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2019 Q2 Newsletter Update

Three New Focused Topics Courses in Development

Three New Focused Topics Courses in Development

With direction from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Military Family Readiness Policy’s Children, Youth, and Families (OMFRP’s CYF) division, the Virtual Lab School (VLS) team is developing three new focused topics courses. Here is a brief preview of the courses OMFRP’s CYF division and Service Headquarters representatives will review later this year:

Supporting Children with Challenging Behaviors

As the Technical Assistance Center on Social and Emotional Intervention (TASCEI) describes, children with challenging behaviors face greater hurdles throughout life. Caring educators who intervene early to address these behaviors can enhance positive outcomes for children, their families, and society at large. In this eight-lesson course, firm up your foundation on the topic of developmentally expected behaviors, as you understand how to promote healthy development and prevent behavior challenges. Learn how to effectively collaborate with colleagues, other professionals, and families to best support children and youth who have development and behavioral needs.

Sexual Development & Behavior in Children and Youth

Human sexuality begins at birth, and sexual development and behavior, like other domains of child development, follows a developmental path and is influenced by children’s diverse environments and experiences. This nine-lesson course will guide your understanding of factors that shape sexual development, developmentally appropriate responses to all types of sexual behavior, and how to build a program that promotes healthy sexual development in children and youth. The course will also give you practical steps to follow if children or youth in your classroom or program exhibit problematic sexual behaviors.

Trauma Informed Care in Childcare Settings

Approximately twenty-five percent of children have or will experience trauma, the effects of which can impact developmental growth and healthy outcomes. In this four-lesson course, you will learn about the different types of trauma, and how to identify symptoms of trauma exposure. You will also find out how a trauma-sensitive environment and trauma-informed practices can lessen the effects of trauma on children and youth. Finally, you will understand how caring for those affected by trauma can impact you, as you develop your own wellness and self-care plan.

Please note that this last lesson dovetails perfectly into another Focused Topics course which is already available: Social Emotional Learning for Teachers, or SELF-T.

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. In the past three months we’ve added some additional resources to support healthy eating: 

  • Family child care providers now have access to additional resources developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture about nutrition and health in the Family Child Care track, Healthy Environments course, Lesson 5. “Grow It, Try It, Like It!” materials include ways to integrate activities into programs about where food comes from. Designed expressly for family child care providers, these resources provide practical steps to deliver garden-based nutrition education. Sections are available about farmer’s markets, mixed-age activities, and aids to help implement planting, growing, harvesting, and eating foods grown right at or near family child care homes. Visit to access the resources.
  • New resources on Infant Feeding from CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program) and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services Nibbles for Health: Nutrition Newsletters for Parents of Young Children have been integrated into the Healthy Environments course across all Foundational Tracks as well as the Focused Topics course, Essentials in Child Care Food Service.

Highlights from the Field and Recent Research

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences

    In their April Child Trends blog titled, ‘Adverse childhood experiences are different than child trauma, and it’s critical to understand why,’ J. D. Bartlett and V. Sacks write about the importance of understanding the difference between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and other factors in a child’s life such as childhood adversity, trauma, and toxic stress. This informs their recommendation to use childhood adversity and ACEs screening tools in conjunction with an assessment of children's wellbeing. This more comprehensive approach will prevent overtreatment of children who have experienced adversity but are doing well and may help identify children who have experienced limited childhood adversity but need support services.

    Bartlett and Sacks round out their blog with a call to action. As awareness grows in understanding that a broad category of adversities can cause trauma and toxic stress, early childhood professionals are presented with an opportunity to put supports in place to help remediate children’s stress responses, such as implementing trauma-informed care in early childhood settings. Their conclusion is worth quoting: “Otherwise, we risk allowing some of the most vulnerable children who are in need of support to fall through the cracks while pathologizing and overtreating other children who do not need services.” See the full write up:

  • Program Ratings vs. Quality

    The Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education, released a brief report about the validity of quality rating and improvement systems, and the associations between childcare program ratings and quality. Are Ratings from Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement Systems Valid Measures of Program Quality? A Synthesis of Validation Studies from Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) States looks at progress made by California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin.

  • Importance of Parents

    Although we often use the phrase, “parents are children’s first teacher,” we know that families actually play a number of roles in supporting their children and in promoting their education. This new resource from the Carnegie Corp and Global Family Research Project, Joining Together to Create a Bold Vision for Next Generation Family Engagement: Engaging Families to Transform Education capitalizes on the research that demonstrates that family engagement can influence children’s success.

ELM Updates

From the menu tab in the top-left corner of the page, you can access the Early Learning Matters (ELM) curriculum developed by experts at Purdue University. In addition to the finalized Preschool material that was available last quarter on the VLS site, Infant and Toddler curriculum materials are now available too.