Sie sind auf Seite 1von 44


Keene State College Child Development Center with Karen Gutierez

Emma Young

Table of Contents
Part 1
Background Knowledge: The Setting
Developmental Profile2
Group Composition8
Child Guidance Philosophy 10
Curriculum Planning Process11
Background Knowledge: Family Centered Practices
Family centered practices: A brief review of the literature.11
Current practices in your placement: Interview your Cooperating Teacher13
Policies for Families.13
Code of Ethics..14
Family Communication Approaches16
Family Engagement Plan..17
Community Involvement Plan 18
Family Centered Practices.19
List of family materials reviewed, with brief annotation/.19

Part 2
Building Family Relationships and Fostering Family Engagement
o Documentation of family communication and engagement strategies with reflections..20
o Documentation of family engagement and solo student teaching experience.29

Part 3
Self-evaluation and professional reflection essay33
Chart of learning experience44

Part 1: Understanding Family Engagement

Background Knowledge: The Setting
1. Developmental Profile
The Preschool years are an incredible period for development, exploration, and discovery.
This semester I have been placed in the Green Preschool at the CDC with 19 children in the
class. The center is modeled on Developmentally Appropriate Practices as Defined by the
National Association for the Education of Young Children. The guiding principles of the center
are based in Reggio Emilia encouraging the philosophy of a strong and rich vision of the child
where educators evolve through their experiences with them. Relationships are the foundation
for education within this approach. The role of the teacher is to foster and support each childs
relationships with other children, adults, families, society and their environment (Edwards,
2002). The center creates predictable routines for eating, sleeping, play, and exploration.
In order to support the learning and development of all the children in my placement
classroom I collected information on the typical development of abilities, skills, and milestones
observed among preschool children. Children ages three to five are typically referred to as
preschoolers. During the preschool years important development and learning occurs in all
domains: physical, social, emotional, cognitive, language, and creativity. Positive and caring
relationships with adults and other children are the foundation for learning during these years.
Children enter preschool with different developmental strengths and influences from families and
their environments. This interconnected view of child development is modeled as a
developmental system. Urie Bronfenbrenner focused on the fact that multiple factors, including
both internal and external, combine to influence a childs development. Each one of the early
childhood developmental domains fosters the development of another promoting learning for the
whole child (McDevitt, 2013)

Physical Development:
Preschoolers are very physical; they are constantly moving, running, and jumping.
Typically, they are enthusiastic about opportunities for creative movement, physical dramatic
play and being outdoors. According to Bredekamp, preschoolers should spend at least a quarter
of their school day in physical activity; at this age much learning is transmitted through the large
muscles (2009). As children grow they develop a less toddler like trunk and become less top
heavy. On average, children gain five to six pounds and two to three inches per year from ages
three to six (Bredekamp, 2009). Typically, all 20 baby teeth have emerged by around age three.
The senses of taste, sight, touch, and smell are for the most part, well developed by the preschool
age. In fact, most childrens sense of taste is actually more acute than that of adults.
When considering gross motor skills, physical growth at this age lowers the childs center
of gravity making them more steady. Most preschoolers, unless they have experienced some
developmental difficulty or delay are able to perform basic gross motor skills such as running
(Bredekamp, 2009). Younger preschoolers are just beginning to work on skills such as balancing,
jumping, and hopping. During preschool years, any specific motor difficulties will become more
apparent to parents and teachers.
In addition to significant development in gross motor abilities, preschoolers also work
towards increased fine motor abilities. Writing, drawing, and cutting with precision are activities
that can be difficult for many preschoolers. Children may experience failure and frustration if
they often are expected to perform tasks requiring precise control of the hand and muscles,
careful perceptual judgment involving eye-hand coordination, and refined movements requiring
steadiness and patience (Bredekamp, 2009). Preschoolers benefit from opportunities for open
ended activities that develop their hand muscles and fine motor skills such drawing, painting,

working with playdough or constructing with Legos. Teachers and parents can support childrens
development of physical capabilities through play as well as planned movement activities.
Social Development:
Young children from ages three to five make great advances in their relationships with
others, their self-understanding, and their ability to understand and regulate their emotions. The
preschool years are critical for establishing positive attitudes and behaviors about learning.
Approaches to learning are beginning to be established including childrens enthusiasm and
engagement towards learning. During preschool years, children come into their own as social
beings. Most preschoolers live in a wider social world than before the age of three. At this age,
children increase the complexity of their social interactions and relationships with teachers,
peers, and friends. In addition, children grow significantly through their engagement in dramatic
play. Preschool children generally begin to value their friendships and develop and show more
frequent prosocial behaviors such as caring, sharing, and helping. Children ages three to five
gain a fuller understanding of their sense of self. Their self-descriptions at this age develop into
their sense of self-esteem. Childrens social and emotional development are continuously
working together to further childrens understanding of the world.
Emotional Development:
Many researchers believe that preschoolers positive and negative emotions serve
important functions motivations every aspect of their development and learning (Bredekamp,
2009). Preschoolers are able to express more complex emotions such as pride, guilt, or shame.
In addition, most preschool children are increasingly able to describe or label their feelings. The
preschool years are a crucial time for children to develop qualities such as consideration for
others, conscience, and a sense of right and wrong (Bredekamp, 2009). As children develop

