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GIVING THANKS: A Message from Harriet Dichter

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer

On behalf of the staff of the Office of Early Learning, we want to express our thanks for the opportunity to partner with so many talented professionals to promote early learning throughout Delaware. Your commitment to young children and their families inspires us all!

In This Issue

Being Thankful

The upcoming holidays are often times when we ask children to talk about what they're thankful for or we talk with them about how they need to behave in order to get rewards (like presents). These abstract concepts are really hard for young children to understand. Here are some ways to help teach these important yet complex ideas.
These suggestions support the development of Social Emotional skills in the Early Learning Foundations: Self Awareness (infant-Toddler) or Self Concept (Preschool), Self-Regulation, Self Awareness and Attachment (Infant-Toddler) Social Relationships and Cooperation (Preschool); both Expressive and Receptive Language and Literacy skills; and for Preschoolers, development of skills in the Working Together -Government and Communities subdomain of Social Studies.



1. Model grateful or thankful behavior and express it. "I'm so thankful we had this time to read together." "I'm really glad I was able pour milk from that new pitcher without spilling it."  



2.  Use the words, "thank you and you're welcome". Thank children for their cooperation. "Thank you for washing your hands." "Thank you for waiting so patiently." "Wow! Thanks for listening so closely to what I was saying."



3. Help children recognize the positive impact of others' actions and name the skill. 

"Janie, Stevie was having a lot of fun with that ball and now he's giving it to you. Wow, that's great sharing! Thanks, Stevie."  "Look how the three of you worked together to complete that puzzle! You were really cooperating."  



4.  With the children, write thank you notes or use other ways of thanking others for their efforts that support them.  A note to the bus driver or cook, or notes to the program director; pictures or paintings to a visitor; drawn cards to a family member; homemade treats to another group of children or a special teacher at the Program are ways to help children understand how to perform acts of kindness. 












Year Two of the Early Learning Challenge grant comes near its close, the updates below are one of many indications of progress on Delaware's grant implementation plan.

Compensation, Retention and Education (CORE) Award Update:   

Daeyc The CORE (Compensation, Retention and Education) Awards, Delaware's first financial incentive program for early childhood professionals will be received this month. The program aims to increase the formal education of early childhood personnel, assisting in reducing staff turnover and stabilizing Delaware's early learning workforce.    


To date there have been more than 1,000 applicants deemed eligible for awards and through mid- November, more than $3.7M in checks had been distributed to those receiving the awards, with more checks set to be sent out through November and early December.   


There have been many CORE applicants who have expressed feelings of appreciation and gratitude of the awards and believe this has provided them, and their programs with endless possibilities.


"Thank you....You made my weekend and helped make it possible for my family to get a new car."

- Erin Mansfield,
Preschool Teacher NCC Head Start

"...I would like to let you know how beneficial the CORE grants are to me and my family.         I have been in the education field for over twelve years. I enjoy working with children and planting the seeds of success into their future. Unfortunately there is not much financial reward in being a teacher. My family and I have struggled for years, just getting by, living paycheck to paycheck. My children don't get to go on overnight trips and my husband and I don't travel because we cannot afford it. This grant could not have come at a better time for me. As a family of four we do not have plenty, we have enough to get by. I recently found out that I am expecting a third child. While it is very exciting, I could not help but become fearful of how I would be able to provide for my new child when my husband and I struggle to support our two. Not to mention that I work for Head Start as a seasonal employee so I would have to live on sixty percent of my income to help provide for a new family of five. This grant will be a cushion for my family and I to survive during my months of unemployment and possibly beyond. This grant will also help me take my Praxis I test that I have been postponing due to finances. Thank you so much pushing for teachers like me to receive money as appreciation for our services. In my situation it was right on time and much appreciated! Sincerely, Tanya" 

                          -- Tanya Pierce,
Preschool Teacher,  Wilmington Head Start 

Beginning in January 2013, CORE award applications will be available for applicants at a Step 7 or above on the Delaware Early Childhood Career Lattice. 



For more information you may contact: Syreeta Clarke, CORE Coordinator at (302) 764-1500 ext. 105.

More information is available on the website:    

Click HERE for statistical information about the CORE awards program. 



