February Early Childhood Center of the Month!

Rockford Lutheran Academy, Rockford, IL

Faith Stories:
1.       One director reported the joy of seeing a staff member develop a wonderful new prayer journaling program in her classroom.  This same staff member had previously been somewhat opposed to integrating faith into the school’s curriculum when the school became more of a ministry of the church.  The Holy Spirit has truly worked hard on her heart in the last few years.
2.       Another school reported about how a new sermon series based on Joshua 1:9 was used with both the church and school.  It had a great impact on the children and adults.  Lots of visuals were used.

1.       Dr. Jean:  April 18, 2018     
Hilton Garden Inn, 7675 Walton St., Rockford
2.       Concordia Early Childhood Conference:  August 3, 2018
Concordia University, Chicago
$110 person + $10 optional lunch;  Gateways and ISBE credits
3.       NID Teachers Conference: October 19, 2018                               
Concordia University, Chicago
$90 person (lunch included); Gateways and ISBE credits

Online Resources Recommendations:
1.       www.himama.com
80+ different podcasts for early childhood leaders; blog, child care helps, parenting topics
2.       Pre-K Pages
Helps for preschool teachers

3.       Fairy Dust Online Early Childhood Conferences

Ideas for Staff Relationships and Recognition
1.       -Using days such as “National Compliment Day” (January 24) https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-compliment-day-january-24/
-Integrate with Scripture on compliments: Romans 15:2, Philippians 4:8, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 100:3, Ephesians 2:10, Isaiah 40:8
-Compliment Sheets:  Have one staff name on each piece of paper.  Pass the papers around and add compliments to them about the person.  Eventually return the sheet to the appropriate person with a fancy ribbon on it, attach a chocolate bar to it, etc.
-Post-It Notes: Use a variety of fun, bright post-it notes to leave little messages of appreciation, congratulations, love on teachers desks.  It’s fun to slip them on these desks/areas when they are not expecting anything.  Pick up lots of great, inspiring,fun, colorful shapes especially during August/September during “Back to School” time
(St. Peter, Arlington Heights)
2.       There is real POWER in feeling appreciated.   It’s a great feeling to work with a group of people who you love to be around.  Appreciated work keeps people motivated to keep on going. (Immanuel, Belvidere)
3.       -Host baby showers for staff members; live life with them through both the good and low times.
-“One Eared Reindeer Award”   Pass this object (or any other fun/silly object)  around from classroom to classroom to show appreciation for projects/activities/actions that are “well done”
-“Great Elf Competition”-  Small containers are put out in a common area where families can drop off/vote with coins/$ based on the names of the various teachers.  The teacher(s) with the most $ in their container at the end of a certain time period, would then dress up as an elf for the day.  All proceeds goes to a charity.
-Celebrate such special days as National Popcorn. https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-popcorn-day-january-19/   or Pancake Day https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-pancake-day-september-26/   and offer these food items  to everyone in the building.
-A handout with “9 Fun Ideas for Employee Recognition at Your Center” was shared
(Rockford Lutheran Academy, Rockford)
4.       Celebrate “National Have Fun at Work Day” (January 28) https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-fun-at-work-day-january-28/
-Honor employees with “fun foods” and bags of silly items (rubber  bands, kalidoscopes, etc)
(TLC – Trinity, Huntley)

Early Childhood Staff:
Teachers: Stephanie Wilburn, Cortney Rehfeldt,
Lianette Lucena, & Megan Schultz
Principal: Curtis Wudtke

The staff is pictured in the middle of their newly remodeled preschool gym area

Preschool Rainbow Color Experiment
-clear cups
-white paper towels
-food coloring

Each preschool room is designed with a full classroom theme such as jungles, dogs, oceans, etc.  New lofts are being added this spring to all of these classrooms with theses theme as the basis for them. Come visit next year to see these completed lofts.  Principal Wudtke is building all of them.

Rockford Lutheran Academy uses the D.I.G. (Develop, Inspire, Grow) materials as the basis for the preschool curriculum.  It is published by the Abrams Learning Trends Company.  It is a 9 month integrated, thematic program.  It uses as variety of charts, puppet “Letter People”, CDs, readers, alphabet friezes, and other related materials. 

A Classroom Rules Chart used “Mr. Potato Head” parts to illustrate the expectations for appropriate classroom behavior.

Position Available!