their relationships with others and their understanding of emotions they become aware of others
feelings and more concerned about them. Teachers who intentionally promote positive social and
emotional development are making a significant investment in childrens overall development
and learning (Bredekamp, 2009).
Cognitive Development:
Important cognitive changes occur during preschool years particularly in terms of mental
representation. In spite of their many advances, preschoolers can be illogical, egocentric, and
one-dimensional in their thinking. Piaget refereed to these years as a preoperational stage of
development. During this stage, children typically show centration or one-way thinking. In
addition, children develop semiotic functions; the ability to represent an object or action with
signs or symbols, such as language, imagery, drawing, symbolic games, and deferred imitation
(Bohlin, 2012). Mental reasoning and the use of concepts also increases during this stage. During
the preschool years, the brains cerebral cortex and the functions that ultimately regulate
childrens attention and memory are not fully developed (Bredekamp, 2009). During the years
from age three through five, children gradually develop their mental representation capacities,
reasoning skills, classification abilities, attention, memory, and other cognitive capabilities.
Teachers can support cognitive development through cues, questions, and modeling. In addition,
creating engaging learning environments, fostering curiosity, and providing opportunities for
problem solving are ways teachers can support cognitive development at this age.
Language and Literacy Development:
In the preschool years, childrens language and communication skills grow tremendously.
Language is integral to emotional, social, and cognitive development for young children.
Acquisition of language and communicative competence (the ability to use the full array of

language skills for expression and interpretation) is strongly shaped by childrens experiences
and environment (Bredekamp, 2009). Teachers can promote language and literacy through
attentive listening, extended conversation, reading and discussing books, creating a literacy rich
classroom, and providing literacy materials such as writing supplies.
Creative Development:
The preschool years can be one of the most creative times in a childs life. While
preschool children are still developing their imagination activities such as drama, music, dance
and visual arts foster creativity, help children express feelings and learn communication skills,
improve coordination and motor skills, and provide opportunities for problem solving and
creative thinking. According to the New Hampshire Early Learning Standards preschoolers
typically create elaborate three dimensional structures, songs, rhymes, and dances with a
combination of materials. In addition, they typically enjoy showing adults and peers what they
can do or have created, including short individual performances or artistic creations. We know
preschoolers are developing when they act out elaborate pretend play scenarios, create
representational and abstract art, play with musical instruments individually and with peers, and
display or perform for and with others. It is typical for some children to feel anxious about these
activities. Teachers can support creative development by providing access to diverse materials,
music, and movement. In addition, teachers can provide props and areas for dramatic play.
Development across all domains during the preschool years is supported by caring
relationships, rich environments, and endless opportunities for movement, discovery and
learning. While developmental profiles are useful for a general understanding of childrens
development; each child develops at their own pace and in their own way and needs to be
supported and understood as an individual.

Bohlin, L., Durwin, C. & Weber, M. (2012) EdPsych: Modules (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw
Bredekamp, S. & Copple, C. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood
programs (3rd ed.). Washington DC: NAEYC.
Edwards, C. (2002). Three Approaches from Europe: Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska.
McDevitt, T. M., & Ormrod, J. E. (2013).Child development and education (5th ed.). Boston:
Wheatley, E.C., Cantor, P., & Carver, J. (2015). New Hampshire Early Learning Standards Birth
Through Five. Concord, NH: NH Department of Health and Human Services.

2. Group Composition
In order for me to get to know the children in my placement, their families, and the
external influences on the diverse group of children I created a classroom profile. I considered
the culture of the center and the composition of the children in the classroom. Understanding the
cultural, socio-economic, and linguistic context of children and families in the classroom will
help me support the learning and development of each child.
The Center:
The Child Development Center provides up to ten hours daily of care and education for
young children. The purpose of the center is to provide a model preschool as a laboratory for
education students at the college the center is connected too who are training to be early
childhood teachers and provide an excellent child care and education facility to campus and
community families. The Child Development Center is licensed by the State of New Hampshire,
adhering to standards set forth in the New Hampshire Child Care Program Licensing Rules. In
addition, the center observes standards set by the National Association for the Education of
Young Children (NAEYC), and is accredited by this organization. The center emphasizes that
every child is a capable individual with unique qualities deserving of respect.
The Students:
There are 19 preschoolers in the classroom I am placed at this quarter. Some children
come every day while others only attend some days of the week. The children range from two
years and ten months to 4 years and ten months; creating significant variation in development
among the group. There are nine boys and ten girls in the class. Some children have been at the
center since they were infants while others started as recently as the past few months. Many
children have siblings who have attended or are currently attending the center as well.

The classroom is family centered and strives to combine a diverse group of children and
families. Diversity is lively at my placement and each child brings influences from their families,
cultures, and circumstances into the classroom. Many types of families are represented in the
classroom. One child comes from a family with a Polish culture, he has spent time in the country
visiting his grandparents and speaks some of the language at home. Another child is immersed in
the Russian language at home where she lives with her grandmother who is from there. One
family headed by lesbian parents has fraternal twins in the class. Childrens family circumstances
can also be triggers for stress that can potentially interfere with healthy development. For
example, one child recently experienced the divorce of her parents and is adjusting to living part
time in two homes. Another child was adopted domestically as an infant. In addition to diverse
families, there is diversity in the abilities among children in the classroom. In addition to the
large range of ages in the class, three of the children in the class have individualized education
plans. Two children receive support and services for speech and language as well as a child with
an autism diagnosis. The center works with other community programs to support these children
and other children that show signs of atypical development.
The center is partnered with a college in a small New England town. Many parents and
family members are employed with the college that the center is part of. Other parents work for
local business or are self-employed. Partially due to the centers association with a college, many
of the families are middle class and the parents have some degree of college or higher education.
With the support of the community, the center supports a program called Early Sprouts that
advocates for healthy eating choices in early childhood and engages families.

