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Maryland Family Network
The First 5 Years

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Resources on Early Childhood Topics


STEM

STEM Audio Button

Developing STEM skills--science, technology, engineering and math--help children do well in all areas of study. Especially when we start early. Teaching STEM skills can be easy, fun, and inexpensive.

How a Construction Learning Center Enhances STEM Learning (NAEYC)

Going from STEM to STEAM: Creativity and self-expression give life to science, technology, engineering and math

Engaging Children in STEM Education EARLY! Natural Start Alliance

STEM in the Early Years Dr. Lilian G. Katz
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ECMH

Early Childhood Mental Health Audio Button

If left untreated, a mental health problem can delay a child's normal development and lead to more severe problems later on. It's good to know there are others that parents can turn to and trust. Maryland Family Network mental health specialists work directly with child care providers, children, and parents to identify and solve problems. Together you can decide if it's just growing pains or something more.

How Childcare Providers Can Help

Maryland's Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Project

Center for Early Education and Development
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Grandparenting

How to Be a Audio Button
Successful Grandparent

Being a grandparent – like being a parent – isn't easy, especially in this digital age where things change so quickly. This week we present 10 tips on how to be a successful grandparent.

Generations United

AARP Grandparent Resources

Carnival of Natural Parenting
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Building Blocks

Building Blocks Audio Button

"The building blocks of our children's success" is often used to refer to the latest trends for children. But it turns out that one of the most significant building blocks a child encounters is exactly that—blocks.

How Do Unit Blocks Help Children Learn The Economist

Blocks in the Classroom (NAEYC)

14 Ways to Attract Girls to the Block Corner: (Let the Children Play)
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Choosing Child Care


Choosing Child Care
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Choosing child care is stressful for any parent. For parents who have children with special needs, the anxieties can be compounded. LOCATE: Child Care, a program of Maryland Family Network, is designed to help all parents in Maryland find child care.

LOCATE: Child Care

LOCATE: Child Care for Children with Special Needs

Servicio Especial en Español

Services for Child Care Providers
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Reading Aloud


Reading Aloud
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March is Read Aloud Month. To celebrate we've compiled some basic guidelines for making read-aloud time stimulating and fun for everyone. Soon you'll open a chapter that ends in a lifelong love of reading for the child in your life.

The 10 Read Aloud Commandments by Mem Fox

Read Across America (National Education Association)

Read Across Maryland
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Baby with Play Gym

Early Childhood 101 Audio Button

The recent convergence of two fields of research -- neurological studies of early brain development and longitudinal studies of the long-term impact of early childhood experiences – confirm the importance of the years from birth to age five.

Baby Girl with Toy in HandBRAIN DEVELOPMENT Audio Button Spaceholder


From birth to age five, children experience a surge in brain growth and cognitive ability that sets the framework for all future development.

The Timing and Quality of Early Experiences Combine to Shape Brain Architecture (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University) 

Experiences Build Brain Architecture (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University) 

In Brief: The Science of Early Childhood Development (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University)

Core Concepts in the Science of Early Childhood Development (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University) 

For more information, visit ZERO TO THREE, National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families.

LANDMARK STUDIES

Three landmark studies followed groups of disadvantaged children and measured the impact of high quality early childhood education:

High/Scope (the Perry Preschool Project)   (HighScope Educational Research Foundation)

Carolina Abecedarian Project  (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, UNC Chapel Hill)

The Chicago Child-Parent Centers  (Promising Practices Network)

Homeless girl sitting against a wallPOVERTY AND OTHER RISK FACTORS Audio Button


A variety of risk factors (physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship) can impinge on healthy development in the early years.

Poverty as a Childhood Disease (New York Times)

Toxic Stress: The Facts How toxic stress affects brain development in young children. (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University)

From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (National Research Council and Institute of Medicine)

Poverty Fact Sheet from Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

Research findings on effects of poverty at the Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

Metro Trends blog and The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development: A Research Synthesis from Urban Institute

Addressing Poverty in Schools by Joe Nocera, New York Times (includes the 9/11 trauma study mentioned above)

'Crack baby' study ends with unexpected but clear result by Susan FitzGerald for The Inquirer (Philadelphia) ________________________________________________________________________________

Dad Talking to Infant in High Chair
Language Acquisition
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Young children learn language by hearing words, especially conversation directed at them.

The 30 Million Word Gap (United Way of Racine)

Bridging the Vocabulary Gap: What the Research Tells Us about Vocabulary Instruction in Early Childhood  (National Association for the Education of Young Children)

 The Power of Talking to Your Baby  (New York Times)

  Studies Show Talking With Infants Shapes Basis of Ability to Think  (New York Times)

 Narrating Your Child’s Day (video from Maryland Family Network) ________________________________________________________________________________

Boy Pulling Girl in Wagon

The Importance of Play Audio Button

Experts agree:  Children’s work is play. Through play, children acquire cognitive, social, and physical skills.

