Early Intervention, Early Intervention Clearinghouse

Learning Body Care Routines: Take It a Step at a Time

Very young children need support and opportunities to learn to carry out body care routines. The amount of support they need varies by the child’s age, skill level, and the amount of opportunities they have had to practice a particular skill. They begin learning the routines of body care even when they are young infants.

Caregivers can describe the steps and actions they are taking as they carry out diapering, dressing, and feeding cleanup routines. Saying, “I am wiping your chin with a washcloth to clean the applesauce dribbles” helps a child learn the words and actions associated with a body care routine. As an infant grows older, a caregiver might hand the child the washcloth and encourage him to wipe his own face.

Body care routines are wonderful times to practice skills. Young children use motor skills for manipulating washcloths, toothbrushes, combs, and other body care items. They use their thinking or cognitive skills to remember the steps in the correct order. They use language skills to describe the steps or ask for help. When they learn to do these things independently, they build confidence in their abilities and determination. This enhances their social and emotional development.

Teaching the steps and sequence involved in a body care task and mastering the motor skills to do each step can seem overwhelming job for caregiver. It often seems easier for adults to do these tasks for very young children. However as children grow bigger, it is important to remember that their desire for independence also increases. With planning and consistent effort, even very young children can participate in body care routines.

Your EI team can help you develop strategies to break down body care tasks and adapt them for your child’s ability. There are tools such as adaptive spoons or toothbrushes that can help children who need more motor support. Picture directions with a sequence of steps or teaching the final steps of a routine first and working backward can help you and your child feel a sense of success and be able to say, “You did it! Good job!”

A child does not have to be able to do every step of a body care routine by himself to participate. For example, let’s consider Laura, a 2-year-old who is learning to use a walker.

Her mom and her developmental therapist list out all of the steps in Laura’s handwashing routine at home. They decide who will do each step. Laura cannot climb up on a stepstool to reach the sink, so she will need an adult to help her get onto the stepstool to reach the sink. The faucet is also hard to turn, so mom will do that step for now.

Laura wants to pump the hand soap herself. She still needs some hand over hand help from mom to push the pump. She loves rubbing her hands together to make bubbles, and this is a step she can do by herself. Laura builds independence and confidence when her mom encourages her to try the steps in the process she can do, even though she may not be able to do the whole handwashing routine by herself until she is older.

Take it one step at a time and involve your child in daily care routines. Trying small steps can lead to big gains in independence and skill.

Originally written in collaboration with the EIC  staff for the EIC Newsletter: http://eiclearinghouse.org/newsletter/2017fall/.

 

Steps for Handwashing Who Can Do This?
1. Climb up on the stepstool to the sink Laura, with help
2. Turn on the water Mom
3. Wet your hands Laura
4. Pump soap on your palm Laura, with help
5. Rub hands together to make bubbles Laura
6. Rinse bubbles from hands Laura
7. Turn off the water Mom
8. Dry hands Laura
9. Climb down from stepstool Laura, with help
Early Intervention

Welcoming Families Receiving Early Intervention Services into Your Early Childhood Program

I have a new article in the September/October 2017 Issue of Child Care Exchange Magazine.

Welcoming Families Receiving Early Intervention Services into Your Early Childhood Program 

This article is intended to be used as a training guide for child care program staff. This article is free for Exchange subscribers and non-subscribers can download up to 5 articles for free each year by creating an account.

I would love to hear whether this article would be useful embedded in a course or in training sessions. Please contact me with your thoughts.

 