Aim4Excellence Comes to Delaware 


Aim4Excellence™ is an online national director credential for early childhood administrators developed by the McCormick Early Learning Center at National Louis University in Chicago. The credential focuses on the essential knowledge and skills needed to deliver high-quality programming for young children.  The Delaware Office of Early Learning through the Early Learning Leadership Initiative (ELLI) is pleased to bring Aim4Excellence the following learning opportunities to Delaware:


Leadership Groups:
Over the course of 10 months, Leadership Group participants will move through the Aim4Excellence modules in a community of practice supported by a facilitator. Participants will meet monthly for face-to-face Leadership Group meetings in addition to working independently on the online modules between meetings. The model is designed to help participants reflect, process, and
implement the information from each module.  To date, nearly 80 individuals have registered for these groups, far surpassing the goal of 50 registrants 


Self-Paced Learning:
A small number of scholarships will be awarded to selected participants to move through the Aim4Excellence™ modules independently. Selected participants must be self-starters with the time and discipline needed to learn on their own.


This project is funded by the Delaware Office of Early Learning through the Early Learning Leadership Initiative (ELLI) and is offered at no cost to participants. (Should you choose to take the Aim4Excellence modules for college credit, tuition fees apply.)


For more Information, visit the website, or email or 302-824-4926.
K-2 teachers, leaders and early childhood practitioners gathered to commence work on new K-2 standards for social/emotional and approaches to learning as well as the supports required for successful implementation.  Our timeline calls for the standards to be ready for review in early 2014, with additional time devoted to materials and tools that will assist in the roll out and impact teacher practice.


DOE logo
Kelly Hunter, Ed.D. Joins Department of Education to Head Early Learning and Development Work Group



Please join us in welcoming Kelly Hunter, Ed. D.  who is joining the State of Delaware as Director, Early Learning and Development Work Group at the Department of Education.  Kelly began her new position on Monday, November 4th.

Ms. Hunter comes to us from the Children's Literacy initiative, where she has had multiple roles over her 6 year tenure, including Executive Director and Director, Professional Development, and where she has been involved in a national effort, supported through the I-3 initiative, to focus on professional development for practitioners, administrators and families
.   She has worked in concert with community and district-based early childhood programs at Children's Literacy Initiative, as well as through her work with Corner, where she was a Professional Development Literacy Fellow.  

In addition to her work in early childhood, Kelly originally focused on adult and family literacy.  She has a BS from Drexel, and a Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  We invite you to join us in welcoming Kelly and in getting to know her.


DE Stars logo
Share Your Stories about Delaware Stars!


The Office of Early Learning invites parents and family member with young children in Delaware Stars programs to share their positive story about their child's experience in Delaware Stars.

Selected Delaware Stars Stories will be featured on the Start Sharing part of the website as part of the work to help families learn that they can use Delaware Stars as a guide to finding quality early childhood programs for their young children birth to age 5 years.  


And as a THANK YOU to families that participate by sending in their Delaware Stars stories, they'll receive two 5X7 professional photos after the photographer meets with them to take photos for use with the story.   


We know that family-to-family communication is one of the top ways families learn about early childhood programs, so we hope many families with young children in Delaware Stars programs will share their story and enjoy the photographs as a thank you gift for their participation!


You can share your story by going to the Great Starts DE website home page to complete the forms here in either English or Spanish. 


Great Starts Delaware Inaugural Kindergarten Conference Gets Great Reviews!


The 2013 Great Starts Delaware Kindergarten Conference was held on Saturday, October 19th in Dover.


Conference participants respond to Eve Phillips keynote address. 


The first-ever conference was attended by almost 40% of Delaware's kindergarten teacher's statewide. The day started with a presentation by the keynote speaker Eva Phillips, whose message validated the understanding of early learning and reaffirmed the basic early childhood principles for which children learn best. She inspired and encouraged all the educators to continue to forge ahead through the many new initiatives they face each year and to find ways for greater collaboration and opportunities to share with fellow colleagues. FULL ARTICLE.



Great Start Delaware Logo


Delaware Readiness Teams Gather to Celebrate their Early Successes 

More than 100 people gathered on October 29, 2013, at the Duncan Center in Dover to celebrate the development of 19 Readiness Teams, representing communities throughout Delaware.
Office of Early Learning Director Harriet Dichter and Governor Jack Markell observe the Readiness Team Roundtables.
These teams are developing and implementing school readiness plans for their communities. Members of teams join as representatives from schools, families, early learning providers, and other community members, including health care providers. They grow as a team as they complete a profile and an action plan that focuses on Ready Families, Ready Schools, Ready Early Learning Providers and Ready Communities.