Why Preschool Shouldn't Be Like School (Slate)

The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Play is more than fun. (TedTalks)

Effort to Restore Children’s Play Gains Momentum (New York Times)

Playing for All Kinds of Possibilities (New York Times)

Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills (National Public Radio)

For more information, go to the Alliance for Childhood.
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Pre-school Science Class


The Promise of Pre-K
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Preschool plays an important role in preparing children to succeed in kindergarten.  Publicly funded pre-K helps ensure that children of all income levels have access to preschool.

Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future  (The Pew Center on the States)

The Case for Pre-K in Education Reform  (The Pew Center on the States)

Investments in Education May Be Misdirected  (New York Times)

The Effects of Oklahoma's Early Childhood Four-Year-Old Program on Young Children's School Readiness  (National Institute for Early Education Research)

For more information, go to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
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Two Boys Painting in PreK

School Readiness Audio Button

Research has determined that the foundation for educational achievement is well-established before children enter school.  Educators have identified a wide range of skills and competencies that help children succeed in school by allowing them to express themselves verbally, manage their emotions, use small and large motor skills, explore and solve problems. 

Tips for ParentsThis booklet explains school readiness, the seven domains of learning, and everyday activities parents can do to promote early learning and school readiness. (Maryland Family Network)

Maryland Model for School Readiness:  The Division of Early Childhood Development in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) provides information on school readiness.  Parents may want to scroll down to “What is MMSR” for an overview.  (MSDE)

School Readiness Assessment is conducted by kindergarten teachers for every child.  Aggregated assessment data is available for Maryland and for each jurisdiction. (MSDE)

The School Ready Infographic provides a visual overview of development from infancy to age 5. (ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families)________________________________________________________________________________

Provider with Kids Playing on Slide


What Does Quality Child Care Audio Button
Look Like?

Quality child care can be found in many settings – family child care, center-based care, Head Start or preschool.  Indicators of quality include warm relationships, safe and stimulating environment, and developmentally appropriate planned activities for play-based learning. 

Choosing Child Care: How to Find the Right Care for Your Child  (Maryland Family Network)

Is This the Right Place for My Child?  38 Research-based Indicators of Quality Child Care  (Child Care Aware)

Essentials for Your Child Care Visit  (Child Care Aware) ________________________________________________________________________________

Mom Reading with her Toddler

Family Support Audio Button

Family Support helps families identify strengths, set goals, and work toward them.  Family Support Centers work with disadvantaged parents and young children, providing children with stimulating, nurturing child care while their parents take classes ranging from GED preparation to parenting techniques to life and job skills.

For information on Family Support in Maryland, go to marylandfamilynetwork.org and scroll down to click on “Family Support Centers.”  There, on the tabs across the top of the page, you'll find short videos about a a young father's experience in Family Support, comments from experts, and stories from parents who have participated in Family Support Centers in Maryland.

For additional short videos from Maryland Family Network, see:

A Win-Win for Struggling Parents, about adult education and GED preparation at a Family Support Center;

What Adults Learn from Play, about coaching parents as they engage in child-directed play;

A New Delivery Model for Family Support, about a Community Hub; and

In the Door and On the Floor, where you can watch a home visit in action.

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The Five Protective Factors



Protective FactorsAudio Button


Strengthening Families is an approach to promoting healthy family functioning. Taken together, protective and promotive factors increase the probability of positive, adaptive and healthy outcomes, even in the face of risk and adversity.

The Protective Factors Framework (Center for the Study of Social Policy) provides an overview of the five Protective Factors listed above.

Protective and Promotive Factors provides an explanation of the factors that mitigate or eliminate the risk of negative outcomes, as well as factors that actively enhance well-being. (Center for the Study of Social Policy)

Core Meanings of the Protective Factors provides examples that explain the Protective Factors.  (Center for the Study of Social Policy)

The Five Things All Families Need (4 minute video) describes the five Protective Factors that are the core of the Strengthening Families approach.  It includes video of participants in a Parent Café, the primary method of spreading information about the Protective Factors.  (Maryland Family Network)

For more information, visit the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
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Little Girls Learn to Share


The Social and Emotional Audio ButtonFoundations of Early Learning

Every child needs one person who is crazy about him, said renowned psychologist Uri Bronfenbrenner. This affirming human connection is the prerequisite for healthy social and emotional development, which is a necessary foundation for all learning.