Early Childhood Education, Illinois Early Learning Project

Website redesign announcement from the Illinois Early Learning Project

 On behalf of the staff of the Illinois Early Learning Project , I am pleased to announce that our website has been redesigned. The Illinois Early Learning Project was started in 2001 and is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education. The web site is a source of evidence-based, reliable information on early care and education for families, caregivers, and teachers of young children in Illinois. We have resources in a variety of formats including our well known, easy to read tip sheets, videos, and information about the Project Approach. Our website includes many resources to help individuals and communities understand the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines, the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards and most recently, the Illinois Kindergarten Learning Standards. We hope you will find the new layout to be a user-friendly and useful resource for your teaching and for your students. We also encourage you to let the families of young children in your community know about our resources through community agencies and resource fairs. Our materials are free and can be shared via print, email, and social media. A link for ordering printed materials is here located on our homepage.We have some new materials on the website that we want to highlight so you can integrate them into your teaching and outreach work. Our selection of graphic tip sheets has grown. These colorful, one-page tip sheets are great for posting on bulletin boards, sharing on social media, and easy to read. Teacher educators may wish to use them as prompts for assignments. Student can be encouraged to to reflect in small groups, discussion forums, or essays on how they might use the tip sheets as a tool in sharing child development and early learning information with families. Our new Early Learning Moments series is a resource for teacher educators presenting infant-toddler content. Use them for classroom instruction or assign them as self-study lessons.During the process of our website redesign, we carefully reviewed all of the materials on our website to ensure that we are providing current, evidence-based information in up to date and useful formats. You may find that certain links have changed. We encourage you to use the “search” field located in the upper right corner of the website. You can type in keywords to search all of our project resources. If you encounter further difficulty, our project staff would be happy to assist you via email.

Another way to search our resources is to use a database search. Click to search resources by topic and you can search our data base by keyword, language, audience, and type of media. We encourage you to show your students the different ways to search the website so they can find materials that will help them in their coursework and teaching of young children. We will continue to develop new resources and welcome you to send us ideas for resources that would meet your needs as teacher educators. You can send your ideas via our user survey. We will also be at the Sharing a Vision conference in October! Our shared session with the Early Intervention Clearinghouse will provide help in searching for resources online and our new workshop, Junkyard Math will be a hands-on workshop that will introduce the redesigned website while we explore IEL’s mathematics resources. You can also visit our table to pick up printed materials, say hello, and tell us about your work and needs as teacher educators.

This was originally written as a guest post for the Illinois Association of Teacher Educators.

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Early Childhood Education, Illinois Early Learning Project

Learn by Listening to Language: Build Phonemic Awareness Skills

When we think about young children learning to read, we might imagine children learning letter names, sight words, and exploring picture books. To become skillful readers and writers, children also need opportunities to build oral or spoken language skills in addition to these important opportunities to engage with printed words.

Oral language skills grow through listening and engaging in conversation with peers and caregivers. During these times, young children explore words, phrases, and the meaning of language. Through conversations and stories, children build vocabulary, reason, and make meaning of their world. In these moments, they are also building knowledge about the sounds and structures of language that are important for reading and writing.

Let’s take a moment to think back to how children explore language first as infants and toddlers. You might remember listening to a child coo and babble. First “ooh” and “ahh,” which eventually changed to “ma ma” and “ba ba.” You heard them repeating and playing with the sounds of language they heard around them. As children move into the preschool years, their oral language becomes more recognizable.

As children are learning to use language to express meaning, they become familiar with the sounds that make up language. Exploring the sounds of language is an important part of learning how to read and write. As children explore, they build phonemic awareness skills. Phonemic awareness is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words. All of these words that children learn are made up of sounds, or phonemes. Phonemes are the units of sound in language. Each bp, or eh you hear is a single phoneme. These phonemes are blended together to form words.

Most words are made of more than one phoneme. For example, the word cat is made up of three individual phonemes: K-a-t. Each phoneme can be shown by one or more graphemes. Graphemes in English are single letters or combinations of letters. When children are learning to read and write, they need to make connections between the letters they see and the sounds that they hear.

You might hear children playing with the sounds of language making up silly words, songs, and rhymes. This type of language play is important for learning to read and write. During daily routines, there are many opportunities to explore the sounds of language. The IEL project has a new tip sheet that can provides examples of how to help children learn by listening to language. These games will help your child develop an understanding of how spoken words, syllables, and sounds become printed words.

Get started by looking around you for printed words on signs. Talk about the names of people or pets around you. Talk aloud and stretch out the sounds in these words. Ask your child to guess the letter with which names or familiar words start or end. Make up silly rhymes, songs, or chants. Each time you do this, you are helping children develop skills for breaking down words when they read and building words when they write.

Written for the Illinois Early Learning Project: Learn by Listening to Language

Illinois Early Learning Project

Feelings Are Fantastic

When people describe daily life with young children, they often talk about the emotional ups and downs children display on a daily basis as they make their way through mealtime, naptime, and playtime. Caregivers may describe moments of laughter, excitement, and energy as well as challenging moments such as temper tantrums or crying. These opposite feelings can happen in a single afternoon, and these ups and downs are typical.

