The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child on April 10-16. NAEYC, the world’s largest early childhood education association, celebrates the Week of the Young Child annually to bring attention to the needs of young children, their families, and the child care programs that serve them.
Here are some ideas you can implement to engage families and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child in your program:
Kick Off Event
The week prior to April 10-16, let your families know that you will be celebrating the Week of the Young Child and any activities you have planned by posting about it on your program’s social media feed, in your parent newsletter, or through flyers. If posting on social media, be sure to include the hashtag: #woyc2021
Not only does incorporating music into your program help children develop their creativity and literacy skills, but it also encourages children to be active and have fun with their friends and family! A few ideas to incorporate music in your program include:
- Lead an in-person or virtual sing-along and dance party
- Invite parents to submit their favorite (child-friendly) song they play in their home to your Music Monday playlist and share it with all the families in your program. This is a great way to expose children in your program to other cultural influences they may not hear within their own homes.
For other ideas on how to promote an active lifestyle at an early age, review the VLS’s Lesson 5: Promoting Active Lifestyles within the preschool Physical Development course.
Cooking can help children learn math and science literacy skills, and is a fun way to introduce children to healthy eating habits! Try implementing some of these ideas (or others) in your program this week:
- Teach children how to make healthy snacks at home such as carrots and hummus, peanut butter and celery, sliced apples, etc.
- Encourage families to cook together
- Ask families to submit their favorite family recipes and create a book of recipes for the class
For other ideas on how to promote healthy habits such as an active lifestyle and good nutrition, we encourage you to review the VLS’s Lesson 5, Staying Healthy: Nutrition and Physical Activity within the preschool Healthy Environments course.
Work Together Wednesday
Work Together Wednesday is an opportunity to encourage the children in your program to work together and develop their social and early literacy skills. Studies have shown that social-emotional development in young children affects their development later in life and is closely linked to other developmental competencies; therefore, it is important for ECE professionals to create opportunities for children to practice their social-emotional skills. Here are a few ideas to implement in your program during the Week of the Young Child:
- Allow children to choose a project they would like to work on together
- Explore math and science concepts through building projects
- Any building material is fair game! From pillows to popsicle sticks
Review the VLS’s preschool course on Social & Emotional Development for more ideas on how to create a high-quality environment that promotes positive social-emotional development and how to embed activities and experiences that encourage social-emotional development.
Art projects help children develop creativity, social skills, and fine motor skills. Brush up on how to cultivate and nurture children’s creativity in Lesson 1, Creativity: An Introduction and Lesson 2, Cultivating Creativity and Innovation: Experiences and Activities in the VLS’s preschool Creative Expressions course. Some ideas to try out include:
- Send art kits home with children and host a virtual art class for the whole family
- Host an “art opening” showcasing students’ art work
- Teach children how to draw different patterns, how to build with playdough, finger paint, etc.
Parents are children’s first teachers. When child and youth care providers understand a child’s family dynamics and develop partnerships with parents, they are more likely to create an environment that supports the needs of the child. Thus, engaging parents can have an impactful effect on the child’s learning and development! You can find tips on how to effectively communicate and engage with children’s families in the VLS’s preschool Communication & Language Development course, Lesson 3, Communication: Families as well as in the Family Engagement course, Lesson 3, Promoting Family Engagement: Communicating with Families.
While we suggest a few ideas below to engage families during the Week of the Young Child, we encourage you to try new ways to engage parents in their child’s learning and in the classroom throughout the year!
- Create a collage of the children and their families for the classroom
- Host a virtual family fun night
For more ways to encourage effective parent engagement, visit NAEYC’s website: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/family-engagement/principles
For additional Week of the Young Child resources, including NAEYC’s Step It Up (SIU) activity ideas, please visit the NAEYC’s website: https://www.naeyc.org/events/woyc/plan-your-event