

January 26, 2022

2:00 PM Eastern Time

Early childhood educators have always been Superheroes, tasked with the single most important role, aside from parents, in a child’s early development and education. Your work is one of the most rewarding in education, one most of us cherish, but one that also brings great stress. There is a lot of pressure squarely on you. The impact that stress and anxiety have on educators and school directors and leaders takes a toll not only on your mental health and well-being but also on your ability to teach and our students’ ability to learn.

Long before this tumultuous time, early childhood educators were stretched to their limits, to the point of burnout. The experiences of the past two years have not only compounded the stressors in your lives but may have you considering leaving a profession you love. You need to have the tools of emotional intelligence so you can in fact be your best, grow personally and professionally and thrive in your role. Click here to register.

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Free Early Learning Summit

You’re Invited to HiMama’s Early Learning Summit!

At HiMama, Early Childhood Educators are at the center of everything we do. Join us for the 2nd Edition of the HiMama Early Learning Summit and LEVEL UP your learning, so our future leaders can thrive.

The event will be held virtually on Saturday, January 15, 2022 with a full day of educational sessions, including specific breakout sessions for educators, directors and owners!

Did we mention the event is FREE?
Secure your spot now as space is limited!

Click here to register.

Farm to Early Childhood Education Learning Series

This three part series begins this March. The Farm to Early Childhood Education Learning Series will take ECE staff through a general overview and greater detail into the three pillars of Farm to School: school gardens, ag and nutrition education, and local procurement. Each topical session will look at the what, where, why, and how and provide case study examples of Indiana ECE centers participating in Farm to School activities. Each session will leave time for Q&A and the presenters will provide a list of resources for each topic area.

Find this learning series and other great professional development opportunities on Indiana Learning Paths. Access you account through ilead.in.gov


The Best Toys Are Free

If toddlers learn through exploration, wouldn’t it be common sense to offer them the type of playthings that spark the most curiosity and creative motivation?

Don’t search for these exceptional learning tools in the toy aisle. Look in your kitchen drawers, or perhaps even the recycling bin. Small boxes with lids, measuring cups, cardboard tubes, or jar lids are among the many possibilities.

Call them what you like—loose parts, open-ended toys, or passive play objects—they are essential ingredients for play. Once you intentionally infuse your infant and toddler environment with these materials, the possibilities for learning and play will explode. Find out more.

The Benefits of Teaching Kindness and Gratitude to Our Children

After months of self-care, protection, and distancing, and with Thanksgiving and the winter holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to remind our children of the benefits of connecting with others through acts of kindness and giving.

Like so many skills we teach our children, compassion and kindness take practice. Through their committed practice, they also can bring our children great rewards, such as increased confidence, improved collaboration and social networking skills, and a greater sense of community.

Prosocial behaviors are grounded in human nature. Even toddlers show an inclination to care help others in need. Yet as children age, their focus can be drawn toward competition and individualism. Teaching children the value of civic engagement and volunteerism often starts at home.

In this month’s column, Tami Silverman, President and CEO of Indiana Youth Institute addresses ways we can continue to teach kindness in ways that will resonate with youth of all ages.

The following are a few age specific ways to cultivate the practice of service and giving.

  • Elementary students often start basic giving and service projects through faith-based and afterschool programs, such as the Scouts.

  • We should talk to middle school children about their place in their community, including direct paths for impact.

  • By high school, students have the capacity to understand complex problems, including ways they can contribute to solutions

To expand on the ideas above and read this month’s column, click here.

Parent Resources

Family Webinar: There's Always Time for Reading! ~ Thursday, January 20th at 1pm

Challenge time! Literacy plays such an important role during early childhood and there are many fun ways to include it in daily life. Whether you quickly read a sign while driving or sit down with a stack of books, the benefits to children are astronomical. Join CASY's Family Engagement Specialist as we share more information on the benefits of early literacy. Learn tips to make time for reading in your busy schedule and increase book variety with reading challenges.

Register here.

4 Things Kindergarten Teachers Want You to Know

Kindergarten teachers are passionate about partnering with the families of their students. When families and teachers work together, kids win!

Click here for the four things that kindergarten teachers want you know.

Have a Concern about School? Tips for Talking to the Teacher

You have a concern about your child’s care and education, how do you handle it?

When Paul picks up Sofia (4 months), he’s surprised to see she’s sucking on a pacifier. He and his wife Molly had communicated to her teacher that they didn’t want Sofia to use pacifiers. Flustered, he takes the pacifier out of Sofia’s mouth and leaves without saying a word. At home, Paul and Molly discuss the situation. Did the staff give Sofia the pacifier because she was crying too much and that was the only way to console her? Did the teachers disregard their wishes? Or did they just forget?

Sandra is worried that Mason (3.5 years) does not want to go to preschool any more. He used to calmly say good bye, but now he protests loudly and cries. The teacher says he is fine, just a little “touchy”. Sandra is increasingly nervous. Is there something going on at school that she is not being told about?

These stories have a common theme. Parents have concerns and they don’t know how to talk with their child’s teachers without being emotional. They may feel anger towards the provider, guilt over wondering if they are leaving their child in a good place, embarrassment about confronting the expert teacher, and confusion about what to say and when. But often, not communicating leads to more negative emotions and concerns. Click here to learn more about how to address your concerns.