2019 Q1 Newsletter Update

VLS content updates, research updates, and ELM curriculum updates
Published: 21 Mar 2019

Selected New Content Updates

The VLS includes the latest research and best practices. Our content team continually reviews new research and updates to national guidelines. Details on content updates over the last three months include:

  • There is new content on Collaborative Goal Setting in Lesson Two of the Program Management Course in the Training & Curriculum Specialist Track. This content provides more in-depth information on the steps and strategies coaches can use to support direct care professionals’ competency growth. In the Explore Section of this same lesson, there is a new document called the Training & Curriculum Specialist: Coaching Competency Reflection. This is a self-assessment tool to help coaches reflect on their practice and aid the development of their own professional goals and learning.
  • Mental health awareness is a topic that a short decade ago was much less discussed in the wider public sphere. Because military families face extraordinary, but surmountable, challenges, we’ve included the following resource in the References & Resources section of Lesson Six for all tracks of the Healthy Environments Course: Health and Mental Health Needs of Children in US Military Families also available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/143/1/e20183258.full.pdf
  • The second edition of the Physical Guidelines for Americans (first edition in 2008) was released in February 2019. The details, including guidelines, interactive activity trackers, and posters were integrated into the recently updated Healthy Environments course. Also newly updated in all tracks of Healthy Environments, Lesson Five, are results of a recent study that examined children’s health for two generations within the lens of parent health. The study found that a parent’s health is one of the strongest predictors of their child’s health. Murphey, D., Cook, E., Beckwith, S., & Belford, J. (2018). The health of parents and their children: A Two-Generation Inquiry. Washington, D.C.: Child Trends. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/AECFTwoGenerationHealth_ChildTrends_October2018.pdf
  • All tracks of the Family Engagement Course include new content in Lesson Four on supporting families of children with special needs. This content addresses the emotional experience of families, gives guidance on using family-specific language when speaking about children with disabilities, and provides suggestions for ways programs can seamlessly integrate with other professionals and systems of support in families’ lives.
  • Today, interest in mindfulness is widespread. Simply defined, mindfulness means to be aware of your thoughts and to let them pass, without judgement, as you also pay attention to how your body (for example, your breath) feels as you maintain awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Professional athletes, school districts, universities, and large corporations use mindfulness techniques to increase a sense of calm, and reduce stress and employee sick leave. Just 15 minutes a day can reap immediate benefits such as lowered blood pressure, reduced anxiety and depression, and increased resistance to illness. An excellent way to integrate these benefits into your day is by setting aside time for yourself to take our Focused Topics Course, Social Emotional Learning for Teachers, or SELF-T. We recently added resources to SELF-T to aid in your ability to practice mindful meditation, focused meditation, and breathing exercises. Only five minutes of practice helps you become less reactive to your environment, greatly improving your focus and sense of well-being.

Highlights from the Field and Recent Research

  • Caring for Our Children 4th Edition Now Available.  The 4th edition (2019) of Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, an expansive and important resource at more than 600 pages long, is available from the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education website at http://nrckids.org/CFOC. Our team has begun reviewing the latest edition and will update the VLS where appropriate to align with the latest recommendations.
  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children is gearing up for its NAEYC Week of the Child April 8 - 12, 2019 to shine the spotlight on all stakeholders involved in early childhood education. When you consider the enormous positive benefits to society that a strong early childhood education supports, it is easy to conclude that we’re all stakeholders. Learn more at https://www.naeyc.org/events/woyc/overview.
  • The Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation, within the Administration for Children & Families recently released a report, Evaluating Training and Professional Development for Home-Based Providers. Ultimately aimed to help family child care providers get the training and development they need to implement best practices within their programs, the report is available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/resource/evaluating-training-and-professional-development-for-home-based-providers.
  • Child Care Aware of America released their It’s About Time: Parents Who Work Nonstandard Hours Face Child Care Challenges It indicates that the number of jobs requiring nonstandard schedules is expected to increase the most by 2020. PUBLICHowever, child care options that support irregular work hours are often not available, and frequently also unlicensed. See the report at https://info.childcareaware.org/report-nonstandard-hours-child-care.
  • April is designated as the Month of the Military Child; a time to honor the sacrifices made by military families worldwide, with an emphasis on the experience of the dependent children of military members serving at home and overseas. Month of the Military Child is sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy and supported by many other organizations such as the DoDEA. Read more: https://militarybenefits.info/month-of-the-military-child/#ixzz5hagDOPZT.

ELM Updates

From the menu tab in the top-left hand corner of the page, you can access the Early Learning Matters (ELM) curriculum developed by experts at Purdue University. Please note all the Preschool material is now finalized and fully available on the VLS site. In addition, we have begun incorporating Infant and Toddler curriculum materials and will continue to update these pages as additional elements are finalized.

Tech Updates

We recently released several Support functionality enhancements making it easier to access tutorials and find answers to questions. In addition to the enhanced help guidance provided throughout the site (see the embedded “?” icons for assistance), you can now find a number of support articles that provide information, and implementation or technical guidance for VLS content and tools, progress and certification, account features, and staff management. In addition, you can find answers to common questions about the VLS located at the lower half of our main Support page.