The centers strong position on knowing the whole child and partnering with families
makes getting to know the composition of my placement a priority. Knowing and embracing
each child and family with an open heart will open the door for learning, growth, and success.
3. Child Guidance Philosophy
Guiding childrens behavior in an effort to create a positive learning environment can be
a challenging task as a new teacher. Throughout early childhood, it is our role as teachers to
help children develop an awareness and understanding of not only themselves but the world
and people around them. In order to support childrens development of important social and
emotional skills critical to their development in all domains, many teachers focus on
establishing a classroom community. Within a classroom community there are established
rules that ensure all members of that community feel safe, supported, and able to learn. In
my placement we stop when someone says stop, use gentle voices, walking feet and keep
our hands and feet to ourselves. These rules are clearly posted in the classroom and children
discuss them regularly and are reminded of them when needed.
When dealing with challenging behavior I have observed many techniques at my
placement. Children have a quiet space they can go to if they need to take some time to be
alone, think, and breath. In addition, children are asked to come away from an area and
make a new choice if they are having trouble in a particular place. When there is conflict
between children, teachers model appropriate language and invite all children involved to
participate in finding a resolution. Teachers offer children two or so choices in challenging
situations to give them some control in what they do while guiding the child to make a


choice that will be best for them. Primarily in our classroom we use positive encouragement
and praise to motivate children to make the right choices.
4. Curriculum Planning Process
In my placement the curriculum is emergent and flexible. There are ongoing themes in
the classroom particularly in reference to the seasons but the content of the curriculum is guided
by children interests. Each Monday the two lead teachers in my classroom have a team meeting.
Together they discuss the curriculum for the upcoming week, their ideas for the learning
environment, scheduling, and much more. This is the time they use to plan and organize what
children will be learning for the weeks ahead. My lead teachers collaborate with each other and
the other preschool teachers to guide their curriculum planning. In addition, they collaborate with
other professionals such as the librarian. My lead teachers also use books and online resources
for new ideas.
I used my knowledge and observation of childrens interests to guide my LEP planning.
Please see attached sheet for matrix of the LEPs I have planned and taught up to this point.
Background Knowledge: Family Centered Practices
Gillepie, Linda. (2006)AP disk: Cultivating relationships with families can make hard times
easier! Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.
This article gave many useful suggestions for how to support parents of children from
birth to three years old. These strategies included asking questions and wondering. Asking
questions and wondering. Parents are the experts on their children and the responsibility for care
and finding solutions is shared between teachers and families. Another suggestion is using active
listening. This involves giving undivided attention when someone seeks us out for conversation.
The article also discusses using empathy to help parents feel understood. Focusing on the
positive is a wonderful strategy when communicating with families because it maintains a

positive relationship even when discussing challenging topics. Lastly, the article points out that
we dont always know the answers to parents questions- acknowledging this is a sign of selfawareness and skill. It is important to understanding your own professional limits and seek help
and support when you need it.
Mitchell, S., Foulger, T.S., & Wetzel, K. (2009). Ten tips for involving families through
internet-based communication. In Koralek, D. (Ed.), Spotlight on Teaching Preschoolers
2, (pp. 56-59). Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.
This article gave many helpful tips for communicating with families using technology.
Some of their suggestions included: creating a classroom website, sending individual e-mails to
share positive information about a particular childs activities and accomplishments and
establishing and moderate a family support discussion forum. The article also discussed enduring
families have access to technology. All of the methods discussed in the article emphasize twoway communication. Unlike one-way communication approaches, in which families are merely
informed of their childs progress, two-way communication approaches invite parents to
participate in their childs learning process, thus creating an ongoing dialogue between home and
Halgunseth, L.C. & Peterson, A. (2009). Family engagement, diverse families, and early
childhood education programs: An integrated review of the literature. Washington,
This article discussed integrating diverse culture and community into the classroom, providing a
welcome environment, and striving for a partnership with families. The article suggests that
teachers can promote acceptance of all families by incorporating role models of different
cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds and by celebrating the cultures of all families. Other


suggestions in the text include striving for program-family partnerships, making a commitment
to outreach through home visits, providing families with resources and referrals and reinforcing
program standards to support positive family engagement.
A. Current practices in your placement
At the CDC and in our classroom we use many methods for family engagement. Firstly,
the classroom is a place where families are welcome and can get much information. There are
displays set up all over the center and classroom where families can see what children have been
learning and collect resources.
Children have family picture cards that they can go to too look at pictures of their family
as well as other places they can go to feel connected to families. Every week a newsletter is sent
home to families as well as every month which show pictures of what children have been
learning as well as provide information to families about news, events and happening in the
classroom. In addition, every week children are sent home with anecdotes, or a brief story about
something they have done at school. We also use email communication and opportunities at the
beginning and ending of each day to communicate with families right away. Parent conferences
are offered three times a year and can be scheduled anytime a family has questions or concerns.
They are another great way we develop a partnership with families at the CDC.
For more special occasions, families are invited to the CDC for events such as family breakfast
or the harvest dinner. Childrens families are encouraged to be involved in our classroom and
share their culture, interests, and talents with the children.
B. Policies for Families
Some children have been at the CDC for several years and their families are familiar with
the center and teachers. For new children, the families are offered a home visit. Families are
provided with a family handbook at the beginning of the year as well as a questionnaire about

their child. The questionnaire includes question regarding the childs strengths, challenges,
developmental goals, interests and background information about the family. The family
handbook provides valuable information for families about the policies and procedures at the
CDC. For example, it discusses information regarding childrens records and confidentiality,
emergency procedures, nutrition and allergy policies, and ,much more. The handbook is
designed to provide information to parents that support a safe learning environment.
C. Code of Ethics
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has established
guidelines for professionals to help them make the many difficult decisions they face daily. As
educators of young children, the decision we make have serious moral and ethical implications
for children, families, colleagues and our community. NAEYC offers guidelines to help make
dilemmas more manageable and guide daily practice for early childhood professionals. NAEYC
identifies several core values as standards for ethical behavior in Early Childhood Education.
Firstly, early childhood educators have a commitment to appreciate childhood as a unique and
valuable stage of the human life cycle. We base our work on knowledge of how children develop
and learn. In addition, we appreciate and support the bond between children and families and
recognize the fact that children are best understood and supported in the context of family,
culture, community, and society. There is a strong emphasis for respecting the dignity, worth and
uniqueness of each individual as well as respecting the diversity in children, families, and
colleagues. Lastly, we recognize that children and adults achieve their full potential in the
context of relationships that are based on trust and respect (NAEYC, 2011, p.1).
The code provides a framework for four professional responsibilities to children,
families, colleagues, and the community and society. The code identifies ideals which reflect the


