Struggling With Becoming “Trauma Informed?” We Have Solutions For Your Program.

According to NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci, “Head Start is a safe haven for more than one million vulnerable children and families, many of whom are battling the storms of addiction and other traumatic experiences.” It takes courage and commitment to work with the most vulnerable children and families in our communities.  It’s not surprising that staff are seeing the impacts of complex developmental trauma in their classrooms, as well experiencing an increase in second-hand trauma themselves. Data confirms an increase in the number of families reporting involvement with child welfare agencies, alcohol and drug dependency, domestic violence, mental illness, grandparents raising grandchildren, poor health, and housing insecurity.

Are you interested in a highly interactive and custom designed training which addresses:

  • Contemporary research on the impact and effects and stress (including chronic stress) on the development of preschool children
  • The essential elements that build stress-responsive classrooms that support the development of children at high risk for negative outcomes of stress and trauma
  • The strategies that build a “culture of support” for children and staff; developing classroom community, building self-regulation skills, and managing second-hand trauma and compassion fatigue.

We currently have availability in April and May, or for your preservice, for your program to become more aware of the effects of trauma on young children and signs of second-hand trauma, increasing effective intervention strategies for staff and children in your care. Contact us for more information.


Making Accidental Learning Part of the Plan

Sadly, for many professionals in early childhood, we say “children learn through play,” but you’d be hard-pressed to find evidence that we believe it’s true. What I mean is, letting kids play all day long, how could we possibly meet all the HSPPS? There’re things to do, a curriculum to implement, big group-small groups, circle time, intentional teaching, assessments, snacks to serve, diapers to change, more diapers to change, and clean up, so much clean up. Sound familiar?

Are you interested in a training that focuses on developmentally appropriate practices for infants and toddlers? We dive deep into what it means to support learning through play authentically, create environments worthy of exploration, make learning visible through innovative documentation, and get real about what it means to be a grown-up.

Let’s find the freedom inside the HSPPS and put play at the center of everything we do with infants and toddlers.

Essential Tips: School Skills for Families

Partnering with Parents for School Readiness

What is the most important thing that we want our children to remember about their school days? Is it following too many rules? Being told what to do? Testing, testing, testing? Of course not! And when we think about our own days at school, we remember more personal and experiential events – rather than test answers or when to raise our hands. Support for our children and their families as they enter their educational journey is an awesome and important reality for Head Start programs. How to make that successful requires thought and intention on our part. Consider these things:

Tip #1:  Developmental language may be new to families.

Not every family understands child development. They may not realize how the ages and stages of children relate to school success. Displaying newsletters, classroom notes and posters in a Family Service Worker’s office will provide your families with ongoing information about their children’s growth. Discuss their own child’s specific development at conferences or home visits. Talk with parents about what is typical and address any questions they have. Follow up with ways to encourage developmental stages with home supplies or materials as a great home-school connection.

Tip #2:  Publicize the great things that go on every day in your program!

Offer a training or parent event on the important skills that children are learning. Detail the sets of important skills –  social/emotional, gross and fine motor, cognitive and transitional – and give families a way to see their child as others do. We often slip “eduspeak” into our conversation. While it’s helpful to clarify terms, avoid it when possible. By giving parents an understanding of educational terms and phrases, we provide them with talking points for their first kindergarten parent conference and transition them into the public education sector.

Tip #3:  Start with success.

Parents have many strong supports already in place. They deserve validation and recognition for those successes. Give them an opportunity to answer questions that show how they work with their child at home: “What do you do at home to help your child be successful at school? How do you partner with your child’s teacher?” Help families understand that regular book time or a specific bed time schedule is far more valuable than any set of flashcards or purchased school skills booklet.

Working together with families for school readiness provides the most success as children move into elementary school. When families are comfortable with their role and empowered as advocates for their child, they will make an important difference throughout the school years.

Interested in staff training on working with families to promote school readiness? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Essential Tips: Engagement + Intention + Learning Success!

We know that the most effective learning is achieved when children are engaged. Engagement occurs when children are involved and energized by what is being presented and when they are active with others as they solve problems together. Equally important is intention on the part of the teacher. Together, these strategies hold the key to positive outcomes in the Approaches to Learning domain. How can we create the best environment for learning success? Invite your staff to follow these three tips:

Tip #1:  Use stories, songs and conversation.

