Terrie’s Blog

New School Year to begin August 19, 2015

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In just a few short weeks summer will come to an end and we will begin a new school year. Adjusting to preschool can be tough for any child (and parent), so here are some tips to help make this new transition go smoothly. Remember, try not to make too big of a deal out of this new milestone, or your child may end up being more worried than excited. Help your child get ample sleep. If your child has had a relaxed bedtime schedule start easing back into an earlier bedtime. If your child is used to playing outside until dark each night they will need a period of adjustment to get ample sleep to be ready to wake up early to get to Growing Futures on time. Ease back into scheduled days. Have them practice getting up and getting dressed at the same time every morning and start eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks around the times your children will eat when school is in session. Give your child a sense of what to expect. Most children feel at least a little anxious about starting preschool. Resist the urge to say things like, “It will be super fun” or “There’s nothing to be afraid of”. Instead talk with him/her about what to expect. Growing Futures teachers will be going on home visits before school starts. Make time for the visit so your child and you have the opportunity to meet the teachers before the first day of school. Come up with a good-bye ritual. If this is the first time your child will be away from you, he/she may worry that you are not coming back or that you may get lost on your way back to school. Come up with a special good bye ritual – a high five or a hug – which you will do each time you drop him/her off. During the first few days of the new school year, allow extra time to get ready and out the door on time for your child’s class session. The calmer things are at home the easier the transition to the classroom. While you may be tempted to sneak out without so much as a wave good-bye – don’t do it. Your child will only be more distressed. Instead, make a point of saying good-bye. Don’t drag out the good-bye or your child may think you are upset. Just do it matter-of-factly and consistently and he/she will learn to do the same. Please be courteous of our teachers and plan to pick up your child on time. As mentioned above, if this is the first time your child will be away from you, he/she may worry that you are not coming back – and it can be scary for your child to be the last one to leave for the day. Growing Futures staff are looking forward to getting to know our new children and families, and partnering with parents to prepare the children for kindergarten and life. Terrie August...

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Purposeful Parenting Tips

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July is National Purposeful Parenting Month – a time to build strong, positive, and healthy relationships with your children. Being a parent is the ultimate long-term investment, it also is incredibly rewarding. As a parent, one of your goals is to be your child’s first teacher. The reality is that children learn by seeing what is around them and by being taught the differences between right and wrong. From talking and reading to infants, to making values clear, you exert enormous influence over your children’s development. By being a purposeful parent, you are an active, engaged parent who communicates regularly with your children at an early age, and in return this helps make communication easier as your children grow and become adolescents. However, children must also be given the opportunity to learn firsthand, to make mistakes and learn from the consequences. No matter how good an example you set and what values you teach your children, they will make mistakes. It is important to continuously be engaged in your child’s life as they continue to grow and make a positive impact on their everyday experiences. Another way to be a purposeful parent is to define success goals with your child. Choosing and pursuing clear and age-appropriate goals with your child, gives them a sense of purpose and achievement. Remember though, these goals for success must reflect your child’s interests, skills and abilities. Are you looking for some ways to start incorporating purposeful parenting into your household? Here are a few suggestions: Plan fun family activities – turn off the T.V. and other electronics Teach and learn the value of delegating responsibilities Create new family traditions Celebrate the individuality of all family members Tell your children you love them, and do it often Being a purposeful parent takes time and effort, but the rewards you see make it worth it in the end. Terrie July...

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Growing Futures is excited to be a beneficiary of Jazz in the Woods!

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Growing Futures is excited to be one of this year’s beneficiaries of Jazz in the Woods! This free, family friendly event will take place Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20, 2015 at Corporate Woods. Jazz in the Woods, hosted by the Overland Park South Rotary Club, is celebrating its 26th year and draws crowds of up to 25,000 people each year. Growing Futures appreciates this opportunity to share our program with our great, supportive, local community and I look forward to being a part of this special event. Community events such as this are critical to Growing Futures success. Our services are funded in part through federal and state grant programs, but we are also responsible for raising more than $327,000 in private/community dollars to meet the match required for grant funding. Beyond that, significant additional funds are required to operate our program and fully serve enrolled families. Being a beneficiary of Jazz in the Woods is an honor and we are so excited to be a part of this memorable weekend which in return, will help us be able to continue to bridge the gap in meeting the needs of an increasing number of poverty-level families in Johnson County. Text CHILDREN to 80077 should you want to join the Jazz in the Woods mobile community, and I look forward to seeing you there! Terrie June...