St. Paul Lutheran, Chicago (Canfield), is looking to hire an Executive Director of Early Childhood Center

If you or someone you know might be interested please click on the following link to review the job description: Executive Director of Early Childhood Center

Image result for job opening

Good Shepherd, Elgin Meeting Cancelled: February 15

East Network Meeting Cancelled:
Please note: The East Network Meeting at Good Shepherd, Elgin scheduled for Thursday, February 15, 2018, has been cancelled however, the West Network Meeting at Rockford Lutheran Academy is still taking place. The West Network Meeting is held on the same date, Thursday, February 15, time 4:30p.m.-6:30p.m. and topic (Staff Relationships and Recognition).  If you were planning to attend Good Shepherd and are willing to drive further west to Rockford, please RSVP as soon as possible to Curtis Wudtke at: cwudtke@rockfordlutheran.org.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

                            Image result for meeting cancelled

January School of the Month: St. John, La Grange

News and Notes
1.      NID Congregations are striving to call directors for their Early Childhood centers at:
a.      Immanuel, Downers Grove
b.      Zion, Hinsdale
Contact Mike Zimmer at the NID office for more information on these positions.

2.      The next NID Teachers Conference will be held at Concordia University, Chicago on Friday, October 19, 2018.  Phil Vischer, the originator of Veggie Tales, will be the keynote speaker. 30+ sectionals.  $90 per person (lunch and snacks included).  Both Gateways and ISBE credits will be available.

3.      The Concordia Early Childhood Conference will be held at Concordia on Friday, August 3, 2018.

4.     Our next NID ECE Directors meeting will be held on Thursday, February 15th from 4:30-6:30 pm at Good Shepherd Lutheran, 195 Nesler Road, Elgin, IL 60124 on the topic of Staff Relationships and Recognition. Please RSVP to Jan Eigenfeld at jeigenfeld@gselgin.org or 847-697-4745.

Meeting Topic: Challenging Behaviors
Anne Konen, who works as an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant at Illinois Action for Children, spoke to our group on challenging behaviors. She outlined why children might be acting out in the way they do and challenged our group to focus on reflection and how to build capacity and support those challenging behaviors. She also provided practical tips on how to work with parents when their children present these challenging behaviors.

Participants were able to ask specific questions during the presentation and Anne would talk specifically to the issue.

Anne provided the following resources:
·         Novak, Rachel J. (2001). Quick Tips for Managing Classroom Behaviors
·         Classrooms as the Root of Challenging Behaviors by Michelle Salcedo

January School of the Month: Christ the Rock, Rockford

New & Notes:
1.      NID Congregations are striving to call directors for their Early Childhood centers at:
a.       Immanuel, Downers Grove
b.      Zion, Hinsdale
Contact Mike Zimmer at the NID office for more information on these positions.

2.      The next NID Teachers Conference will be held at Concordia University, Chicago on Friday, October 19, 2018.  Phil Vischer, the originator of Veggie Tales, will be the keynote speaker. 30+ sectionals.  $90 per person (lunch and snacks included).  Both Gateways and ISBE credits will be available.

3.      The Concordia Early Childhood Conference will be held at Concordia on Friday, August 3, 2018.

4.      Julie will be looking into setting up a possible teacher visit day to Zion, Hinsdale, which is the only known Lutheran Reggio Emilia school in the USA on February 16 in possible connection with the Rockford Lutheran Teacher In-service Day.  Transportation might be available via the Rockford Lutheran school van.  Watch for more details  sent out via email messages within the next week. 

Meeting Topic:          Social, Emotional & Mental Topics in our Early Childhood Education Centers

1.      Helps for teachers/classrooms experiencing challenges with students with social, emotional and mental health issues:
a.       Having access to resource teachers within the building. (Immanuel, Belvidere)
b.      Having access to resource individuals like Mary Kelly via programs at the YWCA in Rockford (Shepherd of the Valley, Rockford))
c.       Having access to programs through 4-C. (Trinity, Huntley)
d.      Materials and support from your local public schools. (Rockford Lutheran)
                          i.      Speech therapists
                        ii.      Special education consultant services
                      iii.      Title 1 tutors
e.       New Zones of Regulation and Social Thinking Curriculums (see below) with lots of extra ideas on  these “hot” topics on Pinterest under the “Social Thinking” headings

