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Description: Disasters: They Come in All Shapes and Sizes | An Early Childhood Science Lab? | Brain Research: Helping Early Childhood Educators to Meet Learning Standards | Kindergarten: The Forgotten Year? | Handwriting: Is It a Lost Cause?

The SECA The SECA Reporter Winter 2015 In This Issue Disasters They Come in All Shapes and Sizes An Early Childhood Science Lab Brain Research Helping Early Childhood Educators to Meet Learning Standards Kindergarten The Forgotten Year Handwriting Is It a Lost Cause DISASTERS They Come in All Shapes and Sizes Throughout the South our communities have one thing in common....we re all vulnerable to natural disasters. The states in the SECA region are particularly vulnerable to thunderstorms tornadoes flash floods hurricanes and wildfires. With tornado season upon us we remember major disasters that destroyed communities and lives in Arkansas Alabama Oklahoma and Mississippi. 2008 Hurricane Ike on the Texas Gulf Coast Before & After (Photo provided by Judy Carnahan-Webb of Texas). 2013 tornado in Moore Oklahoma (http wiki 2013_Moore_tornado o 2801&qsrc 999&ad doubleDown&an apn&ap Retrieved 08 11 2014. 2014 Flash flood in North Carolina http safety floods flooding-south-carolina-north-carolina-update-20140810 Retrieved 08 11 2014 2014 Wildfire in the Texas Panhandle http story news nation 2014 05 12 texas-panhandle-wildfire-destroys-about75-homes 8990823 Retrieved 08 11 2014. It s time to think about what we can do to prepare ourselves as much as possible for Mother Nature and we ve gone to the Centers for Disease Control to find some common-sense advice. Retrieved from Emergency Preparedness & Response Centers for Disease Control http disasters tornadoes index.asp 08 11 2014. The Seca Reporter 2 Winter 2015 Preparing for a Tornado Excerpted from Preparing for a Tornado http disasters tornadoes prepared.asp. Important Measures To Take Take a few minutes with your family or staff to develop a tornado emergency plan. Sketch a floor plan of where you live or work or walk through each room and discuss where and how to seek shelter. Show a second way to exit from each room or area. Make sure everyone understands the siren warning system if there s such a system in your area. Mark where your first-aid kit and fire extinguishers are located. Mark where the utility switches or valves are located so they can be turned off--if time permits--in an emergency. Teach your family or staff how to administer basic first aid how to use a fire extinguisher and how and when to turn off water gas and electricity in your home. Learn the emergency dismissal policy for your child s school and be sure to share your program s policy with parents. Make sure your children know- What a tornado is What tornado watches and warnings are What county or parish they live in (warnings are issued by county or parish) How to take shelter whether at home or at school. Extra Measures for People with Special Needs Write down your or your child s specific needs limitations capabilities and medications. Keep this list near you always--perhaps in your purse or wallet. Make sure this information is on file with your child care provider. Find someone nearby (a spouse roommate friend neighbor relative or co-worker) who will agree to assist you in case of an emergency. Give him or her a copy of your list. You may also want to provide a spare key to your home or directions to find a key. Practicing Your Emergency Plan Conduct drills and ask questions to make sure your family or staff remembers information on tornado safety particularly how to recognize hazardous weather conditions and how to take shelter. For more information on what to do during and after a tornado go to http disasters tornadoes index.asp For information on Flood Safety go to http prepare disaster flood In the spring of 2012 we prepared a special issue of The SECA Reporter Spring 2012 that was dedicated to Disaster Preparedness for early childhood programs. We all need refreshers and we hope that you ll take the time to review your plan and train your staff on how to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Let s keep all children in our care and the adults who care for them safe through another storm season. The Seca Reporter 3 Winter 2015 We Heard You Professional publications too expensive Portfolio and Its Use Second Edition is now available as an E-book for 1 2 the price of the print copy Purchase it now through the SECA website for only 10 and download to your computer tablet or mobile device. http online_store.php Watch for announcements in the coming months about new e-books available through SECA. SECA Elects its Next President Carol Coleman Montealegre of Florida has been elected as our next SECA President and we look forward to her leadership during the next four years. Carol brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position having served as President of the Florida Association for the Education of