aspirations of practitioners and principles that guide conduct and assist practitioners in resolving
ethical dilemmas. As early childhood professionals there are many reasons a code of ethics is
necessary. Firstly, it is important to recognize the power and status of practitioners. Young
children are vulnerable and do not have power, we control the resources and privileges they want
and need. This is a tremendous amount of power that I feel needs to be treated with great respect.
Secondly, we work with a multiplicity of clients. Teachers often face the challenge of balancing
the needs of various clients, and may struggle to identify the priority. The code of ethics place the
well- being of children above all else which I agree should always take precedence. In addition,
there are many perspective, theories, and approaches to early childhood. This uncertainty of the
database can make it difficult for educators to understand the best practice. As I learn about
these practices and develop my own professional philosophy I can relate to this challenge of
identifying the best practice. Lastly, teachers face role ambiguity; wearing many hats, teachers
are doctors, references, and support for children and families. This creates potential for tension as
there can be uncertainty of boundaries as we work closely but not intrusively with families. As I
go forward as a professional, having an understanding of and recognizing the importance of a
professional code of ethics will be imperative for me. I have been a nanny for many families,
working closely with them through many challenges such as toilet learning, behavior
management, and family conflicts such as divorce. These experiences have been fundamental to
my strong belief in the importance of communicating with families. There have been many times
where I have had to share challenging information with families and have been conflicted in the
best way to frame what I am saying in way that does not negatively represent the child or
disrespect the family. In addition, I am compassionate by nature and have always found comfort


in helping others. This trait in combination with my love for children has given me a strong sense
for my ethical responsibilities.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (2011). Code of Ethical
Conduct and Statement of Commitment. National Association for the Education
of Young Children.
D. Family Communication Approaches
In the beginning of the semester when I was first starting at my placement I sent a letter
home to families introducing myself and my background. In addition, I posted a short statement
and photo about myself on the bulletin bored near the sign in table. Since the first day I have
been working hard to greet families and connect with them at the beginning of the day. This can
be challenging in a large room full of children but is an essential time to build relationships with
parents and families.
Over the course of the semester I have been working to use other family engagement
techniques as well. Firstly, I have been writing an anecdote about each child to send home with
families in their mailbox each week. When applicable I add a picture of the child. In addition, I
have put together a binder portfolio of some the childrens work in the block area. I have
included their plans and pictures of them working on elaborate structures. The binder is available
for children to look through and share with their families. In addition to building we have been
working in the classroom planting and learning about herbs over the last week. I am planning to
set up an interactive display for children and families to interact with in the mornings at the
science table. Families will have the opportunity to water the herbs with children, look at them
closely with magnifying glasses, and discuss what children have been learning. This is one way


families can actively participate and learn about what we are doing in the classroom without too
much interruption to their drop off routine.
As I prepare for my final weeks in my placement I am considering ways I connect with
families and bring closure to my experience. My idea is to send home an activity/book bag
during my last week of student teaching, this bag would include a letter to children and their
families thanking them for having me in their classroom and would let them know how
wonderful it has been spending time with them. The bag will also include a printable/ foldable
book and some small activities children can do with their families such as a scavenger hunt.
Lastly I have stayed late many times throughout the semester in an effort to connect with
families at the end of the day. Often families are rushed in the morning and have little time to
talk with teachers or spend time in the classroom. Being at the CDC at the end of the day has
given me wonderful opportunities to connect with families.
E. Family Engagement Plan
There are many strategies teachers can use to involve families in the learning
process. Some of these strategies may include developing ways for families to interact
with the curriculum, inviting family participation in the classroom, attending a family
council meeting, participating in family events, participating in a home visit/intake
interview, and attending a family conference.
Many childrens families are eager to be involved and participate in our
classroom. We have been very interested in rocks lately and one childs father is a
geologist, inviting him into the classroom could be a wonderful experience for children
and families. In addition, we have parents that are builders and gardeners that are
interested in being involved our classroom by donating plant or volunteering their time to
take care of our outdoor play space.

Over the next two weeks we will talk a lot about kindness in our classroom. My
goal is to send a letter home to families sharing with them what we are talking about. I
will work with the children to record their ideas about kindness onto strips of paper we
will collect the strips to make a chain across our classroom. I will also send strips of
paper home with families so that they can continue to talk about kindness and share their
ideas. Children will have the opportunity to bring in their strips of paper and attach them
to the chain with their families. This strategy strives to continue childrens learning at
home and involve families in what we are doing at school. Please see attached sheet for a
copy of my letter home to families.
F. Community Involvement Plan
As part of a college in a small town, our child development center has many
opportunities to participate in the community. Children have the opportunity to visit the
campus library and hear stories from the librarian, music majors at the college visit to
share music with the children, and we often take walks around the college campus. In
addition, children take trips to the farmers market in the fall. The college and CDC are
very involved in the community and engage in many ways.
Next week during my second solo week I am planning to take the children and
their classroom teddy bears on a teddy bear picnic to the student center on campus. This
will be a wonderful opportunity for me to observe our engagement with the community
first hand.


