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Resources on Early Childhood Topics
Will your little one grow up to be the next Joan Rivers or Steve Martin? Maybe not. But even so, the ability to chuckle, giggle, and laugh helps to reduce stress, build connections and encourage creative thinking. Listen now to identify some milestones that indicate a healthy sense of humor is developing on track.
Encouraging Your Child's Sense of Humor (Kids Health from Nemours)
The Joke's In You (American Psychological Association)
Bullying can start in the early years—even before school. Young children might call names, act out physically, or intimate others. Listen to learn tips aimed at helping parents and caregivers prevent bullying early and to keep it from escalating.
Teaching Social Skills to Prevent Bullying in Young Children (StopBullying.Gov)
Understanding the Roles of Early Education and Child Care Providers in Community-Wide Bullying Prevention Efforts (StopBullying.Gov)
For more than two decades, experts have recognized the importance of early exposure to a language-rich environment. By age three, children from low-income families hear far fewer words than their more affluent peers—nearly 30 million fewer words. This disparity puts poorer children at a huge disadvantage when starting school. But now a Temple University study suggests that exposing low-income children to more language isn't enough to overcome this difference. The researchers report that the quality of communication among children, parents and other caregivers is of more importance that just the number of words.
Quality of Words, Not Quantity, is Crucial to Language Skills, Study Finds (The New York Times)
The Thirty Million Word Gap (Rice University)
Bridging the Vocabulary Gap (NAEYC)
What does it take for parents to build a secure attachment with their child? Find out this week as we welcome Dr. Marti Erickson as guest host of The First Five Years.
Retired from the University of Minnesota and now co-host of the weekly parenting show Mom Enough, Dr. Erickson specializes in linking research, practice and policy in the areas of parent-child attachment, child abuse prevention and children's mental health.
Good Enough Moms & Dads: Separating Fact from Fiction about Parent-Child Attachment
If you could change the lives of millions of children and families for the better, in a matter of just minutes, would you do it?
League of Women Voters of Maryland
New research from Northwestern University will be music to your ears. They found that after two years of musical training, the brain function of at-risk youth improved significantly. What's more, this research could hold the key to reducing the achievement gap. Listen now to learn more.
Community Music Programs Enhance Brain Function in At-Risk Children (Northwestern University)
Music Resources (NAEYC)
This is Your Brain on Music (NPR)
Just under half of the children in the United States have lived through at least one traumatic experience. These experiences have lasting effects on health, social and economic outcomes in adulthood. But there is hope. Listen to find out how you can help.
Survey Results (Child Health Data)
Injury Prevention and Control: Division of Violence Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Nightmares can be triggered by a number of things. It's important to take the time to listen and comfort your child as she experiences this important but sometimes scary milestone.
Children and Bedtime Fears and Nightmares (National Sleep Foundation)
Sleep Nightmares (Zero to Three)
Anxiety is a normal part of life, even for young children. It's especially common when children are separated from parents for the first time. But for some children the symptoms continue and may get worse. Find out what you need to look for to make sure your child's anxiety isn't interfering with her development and happiness.
The Anxious Child – Facts for Families (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Separation Anxiety (The Mayo Clinic)
Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders in Children: Information for Parents (National Association of School Psychologists)
It won't be long until your preschooler is ready to start kindergarten. This can be challenging for both children and parents. Start planning now to help make the transition a smooth one.
Transitioning to Kindergarten (NAEYC)
Terrific Transitions: Supporting Children's Transition to Kindergarten (SERVE Regional Educational Laboratory & the National Head Start Association)
12 Ways to Help a Child Make the Transition to Kindergarten (Harvard Medical School)
Parents want to help children grow up to feel confident and secure. But the markers of social competency in young children can be hard to spot. But there are signs to look for. Listen now to find out more.
