Quality 101

Quality 101

Let’s Talk about Race

Let’s Talk about Race

Wonders Annual Report

Wonders Annual Report

 

Helping Children Learn to Self Regulate

Helping Children Learn to Self Regulate

The first two years of life is an amazing time of growth and change, both physically and cognitively. Babies experiment with and learn from the environment around them. Beyond physical, thinking, and language tasks, babies are learning about social and emotional tasks. Starting in the earliest months of life, babies have the capacity to experience peaks of joy and excitement and also feel fear, sadness and anger. Research has also shown that children’s ability to effectively manage their full range of emotions—also known as self-regulation—is one of the most important factors for success in school, work and relationships into the long-term.

By teaching skills around social emotional learning we are able to empower our youngest children to better deal with their own emotions. Social emotional learning is key to every child’s ability to manage feelings and to interact successfully with others. There is growing evidence that self-regulation can be taught in the classroom (Blair & Razza 2007; Diamond et al. 2007). Let’s look at some strategies from NAEYC for doing so.

  • Teach self-regulation to all children, not just those thought to have problems. All young children benefit from practicing deliberate and purposeful behaviors, such as repeated switching from one set of rules to another or resisting the temptation to function on autopilot.
  • Create opportunities for children to practice the rules of a certain behavior and to apply those rules in new situations. When children are constantly regulated by adults, they may appear to be self-regulated, when in fact they are “teacher regulated.” To be able to internalize the rules of a certain behavior, children can practice them in three ways: follow the rules, set and monitor  the rules and finally apply the rules to their own behavior.
  • Offer children visual and tangible reminders about self-regulation. Learning to regulate one’s own behavior is in many ways similar to learning other competencies, such as literacy or numeracy.
  • Make play and games important parts of the curriculum. Not only should play and games not be pushed out of the classroom to make room for more “academic” learning, they need to be taken very seriously. Children learn self-regulation best through activities in which children—and not adults—set, negotiate, and follow the rules. These include make-believe play as well as games with rules.

Through thoughtfully prepared curriculum around social emotional learning, Wonders gives children the opportunity to enhance their self regulation skills. We recognize that each child is different and develops differently from their peers. That is why we believe in developmentally appropriate guidance for children.

It’s easy to asses when children grow physically but how can we tell if a child is learning to self regulate?  A study from Vanderbilt University identified these six cognitive skills as those that are improved upon with growing self regulation.

  • Attention focusing—the capacity to attend to and sustain focus on a learning task.
  • Inhibitory control—the ability to suppress inappropriate off-task responses to distracting stimuli in a classroom environment.
  • Patience—the ability to wait when required by a learning task and not respond impulsively or prematurely.
  • Attention shifting—the ability to shift focus appropriately within a given learning task and from one task to another as situations demand.
  • Organizing skills—the ability to follow directions, engage in planning, and organize sequences of behavior.
  • Working memory—the ability to temporarily store and manage the information required to carry out a task.

All these learned skills lead to the emotional health and success of a child. Children with strong self-regulation skills, empathy, and social skills are more likely to be successful in school. They are more likely to feel connected to both adults and other children. They are better able to struggle, can deal with mistakes and moments of sadness, and are better able to stand up for themselves and others. These children are more likely to develop resilience, self-control, and self-efficacy – all important life-long skills.

Club Fun: How Wonders Does Sports

Club Fun: How Wonders Does Sports

Fewer than half of children ages 6 to 11 meet the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation for engaging in at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. One way to address that deficit is through sport activity, especially team sports, as children often enjoy playing in groups. (source) While many children love soccer, football, and other team sports, some do not. Not every child is cut out for the growing world of competitive sports. But that’s not to say they don’t like the actual sport. Which is why Wonders offers Club Fun.

Club Fun is offered for each child enrolled in the Wonders extended day programs, in 3rd- 6th grade. Games are played with an emphasis on teamwork and great sportsmanship. Games typically last about an hour, and scores are not often kept.  Club Fun offers kids the chance to learn a new skill in an environment that promotes growth and challenge, more than competition. And most importantly everyone gets equal play time in the game. Our co-ed non-competitive league promotes learning the game, sportsmanship, fair play and mainly FUN with our other Wonders extended day programs.

In a 2014 study for George Washington University, researcher Amanda Visik interviewed numerous youth athletes and asked them why they played sports, and 9 out of 10 said the #1 reason they played was it was fun! The children in the George Washington study defined fun as trying their best, being treated respectfully by coaches, parents and teammates, and getting playing time.

Through Club Fun we’ve even inspired some those reluctant to try a sport to begin playing.