Family Centered Practices
Gillepie, Linda. (2006)AP disk: Cultivating relationships with families can make hard times
easier! Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.
Mitchell, S., Foulger, T.S., & Wetzel, K. (2009). Ten tips for involving families through
internet-based communication. In Koralek, D. (Ed.), Spotlight on Teaching Preschoolers
2, (pp. 56-59). Washington, D.C.: NAEYC.
Halgunseth, L.C. & Peterson, A. (2009). Family engagement, diverse families, and early
childhood education programs: An integrated review of the literature. Washington,
List of family materials reviewed, with brief annotation/explanation
Keene State College Child Development Center Family Handbook. (2015-2016).
Gutierez, Karen.February 1, 2016. Interview. Keene State College.


Part 2: Building Family Relationships and Fostering Family Engagement

During this quarter I focused on building relationships, engaging, and supporting families at
my placement. I started off the semester by sending home an introductory letter to families. This
strategy was an effective way to introduce families to my role in the classroom and let them
know a little bit about myself. It was helpful to let families know about myself as a basis for
conversations in the classroom. Just as I was given access to background information on the
children, allowing families background information to myself opened doors for communication.
It was very helpful for me to have my cooperating teacher and site supervisor look over my
letters. Their feedback helped me construct my letter to be professional and polished. By
informing families of my presence in the classroom they were able to talk to their children at
home. Having this level of connection right from the start was very helpful in my ability to build
relationships with the children. As I continue on my path of professional development I will be
sure to utilize this skill in my efforts to communicate with families in the future. It can be
challenging to find time to communicate with each childs family. Having the chance to say
everything I felt was necessary in one introductory letter was greatly beneficial to families and
my growth during the student teaching process.
In addition to sending a letter home, I posted an announcement (photo and brief
introduction) about myself on the bulletin board near the parent sign in sheet. This allowed
family members who didnt have the opportunity to read through a letter the chance to get to
know me. As families walked in each morning they had the chance to not only read about me but
talk to me. After collaborating with my cooperating teacher we discussed how the best place for
me each morning was near the door and cubby area of the classroom, this gave families and me
the chance to talk to face to face and continue to build relationships. I observed that interacting
with children and their families during their morning routine made some children settle in much


easier and made family members feel comfortable and confident that their child was being cared
for as an individual. On several occasions during my placement I extended my day so that I
could support pick up routines at my center. I found it much easier to talk with families at the end
of the day, rather than the morning, and I enjoyed taking opportunities to do so. Many parents
have more time for conversation in the afternoon and often different family members pick up and
drop off. I felt that staying until the end of the day and taking every opportunity for face to face
communication with families was very beneficial to my learning process as a student teacher.
As the semester continued I took other opportunities to connect with families. By the end of
my placement I had sent home at least one anecdotes and brief message for each child. This
technique was a wonderful way for me to share what we were learning with families while
highlighting each childs strengths and accomplishments. I felt that this method of family
engagement was a very personalized approach. Rather that communicating to all families in my
classroom I took the time to highlight each childs strengths and accomplishments. For many
parents this message may have gotten lost in the shuffle and I didnt receive much feedback.
However, it was delightful to have one parent thank me for the thoughtful sentiment about their
child. I think this method of family engagement was a wonderful way for me to communicate
how much joy the children and I are getting from our continues learning and growth.
As a more interactive method of family engagement I set up a poster by the sign in sheet,
inviting families to help water the herbs the children and I had planted. I left the herbs out on the
science table each morning with spray bottles, watering cans, and magnifying glasses for
children to explore with their families. Many families went over on their own, however for
children who were struggling to settle into the classroom this was particularly helpful. Children
were invited to show their families what was happening at the science table and it offered an
open space for them to transition into the day. On several occasions I noticed children and


families walking over to the science table as one of their first stops each morning. If I was to use
this strategy again I would want to offer more information to families at the science table. For
example, showing pictures of the children planting and caring for the herbs or posting
background information on the herbs may have been beneficial to expanding on children and
families learning and engagement.
During my lead teaching weeks, I started a kindness project with the children. We discussed
what it means to be kind to ourselves, others, and the planet. Children brainstormed ideas about
ways they have been kind or others have been kind to them and we started recording our ideas.
The children helped me in the process of cutting strips of paper and recording our ideas to build a
kindness chain. I sent home strips of paper and a letter to families explaining what the children
and I were working on. I asked families to continue the discussion about kindness at home and
work with their children to come up with more ideas for our kindness chain. Each morning and
afternoon I had the kindness chain out for children to discuss and share with their families. I left
a basket by the sign in/ sign out binder for the strips. Families were invited to staple their ideas
onto the chain with children or leave them in the basket to be stapled with a teacher. All but three
families returned the strips of paper with kindness ideas. I was so excited by this turn out and
felt confident that what children and I were talking about in the classroom was carrying over to
their homes. Even children in the other preschool and their families were eager to contribute
ideas. By the end of my two solo weeks teaching we had a chain long enough to stretch across
the room. I can envision using this family engagement technique and expanding on this idea in
the future. I introduced this seem during Random Acts of Kindness Week when many children
older siblings were discussing this topic in their elementary school settings. I felt that this was a
wonderful way to build children understanding of kindness and empathy, connect family
members of all ages and extend childrens learning. In the future I can envision this as an

opportunity to establish a classroom community of trust and respect and this could be a yearlong
project. I felt this project could have been taken in many directions and can be extended and
modified in many contexts as a powerful method of family engagement.
Towards the end of my placement I sent home a letter to families thanking them for their
participation and support in the childrens and my learning. The families at the child
development center experience frequent changes in teachers and staffing. I was aware that I had
made an impact in many of these childrens days at the CDC and felt I was important to provide
closure to both the children and families. The letter included activities relative to what we had
been doing in the classroom for children to try with their families. I also put together a book for
the children that included memories of all the learning experiences we had had together over the
semester. I left the book in the classroom and made it available to children and families to look
through. I felt that this was a way for children, families, and, myself to reflect on all that we had
done together and bring closure to our experiences.
Seven weeks goes by quickly as a student teacher. Each day I was busy getting to know
children, their families, and the routines and practices of my placement. By taking every
opportunity to connect with families and involve them in what was happening in the classroom I
felt myself grow as a teacher and professional. It was challenging at first to have the confidence
to engage with families but each time I realized how beneficial each experience was. By building
relationships with childrens families I immediately felt their comfort with me grow. By getting
to know each childs whole self and the experiences that make them who they are I was better
able to support, care for, and build lifelong friendships with everyone at my placement.