DE Stars Logo Delaware Stars Welcomes Three New Specialty Staff Members!

The Delaware Stars Program, managed by the University of Delaware's Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood, welcomes new specialty technical assistance staff.   


Laura Cutler 
Laura Cutler is one of the Stars ERS Specialty Technical Assistants. She earned a B.S in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Delaware and a M.A. in Special Education from the University of Maryland.

Lindsay Gigous is our other ERS Specialty Technical Assistant. She obtained her B.S.Ed. in Early

Lindsay Gigous

Childhood and Elementary Education at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and her M.Ed. in Curri

culum and Instruction from Penn State University.  


The Delaware Stars program has also added a Health-Nutrition Speciality Technical Assistant Sylvia Davis, who is available to support  programs as they move to higher Stars levels by providing assistance targeted at healthy living and physical activity.  Her role include
Sylvia Davis
s helping programs with choosing supplemental healthy lifestyle curriculum and implementing lesson plans and activities across age groups to promote enhanced  physical activity and nutrition practice.

We hope you will join in making them feel welcome!



Division of Public Health Awarded $4.5 Million
Home Visiting Grant

Congratulations to the Division of Public Health on receiving a Maternal, Infant and Child Home Visiting Expansion Grant of $4.5 million.  The purpose of this two-year grant is to build upon Delaware's existing home visiting program which is delivered through a collaborative of four evidence-based home visiting programs in the state.  The new grant will support three of these programs, the Nurse Family Partnership, Healthy Families America and Parents as Teachers.  The three priority areas for this expansion grant are 1) support the development of a comprehensive early childhood system that spans the prenatal-through-age-eight target population, 2) reach high-risk and hard-to-engage populations and 3) reach families in rural areas.




Dr. Judith B. Gorra named one of Delaware Today's 2013 Top Docs!

Dr. Judith B. Gorra
The Division of Public Health/Department of Health and Social Services is pleased to announce that
Dr. Judy Gorra. the clinical lead pediatrician for the Child Development Watch program, has been named one of
Delaware Today magazine's
2013 Top Docs.   Inspired to pursue a career in medicine by her grandmother, Dr. Gorra was an attending physician at both St. Christopher's Hospital and Temple University Children's hospital before relocating to Rehoboth and a practice based in Milford.  The Child Development Watch program oversees assessment of children who may have disabilities or challenges that will qualify them for the state's Part C Early Intervention Program.  

We hope you will join with us in celebrating our State of Delaware's good fortune in having such an honored doctor be a critical part of our early intervention program.


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 Infrastructure Program Funds Technology and Capital Requests


Funds are available for Delaware Stars programs at level 2 and above that require capital and/or technical improvements as part of the goal to receive a higher designation, as well as programs maintaining a  

Star level 5.


Recipients of the funds include: Newark Day Nursery, Small Wonder Daycare, Babes on the Square, Beach Babies Child Care Townsend, Beach Babies Child Care Lewes and Beach Babies Child Care Rehoboth.  


Susan Wieczorek, the director of Babes of the Square, said the construction is underway to install a hand washing sink in the toddler room, which will be used for all purposes other than diapering/toileting.


"The addition of the sink will be an enormous help, eliminating the need for our teachers to disrupt their classroom in order to take a group to another room to wash hands," said Wieczorek. "The installation of the sink will allow our teachers to be more consistent with hand washing procedures, which will positively affect our scores on supervision, room arrangement, meals/snacks, diapering/toileting and health practices." 




The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) has created fact sheets on Head Start preschool and Early Head Start. The fact sheets are based on Program Information Report (PIR) data from the 2011-2012 school year, and explore the characteristics of children and families served by Head Start preschool and Early Head Start, as well as the programs themselves and their staff. Read more here. 


Birth to Eight Framework: The Alliance for Early Success and Child Trends have partnered together to release "The Research Base for a Birth through Age Eight State Policy Framework," which provides the supporting research for the 38 policy choices in the framework. The framework identifies health, family support, and learning as key policy areas; and standards, screening and assessment, and accountability as key policy foundations. 

Read more here. 