2.      Develop“Quiet Area Corners” in classrooms. (Trinity, Huntley)
a.       1 – 2  child may use at a time
b.      The center can be tucked away in a small place/corner  of a classroom
c.       Provide sensory materials
d.      Materials for this center can often be found at the Dollar Store
e.       Soft Rug
f.       A true quiet place
g.      Promotes self regulation

3.      More experiences are taking place with students having temper tantrums
a.       Use simple words with the student and walk away

4.      Zones of Regulation- A Curriculum Designed to Foster Self-Regulation and Emotional Control was introduced.  (St. Peter, Arlington Heights)
a.       Students can have a “traffic light” at their table, on a bulletin board, etc, in which they can move their “clip” to show how they are feeling.  Staff should monitor students who feel there are on the “blue” or “red” zones.  Many students who are as young as 4 years old are able to use this system:
a.       Blue Zone:  Your body is running slow such as when you are tired, sick, sad, or bored. (possible depression zone)
b.      Green Zone:  Like a green light, you are “good to go.”  Your body may feel happy, calm, and focused.
c.       Yellow Zone:  This zone describes when you start to lose control, such as when you are frustrated, anxious, worried, silly or surprised. Use caution when you are in this zone.
d.      Red Zone:  This zone is for extreme emotions such as anger, terror, and aggression.  When you are in this zone you are out of control, having trouble making good decisions and must stop!
b.      Tips for handling an unexpected “Red Zone”
a.       Safety is first priority
b.      Limit verbals
c.       This is not a teachable moment
d.      Validate the students’ feelings
e.       Evoke some of the emotion in yourself
f.       Give them time and space
g.      Designate safe spots
h.      Avoid power struggles
i.        Teach all tools in a calm regulated state
c.       These materials have great visuals to help with
a.       Calming techniques
b.      Sensory Supports

5.       Social Thinking Publishing Inc. Curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke. (St. Peter, Arlington Heights)
a.       www.socialthinking.com
b.      Teacher materials for whole group lessons & interventions
c.       Children’s Books
d.      Materials for geared for 4-7 year olds

Director & Teacher:                Doreen Peterson
Assistant:                                Sue Harder  

Christ the Rock has morning and afternoon half day preschool classes with an enrollment around 31 students for the 2017 – 2018 school year.  It’s school and church staff work very intentionally to connect their preschool with the ministry of their congregation.  Christ the Rock uses a single theme as the primary theme for the school year.  This year it is Nursery Rhymes & Fairy Tales.  Doreen and Sue creatively and artistically create very interesting and specific classroom activities, centers, games, and furnishings each year to go with their primary theme

“Little Boy Blue” Bulletin Board

      “Which instrument would you rather play?
                              Guitar or Horn

      Conclusion based on classroom voting:
More preschoolers at Christ the Rock would rather play guitar (18) vs. horn (13)

National Lutheran Schools Week
      Church & School Integration Theme & Project
      “Mission Possible”
            Which promoted both church and school
            families to go out into the community and
            do random acts of kindness.  All families were
            given “Secret Agent” packs with directions
            and ideas for this project.  They were asked
            to take or draw pictures about their projects.

Dramatic Play Center:  Hot Chocolate Shop
      Used during “winter” classroom themes

            Materials: “Puppet Stage”, coffee cups with lids, candy
             canes, signs, clipboards,  pens, cash register 

January Network Meeting Presentation!

Image result for early childhood mental health

NID Lutheran School Colleagues: 

YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS! We are excited to have Anne Konen, Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant at Illinois Action for Children, speak at our January 17, 2018 Early Childhood East Network Meeting.  Anne works directly with child care providers and home-based family child care providers to promote and support social-emotional development, understand behaviors and developmental needs of children, and prevent challenging behavior in young children ages birth to five years old. This work involves providing consultation and observation, sharing information and resources, supporting communication and relationship building with families, and education and training. Have you ever wondered why a child is acting out, cannot seem to express their emotions appropriately, or does not listen? Do these behaviors in young children challenge you? Do you as a child care director feel armed with the tools and ideas to think about challenging behavior differently? This workshop will focus on reflection and how to build capacity and support challenging behaviors.

