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4/11/2019

Month of the Young Child: Resources to Celebrate Our Youngest Learners

By: Wendy Grove

GettyImages-477988890-1-1.jpgEach Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education, highlights the importance of early childhood. Strategy number 8 of the plan seeks to expand quality early learning. Recently, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recognized the importance of early childhood when he proclaimed April 2019 as “Month of the Young Child” and April 8-12, 2019, as “Week of the Young Child.” In this proclamation, all Ohioans are encouraged to promote education and school readiness for our youngest citizens. This is wonderful news for those of us who work with, care for or think about how to best support children as they grow and learn. The science is clear about the first years of life and how much early experiences impact how the brain grows.  

In this time, we are celebrating the state’s parents of young children. Everything you do has the potential to positively impact how ready your child is when he or she starts school. Education, indeed, starts at birth! Parents and caregivers are children’s first and most significant teachers. You may be wondering what you should expect of your child at certain ages. The state’s early childhood programs have placed information about developmental milestones and resources where you can find information in one place based on the age of your child from pregnancy to early school years. As infants and toddlers, children who have the opportunity to practice language develop it faster. Singing, talking and engaging your baby will not make you look silly; you are building your baby’s brain! Keeping your baby safe and attending to his needs helps him build a connection and attachment to you. As these videos from the Broadcast Educational Media Commission show, early literacy can happen anywhere, from parks to museums and  grocery stores to home child care!

During the Month of the Young Child in Ohio, we also are celebrating educators of young children. Whether your young child spends the day at child care, staying with family or a neighbor, or is at home with mom or dad, the adult who cares for her fills a critical role in her development and learning. For early care and education outside of the familial home, the state has identified a set of quality criteria, so parents can make informed decisions about the early childhood setting. Providers of early care and education are rated between one and five stars in Step Up To Quality. Five-star rated is the highest quality rating a provider can achieve. It means the provider demonstrated it provides a healthy and safe environment, but also one with highly qualified teachers and a lower number of children per teacher. To learn more about quality providers near you, go here.

Each interaction with a young child is an opportunity to encourage, support and further develop his learning. Starting school ready to learn is important! Research has shown that starting school ready predicts later school performance. Providing opportunities to practice being active, talking, getting along with others and exploring creativity and curiosity does not have to cost money. Backyards and parks are filled with changes to learn about science. Going on errands can be a chance to develop math and literacy skills. Going where other children are will give your child the chance to learn from and teach others about being kind, sharing and getting along with others.  

As we spring into April, we celebrate the most important job of parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches, librarians and adults who have the opportunity to support young children. Embrace your influence and the many opportunities there are to support early learning! The next generation of Ohioans who will enter school, and the workforce, are depending on you!

Dr. Wendy Grove is the director of the Office for Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education, where she helps develop and implement policies for preschool special education and early childhood education. You can learn more about Wendy by clicking here.

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3/26/2019

State Supt. Paolo DeMaria Attends the Ohio Early Childhood Systems Conference

By: Staff Blogger

The Ohio Early Childhood Systems Conference is an exciting example of a multi-agency collaboration on behalf of the state’s youngest learners. For the first time ever, all six of Ohio’s early childhood state agencies partnered to create this conference to improve early childhood education. The Ohio Department of Education joined the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to sponsor the conference.
 

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1/31/2019

Parents, Are You Ready for Kindergarten? A Guide for Families

By: Wendy Grove

GettyImages-897885414.jpgIs there a child in your life who is 5 years old (or turning so soon) who is amazing you with all he or she knows? Mamas, daddies, grandparents and loved ones, that baby of yours is growing up! After surviving midnight feedings, watching them learn to walk and talk and answering their endless questions, it is time to start thinking about kindergarten. February is the time of year most schools start requesting kindergarten registration paperwork.

Sending your child to kindergarten is a big change for many families, but the Department has updated its kindergarten resources to make this transition easier. Today, I am going outline a few of the basics you may need to know regarding kindergarten and preparing your child — and yourself — for school.

Where should my child go to school?
There are many schools and program types to consider when choosing the right option for your child. Know that you have choices! There are many options the Department wants you to be aware of so you make an informed decision about what is best for you and your child. Public schools, community schools, private schools, part-time, full-time, free, tuition-based, scholarships, open enrollment — what does it all mean? Whew, I’m out of breath. That is a lot! But don’t worry, to learn more about Ohio’s education options, browse the topics listed below:

  • Do you know which school your child would attend based on where you live? There is an online tool to help you find your neighborhood school.
  • Do you know all the options available to you when choosing a kindergarten setting? Learn about education options here. If you want to talk to someone about those options, staff contact information is available on that website.
  • What about the neighboring school district where your friend’s child attends? Would that be possible? Open enrollment is when a school accepts children who live outside of the residential boundaries. Find out here which schools offer open enrollment.

