Six Teaching Stations that Every Early Childhood Learning Center Should Have

Every early learning center has a responsibility to provide a safe, fun, and educational place for children to grow. When setting up different early learning teaching stations, there are six areas that should be set up so that children can experience different subjects. Each of these areas should have learning tools on hand that children and teachers can use. Whether you have an established early learning center, are an employee of one, or are looking into opening one, these are six teaching stations that every early childhood learning center should have.

A Music Station
Set up an area where children can explore music. Music instruments are a great way to teach children how to explore different sounds and different types of music. They can also learn about beats and dancing. You should keep a media player close by so that kids can also listen to music and mimic the rhythms. Listening to the music can also help children to learn the different sounds of the instruments they’re playing with.

A General Play Area
The main purpose of a general play area is to encourage the children to use their imagination. Make sure you provide a comfortable area for the children to sit on. A large rug is usually fine. All the toys should have a storage space that children can access when they are told to put the toys away. You should label the bins with the name and picture of the toy that goes in it. Popular toys for learning areas include wooden and plastic blocks, Duplo Lego Bricks, puzzles, and toy food.

An Art and Craft Station
Art is a great way for young learners to express themselves creatively. Crafts are great way for a child to learn how to follow directions. When setting up your craft area, make sure you get the essentials such as crayons, paint, construction paper, safe scissors, glue, and markers. You should also keep some staple craft supplies such as popsicle sticks, yarn, cotton balls, feathers, and pipe cleaners. Make sure you have paper towels and smocks on hand so things don’t get too messy.

An Outdoor Play Area
Getting children outside is very important for their development. It is also helpful in keeping children and staff safer in the pandemic. Depending on your budget, your outdoor play area can be simple or elaborate. Children can easily play with typical outdoor toys such as hula hoops, trikes, balls, and jump ropes. Once you have a larger budget you can purchase swings, sandboxes, playscapes, and other larger equipment.

A Quiet Reading Area
Even though most young learners are not adept at reading quite yet, it is important for them have an area where they can look at books and be read to. This is especially important for early learning centers that allow children to nap in the afternoon. Reading to children before their nap relaxes them and gets them to focus better. You can also make the area into a library where children can “check out” books that they want their parents to read with them.

A Science Station
This part of the early learning classroom can be used to teach the basic of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Early learners can learn basic science experiments about nature, weather, and even chemistry. Science combined with excited kids can get messy so be sure to keep cleaning products close by the area!

About Atlas Training Center

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge. 

Participants enrolling in Atlas Training work through one module at a time and demonstrate that they understand and can apply what they learn prior to moving on to the next module. Progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery of the 13 functional areas of the national CDA and is measured through assessments that include discussions, assignments, reflections and multiple choice quizzes.

Though Atlas Training is a nine month program, students have flexibility within each month to complete work at their own pace. Content mastery is the focus, rather than students completing training just to earn hours to use towards the credential. 

Celebrating Black Authors

This month, we would like to recognize five lesser-known children’s books by Black authors to celebrate black authorship in our field. Black authorship is important because it ensures that the voices, experiences, and stories of various black communities and cultures are recognized and that these experiences are depicted authentically.

These texts help non-Black children explore black lives and to develop an emerging awareness of and appreciation for new cultures, dialects, and communities. These texts can also affirm black children’s sense of identity and self-worth.

Hair Love, by Mathew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison is a wholesome, delightful story about Zuri, a girl who is on a mission to create a fabulous hairstyle. When she has difficulty doing her hair, her father steps in to help! One of the reasons this book is so enjoyable is because of the fun, loving relationship between the girl and her father throughout the story. The illustrations are simple and cheerful and the message of self-love is easily conveyed.

Whose Knees Are These? is a book written by Jabari Asim and Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. This is an extremely simple book that is perfect for mobile infants and toddlers who are beginning to explore their bodies.

I Got the Rhythm is a book that was written by Connie Schofield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison. This book follows a young black girl as she sees, hears, feels, and smells rhythm throughout her daily experiences. The story depicts common daily activities, but the powerful poses of the characters transform seemingly mundane experiences to ones rich with passion, expression, and movement.