What is the best way to assess young children's social competence? (Illinois Early Learning Project)
Development of Social-Emotional Skills (Zero to Three)
Helping Young Children Succeed: Strategies to Promote Early Childhood Social and Emotional Development (Zero to Three)
Ever wish you could take a break from the routine? Well, for very young children routines build a sense of security and self-confidence. They may also help children do better in school and be more successful adults.
Kids with Family Routines are Emotionally and Socially More Advanced (Huffington Post)
Family Routines and Social-Emotional School Readiness Among Preschool-Age Children (Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics)
Love, Learning, and Routines (Zero to Three)
Do you want to know how your child care provider stacks up against others? The Maryland State Department of Education's Maryland EXCELS program can tell you just that. When a child care provider or public pre-K classroom enrolls in the EXCELS program, quality assurance specialists from MSDE verify that all the standards have been met. That means, in general, the more standards that are met, the better the care and education for our children.
Reliable child care is just a phone call away. Take the time to make the right choice—the first five years last forever. Early childhood development occurs rapidly, so choosing a reliable care provider is critically important. LOCATE: Child Care, a FREE phone referral service, can help you make the right choice.
Call one of our specialists who will take the time you need to:
• discuss care preferences—program type, location, costs, more
• search our database of child care programs in Maryland
• provide options available in your neighborhood or near your workplace
Call us right now at 877.261.0061 or click here for more information.
Choosing Child Care (Maryland Family Network—LOCATE: Child Care)
Choosing Child Care for Children with Special Needs (Maryland Family Network—LOCATE: Child Care)
Got a picky eater at home? Relax. It's not uncommon for young children to turn down a new food up to 15 times before they even try it. Zero to Three has some ideas that may help around your dinner table.
Healthy Eating Strategies for Young Children (Zero to Three)
10 Tips for Picky Eaters (Mayo Clinic)
Feeding the Picky Eater: 17 Tips (Ask Dr. Sears)
Young children are naturally active. So if we give them plenty of room and opportunity to move, they'll literally jump at the chance. Children who exercise are healthier physically and emotionally. Here are some ways to get kids moving.
Kids and Exercise (KidsHealth.org—Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media)
Recommendations for Physical Activity in Children (American Heart Association)
Seven Games to Get Kids Moving (Grandparents.com)
Young children have needs that we often take for granted when the sky is blue. But are you prepared for how to help them when disaster strikes? We have information about how your family can be prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends our way. A little planning now can save lives when disaster strikes.
Disaster Preparedness Tips (Save the Children)
Family Supply List (Ready.gov)
When you find a child care provider who's just right, you know your little one is in a safe nurturing environment. But there is more to it than dropping off in the morning and picking up after work. For the wellbeing of the child, both parents and caregivers owe it to each other to communicate.
Parent-Caregiver Communication: Making it Work for Your Child (Child Care Aware)
Importance of Caregiver-Parent Communication (GlobalPost)
Effective Communication With Parents (Zero to Three)
Math helps children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The developing brain is not only ready to learn and use language, it is also capable of learning and using math and scientific thinking. It is important to practice and develop these skills early.
Developing Early Math Skills (Zero to Three)
What Explains Toddlers' Linguistic Leap? Math. (Scientific American)
From the day they're born, children communicate in many ways. The national nonprofit Zero to Three has some tips to help parents encourage language development in babies.
Supporting Your Child's Early Communication Skills (Zero to Three)
Language Development: Speech Milestones for Babies (Mayo Clinic)
Talking to Families of Infants and Toddlers about Developmental Delays (NAEYC)
Learning doesn't stop in the summertime. Whether you go down to the ocean or stay at home, chances to learn are everywhere.
Know the Facts (National Summer Learning Association)
Summer Learning Day Resources for Parents (National Summer Learning Association)
Field Trips for Summer Fun (Child Care Aware)
Summer Ideas for Pre-K (Pinterist)
Stay Safe Around the Water (American Red Cross)
Maryland Family Network's Family Support Centers provide free services to families. The goal is to help adults develop the skills they need to raise successful children. Fathers are a huge part of making this success a reality. Let's give men the resources, tools and time that they need to be great dads.