Young children are learning to manage their feelings and express them with appropriate language and behavior. Parents, caregivers, and teachers can help young children develop these understandings by taking the time to become “emotion coaches.”

Why would an adult try to be a “coach” for children to help them learn about emotions? Learning about emotions is a bit like learning to swim. Swimming is easiest to learn in the water with someone to guide you and keep you safe. A good swim coach provides encouraging words and support as a new swimmer pulls her arms through the water and provides positive feedback and direction for improvement as she rests on the side of the pool.

Likewise, children learn to manage and express emotions appropriately when someone helps them work through their thoughts and feelings. A good emotion coach provides a child with support and encouragement during challenging moments and helps them reflect on appropriate ways to express feelings and manage emotions during moments of quiet calm. Here are some ways caregivers can be emotion coaches and help children as they develop these important skills:

Give feelings names by using emotion words

Help children learn that their feelings have names. Use words such as happy, sad, angry, frustrated, jealous, embarrassed, or lonely. For very young children, name simple emotions such as happy, sad, and angry when you see photos of faces or notice the child expressing their feelings. As children grow older, reflections might be longer. For example, a caregiver might say, “You look sad today after your cousin left to go home. Maybe you are wishing for someone who would play with you. People call the feeling being lonely. Is that how you feel?”

Describe how to share feelings in socially appropriate ways

Young children listen to how people talk about emotions and learn appropriate ways to show their feelings from the people around them. By narrating your experience, you are helping them learn. Let them hear you use words to talk about your feelings. “I was so disappointed when there was only vanilla ice cream. … I really wanted chocolate!” or “I feel calm when I watch the wind blow the leaves on the branches.”

We all have feelings

Let children know that all feelings are OK to have and talk about. Remind them that it is not OK to hurt others’ bodies or feelings or to destroy property. Say, “I know you feel angry when your brother takes the truck from you. Tell him you are mad and want it back.” Use what you see in books or videos to teach about emotions. “Look at that little girl’s smile! She is so happy when she is swinging in the park!”

Written for the Illinois Early Learning Project: Feelings Are Fantastic

Early Intervention, Early Intervention Clearinghouse

Early Intervention Fits Right In

No two EI families are exactly alike. The daily activities that families participate in and the places they spend time vary. The Illinois Early Intervention program supports families in ways that are flexible, individualized, and tailored to the family’s preference. Early intervention staff and providers focus on partnering with families to work together to help infants and toddlers learn and develop. The routines and activities common in one family may be different than those in another family. Young children increase their knowledge and skills best when new activities and strategies are a part of that child’s regular routines and daily life.

The early intervention team approach revolves around helping families to use strategies that will help infants and toddlers develop their skills during everyday activities in their natural environments. Natural environments are home and community settings in which children and families with and without disabilities regularly participate. These spaces might look different for different families and different children. One child may spend most weekdays outside the home at a local child care center, while another child might have daily visits to grandma’s house. These places are the child’s natural environment. And early intervention services can fit right into these routines and spaces.

Many things influence the daily routines of infants and toddlers. Daily routines are a part of family life. Family life includes interactions with various family members, shared activities, and shared values and culture. Differences in family life are expected because there are no two families exactly alike. Some differences might include the types of first foods given to young children, whether children are encouraged to feed themselves, their family’s sleeping arrangements, the language used to communicate, and whether a child is encouraged to try to move about on the floor or whether they are carried for longer periods of time.

Cultural differences may influence child care and work arrangements. Some working families will choose to enroll their child in a child care center or home while others are more comfortable with care from a relative or friend. Some cultural influences may be more subtle, such as differences in how caregivers respond to children’s feelings. For example, some caregivers will allow children to fuss when upset and others will rock, bounce, or carry upset children to calm them.

High-quality EI services are provided to all families. Each family’s culture is reflected uniquely in their everyday life. The early intervention program empowers families as their child’s first teacher and learns from families how they embrace their cultural beliefs and practices to offer services that are meaningful.

This sharing begins during the initial screening and evaluation process in which the family describes their everyday routines and talks about their child’s challenges and strengths and continues as families begin to participate in the EI program when their child is deemed eligible.

This rich exchange of information will help the EI team plan interventions and strategies that fit into a family’s lifestyle and help the child learn to develop and grow to his or her fullest potential.

Originally written in collaboration with the Illinois EI Clearinghouse Staff for the Early Intervention Clearinghouse Summer 2017 Newsletter

Illinois Early Learning Project

Mathemetize!

