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Special Offer: Refer a Friend and Receive a Surpise Prize!

Posted By Joe Vasquez, Wednesday, May 28, 2014



Help your friend develop stronger leadership skills by recommending a quality membership like the Association for Early Learning Leaders' membership program, and receive a FREE Association turvis tumbler once membership is confirmed!

Step 1 - Send an email to your friend asking him/her to join the Association membership.

Step 2- Fill out a Membership Referral Form. Make sure to use promo code MDRIVE14 to claim your prize.
Step 3- When your friend creates an account with the email address you referred them with, and becomes part of the Association; we'll send you an Association t-shirt of your choice! Offers may be subject to change or substitution without notice.

It's that simple! Invite your friend to join an Association that provides them with solutions in the areas of leadership, resources, professional development, program standards, human resources and legal insights!

Use this sample message to forward to your friends or write your own.

"Take advantage of this special friends-only promotion. With my referral, you can receive a FREE limited edition t-shirt, in addition to the plethora of other member benefits. The Association for Early Learning Leaders' membership provides professional development opportunities to strengthen and enhance your leadership role-it's great! To claim your gift, please fill out a form at Offers may be subject to change or substitution without notice."

Tags:  Association for Early Learning Leaders  membership  membership drive 

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Let's talk about...Standard D3

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Written by: Erin Schmidt and Ruth La Brayere

D3. Written assessment is made of each child’s growth and development.

All Ages

  • Assessments are based on developmental norms and expectations appropriate for the child’s age. [D]
  • Assessments incorporate information obtained from multiple sources including observation documentation, photographs, and samples of work, as well as parental input. [SS]
  • Assessments are used to identify effectiveness in meeting goals and as a guide for future planning. [SS]
Infants, Toddlers, Twos
  • Assessments include cognitive, language, motor, social, and emotional development. [D]
  • Teachers complete assessments 2 or more times per year. [D]
  • Assessments include cognitive, language, motor, social, and emotional development. [D]
  • Teachers complete assessments 2 or more times per year. [D]
School Age
  • Assessments include general skills and abilities of school age children. (Ex. social skills, work    habits, physical abilities)   [D]
  • Teachers complete assessments a minimum of once per year. [D]

There are important reasons for early childhood professionals to observe and complete developmental assessments for children in their classroom:

Aid in Curriculum Planning   
  • Appropriate curriculum builds upon what a child already knows and is both age and individually appropriate.  Observation and assessment made across all domains of children’s learning provides information about a child’s capabilities, interests, and ways of learning.  With this information the teacher can plan appropriate activities and experiences to help children continue to make progress.

Identify Special Needs or Special Aptitudes
  • Areas of special need may become apparent when observations and assessments  indicate a pattern of interactions, conversations, and/ or behaviors that are outside the expected developmental range.  Unbiased observations can reveal new understanding about each child’s development.
Based on these observations, the need for any of the following can be assessed:
  • program adjustments to meet individual needs
  • curriculum/activities specifically targeted to a set of needs or strengths
  • parent questionnaire
  • onsite observation by an outside organization
  • professional advice
  • intervention by specialist
Developmental Checklists are an acceptable form for completion of the formal assessment of Children.  Checklists include milestones for normal development in specific age groups across  developmental areas: Cognitive, language, motor, social and emotional development. The skills and characteristics on such checklists can be endless.  Select and use those that are consistent with your philosophy.  

Assessments for young children are not a test.  Many commercially available assessment instruments are stressful to young children and do not accurately reflect many abilities. Assessments for young children are not report cards.  They are used to learn about a child at a point in time. When used several times over the year, assessments will indicate progress made over time.

Authentic assessment of young children includes the use of developmental checklists in conjunction with other observation tools.  

Below Are the Glossary Terms that are associated with this standard and are found in the Glossary in the Appendices of the Accreditation Manual.

Assessment ..................................................................................................................................................................................... D3

A summary of a child’s progress and achievements. Checklists and assessment tools that incorporate all developmental areas can be purchased or created by the program to assist with assessment. Individually administered measurements are to be limited and evaluations that require children to be removed from the classroom setting are not acceptable in meeting this standard.

Because school-age children are thoroughly assessed in their formal school setting, assessment of these children in an after school or summer setting should be based on the goals set by the program for these children. That may be good work habits, social and problem solving skills, leadership, empathy for others, and/or other values. School-age assessments can be created by the program.

Assessment of preschoolers and school-age children serves the same purpose: to identify effectiveness in meeting classroom/program goals, a guide for planning future activities and communicating with parents.

Developmental norms and expectations....................................................................................................................... D3

Standards by which a child’s development can be measured. These are usually based on predictable age-related behaviors.

