Monthly Archives: November 2009

Supporting school readiness through everyday activities

by happykatie

Next time you are in a grocery store, in a bank or a post office with your young child, grandchild or friend of the family, think about the routine errand as a field trip or a backdrop to teach your child something new or reinforce a recent preschool lesson.

Children can learn from everyday activities, such as reviewing colors when choosing produce, counting while in line waiting for a bank teller, or comparing big packages to little packages at the post office. You would be surprised how many people will join in with you!

Children learn through everyday experiences. They also are eager to connect with the adults in their lives and it is through these relationships that children gain the confidence and the security they need to learn. All members of this community have unique roles and the ability to make an enormous impact on young children’s lives.

Whether you are a parent, a grandparent or a child care professional, the relationship you establish with the children in your care is key to early learning. Working parents often struggle with having enough time to do special learning activities with their children. Here are some ideas for making learning connections everyday with your preschool age child:

In grocery store
The grocery store is filled with different size shaped and colored products. By asking your child to find the “blue” container or the “orange” vegetable, you are helping build vocabulary and color recognition. Children love to help out. By encouraging your child to pick out food items on your list, you are building self confidence and independence. By incorporating interactive activities with your child, you can also teach them about healthy eating and how produce travels to the store.

Helping with laundry
Children can learn how to match like items (pair of socks), sort colors and measure detergent. They can help you sort dark clothes from white clothes and develop fine motor skills while learning simple folds.

In kitchen
Do you need an extra set of hands in the kitchen? You can have your child help pour ingredients into a bowl and learn what tools you use to measure food. Let your young child help make the meal, such as tearing lettuce for a salad or putting napkins on the table. Ask your child to name the foods you are preparing or have them fix a pretend meal for their toy animal or doll while you are cooking.

Let’s remember that everyday activities are full of teachable moments.

By Marsha Basloe, Executive Director of Durham’s Partnership for Children.

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Photo Credit: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


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Education is an issue of national security

“A quality education is really an issue of national security,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. By the way, he said this in a press conference organized by retired miliary leaders who are calling for Congress to invest in early childhood programs.

Earlier this month, Mission: Readiness released a new study that finds, “75% of young Americans are ineligible to serve their country because they have either failed to graduate high school, engaged in criminal activity, or are physically or mentally unfit.”

The solution: “Support for high-quality early education will help ensure that more young people are on track for successful careers, including military service. Congress is currently considering the Early Learning Challenge Fund and must pass it so states can provide more children with this essential opportunity for learning.”

So says, former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark, Major General James A. Kelley (USA, Ret.), Major General James W. Comstock (AUS, Ret.), Brigadier General John W. Douglass (USAF, Ret.), Rear Admiral James Barnett (USN, Ret.), former Under Secretary of the Army Joe Reeder, and nearly 90 retired military leaders, including two former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton (ret.) and General Shalikashvili (ret.), and six other four-star generals and admirals.

They are calling for greater investment in high-quality early learning programs to ensure more young people graduate from high school, obey the law and have the option of military service if they choose that path.

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Landmark Early Childhood Book Free!

From Neurons to Neighborhoods:  The Science of Early Childhood Development is a landmark book on early brain development and how early experiences, including culture and community, affect children’s development.  It is now available online for free!neurons 


How we raise young children is one of today’s most highly personalized and sharply politicized issues, in part because each of us can claim some level of “expertise.” The debate has intensified as discoveries about our development-in the womb and in the first months and years-have reached the popular media.

How can we use our burgeoning knowledge to assure the well-being of all young children, for their own sake as well as for the sake of our nation? Drawing from new findings, this book presents important conclusions about nature-versus-nurture, the impact of being born into a working family, the effect of politics on programs for children, the costs and benefits of intervention, and other issues.

The committee issues a series of challenges to decision makers regarding the quality of child care, issues of racial and ethnic diversity, the integration of children’s cognitive and emotional development, and more.

Authoritative yet accessible, From Neurons to Neighborhoods presents the evidence about “brain wiring” and how kids learn to speak, think, and regulate their behavior. It examines the effect of the climate-family, child care, community-within which the child grows.

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What do North Carolinians Want for Their Children and the State?


A new public engagement initiative titled Smart Investing: Communities Thrive When Children Thrive begins this month to establish what North Carolina communities want for their youngest children and the future of the state. Funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and with participation from Lt. Governor Walter Dalton and Smart Start, Smart Investing brings together a diverse mix of citizens to begin a new dialogue about early education and children’s health in North Carolina.

Smart Start’s 77 partnerships will leverage their networks to assemble local parents, business leaders, health care providers, education professionals and policy makers representing every county in the state. The groups will participate in forums and summits over the next several months to determine children’s needs in every region and the state as a whole.

“I know times are tough, but it’s critical that we invest in our children because they are the future of this state,” said Dalton.  “This initiative represents a wonderful opportunity to get North Carolina citizens more engaged and involved in issues affecting young children and to strengthen our communities at the same time.”

Eight forums will take place this fall through winter in:

  • Wilkesboro – Thursday, November 17
  • Waynesville – Thursday, November 19
  • Rocky Mount – Tuesday, December 1
  • Fayetteville – Tuesday, December 8
  • Greensboro – Tuesday, January 12
  • Charlotte – Thursday, January 14
  • Elizabeth City – Tuesday, January 26
  • New Bern – Thursday, January 28 (Location TBD)

 Three, larger summits will take place in early 2010 in Asheville, Durham, and Greenville.

 To learn more about this public engagement work, please visit

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Developmental Screenings Should be Part of All Well-Child Visits

WUNC (NPR) features Smart Start’s ABCD Program on Morning Edition. Listen to the story!

The ABCD program works with pediatricians’ offices to ensure that all children receive appropriate developmental screenings and referrals. About 70% of children with disabilities are not identified before they enter school. Although primary care physicians have regular contact with the majority of young children, they face many barriers to offering regular developmental screening and referral services. The ABCD program offers training and technical assistance to physicians and their office staff . The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., the organization that oversees Smart Start, has been piloting this program in select regions of the state for the past two years with funding from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Smart Start.

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Salud America!

Latino children are among those at greatest risk for obesity and its related health problems. Salud America! works to increase the number of Latino scientists seeking environmental and policy solutions to address Latino childhood obesity. It’s funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

They have a powerful video on the obesity epidemic among Latino children. Please share your thoughts.

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Children need to receive emotional vitamins

If your child does not know how to read, you teach him. If your child does not know how to swim, you teach him. If your child does not know how to tie his shoes, you teach him. If your child does not know how to write, you teach him. If you child does not know how to behave, you … teach or punish him?


By Lisa Brewster

Erin Hinton, the community awareness coordinator and an early childhood specialist for Smart Start in Davidson County, tackles the subject of discipline in a column in The Dispatch.

She concludes the piece by noting:

Here is my charge to you, parents: If you want your children to be a valuable member of society and have much success, you must do one thing. Before you react quickly to a behavior problem presented by your child, stop and ask yourself, how can I teach instead of punish? Going to the store to buy Flintstone vitamins is the easy part. Actually feeding your child emotional vitamins will come from your ability to respond calmly to these same situations. By doing this, you are giving your child the gift of a solid foundation for the future.

Read the entire column online.

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