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In This Issue

Autumn Leaves are Falling Down!



Recognize the start of that song? There are many popular preschool songs that can be modified to include autumn leaves. The title song was actually from London Bridge. What about the Leaves on the Trees (Wheels on the Bus) or Two Little Autumn Leaves (Two Little Blackbirds finger play)? Modify songs to teach new vocabulary or ideas.



Autumn leaves also lend themselves to wonderful exploration.


1. Children can explore leaves in a science table, during a walk, or during a small group activity. Ask children to notice the differences and similarities in color, shape, size, feel, design (maple vs. oak), or smell. Ask the children to sort them by specific characteristics. Make a chart of graph about the way in which you sorted them. (by color or size or shape).

Discoveries: Sensory Awareness, Spatial Awareness, Memory (Infant-Toddler); Science: Sensory Awareness, Scientific Exploration, Scientific Inquiry, Scientific Knowledge of Living Things; Mathematics: Patterns, Geometry and Spatial Sense, Measurement (Preschool)
2. Take a walk outside to collect leaves. Give the children a list to follow. Collect 3 red leaves, 2 big leaves, etc. Ask the children to find the tree from where the leaves fell or to predict which leaf belongs to which tree.

Physical Development and Health: Gross Motor; Discoveries: Attention and Persistence (Infant-Toddler); Social Studies: Places and Spaces, Geography; Physical Development and Health: Gross Motor(Preschool)


3..Trace the outlines of different leaves on a piece of cardboard and ask children to match the leaves they've collected to the outlines. Print the names of the leaf types underneath. Show children how to research the tree type on the computer or in a reference book.
Language and Literacy: Emergent Literacy and Writing; Discoveries: Curiosity and Problem Solving (Infant-Toddler) Expressive Communication, Emergent Reading, Emergent Writing; Approaches to Learning: Reasoning and Problem Solving (Preschool)

4. Leaf rubbings are a fun activity. Lay a thin piece of paper over a leaf with its bottom side facing up. Using the flat side of a crayon, gently rub the crayon over the le af. Watch the leaf shape appear.  


Discoveries: Cause and Effect, Curiosity and Problem Solving (Infant-Toddler); Creative Expression: Visual Arts; Physical Development and Health: Fine Motor(Preschool)


Here are a few books to read about autumn leaves: Let It Fall by Maryann Cocca-Leffler; Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, Lois Ehlert; Why Do Leaves Change Color? Betsy Maestro



New Early Childhood Experiences for Delaware's High School Students Result in College Credit!

Now Delaware high school students can get a jump-start on a career in early childhood education! Polytech High School's early childhood students are dual-enrolled this fall, taking introductory Del Tech courses for credit right in their high school classroom! 18 students are enrolled in the ECE 111: Childhood Health, Safety, and Nutrition course in an online format and 17 students are taking ECE 120: Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. Upon successful completion, students will have 6 college credits. Initially, the tuition and other fees for the courses are being paid for by the Early Childhood Challenge Grant while Delaware's schools explore funding options for the future.



 Delaware Early Learner Survey Update


 As a result of the enthusiastic response to Office of Early Learning-sponsored training sessions, this September, over 400 educators in 330 Delaware kindergarten classrooms will be evaulating new students using the Delaware Early Learner Survey. The Delaware Early Learner Survey (DE-ELS) is an observational assessment conducted during the first 30 days of Kindergarten that measures six domains of learning: Social-Emotional, Cognitive, Physical, Language, Literacy, and Mathematics. 


Delaware Office of Early Learning Offers Family Fun Packs to Promote Website and Social Media Resources for Families


Great Start Delaware Logo
"Making it fun for families to sample our website and social media tools is one way to steer them to these resources." -Harriet Dichter
Most educators will tell you learning should be fun. Now,Delaware families with infants, toddlers and preschool age children have a fun reason to check out education resources available to them.

The Delaware Office of Early Learning has launched an online promotion designed to direct people to its family-focused website, Facebook, and Twitter pages. The website,, contains a comprehensive collection of resources for families with young children, and the social media sites are full of additional tips related to early learning in the First State.