Strategy 1: Introductory Letter to Families

Dear Families,
My name is Emma Young and I am finishing up my senior year at Keene State College
studying Early Childhood Development and Sociology. I just returned from spending an amazing
semester studying in Honolulu, Hawaii and am excited to be back in Keene to complete my
program. As part of my studies I have been placed in the Green Pre-School at the CDC with
Karen Gutierrez to work and learn with her and her students. I will be in the classroom every day
from now until March fourth. I am so excited to have the opportunity to get to know the children
and look forward to getting to know you as well.
I grew up in Hopewell, New Jersey and spend my summers as a nanny living with my
older brother on Marthas Vineyard. With my roommates, we work together to care for a bunny,
dog, and a little kitten (the newest addition to our family). I enjoy playing outside, reading
stories, being creative, and traveling. Throughout college I have had an amazing time traveling to
London, Scotland, Ireland, Greece and most recently the Hawaiian Islands. Looking out for
others and providing love and care for family, friends, animals and children has brought me joy
for as long as I can remember. I feel so fortunate to have the chance to participate in the
community here at the CDC.
I have had a wide range of experiences working with children. Throughout high school
and now college, I have worked as a nanny and babysitter for many families in my communities.
I have also worked in the early childhood group at a Waldorf School summer camp for four
years. I have had placements in the Infant classroom at the CDC as well as a Kindergarten
classroom. In addition to my experience working with children I have also worked at many local
business including The Works Caf and Local Burger. This semester I will also be working on an
independent study on nutrition in Early childhood and am looking forward to being a part of the
Early Sprouts program here at the CDC. I am eager to begin building relationships with all of
the children, families, and friends here at the CDC. I know that there is so much for me to learn
from all of you and I cant wait to get started!
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and welcoming me into your
Emma Young


Strategy 2: Letter to Families

Dear Families,
This past Monday marked the start of my lead teaching weeks in the Green Preschool. It
has been so exciting for me to take on more responsibilities and plan learning experiences for
your children. We have been working hard on many things in the classroom. Many children have
been spending time in the block area planning and building elaborate structures. We used the
story If I Built a House, by Chris Van Dusen and pictures of famous structures to inspire our
creations. We have been documenting our building plans and creations in a binder that we are
keeping in our block area. Feel free to stop over and flip through to see what we have been
working on.
Last week the children investigated three different herbs, basil, dill, and spearmint. They
explored with herb playdoh and examined other parts of the herb. The children have all been
helping to plant and take care of the spearmint, basil, and dill in our classroom. Stop over at the
science table in the morning to help water our herbs and see how they are growing.
Most recently, we have been talking about kindness. Next Monday, February 15, begins
Random Acts of Kindness week. We have been brainstorming ideas about kindness a lot lately at
the CDC and ways that we can be kind to people, animals, and our planet. We decided that as a
class we are going to try and collect all of our ideas about kindness on strips of paper. We will
record our acts of kindness on the strips and start to connect them together to make a link chain.
The link chain will hang in our classroom to remind us of all the ways we can be kind to others.
We would love your help to make our chain long enough to stretch across our room!
Enclosed in the envelope are three strips of paper. You and your family can continue
conversations about kindness and share your ideas on the green strips of paper. While you are
talking about kindness with your child or if you observe an act of kindness, record it on a strip of
paper and bring it back to school by February 18th. There will be a basket next to the sign in
sheet to collect your ideas.
It has been such a joy to get to know your children and begin to get to know all of you! I
am looking forward to a wonderful last few weeks together!
Emma Young
Student Teacher


Strategy 3: Goodbye Letter to Families

Dear Families,
This Friday, February 26, will be my last day student teaching in the green preschool. It has
been a wonderful experience getting to know your children and all of you! Thank you for
welcoming me into your classroom and helping me learn throughout my time here. Each of your
children has touched my heart and helped me understand what it means to be a teacher. I have
enclosed with this letter a few activities for you to try with your children as we look forward to
spring. I look forward to seeing you around the community!
Many thanks,
Emma Young
These activities were provided with the letter:


Strategy 4: Kindness Chain Family Engagement




Book: If I
Built a
Music and
Build a


Week Before Lead Teaching

Wednesday Thursday Friday (2/5)


Morning circle



Dramatic play


Paint in
bags at
the light
tools added
to block

Paint in bags
at the light
letters with







Morning circle Greeting:

Whats your
When Im





Lead Week 1
Wednesday Thursday


/ song and

What do
you like to
do in the
Music and
: The


makes you
Book: The
Music and
I Cant Sit



the herbs.

the herbs.

the herbs

the herbs

the herbs



Letters to

Letters to
and friends

Letters to
and friends

Letters to


building in
block area.