Young Children and as a memberat-large on the SECA Board of Directors. Carol states that her passion is to move our great organization forward by serving membership nurturing leadership and strengthening advocacy. Our thanks go to Linda Novak of North Carolina and Beth Parr of Georgia for their willingness to stand as a candidate for this position. An Early Childhood Science Lab In the fall 2014 issue of Dimensions of Early Childhood (Volume 42 3) we highlighted a component of the outdoor classroom developed by St. Martin s Episcopal Preschool in Atlanta Georgia. They were recognized as an honorable mention for their garden area by the 2014 SECA Outdoor Exemplary Outdoor Classroom Contest Creating a Nature Inspired Outdoor Classroom Learning Environment on a Shoestring Budget. The early childhood outdoor classroom at St. Martin s was developed with volunteers and donors and very little funding from the program itself. Additionally they tapped into the resources attached to the elementary school and expanded the scope and depth of the program with that support. Their idea of an early childhood science lab was unique and we asked them to share their experiences with our members. This article was provided by Cindy Alexander Early Childhood Principal at St. Martin s. continued on next page The Seca Reporter 4 Winter 2015 Early Childhood Outdoor Classroom and Science Lab St. Martin s Episcopal School Explore Investigate Learn From Cindy Alexander Early Childhood Principal Nature Deficit Disorder a phrase coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods describes how our modern culture leaves many people largely detached from the natural world. He continues to say this lack of natural influence has pervasive effects on our physical and psychological well-being. At St. Martin s we believe outdoor education offers important components to enhance the development of our students hearts minds and souls. With this goal in mind we are adding additional time and opportunities for students to experience a rich balance of academics and outdoor learning. Our goals are to Bridge Outdoor Education with Classroom Science Curriculum Enhance programs in our Outdoor Classroom Provide cross curricular education using the Outdoor Classroom for hands-on exploration of nature combined with music art literature and dramatic play. To use this QR code (and the additional QR Using a Codes in this barcode scanning application on your smartphone (or iPad) you can scan this brochure s QR Codes for Outdoor Classroom and Science Lab Videos. The Seca Reporter 5 Winter 2015 Elizabeth Beckwith EC Science Teacher I have always been fascinated with the natural world. Growing up I lived near a lake and spent my childhood exploring outdoors. Because of those wonderful experiences I followed a science career path. Before serving as St. Martin s Episcopal School s Science teacher I was an animal educator at Zoo Atlanta and a zoo keeper at the Birmingham Zoo. St. Martin s Outdoor Classroom was built in 2004 as a local community and parent project with the mission of inspiring passion for the natural world in Early Childhood students by connecting them to nature while they are young. This connection grows into respect as they turn into adults. Increasing evidence shows that children benefit physically and psychologically from unstructured outdoor time. The Outdoor Classroom nurtures this and allows children opportunities to make discoveries and gain authentic experiences in the natural world. Most children enter our EC program interested in nature they watch nature-themed shows on TV go to the zoo and have science and animal birthday parties but they don t experience it first-hand on their own. In the Outdoor Classroom they are able to make their own discoveries that last a lifetime. The Outdoor Classroom puts children outside in a nonplayground setting where they are safely able to explore and experience true play in nature. The Seca Reporter 6 Winter 2015 Cindy Alexander St. Martin s Early Childhood Principal St. Martin s Outdoor Classroom holds many accolades. Most importantly it is a Certified Natural Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation a Nature Explore Classroom certified by the Arbor Day Foundation and most recently the Outdoor Classroom won honorary mention at the Southern Early Childhood Association s Exemplary Outdoor Classroom contest. The Outdoor Classroom and the adjoining Science Lab have been featured in numerous publications including the Atlanta Journal and Constitution Atlanta Magazine and the Brookhaven Reporter Newspaper. The Outdoor Classroom is a place for children to explore and discover. Smiles giggles and laughter are abundant Our Outdoor Classroom has many different areas the children can explore including a compost area dinosaur excavation site a pond with fish and frogs numerous gardening beds a large shaded gazebo and a greenhouse. There is also a very large green space where children can roll run and cloud gaze on soft cushions. 