Firebird, a book written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers, tells the story of a ballerina who explores her self-doubt and discovers the importance of perseverance. The story is poetic and lightly philosophical, but the illustrations are captivating and dramatic. This book is also an Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book and the illustrator is a Caldecott-winning artist.
Sulwe is a book by Lupia Nyong’o that addresses issues of self-esteem and self-love related to skin color. The main character, Sulwe, is darker than the members of her family and tries to turn herself lighter because she perceives lighter skin color as more beautiful. A magical adventure unfolds and Sulwe comes to appreciate her unique beauty.

February Early Childhood Education Open House

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge.

Participants enrolling in Atlas Training work through one module at a time and demonstrate that they understand and can apply what they learn prior to moving on to the next module. Progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery of the 13 functional areas of the national CDA and is measured through assessments that include discussions, assignments, reflections, and multiple choice quizzes.

Though Atlas Training is a nine-month program, students have flexibility within each month to complete work at their own pace. Content mastery is the focus, rather than students completing training just to earn hours to use towards the credential.

Join us for a virtual open house and learn how you can earn your CDA Credential in as little as nine months.

CDA vs College

As a professor and academic advisor, I often meet with early childhood teachers to learn about their background and professional goals and tailor their learning plans accordingly. What I have learned throughout my career as an educator is that choosing your education path wisely can make all the difference.

But that path looks different for everyone, and different paths address different knowledge and career needs.

For example, while a higher education degree should be a long-term goal for most educators, it is not always the best starting point. It is my view that someone new to the field should not have to wait three semesters to learn about health and safety or child development. These are skills that matter on day 1 of employment, and all teachers should have a foundational understanding of early childhood when they work with children.

State priorities have shifted considerably over the past twenty years, with more spending devoted to college credits and degree obtainment across most states. For many teachers, this shift is hugely beneficial, enabling members of the ECE community to advance professionally without absorbing huge costs in a field that does not pay well in the first place.

While I applaud the advocates and political leaders who have worked tirelessly to provide funding for these college programs, I believe that this orientation should be tempered with caution in the name of practicality.

The reality that seems to get overlooked is that college is not necessarily the right choice for every teacher, and even if it IS the right choice, it is not always the best place to start.

Consider, for example, that it can take six or more years for a full-time teacher to earn an associates degree in early childhood. In the mean time, there may be significant attendance gaps – sometimes even years – in which a teacher does not advance. In the mean time, the teacher’s level on the state’s registry may reflect very little in the way of qualifications.

I also challenge the assumption that college is the best educational format for everyone. During my career as a director, I knew MANY teachers who performed exceptional work with children, but who repeatedly failed college courses due to challenges with writing. Should these teachers’ quality be overlooked and undermined by our existing college orientation, or can we, as a field, consider, that alternative pathways, such as the CDA, provide an acceptable level of skills validation?

Another consideration is that many teachers never complete their degrees or, as is becoming increasingly common, they leave the classroom entirely once they do obtain one.

Thankfully, I believe the field is beginning to return to a more moderate perspective on professional development. CDA credentials are now accepted for college credits, and funding for them continues to grow. As you move forward, please take time to reflect on what path is best for you. If it’s the CDA, we hope to see you in our program. Learn more by emailing us.

-Maureen Hogan PHD

Five of the Best Online Resources for Early Childhood Educators

Being an early childhood educator is a rewarding career but can be extremely challenging. This year has brought a variety of new challenges because of COVID-19. Educators have had to restructure many aspects of their day to day interactions with their students. Since Atlas Training offers several learning choices on CDA Credential training, we have a vested interest in helping all educators succeed. There are many organizations out there that are designed to help early educators. Teachers who are facing challenges can explore the websites of these organizations and find several resources on age appropriate lesson plans, activities, and subjects.
Five of the Best Online Resources for Early Childhood Educators