Another goal of the promotion is to encourage families to use Delaware Stars as their guide for quality early childhood programs. 


Participants who like  Greatstartsdelaware on Facebook, or follow   

Greatstartsde on Twitter, are asked to go to the website and click "Enter to Win" in order to register for the promotion. By providing basic information (name and email), families are entered into a weekly random drawing to win family fun packs for family activities, such as gift cards to movie theaters, bowling, activity centers, museums, etc. Each week beginning in September and through the end of October, multiple winners will be selected including winners from each county each week. Winners' names will be listed on MORE...  



Enriching Delaware's Early Childhood Higher Education Curriculum Through Instructor Knowledge Survey


Over 100 early childhood instructors from Delaware's higher education and adult education institutions have been asked to complete an knowledge survey this month. This survey seeks to understand the instructors' areas of expertise and to identify gaps where additional resources could be developed in support. The survey will also identify ways in which pre-service candidates are learning about Delaware-specific initiatives such as Delaware Stars or usage of the Delaware Early Learning Foundations within course content. Results of the survey will be compiled and shared with each higher education institution.



Reports to enhance Delaware Early Childhood Education System Presented  


Anne Mitchell
In September two reports designed to inform the further enhancement of the Delaware early childhood system development were completed. 

One report, "Modeling Quality Costs for Delaware Stars: Report on the Program Cost of Quality," was completed by Anne Mitchell, president of Early Childhood Policy Research and co-founder of the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance.  The report includes cost modeling for moving up in quality rating in Delaware Stars and maintaining a quality rating, along with recommendations to strengthen Stars.
Kim Means


A report titled, "Delaware Stars: Views from Participants," authored

by Kim Means. M. Ed, Child Care State Systems Specialist Network, Office of Child Care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Kathy Thornburg, Ph.D, Early Learning Center technical assistance team member, contains the findings and recommendations from a series of focus groups and interviews conducted across the state covering all key  

Delaware Stars participants including program staff, early childhood program
providers, technical assistants and  
Kathy Thornburg 
assessors and other key stakeholders.  


Authors of both reports provided presentations of findings to stakeholder groups here in Delaware in September.  




Help Me Grow Info Accessible to Families Through DEThrives Website


211 Help Me Grow Help Me Grow helps families do all that they can to promote healthy child development in these early years and now information about Help Me Grow can be found on the DEThrives website.  DEThrives is a collaborative effort led by the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium and partners throughout the state and is based on the idea that when our babies and children thrive, the whole community is better off.  


DEThrives also offers promotional materials for families, like bibs, onesies, growth charts and other useful items to promote healthy childrearing.




Help Me Grow 2-1-1 Requests Spark Diaper Drive for Families 



Recently, the Delaware 2-1-1 team noticed an increase in calls to its Help Me Grow specialists from parents in need of diapers for their children.  In response to the need, a statewide Diaper Drive will occur during the month of October to replenish the supply of diapers to agencies across the state which provide diapers to families in need. 

Michelle A. Taylor, President & Chief Executive Office of United Way of Delaware said, "We see this as an opportunity to help parents in our community meet a very basic need so they can care for their children.  We welcome the opportunity to serve as a bridge builder to ensure our children grow up in a healthy environment."


You are invited to contribute to this diaper drive! By working together, we can provide our youngest children with a very basic need.  You can get involved by setting up a diaper bin to collect diapers in your community or by donating for those in need.  


For more information contact Tywanda Howie at or by phone at (302) 573-3715.