1st graders take their science journals outside and sketch objects they see in nature. The Beginners (3year-olds) take part in nature scavenger hunts throughout the different seasons while the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students enjoy digging in the dirt for worms and watering the plants. All the age groups that come to the Outdoor Classroom (3- to 7-year-olds) take part in the maintenance of the garden filling bird feeders picking weeds skimming leaves out of the pond raking dead leaves and watering the plants. They do everything but mow the lawn Authentic encounters with Nature The Seca Reporter 7 Winter 2015 The Outdoor Classroom & Science Lab Connection St. Martin s Outdoor Classroom is accessed through the Early Childhood Science Lab. The Early Childhood science curriculum involves both the indoor and outdoor components. The Science Lab is home to a diverse range of species including a Bearded Dragon a Blue Tongued-Skink and a Corn Snake numerous native turtles a variety of amphibians a domesticated rabbit and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. There are also two touch tanks one freshwater and one saltwater. Besides live teaching specimens the Lab is equipped with state-of-the-art technology including a SMART board a SMART table and digital microscopes connected to laptops. There are also various centers including a magnetic wall iPads age appropriate electrical circuits shells and various preserved specimens and building materials. The children explore the indoor science lab just as they would the Outdoor Classroom. Each child is encouraged to make discoveries on their own in both spaces. The benefit of having the indoor Lab connected to the Outdoor Classroom is that we are able to plant the seed of discovery indoors then tie it to an experience outside and vice versa. For example we use the iPads to begin learning about composting through the use of an APP called Gro Garden. After playing Gro Garden and digitally creating compost in an educational game we go to the outdoor classroom and physically create and maintain real compost. Another way we connect the two classrooms together is through the science lab animals. The children plant fruit and vegetable seeds in the greenhouse and garden beds that we watch grow then are able to feed the rabbit and lizards. The un-eaten greens go back outside and into the compost bins thus creating a complete and authentic learning experience of the life-cycle of a plant. We also take books from the Science Lab s library for children to read on the green space or in the gazebo. The Seca Reporter 8 Winter 2015 Brain Research Helping Early Childhood Educators to Meet Learning Standards With the advent of Early Learning Standards as an integral part of professional development and quality rating systems throughout the SECA states early childhood professionals have been working to create developmentally appropriate environments that reflect best practice and meet those guidelines. This discussion will likely accelerate as the new provisions for the Child Care & Development Block Grant Act of 2014 come into effect. (This is the federal funding source for most of the child care subsidy and quality funds that support state initiatives and the Act was reauthorized for the first time in 18 years in November 2014.) The Block Grant requires that states have professional training requirements for CCDBG providers that promote child development and improve knowledge and skills of the workforce. One of the requirements is that these requirements or licensing standards incorporate the State s early learning and developmental guidelines (where applicable) health safety standards and social-emotional behavior intervention models......The State must develop maintain or implement early learning and developmental guidelines (for children from birth to kindergarten entry) for use by child care providers statewide. Guidelines must be Research-based Developmentally appropriate for children Aligned with entry to kindergarten Implemented in consultation with the State educational agency and the State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care and Be updated as determined by the State. This is new language in the Act and is directed toward the professional training of child care providers. In an article from Beyond the Journal Young Children on the Web Dr. Pam Schiller (a former President of SECA) and Dr. Clarissa A. Willis (a former Executive Director of SECA) supported the use of brain research to effectively implement learning standards. They suggested that brain research findings are the tools needed to implement standards and that following brain-based strategies becomes a means to optimize learning for all children. The authors suggest that brain research supports these components of an appropriate early childhood classroom to optimize learning Safe and secure environments Activities that support positive emotional responses Activities that utilize multiple