Blocks at
low table

Send home
letter to
families (lead
teaching and

families to
help water.
pictures of
herb growth,
glasses, make
Emphasis on
names and
letters in


logs at low





Morning circle



Lead Week 2
Group Sing
at 9:30

Music and
Bean Bag
Water and
Chalk and

Fist bump
find your
name card

Pinky Shake
listen and

Give a

Water and

Water and

Water and


Sciencesink or
testing our

Sciencesink or
our boats

Bell Pepper

Please Do
Feed The
Teddy Bear


Give a
our kindness
Water and
Student LEP
Education in
the Gross
Motor Room

as a way to be

watering the
herbs in
morning with


Part 3: Self-evaluation and Professional Reflection Essay

1. Introduction:
This quarter I was placed in a preschool classroom at a NAEYC accredited Child
Development Center in a small New England City. The Child Development Center is connected
to a college and provides child care and early education to families associated with the college as
well as other families in the community. The center emphasizes that every child is a capable
individual with unique qualities deserving of respect. The classroom had 16 children on any
given day with ages ranging from two years and ten months to four years and ten months;
creating significant variation in development among the group. The classroom is family centered
and strives to combine a diverse group of children and families. Diversity is lively at my
placement and each child brings influences from their families, cultures, and circumstances into
the classroom. Many types of families are represented in the classroom and each child is unique
in their developmental abilities and goals.
On my first day in my placement I was instantly captivated by the children and their range of
interests and abilities. I was anxious to take on the many responsibilities I observed my
cooperating teacher carry out flawlessly. For my first weeks in my placement I carefully
observed the classroom routines, child guidance techniques, and the dynamics between the many
teachers, student workers, and other professionals at the center. By my second week I was
comfortable taking on leadership roles such as morning meeting and facilitating transitions. Each
day I took on more and more leadership responsibilities and worked vigilantly to build
relationships with children and families. I knew that during my short time at this placement my
strengths would show in my ability to get to know each child as an individual and become aware
of the best ways to support their learning and development.
When it came time for my two solo weeks, I collaborated with my cooperating teacher, to
plan and implement learning experiences that were developmentally appropriate while emergent

from childrens interests and curiosities. This semester I gained a significant amount of
confidence developing an emergent curriculum. I allowed childrens interest, questions, and
ideas guide my planning while maintaining developmentally appropriate goals for children. In
addition, I planned learning experiences that promoted development in a variety of academic and
developmental domains. While keeping my goals for children in mind I worked diligently to
engage families in our learning process, collaborate with other professionals, and create a
classroom environment filled with trust and respect. Using the NAEYC standards as well as a
conceptual framework, I was able to work towards my goals as a professional in the early
childhood field this quarter.
2. NAEYC Standard 1 Promoting Child Development and Learning:
Creating healthy, supportive, respectful, and challenging learning environments had been a
goal for me throughout this quarter. At the beginning of this semester I focused on getting to
know each child in my placement as an individual. It was essential for me to know each childs
strengths, interests, and areas they needed support. In addition, I wrote a developmental profile
to enhance my understanding of children in this age group. This allowed me to develop a
framework of what was developmentally appropriate for children at this age. By tuning in,
making observations, and interacting with children I was able to make a connection with each
child. My genuine interest in the children was evident to them as they quickly became
comfortable with me as a caregiver and teacher.
Each learning experience I planned was emergent from childrens interests while maintaining
my own goals of building a classroom community. As an example, I redirected childrens play in
the block area away from the violent games that I observed to more collaborative play in
architecture and construction. In another learning experience I talked about kindness with
children in an effort to enhance their understanding about empathy and caring for other. In

addition, I planted herbs with the children. This learning experience allowed children the
opportunity to care for a real living thing. It was magical to watch the children fil with
excitement as they saw results and changes from heir work.
Each learning experience I planned was open ended and hands on. I worked hard to create
experiences that supported the range of developmental abilities in my classroom. Children were
given freedom to explore with materials in their own way and be in charge of their own learning.
For example, I provided many opportunities for language and literacy development this semester.
For younger children who are not yet able to write letters I offered letter stamps and ink. I also
offered paint in plastic bags at the light table for them to practice making letter symbols with. I
put out chalk boards and white boards as alternatives at the art table. I gave each child a mailbox
with their name on it. Older children enjoyed writing and addressing letters to family and friend
while other children like to make things to put in their own mailbox. Offering many materials
and opportunities for children to practice writing was a valuable lesson for me as a teacher. By
reflecting on my plans and adapting I learned many ideas and techniques to support children with
a range of developmental abilities.
3. NAEYC Standard 2 Building Family and Community Relationships:
During this quarter my main focus was on building relationships, engaging, and supporting
family and community relationships at my placement. I started off the semester by sending home
an introductory letter to families. In addition, a posted an announcement, photo and brief
introduction about myself on the bulletin board near the parent sign in sheet. I spent each
morning doing my best to position myself near the cubbies so that I could interact with families
during their drop off routine. On several occasions I extended my day at my placement so that I
could support pick up routines at my center. I found it much easier to talk with families at the end
of the day, rather than the morning, and I enjoyed taking opportunities to do so.

As the semester continued I took other opportunities to connect with families. By the end of
my placement I had sent home at least one anecdotes and brief message for each child. This
technique was a wonderful way for me to share what we were learning with families while
highlighting each childs strengths and accomplishments. I also set up a sign inviting families to
help water the herbs the children and I had planted. I left the herbs out on the science table each
morning with spray bottles, watering cans and magnifying glasses for children to explore with
their families. Towards the end of my placement I sent home a letter to families thanking them
for their participation and support in the childrens and my learning. I included activities that
were relevant to what we had been doing in the classroom for children to try with their families.
During my lead teaching weeks, I started a kindness project with the children. We discussed
what it means to be kind to ourselves, others, and the planet. Children brainstormed ideas about
ways they have been kind or others have been kind to them. We started recording our ideas on
strips of paper and linking them to create a chain. I sent home strips of paper and a letter to
families explaining what we were working on. I asked families to continue the discussion about
kindness at home and come up with some ideas for our kindness chain. I felt that this was a great
way to involve families in our learning and support childrens social and emotional development.
In addition to involving families this quarter I took opportunities to build community
relationships with the children. I took the children on a walk to another building on our campus
to have a teddy bear picnic. The children each brought a teddy bear, we packed snack in a picnic
basket and read a story on our picnic blanket. The children were so excited to explore a new
environment and make snack time so special.
This quarter I aimed to create caring and supportive relationships with families and take
every opportunity to strengthen the relationship between home and center. It was powerful for
me to observe the close relationship each family had with the center. I became fully aware of
how meaningful the relationship is between center and family. Each childs personality and