When should my child start kindergarten?
Ohio state law says children are old enough to start kindergarten if they are 5 years old by the school district’s age cut-off date. That date is either Aug. 1 or Sept. 30. Each school district has chosen one of these dates. After you identify which district or school your child will attend, you can find out that school’s kindergarten age cut-off date by visiting its website or calling its office.

What does it mean to be “ready” for kindergarten?
Part of the when question may be whether your child is ready for kindergarten. Sometimes, people ask me if children should know how to read before starting school. The answer to that is “no.” But here is a list of knowledge and behaviors that might help you decide how ready your child is. The list also is a guide for how to help your child get ready for school. You should know that age is the only reason a public kindergarten program can accept or deny your child’s registration for kindergarten. There is no state law that says a child must be able to do certain things in order to attend public school. If your child is gifted or has special education needs, or if you don’t yet know and need to know more, the link above has information about that too.

Why does kindergarten and early learning matter?
Research tells us that 90 percent of the brain is developed between birth and 5 years old. This means the time for learning is now! Children learn more during this time of life than in any other. Just think of all the life skills they have learned up to now: walking, talking, eating, dressing, brushing teeth, sharing, showing love and looking both ways before crossing the street. In kindergarten, your kiddo will learn how to do school, which is where he or she will spend a lot of time over the next 13 years. In addition to the foundational academic skills, like writing and numbers, children also learn (or continue learning) how to be away from family, make friends, establish relationships with other trusted adults, follow rules outside of home, and work through schedules, routines and steps to solve problems.

This is such a great time. I am so excited for you and your child! I hope you are as excited as your little one may be to “be a big kid” and start school. If you do have a kiddo at home that seems more scared or worried about beginning kindergarten, I hope the resources and this blog will help you support your child in feeling more confident about kindergarten.

If you have other questions about starting school, try the Department’s Frequently Asked Questions. The Department also has a great team of education specialists who can answer your questions — just contact them through the contact information at the link above.

Finally, one piece of advice from my own experience as a mama…this is harder on you than your child. Be strong and help your child feel confident. Your child takes cues from you. Always remember you are your child’s first teacher and biggest advocate. Your support can lead to your child’s success in kindergarten and beyond! So, let’s get ready! You have the next seven months to continue the steps to school! Then, you will walk your growing child into the school, post a first-ever, first day of school picture and exhale. 

Dr. Wendy Grove is the director of the Office for Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education, where she helps develop and implement policies for preschool special education and early childhood education. You can learn more about Wendy by clicking here.

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1/14/2019

State Supt. Paolo DeMaria Visits Central Elementary

By: Staff Blogger

Central Elementary School educators shine a spotlight on improvement with their focus on foundational knowledge and skills, one of the four learning domains critical to the success of students. This focus, showcased in Each Child, Our Future and connected to its accountability system, is one of the reasons the school was recognized as a High Progress School of Honor for 2018. On Jan. 11, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria visited Central Elementary, in the Logan-Hocking School District, to meet this community of caring educators and staff.

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4/12/2018

Bold Beginning! A New Online Resource for Building a Bright Start

By: Wendy Grove

GettyImages-133982134.jpgAs a parent of a young child, I often wondered whose advice I should listen to. There was certainly no shortage of advice. It seemed to come from everywhere — my mom, my friends, colleagues, the cashier at the grocery store. When you become a parent, people do seem to have a lot of wisdom to share. Given my experience in early childhood education, I could filter out the well-meaning, but outdated advice from the things I knew had some facts behind them. That does not mean, however, that I actually knew what to expect from an infant or toddler. You hear a lot of new parents joke that they wish their babies came with an instruction manual and it’s true. I used to wonder when my daughter would start walking or if there were signs that would tell me if something was not developing as expected. If I asked another person these questions, I would get lots of advice, reactions and sometimes unsolicited information. Internet searches also were available, but how could I know which sites were truly reliable? Anyone who has searched for a medical symptom online knows that search engines often diagnose a case of sniffles as a rare, deadly disease. So, where exactly can parents turn to for solid advice?

