Disclosure: I partnered with Colorado Shines to bring you this information. All opinions are my own.
Who else wants their kids to grow up happy and healthy? When we become parents, our children don’t come with an instruction manual.When they’re age 0 to 5, supporting their development and growth is the most important thing we can do.
Most of us aren’t child care experts or preschool teachers, so we all can use some support for how to best nurture and care for our children, particularly when they’re rapidly changing and growing.
With the world’s current stay-at-home COVID-19 situation, Colorado Shines and the Colorado Early Learning and Development Guidelines are amazing resources to help you as you care for and teach your kids at home, all day, every day.
Even though child care centers are currently closed, these resources will help us create a nurturing learning and play space in our homes.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I don’t know what to do with my kids.
My kids were little before the internet was a thing. I borrowed tons of preschool activity books from the library, staying up at night to find good ideas of what my daughters could do during the long days at home.
Guess what!? Now you don’t have to go to all the trouble I did to find resources. Within seconds, you can have the information you need.
At Home Learning and Activity Resources
If you are a parent, the Early Learning and Development Guidelines and Colorado Shines will be your new best friend. They provide free, easily accessible resources and information to help us be amazing teachers and learning facilitators of our own children.
The online Early Learning and Development Guidelines includes tons of age- appropriate activities and resources so you don’t have to pour over random library books finding just what you’re looking for. You can easily and quickly learn how to create enriching environments for your children at home.
Resources for Parents
Colorado Shines will help you to search and find high-quality licensed child care. Their database will help you find the highest quality programs including centers and preschoolers, family child care homes, school-age programs, Head Start, and overnight camps. Colorado Shines is also a quality rating and improvement system for child care programs. It rates the quality of child care programs and shows a program’s licensing history, including monitoring reports, or any complaints against the program. SO important, right? If you’d rather speak to someone on the phone, you can also call the Colorado Shines Child Care Resource and Referral hotline at 1.877.338 CARE (2273) or text ‘child care referral to 898-211.
What will these websites full of free resources give you?
- Excellent videos about child development and the parent experience
- Activities and tips for playtime
- Activities and tips for learning at home
- Free parenting resources and links
- A database of high-quality child care options in Colorado.
Activities and Ideas for Home
Anytime I want to learn about child development, earlyleaningco.org is my go-to resource for tips, activities, and support.
I click on the Parents & Caregivers tab and find the following age ranges from which to choose:
- 0 – 4 months
- 4 – 8 months
- 9 – 18 months
- 18 – 36 months
- 3 – 5 years
- K – 3rd
In each age group area, there are videos plus transcripts to read that help us know about significant developments at this age. For example, did you know that at 19 – 36 months, toddlers are developing a strong sense of self-identity and want to start doing things by themselves?
The videos give more parenting tips like:
- Ask “either or” questions to help kids feel in control. For example, you might ask a child, “Would you rather wear the blue shorts or white shorts?”
- Give children ideas of how to comfort themselves with a favorite toy or song. This helps them manage their emotions.
The webpage shares plenty of good ideas for physical and motor skill development such as playing rolling, throwing, and kicking ball games.
Colorado Shines Search Tool
Finally, don’t forget to plan ahead for when child care centers reopen. Use the Colorado Shines website to search and discover high-quality child care in Colorado.
The search feature allows you to dig into the details of a child care program’s quality and history, including a program’s licensing history and monitoring reports.
As a parent or caregiver, you can look for environments that adapt to the individual needs of the child, your family’s culture and traditions, your child’s health care situation, and developmental needs.
As you’re looking, keep in mind the following:
- Look for a place that loves kids and will keep them safe. (And is clean.)
Are the teachers happy to be there? Are they playing with the kids and excited about getting to know your child? (And aren’t only chatting with the other teachers at recess?) Use this checklist to help.
Notice how the teachers talk to the children. Do they talk down to them or do they get on their eye level and speak to children with warmth and kindness?
Find a place that would take your child’s medical condition seriously, like my daughter’s seizure disorder, and ask you what they could do to make sure she is safe and have an action plan if something happens.
- Look for a place that values diversity — in both people and in ways of being.
My oldest daughter, who we now know is neurodiverse, watched other kids doing art projects. She NEVER brought anything home or participated in the art activities. Luckily, her 3-year-old preschool teacher was experienced enough to know that some kids were like that. She loved my daughter and accepted her. She did not force her to be something she wasn’t. You want a place that values each child; a place your child feels they belong and likes to go to.
It helps to have a small ratio of children per adult. Use the guidelines on this handout to learn more.
- Look for a place that offers a variety of kid-friendly learning materials
You want a place with materials that promote dramatic play, math, science, language, literature, art, and music.
- Look for a place whose staff understands child development.
You want to find a place whose teachers use a set curriculum with best practices around child development. You want a place where teachers have training both prior to working there and ongoing. A place where they help your child develop social skills and self-regulation. You want to see children having choices, being engaged in a variety of activities, and learning new things. Find out what is age-appropriate on the Early Learning and Development Guidelines website.
Click here to find a program on the Colorado Shines website. They’ll help you do most of the research you need!
Your child’s early years are hugely important times of development and learning. If your child is not safe or in a lacking environment, that will make a difference on their later success in life and at school.
As parents, we are our children’s first teachers so we can keep the focus on development and learning at home, too. Find age-appropriate guidelines for learning activities to do with your kids on earlylearningco.org. It’s an excellent resource — with videos about child development and tons of good ideas.
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