Moving to Action Tally
As always, Summit attendees were asked for feedback about the day's presentations, and to fill out a commitment card listing what they would be willing to do to continue growing their knowledge about prek to grade 3 and spread the word to others in their communities.
• 75% said they would initiate and/or participate in meetings about building a preK-grade 3 continuum in their school or district.
• 51% said they would contact their legislator.
• 11% said they were willing to write a letter to the editor.
Bridging the PreK-Grade 3 Continuum
Early Childhood Summit highlights intentional approach to connecting early education with early elementary learning
It has been well documented that children who reach key learning benchmarks by the end of third grade are much more likely to do well throughout their school careers. Studies and practical application are showing that student achievement can be improved by close alignment of children’s early learning experiences, starting with the preschool years and extending through third grade.
“Making Connections: Building a Prekindergarten-Grade 3 Continuum” was the theme of the Early Childhood Summit held April 19th in Duluth. More than 200 school superintendents, principals, teachers, early childhood specialists, school board members, and others from 25 northeastern Minnesota school districts (including Esko, shown at left) and Reservation schools attended this annual training event.
“It is so rewarding to have region-wide participation, year after year, and to see people across the education and community spectrum coming together to converse, network, learn, and, we hope, be inspired,” said Lynn Haglin, Northland Foundation Vice President and KIDS PLUS Director.
Christine Maxwell, Ph.D., of Erikson Institute shares challenges and successes with implementing continuum strategies in Chicago
Keynote speaker Christine Maxwell, Ph.D., is on the cutting edge of this continuum approach, working with the Erikson Institute’s New Schools Project in Chicago. There, schools are, with guidance from the Institute, exploring and learning how best to implement intentional strategies to connect prekindergarten through third grade learning and development.
Dr. Maxwell shared research studies linking the continuum approach and ongoing supports for students in need to measurable positive results, not only on students’ elementary school competency but also on high school graduation rates and beyond. After lunch, she shifted focus to specific steps schools can take to build a coordinated continuum approach to curriculum. She emphasized that working in teams of administrators, teachers, and community partners in which trust has been built, as well as engaging families, are keys to success.
Minnesota Office of Early Learning Director discusses statewide plans for the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge Fund
Karen Cadigan, Ph.D., Director of the Minnesota Office of Early Learning, imparted exciting information at the Summit about Minnesota’s plans to utilize $45 million in federal “Race to the Top” dollars, an effort dubbed in Minnesota as the Early Learning Challenge. Cadigan explained that some of the funding is being directed first to Itasca County, White Earth Reservation, and the Minneapolis and St. Paul Challenge neighborhoods (high-poverty areas) to pilot strategies that may be replicated elsewhere in the state. The federal grant, said Cadigan, is also funding a voluntary early care and education rating system to help providers raise quality in their home, center, and school-based programs and assist parents in making choices about where to send their children.
Grant opportunity from the Northland Foundation to support continuum-building meetings, planning, and projects
The Northland Foundation announced a grant opportunity of its own at the Summit, for districts and schools in attendance. Grants up to $1,000 each are available to selected applicants for meetings, planning, and projects on building a prekindergarten to grade 3 continuum approach. Applications are due May 31st.
Past Summit grants have supported kindergarten transition efforts in nearly two dozen Arrowhead Region school districts. Download a copy of “Enhancing the Transition to Kindergarten”, (532kb pdf), a four-page report summarizing regional transition strategies and projects.
At-a-glance Mental Health Resource Directory
Thrive Action Team creates an abbreviated listing of local mental health services for young children and their families
Critical funding support from Essentia Health this year has enabled the Duluth-Proctor-Hermantown Thrive Action Team to continue meeting regularly, offer training opportunities, and develop projects that are changing how infant and early childhood mental health is understood and addressed in the community.
Building on the five years of growth and knowledge accrued since Thrive was launched in 2007, the coalition’s accomplishments of the past year include:
• Continuing to cultivate a close network of professionals who meet monthly to share information, engage in training, and nurture community connections;
• Updating the in-depth Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resource Directory and creating a new “at-a-glance” version for convenient reference by providers and referrers;
• Guiding and supporting special projects such as the Early Childhood Mental Health Resource Team, and the Reflective Practice Project; and,
• Holding 10 trainings focused on infant and early childhood mental health topics.
“Great professional camaraderie has developed across the many sectors within our Thrive Action Team,” said Lynn Haglin, “and, thanks to the support of Essentia Health, they can continue to make amazing progress on behalf of young children.”
“Helping Children Manage Stress”
“Mediating Stress with Community Policies and Practices”
May trainings with Anne Gearity, Ph.D., LICSW
Community-wide and professional-sector training events target how adults and communities can help children manage stress
All children experience stressful events as a normal part of growing up. However, many children and families today experience persistent high levels of stress that can negatively impact their well-being. As knowledge about the psychological and physiological effects of stress has grown, it is clear that we, as caring adults and professionals who work with children, can and must take steps to help children and youth mediate stress.
Anne Gearity, Ph.D., LICSW will address this pressing topic in Duluth on May 9 and 10, with an evening forum open to the public, as well as two focused trainings aimed at specific sectors. Dr. Gearity specializes in development and risk, exploring how we can help young children manage adversity and keep growing. She has a mental health practice with children, adolescents, and adults; does community consultation; and has developed an innovative intervention model in collaboration with the Washburn Center for Children for very at-risk young children with aggressive behaviors.
These events are offered at no cost to attendees, thanks to support from Essentia Health, CenturyLink, Great River Energy, Cooperative Light & Power, HickoryTech Foundation, and the Northland Foundation.
Child Care Providers' Appreciation & Training
5th annual learning and networking event shares ideas, praise, and fun with regional providers
On February 25th, more than 420 child care providers from all across northeastern Minnesota descended on the DECC in Duluth. The 5th annual Child Care Providers’ Appreciation and Training Seminar welcomed people representing centers, home-based settings, early childhood programs, as well as informal care providers who regularly take care of children belonging to a family member, friend, or neighbor.
“Many young children spend more waking hours in a child care setting than anyplace else,” said Lynn Haglin, Vice President/KIDS PLUS Director, “so it is very important to support these special people who care for and teach precious young children so that their parents can work or go to school.”
Kicking off the program were Ann McCully and Wendy Walburg of Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral. They shared details about Parent Aware, the voluntary early care and education rating system designed to help providers raise quality in their home, center, and school-based programs as well as assist parents in making choices about where to send their children. Currently, Itasca County is the only area in northeastern Minnesota where the program is available, but Parent Aware will expand statewide over the next three years.
The morning keynote speaker was Marlys Johnson, M.A., L.P., who presented “From the Inside Out: The Pathway to Collaboration with a Child”. Johnson has worked with young children and their families for 35 years, first in infant and toddler child care and then as a toddler teacher in a therapeutic classroom. Currently she lives and works in the Duluth area as an infant and early childhood mental health consultant. Her presentation encouraged participants to 1) explore with children, 2) try to understand the world from a child’s perspective, and 3) join with them to learn, grow, and experience their environment in ways that are meaningful to each individual child.
After lunch, things got interactive with Nichole Polifka, the head of the Professional Development Department within the Learning Innovation Division at the Minnesota Children’s Museum. Polifka shared fun, developmentally appropriate activities that providers can use to help build young children's awareness of numbers and basic math concepts.
Everyone at the event received a book bag that held a children’s book and other helpful items. The afternoon ended with prize drawings giving away dozens of children’s books, games, toys, and treats such as hotel stays and zoo memberships to show appreciation for child care providers, a tremendous regional resource.
© Northland Foundation 2010