These interactions build language, connections and confidence in young learners.  One-on-one with peers, sharing with the group and having special teacher-child moments all promote learning.  From the repetition of traditional nursery rhymes to higher order questions that require reasoning…language development is an important skill.

Tip #2:  Create focused classroom activities.

Thematic learning can be child-centered in order to foster independence and problem-solving skills.  While following the curriculum is critical, adding imaginative experiences in centers around the room builds innovation and initiative.

Tip #3:  Design opportunities for fun.

Use poetry, cooking and movement to encourage curiosity and infuse every day with joy!  Participating together and contributing to the group can reduce behavior challenges, develop persistence and cultivate community in the classroom.

Would you like to strengthen classroom practice?  Is your staff intentional in their planning and implementation? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at to schedule custom designed training on “Engaging Learners through Intentional Teaching” at your program.

Essential Tips: Creating a Full Community Assessment

Tip #1:  Collect a wide variety of data.

There is a tremendous amount of data available.  Check sources such as the Census Bureau, State Data Centers, County Health Departments as well as local school districts and early intervention programs.  Surfing the Net, making phone calls and conducting surveys will yield a great deal of essential data.  Also remember that you have valuable internal programmatic information – your PIR, wait list and annual report, just to name a few.

Tip #2:  Look for trends.

When you are collecting current data, also gather information from recent years.  This will give you an opportunity to compare data.  By aggregating and analyzing the information, you will be able to identify trends.  These trends will provide you with key information to make critical programmatic decisions. Having current and complete information allows leaders to make strategic decisions regarding the direction of their program.

Tip #3:  Create a user-friendly format.

Be sure that your community assessment is a document that is easy to read.  It should also be user-friendly so that you can find needed information quickly.  Include a combination of graphs and charts as well as text.  With each graph, add a “Key Finding” that describes the data.  After each major section, include a “Highlights and Considerations” section that summarizes the key information.

If you need help creating a Community Assessment, give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at to discuss your needs.

Essential Tips: Strategic Planning

Tip #1:  Achieve buy-in before you begin.

Include all stakeholders in strategic planning to establish buy-in. Staff from a variety of positions (teachers, family service workers, center directors, home visitors, management staff, etc.) will bring a different point of view. Also invite members from your Policy Council and Board of Directors as well as community partners. Ask everyone to complete a survey prior to strategic planning. Be sure the survey includes questions about what they want the program to accomplish for children, families, staff and community.

Tip #2:  Create a list of your program’s strengths and challenges.

This list should contain valuable information to establish your program’s goals and objectives. The challenges represent potential goals and the strengths represent potential strategies to achieve the goals. Also take time to review your program’s mission, vision and guiding principles. Ensure they accurately reflect what you are working to achieve. Finally, for each goal and objective, in addition to timelines and persons responsible, include a “success indicator” column.  This will specifically describe how it will look when each goal is achieved.

Tip #3:  Review and utilize your programmatic data.

Strategic planning is a great time to collect and review key programmatic documents as a group. Critical data includes items such as your self-assessment, community assessment, child assessment data, CLASS data, ongoing monitoring data and family engagement data, just to name a few. Review this important data when creating your goals and objectives.

Looking for someone to facilitate your program’s Strategic Planning and end up with a written strategic plan? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Essential Tips: Writing Your 5 Year Grant Application

Tip #1:  Show that your program utilizes a systems-based approach to service delivery.

There are many opportunities throughout the grant application to demonstrate that your program has systems in place. Key systems include references to 1) your policies and procedures, 2) written plans and 3) an ongoing monitoring system. Demonstrate that you have systems in place to deliver services to children and families – including the way you track and monitor service delivery. Display other systems you have in place – such as recruitment/enrollment, professional development, transitions and tracking staff qualifications.

Tip #2:  Include information on your data-driven decision-making model.

There is a lot of valuable programmatic data at your fingertips – child assessment data, enrollment and attendance data, family engagement data, CLASS data and ongoing monitoring data, just to name a few. By aggregating and analyzing this data, you have critical information at hand that you can use to make decisions for your program. Provide information on how you will measure and report progress on your long-term goals and short-term objectives as well as the impact areas.