“The parents are very excited about the Club Fun Sports because for some of them it is the only team their child is on and they want to be able to see more games.” – Director of JPDS Extended Day

Although we don’t emphasize the importance of scores and winning or losing there is research to say there can be something to gain from losing. Experts agree that losing at sports, no matter how unending, can allow children to learn from failure. Losing all the time builds philosophy, camaraderie, sportsmanship and the idea of athletics as a series of incremental victories. The team may falter, but teammates improve, moment by moment. (source)

Even outside of Club Fun, the children show their exemplary skills acquired through Club Fun games. At one of our extended day programs during the active choice time, the children have been learning new skills in many different games and sports with their teachers. Lately, the younger children have been wanting to improve their football skills, so we run drills and practice throwing/catching when we are outside on the blacktop. It’s great to see the way our older children interact with and teach the younger ones. Their patience and willingness to teach makes the active choice time fun for everyone.

Wonders and Partners Receive Grant for Equity in Early Learning Initiative

Wonders and Partners Receive Grant for Equity in Early Learning Initiative

We are very pleased to share the exciting news that Wonders has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Washington Area Women’s Foundation’s Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative.  Wonders applied for the grant with two partners, School Readiness Consulting and The Campagna Center, both leaders in the field of early care and education. This partnership is an exciting collaborative step in ensuring that all children experience an equitable early education that translates to success in school and in life.

The grant will help fund the Equity in Early Learning Initiative which seeks to develop best practices in early childhood leadership, teaching and learning, and family engagement around equity-focused practice. This initiative will develop a clear agenda to elevate the DC metro area as an early learning model for exemplary work in equity leadership and social justice education at the programming, systems, local policy, and state/national advocacy levels.

The work will begin in February and will continue through December 2018.  The project will include professional development for Wonders and Campagna’s early learning teachers, development of resources for families, and leadership coaching and collaboration for Wonders and Campagna’s leadership as well as regional leaders in this field.

High quality equitable early childhood education is achieved when strength-based views of children are foundational, when community and family knowledge is honored, when children are assessed in authentic ways and when differences among children’s racial, ethnic, linguistic, class, religious, sexual orientation, family structure, physical/mental ability, etc., are recognized, understood, and leveraged.  Rather than pretending these differences don’t exist, we believe that an equitable early childhood education teaches young children how to notice, name and interrupt hurtful behaviors and unfair practices around these differences.  This approach to early learning will cultivate strong positive identity development in each child and will help children feel comfortable in talking about and celebrating human difference.

The strategic alignment work of the Compass grant that Wonders received earlier this year is progressing as scheduled. The object of this project is to create a strategic growth strategy for Wonders that aligns with our strengths, recognizes our current capacity, and evaluates future opportunities.  The Wonders Board of Directors will be reviewing the mid-project report in early March and anticipate a final report in June.

We are excited by and grateful for the recognition and investment made by the WAWF ECE Funders Collaborative.  We look forward to sharing our progress on both initiatives and appreciate all that each of you do to contribute to our Wonders community.

Best,

Joanne Hurt

Executive Director​

 

45th Anniversary – Press Release

45th Anniversary -Press Realease

Wonders Early Learning + Extended Day, a nonprofit organization, celebrates 45 years of guiding children’s growth and development, serving families, and promoting educator professional development.

Originally conceived as a way to provide quality child care to working families in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Wonders Early Learning + Extended has grown from its beginnings in the basement of All Saints All Day Episcopal Church to today, operating eight programs at sites located in Northwest DC, Bethesda and Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Wonders believes that children develop and learn through play in a nurturing and diverse community. A vital aspect of Wonders’ philosophy is its commitment to anti-bias and social justice education. Since its founding, Wonders has maintained a commitment to provide access to its high quality child care programs through its Financial Assistance Fund. In recent years, Wonders has awarded an annual average of $355,000 in tuition assistance to families who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Wonders Early Learning Programs are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and all Maryland early learning and extended day programs participate in EXCELS, Maryland’s quality rating system. Wonders is also a partner in the regional Equity in Early Learning Initiative (EELI). EELI seeks to continue the development of best practices in early childhood leadership, teaching and learning, and family engagement around equity-focused practice.

Wonders offers educator workshops and parent education opportunities through the Wonders Professional Development Consortium. The Professional Development Consortium is a Maryland State Department of Education approved training organization that partners with trainers throughout the region to offer workshops that advance educators’ credentials and skills.

Wonders’ Executive Director, Joanne Hurt, who began as an extended day teacher 32 years ago, has been a strong advocate for advancement in early care and education and extended day programs. “We have always valued our work with young children and families and now, with the impact of the pandemic, the importance of early care and education and child care has gained broad recognition. Families need a strong and robust child care system in order to thrive. Equally important, high quality and equity focused care and education nurtures the growth and development of each child and builds the foundation of life-long learning. Wonders’ commitment to creating careers for our educators and staff is key to our growth over the years and our ability to sustain through this past year. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish this year. We know child care is a public good and we are excited to work with many allies as our sector rebuilds in the months and years to come”.

Celebrations include free author book readings and monthly parent support workshops. To learn more about or to support Wonders Early Learning + Extended Day in its work to advance early childhood education and make quality programming available to all, visit https://wonderslearning.org/.

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