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Growing Futures celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week

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Since 1984, the National Parent-Teacher Association has designated the first week of May as a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. We know just how crucial a role teachers play in student success, and I want to extend my appreciation to all of Growing Futures’ staff during this special week. Did you know that Growing Futures currently has 50 employees including education/teaching and family support staff as well as administrative personnel? Growing Futures is incredibly proud of the highly skilled and qualified staff that we employ. Each of our lead classroom teachers has at least a bachelor degree in early childhood education or a similar program. Our assistant teachers hold at least a Child Development Associate degree, or are actively working towards achieving this goal. As an Early Head Start and Head Start program, we are committed to low student/teacher ratios which help to create a quality learning environment for those in our program. In our infant room we have 1 teacher per 3 children, with a maximum of 8 children in a classroom. (The state of Kansas requires a 1 to 4 ratio with up to nine infants in a classroom.) In our toddler classrooms, we have 1 teacher per 4 children, with a maximum of 8 children in a classroom. (The state of Kansas has different requirements based on children’s ages – all still resulting in a higher ratio and more children.) In our preschool classrooms, each Part Day/Part Year classroom has 2 teachers and 16 children. In our Wrap Around Care classrooms we have 3 teachers to 18 children. (The state of Kansas requires if the children are age 4, 1 teacher per 12 children, maximum class size 24 students.) Come volunteer at our school and see our amazing staff in action! We still need the help of supportive community partners to assist us in accomplishing our mission – to nurture children and strengthen families to enrich our community. As Growing Futures continuously celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week year round, this week is a nice reminder to say thank you to a special teacher in your life. Terrie May...

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Growing Futures celebrates the Week of the Young Child

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The Week of the Young Child™ (April 12-18) is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). We know more than ever before about the importance of children’s earliest years in shaping their learning and development. The Week of the Young Child™ is a time to recognize that children’s opportunities are our responsibilities. It’s a time to recommit ourselves to ensuring that each and every child experiences the type of early environment – at home, at child care, at school, and in the community – that will promote their early learning. To celebrate this week, Growing Futures is welcoming community guest readers to classrooms on Wednesday, April 15th to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Guest readers include: Rex Taylor, Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce and former City of Roeland Park Chief of Police; Tammy Thomas, Regional Director for Kansas Department for Children and Families; Larry Oleksa, Growing Futures Board Member; Harold Frye, Overland Park South Rotary Member; Jennifer Sawyer, Growing Futures Board Member; Lillian Hall, Growing Futures Board Member; John Meier, City of Leawood Chief of Police and Leawood Rotary Member; Brad Moore, Leawood Rotary Member; and Carol D’Attoma, Leawood Rotary Member. Terrie April...

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The theme this year is Be Their Voice-Speak Up to Prevent Child Abuse. Prevention is the key to reducing child abuse and neglect and improving the lives of children and families. Strengthening families and preventing child abuse takes a combined commitment from individuals and organizations in a community.  Ways to strengthen families includes providing accessible quality early childhood programs, opportunities to increase parent knowledge of parenting and child development, social connections such as friends, family and neighbors who help out and provide emotional support. Other factors include a safe place for children to play, availability of food, shelter and medical care for all families. Head Start programs provide a comprehensive approach to programs and services that help strengthen families leading to improved life outcomes for the child, family and community. Whether you are employed at a local social service agency serving children and families or an individual, do your part to prevent child abuse and neglect; lend a helping hand and speak up if you know a child is living in an abusive environment.  Everyone can take steps to make their community and families stronger! Terrie April...