Early Childhood East Network Meeting: January 17, 2018 at 4:30p.m.-6:30p.m.
Location: St. John’s Lutheran School, 505 Park Road, La Grange
Topic: Mental and Emotional Health
RSVP by January 10 to Holly Hackelberg at: h.hackelberg@sjlagrange.com

Please share this information with your colleagues. We anticipate a large turn-out and want to make sure all interested RSVP!

November Network Meetings

Area Conferences:
1.     Mc Henry Community College Early Childhood Conference
Ø Annually: A Saturday in mid November (7:30 AM – 1:00 PM)
Ø Keynote and 2  sectionals
Ø Economical- $40 per person
Ø Snacks

2.     ASCD Pre-K & Kindergarten Conference
Ø Held at the Schaumburg Convention Center
Ø Held annually; March 7-9, 2018
Ø $125 - $265 depending on attendance an ASCD membership; with two paid teacher registrations the school administrator goes free!
Ø Excellent Speakers
Ø Lots of Vendors
Ø Registration fills up quickly (must be done by 2/15/18 unless already filled)

Other Professional Development Opportunities:
Online classes through INCCRA:
Ø Gateways registration
Ø DCFS Licensing Required Training
Ø CCAP Provider Required Training
Ø ExceleRate Required Training
Ø ECE Credential Level 1 Training
Ø & more

Summer Programming: 

Ø TLC (Trinity), Huntley
o   3 weeks in the summer in the mornings
o   New feature:  “K Boot Camp”  with an academic focus to get students better prepared for the first day of kindergarten
o   Well received and will probably run again in the summer of 2018
o   Contact: Vicky Piller  tlc@trinityhuntley.org

Ø Rockford Lutheran
o   11 weeks
o   Ages: 3 years through 5th grade
o   Theme: Excelrate
o   Weekly Field trips
o   Staffed by the school’s teachers with 1 week commitments
o   @35 students per day
o   In 2018-  More academic focus; more format changes
o   Used “Invest in Kids” funding
o   Contact Person:  Curtis Wudtke   cwudtke@rockfordlutheran.org

Ø St. Peter, Arlington Heights
o   8 weeks
o   Ages 2-14 years
o   @250+ students/!60 per day
o   20 years of operation
o   Has helped maintain and increase school enrollment
o   Weekly field trips- sometimes 2 per week based on age levels
o   Weekly water activities-preschool through grade 2 were onsite and grade 3-8 at a local park district pool
o   Weekly walking trips to area parks
o   Weekly special events (picnics, assemblies, special recreational activities)
o   STEM, art teachers & camp nurse
o   Features added in 2017:  Parents Day Out (PDO) 2 & 3 year olds program and the Summer Food Program which offered free snack and lunch for students.
o   Handouts:  Camp Management Calendar & Summer Days Camp 2017 brochure
o   Website information (mostly 2017 materials)  http://www.stpetermyschool.com/campuslife/summercamps/summerdayscamp/
o   Contact Person:  Michelle Fritz mfritz@FullLifeInChrist.org

Ø Zion, Marengo
o   It offers an Open Site for the Marengo area for the Summer Food Program which enabled them to offer free breakfasts and lunches to community children 1-18 years old.
o   The program is publicized in area public schools and through a variety of other community agencies to families in the Marengo area.  Zion also publicizes it to its students and to the students in its After School program, which primarily come from the public schools.
o   The program can be used for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.  It can be an “Open Site” program like Zion, where individuals just show up for the meals or as “Close Site programs, like St. Peter, Arlington Heights, where it serves the children in the Summer Camp program.
o   Some specific rule and procedures must be followed. Training through the Federal Government and its subcontractors  is needed but in general it is  a relative easy program to administer and run.  Stipends to the programs can be used to help with equipment and other related costs.
o   Zion was reimbursed for @$2.00 per child per meal.
o   They employed their own cook and offered hot meals to area residents.  It got many area families into their building on a regular basis. 
o   In 2017, they served @75 – 100 people per day
o   This was their 5th year in this Federal food program.