The Proof Is In: Father Absence Harms Child Well-Being (Huffington Post)
The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children (Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
When a loved one dies, parents may wonder how or even if to talk about the loss with children. The American Academy of Pediatrics tells us that even children who are too young to understand death should know why the people around them are sad.
Death and Dying (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Talking to Children About Death (NIH Clinical Center)
Children's Books About Death (NAEYC)
Since the dawn of time, there have been storytellers. But we are just starting to understand how important this tradition is. New research published in The Atlantic suggests that young children who hear lots of detailed family stories grow into well-adjusted adolescents.
What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories (The Atlantic)
The Stories That Bind Us (The New York Times)
There's nothing cuter than young children and animals together. When children help care for a pet it teaches responsibility and boosts self-esteem. If you have kids at home under six, listen to this before adopting a cuddly companion.
Selecting the Right Pet For Your Family (The Humane Society)
Pets and Children (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)
Finding child care is often difficult. With frequent relocations, deployments, and distance from extended family, it can be especially hard for military families. That's where Maryland Family Network comes in. LOCATE: Child Care has helped many military personnel find options that are right for them. A LOCATE Referral Specialist offers information about how to identify quality care and will personally contact child care providers to find openings. This lets service members focus on jobs and families.
LOCATE: Child Care (Maryland Family Network)
Assistance for Military Families (Child Care Aware of America)
Resources for Active-Duty Service Members, Veterans, and Military Families (Senator Barbara Mikulski)
Learning how to make decisions as children prepares them to make sound choices as adults. Honoring a preschooler's choice also tells him that you respect him and his abilities. Here are some ways to guide children through this process.
Raising Good Decision Makers (Huffington Post)
Fun Activities to Teach Children About Decision Making (Global Post)
Deal or No Deal: Five Year Olds Make Smart Decisions In Games Of Risk (Science Daily)
Siblings play a very powerful role in our lives. Starting as young children, brothers and sisters shape the way we feel about ourselves, our families and society. But let's face it, siblings don't always get along. There're some things parents can do to help keep the peace at home.
20 Tips to Stop Quibbling Siblings (Ask Dr. Sears)
What Is Sibling Rivalry? (University of Michigan)
When Sibling Fights Go Beyond Harmless Kid Stuff (NPR)
Did you know that some child care professionals earn less than a fast food server? But a child's care and education are not drive-through services. Let's work together to explore ways to raise the salaries of child care professionals in Maryland without raising child care costs or blocking access for working families.
2014 Trends in Child Care (Maryland Family Network)
Bureau of Labor Statistics
It starts with proud parents Tweeting pictures from the delivery room to a seemingly endless supply of smart phone apps that claim to be educational. In the first few years of life, children are around computer screens all the time. It's hard for parents to know how much exposure, if any, is okay for developing brains. Listen now for some tips that will help.
Media and Children (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Should This iPad Rattle Really Be a Baby Toy? (Fast Company)
For The Children's Sake, Put Down That Smartphone (NPR Morning Edition)
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.
Engaging Children in STEM Education EARLY! (Natural Start Alliance)
STEM in the Early Years (Dr. Lilian G. Katz)
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.
Center for Early Education and Development
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.
Carnival of Natural Parenting
"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)
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.
Services for Child Care Providers
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.
Read Across America (National Education Association)
Read Across Maryland
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.
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.
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)
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) ________________________________________________________________________________
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) ________________________________________________________________________________
Experts agree: Children’s work is play. Through play, children acquire cognitive, social, and physical skills.
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.
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).
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 Parents: This 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)________________________________________________________________________________
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)
Essentials for Your Child Care Visit (Child Care Aware) ________________________________________________________________________________
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
Classroom Toys Replaced with Cardboard Boxes (Parenting)
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.”
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)