Politico recently published an opinion article by Denny Rehberg, which describes the need for quality investment in early learning. Mr. Rehberg is the co-founder of the Congressional Baby Caucus and served 12 years as the Representative for Montana's at-large congressional district. Read more here.  




The National Women's Law Center released a report entitled "Pivot Point: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2013."  The report states that families in 27 states were better off under one or more key child care assistance policies in 2013 than in 2012. The trend during the past year was more positive than in the previous two years, when the situation for families worsened in more states than it improved.  


 Read more here.   



A new report from ZERO TO THREE and Child Trends presents findings from a 2013 survey of state child welfare agencies about the policies and practices that guide their work in addressing the needs of infants and toddlers who have been maltreated. Read more here. 




More Than Baby Talk: 10 Ways to Promote the Language and Communication Skills of Infants and Toddlers 

This brief guide describes ten practices that early childhood teachers can use to foster language and communication skills among infants and toddlers. The guidelines are based upon the latest research findings on optimal adult-child interactions for promoting strong language and communication skills among young children.  


 Read more here.    



The New York Times discusses the long lasting problems, both physical and mental, that can arise when toxic stress in children is not addressed. Read more here   




40 Fine Motor Skills Activities

The fine motor skills activities for young children in this collection are easy to set up and will promote a whole range of skills. They're creative, open-ended, appropriate and varied with ideas for practicing motor skills through art, sensory play and simple manipulative games.  

Read more here. 



"Using Toys to Support Infant-Toddler Learning and Development"

This article by Gabriele Guyton offers strategies for selecting toys to meet young children's unique needs and interests.  Read more here.  



Language Gap Study Bolsters a Push for PreK.



The National Governors Association released a report entitled "A Governor's Guide to Early Literacy: Getting All Students Reading By Third Grade" that investigates increasing literacy among children.



The National Black Child Development Institute has published a compilation of essays entitled "Being Black is Not A Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child." From the foreword by Barbara Bowman of the Erikson Institute to a closing essay by David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, the collection seeks to challenge the prevailing discourse about black children.  

Read more here.  


WEBINAR:  "Measuring Classroom Quality" Dec. 4
NAEYC, in conjunction with the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University, will host a webinar entitled "Measuring Classroom Quality." Dr. Robert C. Pianta, founding director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at the University of Virginia and a professor in both the Curry School of Education and in the Department of Psychology, will discuss measuring classroom quality.
Register Here.

Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics has included a series of supplement articles that focus on home visiting and early childhood for its November 2013 issue. Articles range from addressing toxic stress through home visiting and creating a national home visiting research network. Read more here.


Richard Fiene, Ph.D. has written a short paper entitled

"The Relationship of Licensing, Head Start, Pre-K, QRIS, Accreditation, and Professional Development and their Potential Impact on Child Outcomes"

which provides some thoughts about the various public policy initiatives/systems to improve early care and education, such as licensing, Head Start, Pre-K, QRIS, accreditation, and professional development and their potential impact on child outcomes. Read more



Findings From the National Survey of Early Care and Education 2012. 

What did the early childhood teaching and caregiving workforce look like in 2012?


Participate in a Webinar on December 4.  REGISTER HERE

New research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled "Spanking and Child Development Across the First Decade of Life" cites findings that suggest spanking predicts both aggression and receptive vocabulary across the first decade of life.  

Read more here.  

A research by Stanford University psychologists entitled "SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months" reports that by the age of two, children of lower-income families may already be six months behind in language development. The study, which was first published in a March 2013 issue of Developmental Science, Article Here was also covered by the New York Times in an article. Read more here. 



The Foundation for Child Development has published a research brief entitled "Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education,"

which reviews evidence on why early skills matter, which children benefit from preschool, the short- and long-term effects of preschool programs on children's school readiness and life outcomes, the importance of program quality, and the costs versus benefits of preschool education.

Read more here and here.  


Women working in Head Start, the nation's largest federally funded early childhood education program which serves nearly one million low-income children, report higher than expected levels of physical and mental health problems, according to researchers at Temple University. Entitled "The Physical and Mental Health of Head Start Staff: The Pennsylvania Head Start Staff Wellness Survey, 2012," the findings reported are from the first-ever survey conducted on the health of Head Start staff. Read more here and  here.
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Delaware Office of Early Learning | | | 820 North French Street, 5th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801

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