Resampled color

December 2013
In This Issue

Exploring our Senses!

Winter is a great time for sensory exploration.  When children and families come in from the cold, you can turn those brrrr experiences into learning ones!  Bring the outside indoors! Talk about, write about, sing about, read about...


The sounds of winter:
the quiet of a snowfall, the noise of snow plows or scrapers on wind shields, winds blowing through the trees

The smells of winter: evergreens or pine, cookies or gingerbread baking, wet clothes after playing in the snow.


The tastes of winter:  

 hot chocolate or cocoa, cookies, peppermint, freshly fallen snow on your tongue


The sights of winter:   

 animal tracks in the snow, twinkling lights from holiday decorations, candles or the stars, matching hats and gloves, early darkness


The feelings of winter:  

 the roughness of pine cones, wind in your face, the cold snow or ice on your skin, or scratchy wool clothing


You can include some of these Early Learning Foundations when you are using your senses:

Social Emotional Development: Self Awareness; Language and Literacy: Expressive Language and Emergent Writing; Discoveries: Sensory Awareness and Memory (Infants and Toddlers); Science: Sensory Awareness and Scientific Exploration (Preschoolers); My Family, My Community and My World: Places and Spaces -Geography; (Preschoolers); Physical Development and Health: Sensory (Infants and Toddlers)


Books on sensory exploration in winter: Winter Wonderland by Jill Esbaum; Snow Sounds, An Onomatopoeic Story by David Johnson; Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer;

"When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me."  - Fred Rogers


This holiday season, I want to take a moment echo Mr. Rogers sentiments to express my gratitude for all you do every day on behalf of the Delaware's youngest citizens.   

Harriet Dichter

Executive Director  

Office of Early Learning 



First State Lawmakers Join Call To Prioritize Federal Early Childhood Education Funds


Seven Delaware state legislators are joining a growing call to prioritize early childhood education funding at the federal level.


Six Democrats and one Republican signed a letter Congress to fund advancements in childhood development programs nationwide. The Delaware lawmakers join more than 500 state legislators around the country in signing the letter.

In addition, Governor Jack Markell participated in a bi-partisan TweetChat on December 10 to discuss the Strong Start for America's Children Act. CLICK HERE FOR SUMMARY

Early Learning Partners Shared, Connected  

and Took Action   


More than 150 partners in support of the Early Learning Challenge and the state's Early Childhood Strategic Plan came together on December 11, 2013 at the Duncan Center in Dover to celebrate our successes, connect with colleagues and strengthen collaboration across the early childhood system and work together to generate strategies moving forward. The meeting brought together individuals/organizations working in the areas of health, early education, connections to k-12 and higher education, and community building/systems development. 


Participants joined forces to identify accomplishments and interdependency across the early childhood system, and worked together in small teams to tackle trouble spots and develop strategies to help address trouble spots.  


The day ended with a reminder of where we started, a snapshot of where we are and words of inspiration going forward from the chair of Delaware's Early Childhood Council, Dan Rich.


The initial feedback is excellent, with many people meeting others for the first time and finding ways to build new connections.


Beginning December 20 photos from the All Partner's Meeting and the Delaware Stars Celebrations will be available at:  

Talk the Talk/Spread the Word About Early Learning

Three communication training workshops were held in December to help partners share a united voice about the importance of quality early learning and the many ways Delaware is working to make it a priority.


The workshops focused on the quality early learning big picture in Delaware and helping participants generate conversation about quality early learning in Delaware, including exercises to work on crafting a message, and tips and discussion about sharing the message with the media.


There are plans to hold more workshops in 2014. The number of workshops, locations and times will be determined by interest. To learn more, send an email about your interest to 

Great Starts DE Community Outreach Contest is a Big Success


Use of the Great Starts Delaware website is on the rise!  As of the end of November, we counted over 5,500 unique views!  In addition, during September and October, more than 270 people participated in a contest designed to build awareness for the website and social media aimed at families of young children.  Each week registrations were randomly drawn from each county to select winners, who received prizes valued at $100.  Over the two month contest period, 70 prizes were awarded and hits to the website increased by 60 percent.  Congratulations to all the winners and that you to all who participated!