Early Learning Featured in the Delaware Educator 

The Delaware Department of Education included, as its headline article in its Summer 2013 Delaware Educator publication, an article titled, "Never Too Early to Learn- State Increases Focus on Early Childhood System." To read this article and see what other interesting articles appear in the Delaware Educator,CLICK HERE  


New Marketing and Community Engagement Resources for Delaware Stars Programs 

This month Delaware Stars Programs received two new marketing supports. The Delaware Stars Program Promotion Guide offers specific, step-by-step marketing guidance to Stars programs in promoting their program to the community and specifically to families seeking quality early learning programs.  The Delaware Stars Promotion Guide is available to Delaware Stars Programs for review and download  by clicking the ABOUT US tab on the Great Starts Delaware website, soon thereafter on the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children (DAEYC) website and, after 9-23-13, on the Delaware Stars Website: 



The Delaware Stars Community Engagement Calendar
is a perpetual calendar of activities is designed to help Delaware Stars programs engage their families and community and promote advocacy for quality early learning in Delaware.  The Delaware Stars Community Engagement Calendar is available to Delaware Stars Programs for review and download by clicking the ABOUT US tab on the Great Starts Delaware website on the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children (DAEYC) website and, effective 9-23-13, at Delaware Stars Website:



In addition, the About Us page has a link to a Delaware Stars Roster of Promotional Materials and Order Form Developed for Delaware Stars programs by a marketing expert for the Office of Early Learning and the Delaware Stars program promotion guide, engagement calendar and promotional products, such as brochures, posters, and decals are available to Delaware Stars programs without cost.


 Uninsured Delawareans Can Shop and Enroll on State's Health Insurance Marketplace Beginning Oct. 1

Delaware's Health Insurance Marketplace, which will provide uninsured Delawareans greater access to affordable health care, opens for enrollment Oct. 1. That's good news for many Delaware families with young children.


As part of the Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010, each state must establish a marketplace for individuals who don't have access to affordable health insurance through work or some other means. If you do not get insurance in 2014, you may have to pay a fee.


Information is available at, the state's official marketplace website, which is also available in Spanish. The federal government's 24/7 Call Center - (800) 318-2596, or (855) 889-4325 for the hearing impaired - can answer questions in 150 languages.




Rising Stars
 Shining Bright

We congratulate the Delaware Stars programs that have attained new status as a Star 3, 4 or 5 program during the summer months.  As Delaware families look to the Stars when searching for early childhood programs for their children, they find quality early learning programs such as the Stars programs that have moved up in quality rating!   


 See who is moving up!

Delaware Stars Technical Assistants Support Delaware Stars Programs

Delaware Stars Technical Assistants (TAs) provide individualized and on-site assistance to all 400 Delaware Stars programs state-wide, including center-based programs, large family care programs and home-based family child care programs. TAs work directly with these programs to develop quality improvement plans, model best practices and provide coaching to program staff, share information about resources and connect programs doing similar work. The goal is ongoing quality improvement across the network of Delaware Stars programs. This photo, taken at the September TA team meeting includes TAs from the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood, Children and Families First and Easter Seals Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Kind Words from the Early Learning Community about CORE 
"I wanted to take this opportunity to briefly mention how wonderful the CORE Awards (Compensation, Retention and Education) are.  I am excited to report that I have an employee that has been motivated by the CORE Awards to take her TECE 1 and 2 classes in order to obtain her Lead Teacher certification and move up to a Step 4.  She has contemplated doing this during the three years that she has been working in my center, and I am thrilled that these awards are available to motivate individuals to accomplish great things!  These CORE Awards have also prompted many conversations with my staff regarding achieving higher education.  This led into discussions on the T.E.A.C.H. Program as well.  Staff are excited that they are being recognized in the early childhood field, and I do believe that this is a great step in the right direction for our field.  Thank you!"
Danielle Harrison  
Owner and Administrator,
 Beginnings and Beyond/Dover 

I would like to share with you the benefit the CORE awards has brought to the staff and our four centers. Both recipient and non-recipient morale has escalated tremendously. It has also inspired most of the staff to return to school to further their education. Our staff has also taken an increased interest in ensuring they are directly involved in the center's progress as we progress to our next staff level.


We look forward to the continuance of the CORE awards as it benefits not only our staff, but the quality of care that children and families deserve.