  1. The National Association for the Education of Young Children: NAEYC is the largest organization in the world strictly dedicated to the betterment of young children. Early childhood educators will find a plethora of information on relating to children and understanding their development.
  2. The National Association for Child Development: This association offers several resources on educating children of all ages. Their website is broken down into several smaller sites about specific types of problems and concerns of teachers. It has been hailed as one of the best sites for early childhood teachers that want their students to reach their full potential.
  3. Resources for Early Learning: This website offers several different learning activities for children from birth to five years old. Whether you’re a new or experienced educator, you will find many ideas on how to encourage children to learn, grow, and have fun. Their activities include math, music, play, reading, science, communication, and art.
  4. The Gryphon House: This site was created by a distributor of children’s books. They have an excellent resource blog that covers current events that effect early childhood education. Besides having several free activities for students, they also offer lesson plans for each age and subject. Their store has several top selling books on early childhood education resources.
  5. The National Education Association: This association has more than 3 million members who are educators, students, activists, workers, parents, neighbors and friends. They believe in the power of public education to transform lives and create a just and inclusive society. NEA’s edcommunities is a place for teachers, parents, and other education professionals to share ideas and resources. There are several conferences and summit that the NEA has every year. The events include information on leadership, social justice, and training.
    Thank you for reading our blog on the best online resources for early childhood educators. Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge. Contact us today to learn more.

Atlas Training Center Open House 12-17-20

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge.

Participants enrolling in Atlas Training work through one module at a time and demonstrate that they understand and can apply what they learn prior to moving on to the next module. Progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery of the 13 functional areas of the national CDA and is measured through assessments that include discussions, assignments, reflections, and multiple choice quizzes.

Though Atlas Training is a nine-month program, students have flexibility within each month to complete work at their own pace. Content mastery is the focus, rather than students completing training just to earn hours to use towards the credential.

Join us for a virtual open house and learn how you can earn your CDA Credential in as little as nine-months.

Attendees of the open house will get half off their 2021 tuition! Register with THIS FORM.

Questions? Email ewilson@atlastrainingcenter.com

The Importance of Early Childhood Education in 2021

2020 has been a challenge for all of us. Parents, teachers, and students have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a vaccine finally on the way, many see this as a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why we must focus on the importance of early childhood education in 2021. Early childhood education bolsters economic development and creates a foundation for a child’s lifelong learning. With so many opportunities lost in 2020, early childhood educators must focus on creating the best educational opportunities for our smallest citizens in 2021.

Research has shown that the investment in early education improves cognitive abilities and behavioral traits. With so many opportunities lost in 2020, educators must make up for the lack of sociability, motivation, and routines that children need. This is especially important for disadvantaged children who benefit from the investment in early childhood education. 

Even with a global pandemic raging, the United States still trails other countries in early childhood education. We are significantly behind in enrollment, funding, and the quality of resources that we have access to. With the economy so negatively impacted by the pandemic, early childhood education must be advocated for. It affects school readiness and provides the essential learning needed so that children can contribute to successful economy. It also allows parents to return to work while their children are learning in a safe environment. 

Early childhood education also combats social inequality by providing all families with quality learning and care. It closes the opportunity gap of race, location, socioeconomic status, and allows all students to reach the best of their potential. Children who are disadvantaged by poverty experience a greater benefit of early childhood education because it minimizes gaps between low income and more economically advantaged children.

Children who experience quality early childhood learning are 25% more likely to graduate from high school and are four time more likely to earn a college degree. They are also more likely to earn up to 25% more in wages as an adult. Research has shown that major brain development occurs before the age of 5 or 6. Parents should use this opportunity to begin educating their children at younger ages. With hectic work schedules and pandemic related worries, parents may forget the importance of educating their children at such a young age.

In conclusion, the research drawn about early childhood education shows a huge need for it in 2021. Individuals and societies are made better because of early childhood education’s social and economic development. With 2020 robbing many children of quality social and educational opportunities, an emphasis must be placed on the importance of early childhood education in 2021. 

If you are interested in a potential career in early childhood education in 2021, Atlas Training Center has an easy to learn Childhood Development Associate Credential course that can be completed in as little as nine months. Our training courses are all online so if earning your credential is your New Year’s resolution contact us today to earn your CDA Credential online.

Why Training in Special Education is so Important to your Career in Early Childhood

Special needs learners are a special population of learners in our programs. Thanks to the self-advocacy of those with disabilities, as well as the advocacy of their parents, friends, and educators, our country has slowly evolved to be more responsive to the diverse physical, social, and cognitive needs of young children with disabilities.

Due in large part to enhanced screening systems, as well as increased awareness of age-appropriate milestones among parents and educators, more children are being diagnosed with disabilities or Special Health Care Needs (SHCNs). As early childhood educators, one of our many responsibilities is to contribute to early intervention by monitoring child development and supporting parents to make referrals if concerns are identified.