"Thank you for the movie gift card! I took my 3 year old to the movies this weekend and we had a great time." From Shebra Hall, pictured here with son Trent, from Camden, DE.

Amanda Marlowe sent this photo of her son Brandon, who is obviously enjoying his trip to the movies... and his popcorn!



Jadon Walton proudly displays some of the window slicks (such as My child is a Delaware Star) Delaware Stars programs are giving to families. The slicks and the contest are just two of the ways that the Office of Early Learning is promoting quality early learning to families and how to use Stars as their guide in finding great early childhood programs.  Jadon attends the Salvation Army Childcare Center, a Star 4 program.





Governor Appoints New Leadership to Early Childhood Council

Dan Rich
We thank Chair Dan Rich and Vice-Chair Jocelyn Stewart for their highly effective leadership of the Early Childhood Council and congratulate them on all that has been ac
Jocelyn Stewart with Education Secretary Arne Duncan  
complished under their tenure.  A primary product of their leadership is the new state plan, Sustaining Early Success: Delaware's Strategic Plan for aComprehensive Early Childhood System -2013 and the establishment of four standing committees to advocate for and monitor progress across the four goals set in the plan: A Healthy Start for All Children, High-Quality Early Childhood Programs and Professionals, An Aligned and Effective Early Learning System-Birth through third Grade, and Sustained System Improvement.   
Mary Kate Mouser 

We congratulate the new leaders who have been appointed by the Governor.  Mary Kate Mouser, Executive Director, Nemours Health and Prevention Services has been appointed incoming chair. 
Madeleine Bayard

The incoming vice-chair, Madeline Bayard, leads the Rodel Foundation's education policy and research efforts, and manages implementation initiatives, government affairs, and communications and public affairs.  


We, along with the early learning community across the state, are pleased to have such strong leadership for the Early Childhood Council and look forward to another year of progress on the strategic plan goals.



Christiana Care & Division of Public Health Host Baby Shower


Christiana Care Health System hosted a baby shower where more than 120 mothers learned about the ABCS of Safe Sleep: Alone in own crib;

Babies on their Back; Clutter-free Crib; and a Smoke Free Home.   


During the baby shower, new mothers and mothers-to-be took a quiz on emotional wellness and learned signs of postpartum depression. Christiana Care's Health Ambassadors at the baby shower connected the women with resources in the community to help them raise a healthy family. In all, Christiana Care partnered with 20 organizations for the baby shower, which was funded by the Delaware Division of Public Health.  

Networking Breakfast Offers Info on Help Me Grow and Delaware Stars

The Division of Public Health sponsored a Networking Breakfast attended by 30 individuals who work with young children and families in the social services and health and allied fields.  Held at the Milford Library, the event featured a presentation on the Help Me Grow 211 service and a presentation on the importance of early learning and using Delaware Stars as a guide to find quality early childhood programs for families with young children.  Michael Mullins, a parent of a young child with a developmental disability, provided a parent's perspective and shared valuable information with those attending on the types of supports that are helpful to families of children with special health care needs.
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!   

DE Stars logo

Delaware Stars Celebrations


Delaware Stars celebrations took place in each county in December to celebrate the growth of the program and to recognize Stars programs Delaware that achieved a Star 5, the highest rating. In addition, several programs received certificates of achievement signed by Governor Jack Markell and individuals who have helped programs achieve their goals nominated by Stars programs were recognized as "Shining Stars."    



Approximately 220 people attended the celebration in New Castle on December 5 at the Delaware Children's Museum, hosted by Lt. Governor Matt Denn. The event included remarks from Secretary Rita Landgraf, Department of Health and Social Services and was also attended by Representatives Charles Potter, Debra Heffernan and Ed Osienski; and Brian Gordon representing Senator Bethany Hall-Long.



Hosted by Secretary Jennifer Ranji, Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, more than 60 people celebrated success in Kent County on December 9 at Wilmington University in Dover. Also joining the celebration was Representative Andria Bennett.