Deborah Toner


Beach Babies Child Care/Lewes


Madeline Bayard, Vice President for Policy & Practice, Rodel Foundation of Delaware



Madeleine Bayard, Vice President of Policy and Programs at the  Rodel Foundation, and Heather Wentz,  Teach For America Delaware Corps Member 2012-2014, review education data in the Rodel Foundation's  Delaware Public Education at a Glance.


In order to implement statewide early learning plans including
Vision 2015 and Early Success, Madeleine Bayard and the team at the Rodel Foundation have played a supporting role in collaboration with many other advocates to turn these visions into action.


Bayard is the vice president for policy and practice at the Rodel Foundation. She and her team have used policy, seed funding and partnerships to grow and improve early learning and K-12 education in Delaware.


In 2006, hundreds of stakeholders across Delaware developed a series of actions and programs after analyzing what the state of Delaware needed to focus on the most in terms of improving the education system. These action items turned into what we know as Vision 2015, and one of the six pillars of Vision 2015 was early childhood education.



Article contributed by 
Heather Wentz, Teach for America/Delaware



Using an Anti-Bias Lens to Examine Early Childhood Children's Books in Your Program


Webinar on Nov. 6, 2013 2:00 -3:30 PM (Eastern) offered by Early Childhood Investigations


Literature is a powerful vehicle for helping children understand their homes, communities and the world. Unfortunately, the impressions imparted by some books are not always positive and free from bias. Participate in this webinar to learn what children's first teachers can do to take full advantage of their early windows of opportunity to prevent the development of prejudice. Linda A. Santora, from the Anti-Defamation League, and Cheryl Kilodavis, author of My Princess Boy, will offer their insights about how to ensure the books you select prepare children' to succeed in our diverse world.


Better for Babies: Infants and Toddlers Need Nurturing, Responsive Providers They Can Trust to Care for Them as They Grow and Learn


Recently, CLASP released a report, Better for Babies: A Study of State Infant and Toddler Child Care Policies, that presents data from a recent state survey of child care subsidy, licensing, and quality enhancement policies. It provides a national picture of infant-toddler child care.

The new report is part of CLASP's Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care Project. The foundation of Charting Progress is a Policy Framework comprised off our key principles describing what babies and toddlers in child care need. One of the key principles is having nurturing, responsive relationships with caring adults. Caring relationships are at the core of quality infant-toddler care. In order for infants and toddlers to benefit from such relationships, providers and caregivers need a set of skills and knowledge that enables them to best support young children.



Upcoming Webinar: Focus on Formative Assessment


Wednesday, October 2, 3:00-4:30 EASTERN


Jointly sponsored by CEELO and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, this web-conference will engage state early childhood specialists, early childhood leaders, and national experts in a dialogue about how to best support formative assessment processes. The information is critical as states prepare for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), implement its components, and engage in activities to improve the quality of teaching and learning through supporting formative assessment processes. The October 2 Formative Assessment Webinar will kick-off an ongoing peer-learning community supported by CEELO and ECTA. For more information and to register,






Many states are engaging in general activities of revising early learning guidelines, implementing quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS), increasing access to coaching and mentoring for early childhood educators, and strengthening health and developmental screening practices - all of which can help support infants and toddlers.

ZERO TO THREE's (ZTT's) brief, The Early Learning Challenge Grant is Helping States Better Serve Infants and Toddlers, offers an overview of state RTT-ELC grant winners' activities that will benefit infants and toddlers.

Delaware was recognized in the study: 

Delaware is adding two infant-toddler specialists to its QRIS technical assistance group to address a recognized need for supporting improved quality among providers who care for very young children.

Read Full Update 


Why Business Leaders are Becoming Early Childhood Champions 

America's Promise Alliance has released a documentary entitled Are We Crazy About Our Kids? that details why business leaders are becoming early childhood champions.

The Raising of America - Are We Crazy About Our Kids?
The Raising of America - Are We Crazy About Our Kids?

The 32 minute video is one of the supporting episodes to the forthcoming documentary series, The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation, now in production.  


Science has demonstrated that a child's experiences during the earliest years are vital to building the foundation for life-long success - in school and in life.   Now economists are studying the costs and benefits of high quality early care and preschool. And they're worried. Not because we're spending too much but because we're spending too little where it matters most.




