March 2017
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Family Corner

For many programs, the year is beginning to wind down as programs close down for the summer.  Even if your program operates year round, now is the perfect time to think about what you want to hear and learn about from families. Then you will have some good information you can use to help you plan for the upcoming year.

Things to think about include: 

  1. What information do you want to gather?  The more focused your survey is, the better the information will be.
  2. How do you plan on using the information you gather?  
  3. Do you have specific goals and deadlines for using this information?  
  4. Do you want a paper or online survey?
  5. How many questions should you include?  
  6. Do you want open ended questions or questions that can be quickly scored, (i.e. Definitely Yes, Yes, Maybe/Undecided, No, Definitely No)
NAEYC has a great article that includes some of these questions, and more, along with sample questions you can use to help design your survey.  

This can be a great way to empower families and show their input is valuable and meaningful to you.  When you make decisions based off of the information from families, be sure you let them know their voice was heard and that the decisions were made because of them!

For more information on surveys, look at NAEYC's article on Conducting a Family Survey.

Family Engagement

In the Family Corner, we talked about ways to connect with families through surveys.  Surveys are just one of many ways to do this.  Does your program want to connect to families in a deeper, more meaningful way?  Do you want to truly engage with your families?

Curricula Concepts provides the Training on the  Arkansas's Guide to Promoting Family Engagement.  In this training, we go over the Guide step by step and look at all the strategies inside. 

We can also provide technical assistance to help you customize a family engagement plan using these strategies that fits the specific needs of your program and the families you serve.

If you are interested in scheduling this training for you and your staff, please contact Jamie Ward at or by phone at 501-690-4444.  

Hurry!  There are only a limited number of these trainings available!
The Book Nook
For Teachers

The best learning emerges in a classroom community where children feel accepted and appreciated for their ideas and actions. Through the activities in Getting to the Heart of Learning, Ellen Booth Church shows teachers and caregivers how easy it is to foster children's sense of curiosity through group explorations that promote social connection and positive development.

With step-by-step instructions, Getting to the Heart of Learning weaves social-emotional learning into activities that support math, science, literacy, and motor skills. Rather than adding in activities throughout the day, these explorations integrate social-emotional learning across the curriculum through group involvement and building community. Learn how to strengthen home-to-school connections, too, with easy strategies that help families develop a shared vision for student's social-emotional and academic success.

We hope you enjoy!
For Families

March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, bringing with it all things spring!  Share these books on springtime and growing things with your families.

Idea Alley
  Have a bean sprout race!  The children plant their beans, name each plant, and watch as the seeds grow.  Which one will break through the dirt first?  Which one grows the first bean?  Which one will grow the tallest?  This fun science activity lets children explore ideas like prediction and caring for nature and the environment around them.
  While beans are a fun and easy plant to grow, you might also want to consider a garden.  Many plants, both flower and vegetable, are fun and easy to grow.  You can plant from seedlings for quicker results or let children see how plants grow from the very start using seeds. If you plant something edible, you can have a taste test and chart the results.  If you plant flowers, you can chart them by favorite colors or smells.

  I have always said I should quit buying my children toys and just let them play in the boxes the toys came in!  Children don't need expensive, and sometimes noisy, electronic toys to use their imaginations.  Sometimes, all they need is a big cardboard box.  And many times, you can get those boxes for free.  Check with your local stores because often times, these boxes just get thrown away.  For more ideas, go to PreschoolSTEAM's Amazing Cardboard Box Activities.

News You Can Use!
From Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families: 

TAKE ACTION! After nine long years of flat funding for the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program, we are very close to securing a significant funding increase this legislative session. AACF, our partners, and pre-K legislative champions, such as Reps. Clarke Tucker for State Representative and Mathew Pitsch, have made a bold ask for additional funding for current ABC programs. But we need YOUR help to make this happen! Call your legislators TODAY and tell them to support funding for quality pre-K. We make it easy for you - just follow this link!
Upcoming Events!

The Nutrition and Physical Fitness Conference
Date: April 22, 2017 (Saturday)
Location: UCA, Brewer Hegeman Conference Center
Time: 9:30-3:00

This event will encourage and inspire participants to make healthy choices for their home and school families.  They will receive 6 hours of TAPP training hours and a catered lunch.  You must enroll on the TAPP Registry to attend. 

This conference is Better Beginnings approved and will count toward Nutrition and Physical fitness hours that are required of Better Beginnings.

For more information, please contact Carol Crockett at the Child Care Aware office in Conway at: 501-327-6677.

AAIMH Brown Bag Lunch
The Arkansas Association for Infant Mental Health has a monthly brown bag event every 4th Thursday.   This month it will be on March 23rd.  You can join us at UAMS or one of the KidsFirst satellite locations.  It is a great way to get professional development close to you!

Check out their Facebook page for more details!

Spring Concert and Training Opportunity!
Save the Date!  Mr. Al will be at the Child Care Aware of Northcentral AR's  Annual Spring Concert on April 27th at 9:30 a.m. at Batesville in UACCB's Independence Hall.  This marks Child Care Aware's 20th anniversary and they want to celebrate with the families and children they serve.  Admission is $4 per person, and proceeds will go towards purchasing new resources for the Batesville Resource Center and lending library.

That afternoon, there will be a reception for the community, and later that evening, Mr. Al will be presenting a training class for 2 hours at UACCB in Batesville.

For more information, please contact Child Care Aware of Northcentral Arkansas at (800) 737-2237.  

Staff Spotlight!

We want to give you a chance to get to know a little bit about the people that make up Curricula Concepts and who we are behind the scenes.

And this month we are starting with me!  

Hi!  My name is Deborah Blackburn.  I have met many of you in person already, but for those I have not yet met, I would like to introduce myself and tell you just a little bit about me. 

I've been in the early education field for 18 years . I've worked for the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education and for a developmental preschool before I joined the team at Curricula Concepts.  If you want to know more about my professional history, you are more than welcome to check out my bio on our website.

I love people in general, but most of all, I love helping people.  I love the fact that my job lets me work with educators and families to build stronger relationships that benefit everyone, especially the children.

In addition to working with early childcare programs and the families they serve, I also publish our monthly newsletter and manage our Pinterest page, and occasionally post on our other social media pages.
I have been married for 12 years, and have two amazing, and amazingly different, daughters.  If you've ever been to a Cafe or a training I've done, you've heard all about them!  They keep me on my toes and are a never ending source of smiles and laughter.  And, they are responsible for more than a few of my gray hairs!

In my free time, I love to read pretty much anything I can get my hands on.  Reading is my favorite way to relax, other than a mani/pedi spa day.  As a family, we love to get out and do things, like visit zoos and parks, anything that gets us outside and into nature.  I am a little on the introverted side, but once you get to know me, I am anything but shy and definitely not quiet. 

So, that is a quick snapshot into who I am, and a little behind what makes me tick.

Stay tuned next month to see who we are spotlighting next! 
See Us First on Facebook

Do you want to make sure you are updated on the latest news in early childcare?  Be sure you you "See Us First"!  Two easy steps and you're done!

Step ONE:
Go to our page on Facebook
Step TWO: 
Under the "Following" tab, click "See First"

That's it!!
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