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Importance of Early Childhood Literacy

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In the past, many parents assumed their little ones weren’t ready to read until they entered kindergarten at five or six years of age. Today, we know that early literacy development begins in infancy. Even more important, preschool years include an important developmental period for young children—did you know that 90% of a child’s brain development takes place before the age of 5? This is why it is so critical for all young children to have access to learning early literacy skills like those we provide at Growing Futures. What is early literacy? It is what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Research shows that children entering kindergarten with the following early literacy skills are more likely to be successful.  Vocabulary Development— Knowing the names of things Narrative Skills— Being able to describe things, events, and tell stories Letter Knowledge— Understanding that each letter is unique and has a name and sound Print Awareness— Experience with different forms of print; knowledge of how to handle books and how to follow words across a page Print Motivation— Interest in and enjoyment from books Phonological Awareness— Ability to hear and play with the small sounds that make up words At Growing Futures, we use the HighScope Curriculum that helps our children develop literacy skills by engaging in meaningful reading and writing experiences. They become readers and writers through a unique combination of child-initiated learning and teacher-guided instruction. The HighScope Curriculum is research based and child focused. It uses a process called “active participatory learning” to help achieve powerful, positive outcomes. It not only helps young children excel in language and cognitive learning, but also promotes independence, curiosity, decision-making, cooperation, persistence, creativity and problem solving—fundamental skills that help determine success in adult life. I invite you to attend a Crayon Box Tour and see how we incorporate early literacy skills in everything that we do. Our teachers and volunteers work alongside the children, communicating verbally and non-verbally to encourage learning; and our classrooms are designed and divided into interest areas full of stimulating materials designed for specific types of play. Lastly our daily routines balance a variety of experiences and learning opportunities where the children engage in both individual and social play, small to large group activities, assist with cleanup and so much more. You can find more information about our Crayon Box Tours and a 2015 schedule at http://www.growingfutureseec.org/how-to-help/crayon-box-tours/. Terrie March...

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Fighting Poverty and Growing Futures

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Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty, and introduced legislation aimed at reducing the national poverty rate. The level of need for social services Johnson County has increased markedly over the past decade due to changing demographics and the economic downturn that left many families unable to recover. In 2013, the Johnson County poverty rate was 5.9% compared to 4.7% in 2008 (United Community Services 2014). Nearly 33,000 people were living in poverty in Johnson County last year. Children ages 0-17 continue to account for one-third of those living in households with income below 100% of the federal poverty level. Child Trends reports there are 5 ways poverty harms children: Poverty harms the brain and other body systems. Poverty for children is not just getting by with less it can also negatively affect how the body and mind develop, and can alter the fundamental architecture of the brain. Children who experience poverty have an increased likelihood of chronic illnesses and shortened life expectancy. Poverty creates and widens the achievement gaps. When compared to their peers, children growing up in poverty fall behind early. Starting in infancy, gaps are evident in key aspects of learning, knowledge and social-emotional development. When left unaddressed, the gaps become progressively wider. Poverty leads to poor physical, emotional, and behavioral health. Growing up poor increases the likelihood that children will have poor health, including poor emotional and behavioral health. Poor children are more likely to have food insecurity and diets deficient in important nutrients. Asthma rates are higher among poor children and they are less likely to receive preventive medical and dental care. Poor children are more likely to live in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty, which is associated with numerous social ills. Poor children are more likely to live in neighborhoods where they are exposed to environmental toxins and other physical hazards, including crime and violence including indirect exposure –witnessing or hearing of its occurrence-has been linked to adverse developmental outcomes. Poor children are also disproportionately likely to attend schools with fewer resources. Poverty can harm children through the negative effects it has on their families and the home environment. Parents in poverty demonstrate many strengths but it can’t be overlooked that the challenges and stresses of poverty take an emotional toll on parents. Poor parents report higher stress and incidence of depression. The good news is Early Head Start and Head Start programs like ours offer comprehensive services that help with all 5 points noted above. At Growing Futures, we offer on-site medical and dental clinics for enrolled families, which reduce barriers to health care. Our early education program prepares children for kindergarten and reduces the achievement gap. Nutritious, balanced meals are served at our center, and children brush their teeth at least two times a day while at school. We also partner with entities that provide fresh vegetables at no cost to our families. Beyond center-based services, Growing Futures staff members conduct home visits with families sharing resources and supporting parents in their efforts towards self-sufficiency. At Growing Futures, we also offer enrollment opportunities to children whose families are not living in poverty – providing an opportunity for economic family diversity in the classroom. What sets Growing Futures apart from other community early education centers is our focus...

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Head Start of Shawnee Mission becomes Growing Futures Early Education Center on January 1, 2015

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Hi All! Looking forward a new year and to opening our doors as Growing Futures Early Education Center on January 5th. Please join us at 8:30am on January 7th at 8155 Sante Fe Drive in Overland Park  for our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House! Terrie January 2015

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