The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) has published "Ten Ways to Promote New Insurance Opportunities," a series of fact sheets offers information tailored to Head Start, SNAP, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, along with schools, on how they can help with outreach and enrollment efforts.

Read more here.





New Resources from the BUILD Initiative and QRIS National Learning Network  


"One major purpose of a QRIS is to recognize quality and promote a culture of continuous improvement among providers. The rating is not a destination; it is a set of benchmarks along a pathway of ongoing improvement."  - Anne Mitchell 


Continuous Quality Improvement in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) Learning Table: Materials Now Available Online

This learning table series, from May to August, included one in-person meeting and three interactive web-based sessions. Participants from 10 states also had access to an electronic collection of resources related to the topic of each interactive event. Each web-based session focused on an individual topic within the broad frame of Continuous Quality Improvement and were designed to be very interactive with discussion and sharing among participating states. State teams were offered follow-up technical assistance after each session in order to more directly tailor the content to the individual needs of the state. Session topics included Continuous Quality Improvement in QRIS, Engaging Directors/Practitioners in a CQI Approach, Engaging Partners and Contractors in a CQI Approach, and Mechanics of CQI - Finance and Data Systems.

Valuable resource materials such as research briefs, reports, articles, and state examples can be found under each session heading. Additionally, PowerPoint presentations are available for each session.




The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain


Extensive biological and developmental research over the past 30 years has generated substantial evidence that young children who experience severe deprivation or significant neglect-defined broadly as the ongoing disruption or significant absence of caregiver responsiveness-bear the burdens of a range of adverse consequences. Indeed, deprivation or neglect can cause more harm to a young child's development than overt physical abuse, including subsequent cognitive delays, impairments in executive functioning, and disruptions of the body's stress response. This paper explains why significant deprivation is so harmful in the earliest years of life and why effective interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation.



Research on Dual Language Learners (DLLS) Sheds Light on Appropriate Policies and Programs


The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) published Challenging Common Myths about Young Dual Language Learners. The report is an update to the seminal 2008 report to address recent research that expands on what we know about how young children acquire a second language and the consequences of growing up learning multiple languages. The report addresses two new commonly held beliefs about young children learning English as their second language and updates five beliefs. The growth of DLL children in early childhood programs has grown significantly in the past few decades; 10 states experienced more than 200 percent growth in their population of DLL children. The report offers guidance on how to develop policies and programs that best support DLL children.



The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), housed in the U.S. Department of Education, has released a report synthesizing the early intervention and early childhood education research they've funded and that has been published in peer-reviewed outlets through June 2010. The report reflects on lessons learned throughout this research and focuses on four areas of research in particular:

  • Early childhood classroom environments and general instructional practices;
  • Education practices designed to impact children's academic and social outcomes;
  • Measuring young children's skills and learning; and,
  • Professional development for early educators.
Full Syntheseis of Research

Preschool Attendance:  


Students who attend preschool regularly are significantly more likely than chronically absent preschoolers to be ready for kindergarten and attend school regularly in later grades, according to a study from the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR). Read more and access CCSR's full report here.




Measuring Early Childhood Program Quality  


A recent study published in Science, which found that ratings given to pre-K programs using Quality Ratings and Improvement Systems (QRIS) were not indicative of how prepared a child was for school, has highlighted the complicated issue of measuring pre-K quality. QRIS have become a high-profile tool to provide policymakers, educators, and parents with information about early learning programs, but often do not measure the factors most likely to influence achievement. The study did note that quality of teacher-child interaction had an impact on student learning, though as Sara Mead notes, "[o]ne reason that many states focus on simple input indicators and do not include interaction measures in their QRIS, is that the latter are a lot cheaper and easier to assess than the former." 


Home visits by nurses or other trained health professionals can improve the development of preterm infants, parenting and the home environment, according to a review of recent research, published by Pediatrics.


Read more here.

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Delaware Office of Early Learning | | | 820 North French Street, 5th Floor
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