In Sussex County approximately 147 attendees, hosted by Senator Brian Pettyjohn, celebrated along with Representatives Ruth Briggs King and John Gray on December 11 at Sussex Vo-Tech High School in Georgetown.


The number Delaware Stars programs increased from 322 to 473 in 2013. "We are excited about the continued growth of the Delaware Stars program," said Harriet Dichter, Executive Director of the Office of Early Learning. "As more programs participate in Stars there are more opportunities for children to enroll in quality early learning programs, which science tells us is critical in preparing our young children for success in school and life." 

Beginning December 20 photos from the All Partner's Meeting and the Delaware Stars Celebrations will be available at:



Too Young for Technology? What parents and child care providers should know about the use of digital media for toddlers and preschoolers  This archived WEBINAR discusses how screen time affects brain development, at what age kids should begin to be exposed to TV, tables, mobile devices, how parents and child care workers can use technology to help preschoolers learn and whether reading to a child from an iPad or Kindle is better than reading from a book.

 Report: Child Care Costs More Than College 

Child Care Aware® of America released its annual report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2013, which reveals the cost of child care continues to increase, despite the slowly recovering economy. Parents continue to struggle with affording quality child care: they are paying more and a significant amount of their annual household income goes toward child care costs. In 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost of child care for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year's tuition and fees at a four-year public college.  What's the cost of child care in your state?  


Find out here.



The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2013   This KIDS COUNT policy report details how a child's early development from birth through age 8 is essential to making an effective transition into elementary school and for long-term academic achievement. To prepare all of America's children to succeed, this document sets forth broad policy recommendations. This policy report also features data on early childhood development for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation.                  





The School-Readiness Gap and Preschool Benefits for Children of Color was recently published Center for American Progress, the authors say that the majority of children under age 1 in the United States today are children of color; that one simple fact means that our future will be very different from our current reality. Access to high-quality preschool is central to school readiness, and school readiness can significantly impact everything from reading at grade level to graduating high school to being career ready later in life. But recent data from 2011 show that more than half of African American children and 63 percent of Hispanic children ages 3 to 4 do not attend preschool.



Supporting Babies Through QRIS: Inclusion of Infant and Toddler Quality Standards took place on November 20th. ZERO TO THREE's Policy Center is developing a series of documents to help ensure that Quality Rating and Improvement Systems are supporting the needs of infants and toddlers. CLICK HERE  for more information and resources related to the webinar. 


The BUILD Initiative and the QRIS National Learning Network Hosted the 8th and 9th Webinars in our "Let's Talk" Series

Understanding, Applying, and Doing Research in QRIS Systems Building How can research findings be used to inform QRIS design and revisions?  CLICK HERE for more information and resources related to the webinar.  

Connecting Early Childhood and Child Health - The first two years of life ultimately are the most important ones to ensuring an individual's health. During this time, the primary health care practitioner is the professional most likely to see and assess the child. She or he is best able also to identify and serve as first responder to conditions that jeopardize healthy development.


Don't STEM the Tide of Curiosity

NIEER Assistant Research Professor Kimberly Brenneman discusses recent meetings on Science, Technology, Engineeering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in early childhood settings, and why she is so enthusiastic about its future. 


 A new study that used a novel approach to analyzing data related to teacher-child interaction thas identified which types of teacher-child interactions support children's learning and development in which areas. They found that it was not just the quality of instructional interactions that mattered for children's academic progress.  The study, by researchers at the University of Virginia, Oregon State University, and Clemson University, appears in the journal Child Development. READ MORE HERE

 California's Best Practices for Young Dual Language Learners: Research Overview Papers is a set of six research overviews reflecting the most current research related to the learning and development of young dual language learners. They provide insight into how young dual language learners learn two languages, and also how they develop in other domains. At the same time, the research summaries provide guidance to early child educators on how to support the learning and development of young dual language learners in preschool programs.  


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Delaware Office of Early Learning | | | 820 North French Street, 5th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801

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