Your ability to recognize developmental delays is a critical part of the early intervention process, and can have life-altering impacts on the children you care for. When disabilities or developmental delays are identified early in infancy or early childhood (the time at which the human brain is most malleable) interventionists can utilize appropriate strategies to help children form critical neural connections and strengthen existing skills. While children who are diagnosed later in childhood may still benefit from targeted interventions, the impact of these efforts is likely to be less substantial.

As a teacher, you have received training on many aspects of child development, and likely have an understanding of developmental milestones for the ages that you serve. However, specific coursework in the area of exceptional learners/special education will benefit your career in several ways. Through specific training/schooling on this topic, you will:

Understand the types of screening methods used to identify delays in different developmental domains
Learn how to effectively partner with parents to share your concerns and to learn about their perceptions/experiences with their child’s development
Learn referral procedures, including screenings, referrals to state Part B and Part C EI agencies, observations, PPT meetings, and IEP/IFSP development and utilization
Understand laws protecting students with disabilities, as well as your responsibilities under those laws
Explore how to individualize learning experiences to meet the identified needs of students with identified or suspected delays
Learn how to embrace the differences of your students, and to create environments that reflect your commitment to and respect of students with disabilities.

These skills are valuable to your teaching and are desirable to employers. As students with disabilities are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), Inclusion has become the ideal to which programs and educators strive. According to the CDC, “inclusion means understanding the relationship between the way people function and how they participate in society, and making sure everybody has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life to the best of their abilities and desires.”

Under this philosophy, students with disabilities are encouraged to participate in school settings with non-disabled peers to the farthest extent appropriate and possible.
As inclusive classrooms become the standard, it will become an expectation that all teachers know how to work with students who have disabilities, and that they have training or college coursework to verify they have these skills/understandings.

We highly encourage any early childhood educator – regardless of role – to engage in training and/or coursework to enhance their knowledge of special education!

What we have to be thankful for this year!

This has undoubtedly been a year full of unique challenges for everyone… the children we serve, their families, our employers, and ourselves. Teacher experiences in the time of COVID have varied tremendously – some teachers have remained in-school teaching throughout the duration of the pandemic; some have made the difficult transition to remote teaching; and yet others have lost their work entirely due to closings.

While our struggles have been great, the one thing we can take comfort in is the incredible resilience of our field. Watching our early childhood champions navigate these times has been a source of ongoing pride for me.

Few fields have experienced as many complications as early childhood education. While people working in many white collar jobs have been able to opt to work remote, that has not been an option for many early childhood providers, who are responsible for not only the education of children, but also their health and safety. Even within the larger umbrella of education, it has been the early childhood providers who have had to overcome the greatest hurdles, and who have done so at the risk of their own health and safety.

While COVID has been exhausting for our profession, it has also been a unique opportunity to explore new systems, protocols, and strategies to support learning. As a result, our field now benefits from increased performance in several areas, including:

  • Communication: While effective communication has always been a cornerstone of a quality early childhood environment, programs and teachers have learned new ways to communicate with parents, including mobile apps, teleconferencing, email, and phone trees. These improved communication protocols will only serve to enhance programs in a post-COVID world.
  • Screening Procedures for Communicable Diseases: While state and local governments have long had requirements to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in Early Childhood settings, program protocols have been strengthened over the past year, including contact tracing procedures, detailed health checks (some including temperature checks), and more strongly enforced quarantine requirements. As we move to a post-COVID world, our programs will benefit from our robust screening systems.
  • Health Procedures in the Classroom: Programs have also greatly enhanced their health/safety systems by increasing sanitation procedures and limiting the extent to which materials are shared. While we will certainly be happy to see some of these health procedures relaxed over the next year – such as social distancing of children – others will contribute to more healthful environments in our programs.

-Home-School Connections: COVID has shown us the critical role parents/families play in their children’s education. Many EC teachers have needed to rely heavily on parent support to ensure that students practiced the skills identified in state standard frameworks. Our gratitude to families is immense!

While these are all positive takeaways from the pandemic experience, the thing I am most grateful for of all is the incredible resilience, commitment, and professionalism of our workforce. I remain thankful for our steadfast educators who have enabled young children to continue to receive the care and education they so deserve.