senses to enhance learning Teaching that is differentiated to meet the unique needs of each child Sufficient instructional planning to support children with special needs Activities that make sense and provide meaning. With careful planning knowledge of brain research findings and a little creativity teachers can offer engaging brain-based activities that encourage exploration and learning and support learning standards. Source Using Brain-Based Teaching Strategies to Create Supportive Early Childhood Environments that Address Learning Standards July 2008 http id EJ819260 Because the new Act requires that these learning standards be incorporated into standards for all child care providers who receive CCDBG funding states will be challenged to develop professional development opportunities that assist providers in developing appropriate curriculum and learning environments. continued on next page The Seca Reporter 9 Winter 2015 Interested in Learning More about Brain Research and Education Research in Brain Function and Learning The importance of matching instruction to a child s maturity level by Margaret Semrud-Clikeman Ph.D. http education k12 brain-function.aspx How Can Research on the Brain Inform Education Southwest Educational Development Laboratory http scimath compass v03n02 1.html Brain Based Learning ASCD http research-a-topic brain-based-learning-resources.aspx Understanding How Young Children Learn (2012) Author Wendy Ostroff ISBN-13 978-1-4166-1422-7 Publisher ASCD http Publications Books Overview Understanding-HowYoung-Children-Learn.aspx Human beings are born to learn. During the last few decades developmental science has exploded with discoveries of how specifically learning happens. This provides us with an unprecedented window into children s minds how and when they begin to think perceive understand and apply knowledge. Wendy Ostroff builds on this research and shows you how to harness the power of the brain the most powerful learning machine in the universe. She highlights the processes that inspire or propel learning--play confidence self-regulation movement mnemonic strategies metacognition articulation and collaboration--and distills the research into a synthesis of the most important takeaway ideas that teachers will need as they design their curriculum and pedagogy. Johns Hopkins School of Education http PD newhorizons Neurosciences articles This website provides a series of articles on brain research and learning. Start Smart Building Brain Power in the Early Years Revised (2012) Author Dr. Pam Schiller ISBN 978-0-87659-393-6 Publisher Gryphon House https books details start_smart-revised Did you know that emotions boost our memory Or that small muscle exercises help the brain develop Early experiences contribute to the structure of the brain and its capacities. The quality quantity and consistency of stimulation will determine to a large extent the number of brain synapses that are formed and how those connections will function. This is true for both cognitive and emotional development and the effect is lifelong. Start Smart offers simple straightforward ways to boost brain power with active exploration repetition sensory exploration and direct experience. The Seca Reporter 10 Winter 2015 Kindergarten The Forgotten Year During the last two decades we ve seen an explosion of pre-K programs throughout the South. As we ve moved to bring 4-year-olds into an educational system in full day programs what s happened to kindergarten Has it become the forgotten year In an article Kindergarten State Policies a Patchwork published in Education Week on September 17 2014 Christina A. Samuels took a look at the current status of kindergarten throughout the U.S. and asked these questions. With high-quality preschool topping the policy agenda in many states what effect has this prioritization had on the traditional public school kindergarten Has kindergarten been lost in the discussion of creating preschool opportunities and what are the policies in states that regulate the kindergarten year Are we pushing down academics into kindergarten which once resembled more closely what preschool looks like today ( Some researchers are calling kindergarten the new first grade. ) Is kindergarten preparing children adequately to enter first grade Kindergarten began in the 1800 s and was initially designed to promote socialization emotional development and enhancement of small and large motor skills. Very little in terms of academics was incorporated into the curriculum until the late 1990 s. At that point a movement began to enhance the academic content of kindergarten and standards and assessments of readiness began to form the basis of kindergarten curriculum. A look at the kindergarten policies and requirements in states was revealing. Across the country there is a patchwork of mandatory and voluntary full and half-day programs. Just 15 states have a mandatory kindergarten attendance requirement with seven (7) of those states in the SECA