The state of Ohio just released a new resource that I wish would have been there for me when my children were small. It is called Bold Beginning! The goal of Bold Beginning! is to give Ohio’s youngest citizens a great start in life by making information and resources accessible to their caregivers. Getting early access to learning and basic needs is critical. Before we are even born, our brains begin to develop. As infants and young children, the experiences we have shape how our brains will continue to develop. This lays the foundation for all learning that takes place for the rest of our lives. The period between birth and kindergarten is the most rapid phase of development that we will experience in the span of our lives. This is the time when a child learns how to walk, talk, follow rules for safety and hygiene, develop significant relationships with trusted adults and make friends beyond their families. Everything that happens in this period of enormous learning and development has the potential to impact how that child grows, learns and experiences the world during his or her years in school.

Bold Beginning! is a reliable, online resource to learn about everything from healthy pregnancies to child development through the third grade. If parents have concerns about their children’s development or meeting their basic needs, it is a one-stop shop for resources to food, housing, education and child care. There is even legal help and links to family fun. You can enter the site as a parent or caretaker and go right to a page with specific information based on the age of your child. The Family and Community page links to all the resources available throughout the state to help families meet their basic heath, emotional, educational and employment needs.

Finally! A single site with information and resources that families can depend on. It’s not quite an instruction manual, but this is definitely something parents and others who help children and families will want to check out so Ohio’s children can have a bold beginning for a bright future.

Dr. Wendy Grove is the director of the Office for Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education, where she helps develop and implement policies for preschool special education and early childhood education. You can learn more about Wendy by clicking here.

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1/31/2018

Feelings and Relationships Matter: A Guide to Social and Emotional Learning

By: Wendy Grove

GettyImages-671260408.jpgHow well we get along with others can open or close doors for kids and adults alike. When we talk about human development, we know how well a child can get along with others matters for childhood, school and life. Social and emotional learning is the extent to which a child learns how to get along with peers and adults, can appropriately express emotions and develops empathy and skills like self-concept, self-regulation and self-competence. But what do these skills really mean? And, what do they look like?

  • When people can appropriately express emotions, they can share feelings of anger, happiness and sadness in socially acceptable ways. Most children learn early on that pinching to express frustration won’t work in life. People do not like to be pinched. A child might think, “I can get in trouble if I pinch. I might get pinched back!” As they grow, kids replace these behaviors with more appropriate ways to express frustration, like telling an adult or moving on to another situation.
  • When a person has developed empathy, he can envision or feel what it might be like for someone in a circumstance, even if he hasn’t been in that situation before.
  • As someone develops her self-concept, she can see herself as part of a family, a neighborhood, a community, a racial or ethnic group and a nation. She sees how she is different from and like others. These are all skills that come with learning, practice and opportunities to compare oneself to others around them.
  • When it comes to developing self-regulation, we often think about bad behavior. Simply put, being able to self-regulate means that a person can delay gratification, demonstrate self-control, identify consequences and take responsibility for his actions. Very young children develop this over time, which is why it is common to see a 2-year-old child crying in a grocery store because the parent denied him a toy. It is much less common to see a 13-year-old child acting out emotionally for being denied something he wants.
  • A person with self-competence knows that she has skills and abilities to accomplish things. She understands that trying hard can result in learning new things.

The other part of social and emotional learning is relationships with others. Children learn about interactions with other children and adults, what to expect, who to trust, how to get along with others, how to cooperate, and how to both get what they need and give what they can to help others. Does your preschool-age child share well? Probably not. Not many do. But over time, and with opportunities to practice the skills needed to get along with others, children become able to build relationships with others. The first relationships we build are with our caregivers. The adults that take care of us have an important role in attending to our needs as small people because we cannot do things for ourselves. As children grow and develop independence, they also come to build relationships outside of their families. When children attend school, they must learn how to trust, communicate and interact with other non-family adults, as well as other children.

Social and emotional development and learning are the building blocks for life. These skills are built over time as we age. They are practiced and honed. These are as important as our academic skills for school success because very few of us will attend school alone or live without the need to interact with others.  The state currently has standards in this area from for children from birth-grade 3 but does not yet have standards for grades 4-12. Stay tuned for updates from the Department about upcoming work to create standards for social and emotional learning in grades 4-12.

Dr. Wendy Grove is the director of the Office for Early Learning and School Readiness at the Ohio Department of Education, where she helps develop and implement policies for preschool special education and early childhood education. You can learn more about Wendy by clicking here.

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Last Modified: 5/17/2019 3:20:37 PM