Observation documentation..........................................................................................................................................D2, D3

Short, narrative notes made at the time of or shortly after an observation that accurately describe a particular event that has been observed. There is to be no analysis of intent; only a factual report of actions and words. Written notes can be made on 3"x5" cards, on sticky notes, on notepads, or in spiral notebooks. Notes should be collected in the child’s confidential file. To be most useful, each recorded observation should contain the name of the child being observed, the place, date, and time of observation as well as the observer’s name.

Multiple recorded observations that have been collected over time will give evidence of the child’s progress and/or reveal a pattern. Information obtained from written observations is to be used as part of the evidence for assessments. Unbiased recordings of observations allow parents to get a realistic picture of their child at school.

Tags:  accreditation  early childhood education  Early Learning Leaders  National Accreditation Commission 

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Early Bird Registration is Extended through April 1

Posted By Joe Vasquez, Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hello Everyone,

If you haven’t registered for the 2014 How Successful Directors Lead Conference yet, don’t worry! We have extended the deadline for Early Bird Registration through April 1, 2014. Better hurry before it’s too late!

Early bird registration is $389 per person (*Individual Leader Member pricing). This fee includes access to all sessions, the opening celebration and exhibit hall, plus some meals and a variety of exciting activities. Visit our conference page for more details.

2014 is going to be truly magical as you celebrate with us at the Walt Disney World Resort! Register today to take advantage of our early bird rate.

We look forward to hosting you in Lake Buena Vista!


-ELL Team

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Top 10 "Must Do's" in Disney

Posted By Admin, Friday, March 21, 2014
This year’s conference is going to be truly magical as we celebrate our 30th anniversary at the Walt Disney World Resort!

Now that you’ve secured your conference registration, don’t forget to check out what Walt Disney World has to offer. With world-famous theme parks, premier resorts, unlimited recreation shopping and fine-dining options; you’ll have access to everything you need to ensure your stay is unforgettable.

Check out our top 10 “Must Do’s” while at Walt Disney World.
  1. Reserve Disney’s Magical Express and reach your destination stress-free and focused by having them pick you up and take you to the Disney Resort hotel, while their luggage services delivers your bags from the hotel to your room— what a sweet deal!
  2. Don’t pass up the chance to visit the new Fantasy Land in Magic Kingdom— you won’t regret it!
  3. Stop by Be Our Guest restaurant for a quick service lunch or delightful sit-down dinner— Have the gray stuff it’s delicious! 
  4. Visit the pool at Coronado Springs Resort.
  5. Purchase a Rapid Refill Disney refillable mug upon arrival and refill it for the length of your stay for FREE— this will come in handy, trust us.
  6. Experience the flower show and get a taste of spring by visiting Epcot®, the International Flower & Garden Festival— celebrate the great outdoors!
  7. Indulge in a Mickey ice cream bar— this decadent treat will satisfy your sweet tooth!
  8. Experience the fireworks display at Epcot or Magic Kingdom— a truly magical experience, y’all!
  9. Visit Downtown Disney – lots of shopping and restaurants!! The Magical Express will take you there.  
  10. Let loose and be a kid again!!!
We hope that you've been able to get something positive out of our tips.

We look forward to seeing you all in sunny Florida!

-ELL Team

Tags:  30th Annual National Conference: How Successful Di  Early Learning Leaders  Walt Disney World Resort 

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Plastics & Plastic Toys

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 27, 2014

Written by Hester Paul 


Plastic products are found everywhere; child care settings are no exception. Certain plastics contain chemicals that can harm human health and we find that some of these chemicals migrate from the product into our bodies.   (One compound is typically found in 93 percent of the U.S. population and in higher levels in children compared to adults.)

Children are particularly vulnerable to these chemicals for several additional reasons. Their systems and organs are still developing.  Young children’s typical behavior includes inserting plastic objects into their mouths.

Two compounds of special concern— phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA)—have been found in baby bottles, sippy cups, teething rings and toys.
Phthalates (thay-lates) are a class of chemicals that are used to soften plastics, such as PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), bind fragrances in products and act as solvents and fixatives, such as nail polishes. Children often inhale fragrances, chew on plastic toys and absorb products (lotions, shampoos) through their skin. Exposure to phthalates is linked to harmful health effects, including developmental and reproductive problems, asthma, preterm birth, low sperm count, genital malfunction, hormone disruption, premature puberty and development of some cancers.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a hormone disrupter that is used to harden some plastics. BPA can be found in baby bottles, water bottles, canned food liners and sippy cups. We are exposed to BPA primarily through ingestion, as it travels to the body through food and drink containers. Adverse health effects may include breast cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, low sperm count, hyperactivity and aggressiveness.

As the National Director of the Eco-Healthy Child Care® (EHCC) program and a parent of two young children, I take the time to ensure that my children are not exposed to unsafe plastics.