region. Although the Common Core Standards treat kindergarten as a full grade for some children kindergarten may be fewer than 15 hours per week. In the SECA region nine (9) states require full-day kindergarten. The states of Texas Georgia Florida Virginia and Kentucky allow half-day programs. In Louisiana half-day kindergarten is mandatory or children must pass a test for 1st grade readiness. In Arkansas parents may request a waiver from kindergarten. Alex Holt a policy analyst for the New American Foundation published a Policy Brief in August 2014 entitled Making the Hours Count. He made the argument that utilizing labels such as half day and full day relegated kindergarten to a lesser status. He pointed out that we wouldn t be talking about half day 2nd grade and said It shows how much less seriously we take kindergarten and we should be asking ourselves why. Source Making the Hours Count New America Foundation August 6 2014 http education-policy making-the-hours-count continued on next page The Seca Reporter 11 Winter 2015 Table 1 SECA state requirements for kindergarten 2012 State Mandatory Kindergarten Attendance Mandatory Full Day Programs Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes 6 5 6 6 6 7 6 7 5 5 6 6 5 6 Mandatory School Attendance Age Alabama No Arkansas Yes Florida No Georgia No Kentucky No Louisiana Yes Mississippi No North Carolina No Oklahoma Yes South Carolina Yes Tennessee Yes Texas No Virginia Yes West Virginia Yes http programs statereform tab5_3.asp As states debate the issue of full-day versus half-day several issues surface. Funding for full-day programs will increase state costs significantly if they are not providing them at this point. Half-day programs allow states to serve twice as many children if they operate in the morning and with a different group in the afternoon. If half-day programs go to full-day will facilities be available to house the expansion If half-day programs go to full-day will instructional personnel be available Will sufficient funding be available to support those full-time personnel You will note in the SECA region four of the five states that allow half-day programs are some of our most populous states. These states are already experiencing all of the issues outlined above with the implementation and expansion of pre-K. What would a decision to move to universal full-day kindergarten programs mean for those states There s another odd little twist to this debate beyond the fact that longer days in kindergarten are often considered more beneficial to young children. According to a research study conducted by the University of Virginia Curry School of Education there is no empirical evidence that half-day vs. full-day has a significant impact on the educational status of underprivileged children. There is however an impact on families. Full-day kindergarten provides fully subsidized child care in the extended hours and therefore constitutes a wealth transfer to parents of full-day kindergarten students. The provision of full-day kindergarten allows parents to adjust to first grade (and beyond) levels of consumption and investment in advance. Decreasing child care costs increases the effective wage which induces both income and substitution effects for marginal parents and could affect parental employment. Finally children who stay for a full-day of instruction may be more likely to have a nutritious lunch and possibly a regular nap time which may influence development apart from the instructional time. Source Experimental Evidence on Early Intervention The Impact of Full-day Kindergarten Gibbs University of Virginia Curry School of Education September 2014 http resource-library edpolicyworks-working-paper-full-daykindergarten-impact Additionally how do parents make the transition when children attend a full-day pre-K program move to a half-day kindergarten program then transition to a full-day 1st grade As one can see from these sources the debate is not only whether kindergarten is a developmentally appropriate program but whether we are losing the value of kindergarten as it s squeezed between pre-K and 1st grade....certainly an interesting topic for debate. The Seca Reporter 12 Winter 2015 Handwriting Is It a Lost Cause From Glenda Bean Executive Director Photo by Elisabeth Nichols We have IPads computers keyboards....who needs handwriting According to the experts we do As education shifts from paper and pencil to technology teaching children handwriting is sometimes becoming a lost art. The Common Core Standards require that children learn to write legibly but only in kindergarten and first grade. Beyond that the emphasis shifts to the use of technology. For those of you who learn better when you write it down (as I do) you already know the connection between learning and writing. According to neuroscientists and psychologists there s a direct link between the physical act of writing and the mastery and retention of ideas and concepts. Children learn more quickly when they