Tip #3:  Demonstrate a strengths-based, empowerment model in serving families.

It’s important to meet families where they are and build upon their strengths. This is a foundational element in Head Start. Demonstrate how your program will support family growth and development. Show how your program empowers families to self-sufficiency. Explain how you utilize multi-disciplinary teams and strong community partnerships to achieve this. Share information on how you implement your Parent, Family and Community Engagement plan as well as how you utilize the data from the plan.

Looking for someone to write or review your 5 year grant application? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Essential Tips: Support for New Head Start Directors & New Content Area Managers

Tip #1:  Take time to build a foundation.

As a new Director of a new Manager, take time to learn the ins and outs of Head Start as it pertains to your new position. For a new Head Start Director, initial training should include topics such as Head Start Performance Standards, Policy Council and Board of Directors requirements and compliance monitoring. For a new Content Area Manager, initial training would include topics such as content area requirements, written plans as well as required staff and parent training topics.

Tip #2:  Establish systems and a visual timeline.

One of the most important things to do as a new Director or a new Manager is to create systems. Policies and procedures as well as an ongoing monitoring system are two essential pieces. In addition, many new Directors and new Managers also find a visual timeline helpful – a document that lists when all required items are due in Head Start. Since there are so many moving parts in Head Start, having this timeline is a key piece of the puzzle.

Tip #3:  Create a network of resources and support.

A wealth of resources at your fingertips and ongoing support are important assets for a new Director or a new Manager. There are many Head Start resources available that provide guidance on key areas. It’s also important to develop an internal and external support system that will assist you in your new position. It is very helpful to have someone with whom you can discuss issues, ask questions and brainstorm.

We are experts in 1-on-1 training for new Head Start Directors or new Content Area Managers. Please give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at, if you are interested in our services.

Essential Tips: Supporting the Work of Our Home Visitors

Tip #1:  Be safe and take care of yourself.

Ensure that your program has procedures in place for the safety of Home Visitors – such as providing safety training to staff members and establishing clear rules about safety practices.  With as much time as Home Visitors spend taking care of the families they serve, they may forget to take care of themselves.  Home Visitor training should address boundary issues and personal time.

Tip #2:  Provide training specifically geared to Home Visitors.

Home Visitors are responsible for bringing the Head Start or Early Head Start program into the family’s home.  Like other staff, their training plan should include topics such as screening and assessments, lesson planning, and building relationships with parents.  In addition, their plan for professional development should also include training that is specifically designed for their needs. Suggestions for topics could include: home as a child development environment, parent education techniques, and observing parent/child interactions.

Tip #3:  Establish a system to observe your Home Visitors and support their professional development.

Observing Home Visitor practice is an essential part of the home-based program, especially as it pertains to supporting parents in their role as their child’s primary teacher.  The observations can be used as a tool to assess Home Visitors’ work with families as well as to track Home Visitors’ development over time.  In addition, the observations can be utilized as a training tool to build on the Home Visitors’ strengths and address areas that need improvement.

Interested in training for your Home Visitors? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Essential Tips: Creating Impactful Training for Your Staff

Tip #1: Take time to recognize staff accomplishments and program successes

Even though training days are always busy, it’s important to take time to acknowledge successes and achievements in your program – and the role that staff played in it. Also recognize staff’s accomplishments – getting a degree, learning a new skill or reaching a goal. There’s always enough time to recognize the people who are serving our children and families.

Tip #2: Use a combination of training techniques to engage all types of learners.

Since everyone absorbs information differently, it’s critical to present information in a variety of training styles. We find that the most successful technique is a combination – presenting the new information followed by a practical experience. Begin by sharing the information via lecture and a powerpoint presentation. Follow it up with a high level of interaction – lively discussion and hands-on activities for participants to “experience” the new information and put it into practice.

Tip #3: Follow up pre-service training with regular training opportunities throughout the year.

People take in new information a little at a time. Instead of presenting a lot of new information at once, create multiple training opportunities for staff. Create a comprehensive, layered plan to provide training to staff throughout the year – once a month if you can. Lay a foundation of learning and then build on it – a little at a time.

Interested in impactful training for your staff? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at