“Seed of Grace” at Grace Northbrook-  
o   Second year for this child care center with its first Summer program held during the summer of 2017
o   Themed:  Best Children of God Super Heroes
o   10 weeks
o   For rising 1st graders through 5th grade
o   Weekly water play
o   In House visitors
o   Local Field Trips
o   Facilities:  Large fellowship hall divided up into center: motor, manipulatives, reading, dramatic play, etc.
o   8 AM – 4 PM with extend care beginning at 6:30 AM at ending at 6:30 PM, Monday through Friday
o   Costs:             (includes 3 snacks, lunch & all fieldtrips)
2 days per week     $180
3 days per week     $240
5 days per week     $310
o   Challenges:  Finding affordable busing for field trips, etc.
o   Childcare 6 weeks+ also offered in a year-round format

St Paul, Mt. Prospect 
o   Summer activities; early childhood themed weeks, fine arts camps sports camps & VBS
o   For Perks and Kindergarten themed camp
o   2017 Theme:           “Our Town”    This theme changes every summer on a rotational basis
o   4 weeks of half day early childhood level camp activities- 2 week sessions
o   Extended care available; separate entity from the camps
o   Up to 20 students at a time
o   Staffing:  teachers from the school
o   Offered only to school families; not to the community
o   Some of the school teachers lead, run & manage the camp as a separate entity of the church & school
o   20% given back to the church

 Shepherds Flock at the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights
o   Intergenerational Child Care in a senior living facilities on a year-round schedule
o   6 weeks – 6 years  (5 levels of classrooms)
o   Licensed and uses the “Excelrate” system
o   Has its own “Noah’s Ark” bus, which they use for regular Wednesday Field Trips
o   Brings in speakers and assemblies into the building for both the students and the senior citizens
o   Challenges:  Working with DCFS guidelines yet meeting the needs of special needs students and their families

St. Andrews Lutheran, Park Ridge
o   Program is offered only to school families
o   Half day programs for part of the summer
o   Run by teachers from the school
o   Uses walking trips to various areas in the neighborhoods around the church & school.

Cross Lutheran, Yorkville
o   Preschool through 5th grade
o   Educational component with technology integration
o   Offered on Wednesdays from 9:30 – 12:00 noon
o   $15 per week/$120 per 8 weeks
o   Run as a separate entity from the church & school

Ideas for Field Trips:
1.     Bison’s Bluff in Schaumburg
2.     Offering both Medieval Times (somewhat expensive) and the Brookfield Zoo (free) to be able average field trip costs and offer a variety of field trips

Ideas for In-House Speakers/Assemblies:
1.     Rick Allen Productions:  “Magic School House” show - $160 http://www.rickallenmagic.com
2.     “Class Acts” Over 100 Assemblies http://www.class-act.com
3.     Leonardo     Musical groups     www.gigsalad.com      1-888-826-6004
4.     Miss Carole Peterson   Musical presentations   http://www.macaronisoup.com
5.     Karen Ritter   Nature presentations   http://karensnaturetales.com
6.      Stretch & Grow    Exercise presentations    stretchngrownorth.com
Stretch N Grow North Inc, 1737 N Paulina St, Chicago, IL 60622

Federal Summer Food Program
o   Breakfasts, snacks and lunches delivered daily  for children 1-18 years old
o   Free SUMMER program for centers/schools/ community sites residing within  a certain distance or less from certain low income zip codes.
o   Contact person for more information
Kathy Tentler regional manager
FSP/Ceres Food Group, Inc.
5343 W. Roscoe St., Chicago, IL. 60641
Cell: 847-812-0344          

Schools of the Month:  Zion Lutheran, Marengo IL.,  and Seeds of Grace at Grace Lutheran, Northbrook

Zion Lutheran: 

This large poster was one of many pieces of child friendly artwork and murals that were posted and drawn on walls around the early childhood wing of the Zion Lutheran School building.   Their message of Jesus love was very prevalent in their building.

Director:  Sandee Dunker
Teachers & Staff:  Mary Hildebrandt, Karen Bransky, Judy Dailey, Melodie Bailey, Catie Hill, Judy Dailey, Abby Lee, Winnie Wiegel

Zion’s Preschool Staff post the Illinois State Early Learning standards in various parts of the classroom that they relate to as a reminder of what is being accomplished in these areas.  They post @ 5-10 of them each month and then rotate them.

Some of the preschool classes at Zion made their own Advent wreaths for use in their classroom. The base of them were filled with oranges with cloves which created a very nice aroma around them.

Science Project in Zion’s Two Year Old room:
A Compost Garden complete with lots of worms & plants

A road design was posted on top of the low shelves near the block corner when the transportation vehicles were found. 

Seeds of Grace Lutheran: 
Director Lori Schneider and Infant/Toddler Specialist Paige Kecseg