first learn to write by hand but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words it s not just what we write that matters--but how. Source What s Lost as Handwriting Fades by Maria Konnikova The New York Times June 2 2014 http Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes can improve idea composition and expression and may aid fine motor-skill development....Studies suggest there s a real value in learning and maintaining this ancient skill even as we increasingly communicate electronically via keyboards big and small. Source How Handwriting Trains the Brain Forming Letters is the Key to Learning Memory Ideas by Gwendolyn Bounds Wall Street Journal October 5 2010 http It s interesting to note that several SECA states adopted laws in 2014 that require schools to teach handwriting. Florida South Carolina and Tennessee all adopted statutes that require the teaching of cursive writing in their public schools. If you d like more information about those laws get the May 2014 edition of Public Policy Notes. As someone who s writing on the computer every day my handwriting isn t what it used to be. As kindergarten teacher Kay Crocker of Harford Day School in Maryland said Children will be using technology unlike I did and it s important for teachers to be familiar with it. Regardless of the input method you still need to be able to write and someone needs to be able to read it. Source How Handwriting Trains the Brain Forming Letters is the Key to Learning Memory Ideas by Gwendolyn Bounds Wall Street Journal October 5 2010 http That said I need to practice How s your handwriting The Seca Reporter 13 Winter 2015 re a Yo u Did you know About 3.5 hamburger meals. About 12 donuts. About 3 fried chicken meals. About 12 cups of fancy coffee. About 4 taco meals. onal essi Prof The Value of Association Membership Your annual dues to SECA are 22 per year. For that 22 you can purchase at our most popular fast food restaurants For that 22 each year you receive from SECA 3 issues of Dimensions of Early Childhood 3 issues of Dimensions Extra 4 issues of The SECA Reporter 6 issues of Public Policy Notes 6 issues of The Leadership Letter Monthly member e-mails on topics of interest to early childhood professionals Discounts on attendance at the annual conference Your annual SECA membership is just lunch money Thanks for making an investment in your professional future and the future of the children of the South. Source Fast Food Menu Prices http Information retrieved 8 25 2014 Note The remainder of the annual dues that you pay go to your state local and in some states NAEYC. The Seca Reporter 14 Winter 2015 From the Archives From the SECA Exemplary Outdoor Classroom Contest BOARD OF DIRECTORS Kathy Attaway President Kentucky Carol Montealegre President-Elect Florida AFFILIATE REPRESENTATIVES Alabama Richard Hardison Arkansas Geania Dickey Florida Sister Roberta Bailey Georgia Anita Dailey Kentucky Maureen O Brien Louisiana Jo Carroll Mississippi Kathy Young Oklahoma Marti Nicholson South Carolina Deni Titcomb Tennessee Lisa Maddox-Vinson Texas Cille D Ascenzo Virginia Susan Barnes West Virginia Suzi Brodof Dimensions of Early Childhood (Vol 41 1 2013) Dimensions of Early Childhood (Vol 41 2 2013) Dimensions of Early Childhood (Vol 41 3 2013) Member Email Take it Outside The Value of Nature-based Play and Learning March 2012 Teaching Cursive Writing The Common-Core Standards are Silent Public Policy Notes May 2014 MEMBERS-AT-LARGE Jeff Leffler Mississippi Joan S. Smith Virginia To access copies of these articles go to http and log in as a SECA member. For non-members contact the SECA office at 1-800305-SECA to determine availability. Copyright 2015 Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA). Permission is not required to excerpt or make copies of materials in the SECA Reporter if they are distributed at no cost. SECA serves the interests of early childhood educators concerned with child development including university researchers and teacher educators early childhood kindergarten and primary-grade teachers and early childhood program administrators and proprietors. The association has affiliates in 13 Southern states. Non-affiliate memberships are available to anyone living outside the 13 affiliate states. For information about joining SECA contact the executive offices at P.O. Box 55930 Little Rock AR 72215-5930 (800) 305-7322 or on the web at Members receive a variety of publications throughout the year discounts in the SECA Store and conference registration fees. The SECA Reporter is produced by Glenda Bean Executive Director. Design by RB Fine Art ( Cover photo by Canterbury Community Nursery School Richmond VA Glenda Bean Executive Director Maurena Farr Executive Assistant Southern Early Childhood Association P.O. Box 55930 Little Rock AR 72215-5930 (800) 305-7322 info STAFF Save the Date Join us in 67th Annual Conference of the Southern Early Childhood Association Tulsa Oklahoma for the February 11-13 2016 Hyatt Regency Tulsa