Resources for Parents:  A series of short publications (3 to 6 pages) on topics such as teaching your child to identify and express emotions, reading your child’s cues, and helping your child build persistence, confidence, and relationship skills.

Backpack Connection A series of one-page guides on topics such as teaching children new skills and expectations; stopping whining; using positive language to improve behavior; helping your child understand sadness, anger, frustration, jealousy, or disappointment.

The primary online source for early childhood professionals concerned with the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (SEFEL) is maintained by Vanderbilt University.

The online SEFEL source for early childhood professionals in Maryland is maintained by the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

“Tucker the Turtle” video (2 minutes) shows an anger management technique in practice at a child care center.
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The Conundrum of Audio Button
Child Care Economics

When it comes to the economics of child care, both sides are hurting.  For parents, the cost of child care is a huge financial burden.  For child care providers, the financial compensation is grossly inadequate. 

Maryland Family Network collects and analyses extensive data about the demand, supply, and cost of child care in Maryland.

Child Care Demographics 2013 includes data on population, income, workforce participation, and child care in Maryland.

Child Care Demographics 2013: The Maryland Report (pdf) provides aggregate data for the state.

Child Care Demographics 2013: Jurisdictional Reports (24 separate pdfs) provide county-level data for Baltimore City and the 23 counties in Maryland.

Trends in Child Care 2013 (pdf) provides a state-level summary of demand, supply, and cost of child care in Maryland from 2008 and projecting to 2017.

For international comparisons of government subsidy for early care and education, see

The United States is Trailing Other Countries on Early Education Investment and Enrollment (including colorful infographic) from Center for American Progress,

Education at a Glance 2012 provides international comparisons on access to preschool on page 74 - 75.

Innocenti Report Care 11 from UNICEF’s Office of Research ranks the U.S. as 26th out of 28 developed nations in the provision of preschool to 4-year olds.  In addition, the Report Card offers many other indicators of child well-being.
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Little Girl with Scary Shadow of a Man


Childhood Trauma
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You often hear it said that “Children are resilient” – but perhaps not as resilient as we’d like to believe.  There is staggering evidence that trauma in childhood has lasting effects and directly contributes to health, social, and economic outcomes in adulthood.

The most prominent research related to the lasting effects of childhood trauma is called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study.

Infographic on adverse childhood experiences provides visual presentation about prevalence and outcomes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an overview of the ACE study and information about public health leadership to prevent child maltreatment.

The ACE Score Calculator lets individuals determine their exposure to adverse childhood experiences.
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Little Girl with Scary Shadow of a Man


Approaches to Learning
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From birth, children are intensely engaged in learning how to learn. They are propelled by motivation, attitudes, and habits that experts call "approaches to learning."

Child Development Tracker from PBS Parents provides age-specific suggestions for nurturing your child’s curiosity, persistence, problem solving, and imagination.  Select your child’s age and then click on “Approaches to Learning.”

Although intended for its teachers, Head Start’s “Approaches to Learning” offers clear explanation about why each approach to learning is important and suggests ways to nurture their development.

It’s interesting to note that “approaches to learning” captures the essence of the “plan, do, review” process that is the core of the teaching method developed by High Scope at the reknown Perry Preschool Project.

Watch MFN’s video on persistence and problem solving, two traits that support early learning.
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Boy Reads with Home Visitor


Home Visiting
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Home visiting, which reaches families with young children in extreme need, has been linked to positive outcomes, including reductions in infant deaths and childhood injuries; as well as increases in school readiness.

Home Visiting Campaign (Pew Charitable Trusts) – overview, research, video of a home visit.

In the Door and On the Floor: Watch a Home Visit in Action (video from Maryland Family Network)
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Girl Playing Inside Box


Boxes and Imaginative Play
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Playing in and with boxes is great fun for kids, and it's also a learning opportunity. It's empowering because the child gets to decide what the box is going to be, exercising her ingenuity, problem-solving skills, and spatial ability.

What Cardboard Boxes Can Teach Kids (Moving Smart)

Funny Cuz It's True: Kids Prefer Cardboard Boxes to Flashy Toys (Or, How We Free Play (Parenting)

Classroom Toys Replaced with Cardboard Boxes (Parenting)
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Toddler on Ladder as Dad Watches


Parenting for Authentic Success
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Children learn through experience – both success and failure.  So, children learn from their victories, and also through scraped knees, and collapsed castles.  When children learn from these incidents, we call them “successful failures.”

Madeline Levine: Parenting for Authentic Success (KQED)

How to Raise a Child: “Teach Your Child Well” by Madeline Levine (New York Times)

Healthy Beginnings:  Supporting Development and Learning from Birth through Three Years of Age  (Maryland State Department of Education)
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