One, two, three! Hearing young children begin to count is exciting! As families and caregivers listen to a child’s little voice say number words in order, they feel pride and joy in the child’s learning.

Saying the numbers in order, or rote counting, is a very useful and important skill. Children learn the patterns of number words as they rote count. They think about how a group of objects or individuals can be described using a number quantity. Children learn to rote count through songs, finger plays, stories, and by hearing the people around them count.

Rote counting is often the first time that families notice their child using “math.” Counting is one of the big math concepts young children explore, but not the only one! Math learning in early childhood includes many other concepts, skills, and understandings that children learn through their everyday exploration, routines, and play.

Sometimes, educators call this type of play mathematizing. By mathematizing, we mean using mathematical thinking and talk during play or routine activities. Here are a few examples about how young children might mathematiz

  • Children notice when piles of toys or other objects have more or less pieces. For example, a child may notice when his peer has more toy animals than he does.
  • Children use their fingers to count while singing songs such as “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” or “Five Little Ducks.” They may be eager to show their caregivers how many fingers they are still holding up after they finish singing a verse of the song.
  • Children categorize toys, natural objects, and foods into groups. For example, they may sort dry cereal, fruit salad, or candies by color or shape.
  • Children talk about whether something is longer, shorter, bigger, or smaller. For example, they may compare the length of their hair, the size of their feet, or their height to another person’s.
  • Children talk about the passing time and what they will do next. For example, they may talk about games they played yesterday and places they hope to go tomorrow.
  • Children notice colors and shapes. For example, children may comment about the colors and shapes of tiles in a hallway. They might try to walk on only a certain color or shape as they move down the hall.

Adults can help young children mathematize throughout the day. Adults can ask children questions about quantities, patterns, time, and shapes. They can encourage them to find out more about the world around them and provide tools such as tape measures, rulers, strings, or blocks for measurement. They can provide boxes and containers that encourage children to sort and classify objects.Each time an adult encourages a child to mathematize, they are helping the young children they care about to develop mathematical thinking skills that will help them succeed in school.

Writen for the Illinois Early Learning Project: https://illinoisearlylearning.org/blogs/growing/mathematize/

Early Intervention, Early Intervention Clearinghouse

Teaming for Outcomes

In the early intervention (EI) program, the family, service coordinator, and EI professionals are a team. When an EI team gathers, the conversation often involves talking about outcomes. In early intervention, we use the word outcomes to describe what family members want to see happen for their child and their family as a result of their participation in the EI program. These outcomes are listed in the individual family service plan (IFSP). This plan identifies the family’s concerns and priorities for meeting their child’s needs.

Making progress toward outcomes is the result of the many small and big steps the family and EI service providers take as they work together. EI team members need to help each other understand the family’s routine so they can choose and use strategies that work well for the family. Let’s consider an example of how an EI team can work together to plan strategies for a toddler to reach an IFSP outcome related to communication.

Lucy is 24 months old. She receives EI services for a delay in language development. When Lucy’s family and their EI team meet to write her IFSP, they decide one overall outcome they want to work toward is encouraging Lucy to give a verbal response when she normally would point or nod. The team talks about times during everyday routines that Lucy’s family could encourage her to use words and build her vocabulary.

Lucy’s family loves to play outside. The team decides to have a speech therapy session at the playground to develop strategies to encourage Lucy to use her words. The speech therapist and her family practice ways to encourage Lucy to respond with words and increase Lucy’s vocabulary. Now, when Lucy gets to the bottom of the slide, her dad says, “That was fun! The slide is slippery and fast. Do you want to slide again?” He waits, and then if Lucy responds by shrieking with delight, he says, “You are excited! Tell me ‘yes’ if you want to slide again.” “Ess!” says Lucy.

Every park playtime becomes an opportunity to work toward the outcome of improving Lucy’s language skills. By encouraging Lucy to use more words and continuing to use descriptive words himself, Lucy’s dad helps her take more and more steps toward their outcome of using her words to communicate.

Focusing on daily routines is how EI teams meet IFSP outcomes. This EI Clearinghouse newsletter contains resources you can use to support language development at home, understand who is on your EI team, and work together toward outcomes. With every little step, an EI team gets closer to achieving IFSP outcomes as well as building a strong foundation for future growth.

Originally Written in collaboration with the  Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse Staff for the Spring 2017 Newsletter