Follow these EHCC suggestions to protect the children you care for:

1.    Avoid plastics with recycling codes #3, #6, #7 (unless the #7 product is also labeled "BPA free”).
2.    Purchase baby bottles and sippy cups labeled "BPA free” or glass options (newer baby bottles are supposed to be BPA free under Federal law).
3.    Never heat or microwave food or drink in any plastic containers, as leaching of toxic chemicals from plastic to food or liquid may occur. Use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave.
4.    Only buy "new” plastic toys for infants and toddlers that are labeled "phthalate-free” or "PVC-free.”
5.    Discard all plastic food containers with scratches, especially baby bottles, sippy cups and infant feeding plates and cups.

To learn more about reducing your exposure to unsafe plastics, click here.

EHCC helps early childhood learning environments to be as healthy, safe and green as possible by reducing children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.

Tags:  child care settings  children's safety  plastic toys  plastics 

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Lets Take a Look at Standard A12

Posted By Admin, Friday, January 3, 2014
Written by Erin Schmidt and Ruth LaBrayere

As the director of a program, it is your responsibility to provide for the needs of the children in your care, their families and let’s not forget about your teaching staff. As a busy director, it can be difficult to find the time to address the needs of your staff, especially in the area of professional development. However, the professional development of your teachers is vital to your overall program quality and demands careful attention.


A12. A written annual plan for professional development is prepared for each employee. [D]

The plan includes:

  • Topics Identified in the employee’s evaluation as needing improvement [ss]
  • Topics identified in the employee’s evaluation as opportunities for growth (Ex. College coursework in ECE/CD, enrollment in CDA courses, attendance at national conferences, membership in a professional organization) [ss]
  • Date(s) courses completed and/or training/mentoring received for each identified topic [D]
It is essential to recognize the great impact quality professional development experiences can have on your program quality, staff retention and higher ratings of job satisfaction for both teachers and directors. Teachers can develop or enhance skills in classroom management, curriculum development, communication and any area that touches their important role as a caregiver of young children.  The skills and knowledge gained through quality training, ongoing education, attendance at a national conference or membership in a professional organization can result in improved classroom practices benefiting all. Greater understanding of the doctrines of our profession lead to practices that impact quality and ownership for the staff, the children and the families.  

As with the children in your program, each teacher must also be developed per his or her own individual needs. Teachers deserve time and attention for their own development, and the role of the director in creating a plan is crucial. In the role as advisor, teachers will often view you as being supportive, which will enhance the relationship with each staff member. Teachers will feel respected and valued when you take the time to consider and meet their individual needs. Since individualized professional development plans target areas for improvement, areas of continued study, and areas for growth, quality education and training frequently professional development opportunities result in an increased sense of self-worth, higher job performance, and greater program loyalty. Most importantly, through increased knowledge, there is the opportunity for significant gains in teacher-child interactions and teacher-child bonding.

Knowing the importance of quality training and professional development is only the first step. You may be asking yourself, where do I go from here? Below are a few questions to ask yourself when planning professional development experiences for your staff.


Things to consider when it comes to professional development:

  • Is this training from a quality source?
  • Have I investigated all training opportunities?
    • Local Resource and Referral training
    • State supported training
    • Online training supported by positive reviews
  • Does my state offer Scholarship opportunities such as TEACH?
  • If local trainings are not an option what online opportunities are available? How do you know they are achieving the content required ?
  • Are there ways to offer more high quality training for more of my staff?
    • Partner with other programs in the area to fund a specific speaker.
    • Meet with other directors to share solutions and reviews
    • Promote conference attendance.
  • Have I considered the many advantages of a variety of trainers?
    • A different approach to familiar material, possibly allowing for greater understanding of complicated information
    • The tendency of some staff to hear information better from someone outside the program
  • Have I adequately identified individual staff training needs through the observations I’ve conducted for each teacher?
  • How quality trainings affect your bottom line.
  • Does this training meet the training guidelines for accreditation?
Aside from trainings that you identify as necessary or suggest as an area for growth, it is crucial for staff to set and obtain professional development goals for themselves as well. You can provide them this opportunity by allowing them to set goals that they would like to achieve and have them choose the corresponding professional development experience that would meet those goals.   Do you want to further your formal education? What experiences have you had with formal education? What Scholarship opportunities are available?  What are your fears?


To help staff set goals consider having them answer following questions:

  • What pushes your buttons? (What frustrates you?)
  • What areas do you feel you struggle with?
  • When do you encounter the most stress?
  • What would you like to learn more about?
  • What is your favorite area of curriculum or development? Would you like to take training that focuses on that topic?
  • Do you want to further your formal education?
  • What experiences have you had with formal education?
  • What Scholarship opportunities are available?  
  • What are your fears?
In addition to participation in trainings, you may identify teachers who would be willing to present the information that they have learned. Provide opportunities for these individuals to present information learned from a training or conference to the whole staff. This is also a great step in their professional development growth. Initially, you may wish to review the information that will be presented to ensure accuracy, compliance with program philosophy and goals and National Accreditation Commission policies and practices.

Tags:  accreditation  accredition steps  director  leadership  National Accreditation Commission  professional development  program 

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