development is influenced by an array of outside factors; developing skills in getting to know the
whole child is essential to my success as a caregiver and professional.
4. NAEYC Standard 3: Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children
and Families:
Observing, documenting, and assessing young childrens learning is essential for a
developmentally appropriate practice. In the beginning of the semester, close and intentional
observation of children supported my understanding of their abilities, personalities and ways I
can support their learning and development. My observations also guided me to create learning
experience based on childrens interest, questions, and ideas. Learning experiences that are
emergent support childrens engagement and interest in the curriculum. In addition to closely
observing children I actively engaged with them during their learning. I asked them questions
and prompted them to tell me more about what they were thinking, creating, and doing. I took
photos and recorded anecdotes of children to use for documenting and assessing their learning.
It didnt take me long at my placement to realize that the block area was a favorite place for
many children. Children collaborated with each other and worked hard to build detailed
structures. Unfortunately, many children were imagining games with weapons and violence
while they played with their structures. The most common structures I observed being built were
jails, police stations, and battleships. I wanted to channel the childrens love for building in a
more positive and constructive direction. The children and I learned about famous structures,
architecture, blue prints, and building tools. We read books, sang songs, and explored new
materials related to building and construction. Before I knew it children were drawing out plans
for detailed structures and creating models of famous structures they had learned about. A group
of three boys who were often being talked to about making better choices in the block area had
tremendous success with this experience. In the past the boys were constantly pretending the


blocks were weapons and building structures that made many children feel unsafe. After
introducing the new materials and ideas the boys worked collaboratively for three days to build a
model of The Great Wall of China. They drew out plans, designated responsibilities, and invited
other children to help them with their big project. It was wonderful to see such a dramatic shift in
their play and I was overjoyed to watch the children embrace the new experience to the fullest.
I took photos and recorded anecdotes of the children while they were planning and building.
In addition, I photocopied their building plans and helped children record their ideas in writing
while they drew it out. I put all of my data together into a binder and shared it with the children
one morning during circle time. The children felt accomplished and proud to see their creations
displayed. I left the binder in the block area for children to look through and for us to continue to
add too. I also sent a letter home to families letting them know what we had been working on and
encouraging them to stop by the block area to look through the binder. Children remained
interested in this area for weeks, I noticed a significant decrease in dramatic play with weapons
and violence, and many families were interested in being involved. This learning experience
taught me how beneficial it is to be vigilant about observing, documenting and assessing to
support children and families.
Making learning visible for children and families was very important to me this quarter. I
enjoyed every experience with the children and wanted to share with them all we had done
together before we parted ways. I made a class memory book for the children which had photos
and a description of all of the experiences we had had together. It was meaningful for the
children and myself to reflect on all that we had learned together. As I move forward as a
professional I want to continue my growth in this area. I can imagine many other ways such as
creating posters and bulletin boards as a way to display childrens learning. Reflecting with other


teachers about the childrens growth, keeping detailed records and documentation, and paying
close attention to children are essential to my success as a teacher of young children.
5. NAEYC Standard 4: Using Developmentally Effective Approaches to Connect with
Children and Families and NAEYC Standard 5: Using Content Knowledge to Build
Meaningful Curriculum:
At the beginning of my placement I wrote a detailed developmental profile of preschool age
children. The profile supported my understanding of what was developmentally appropriate for
children at this age.
During my first weeks I carefully observed my cooperating teacher and how she supported
childrens learning. Over the course of the semester I learned a great deal about supporting
childrens learning in an emergent curriculum. While I allowed children to guide the topics we
explored I remained focused on my goals for their learning. I prompted them to give me details
about what they were creating, imagining, and thinking. I planned and implemented several
activities based on childrens interests in block building, constructions, boats, letter writing and
mailing, and planting and growing herbs. I planned my activities to be as open ended as possible
in an effort to allow children to guide their own discovery and learning based on their individual
abilities. Children learn best through hands on interaction with their environments. My boat
building learning experience for example allowed children to explore with a variety of materials,
create boat like structures, and test them out to see if they would really float.
During such a short time at each placement it is challenging to expand and answer each
childrens curiosities. However, providing open ended learning experience allows each child to
explore and learn in a way that developmentally appropriate and engaging for themselves.
6. NAEYC Standard 6 Becoming a professional: Describe how you have grown as an early
childhood professional who upholds ethical standards, collaborates with others, and
reflects to improve professional practice.

This quarter has been tremendously important to my growth as a professional. I have

discovered so much about who I am as a teacher and my professional identity. I have found that
part of what brings me so much joy in this profession is the opportunity to collaborate with
others and grow as an individual. Whenever possible I participated in professional development
workshops and opportunities. For example, I attended workshops on mindfulness and on
ergonomics for early childhood teachers. I attended and participated in weekly meetings with my
site supervisor and daily seminars with my cooperating teacher which were tremendously
beneficial to my growth this quarter. Talking with other professionals has been incredibly
supportive of my ability to reflect on my teaching. I was positive and supportive in my
relationships with all other professionals at my placement and was always willing to be flexible
and cooperative with other teachers.
In addition to my growth with other professionals I grew significantly as an individual. This
semester I set a goal for myself to write in a journal each day. Most days after my placement I
wrote as a way to reflect on how things went, what I could do differently, and what was going
well for me at my placement. Reflecting on my practice has always been one of my strengths but
as I move forward without close mentors to support me it will be invaluable to have the skills to
reflect individually each day.
Lastly, this quarter, I worked to better develop my understanding of ethical standards as a
professional. This semester I have embraced the notion that caring for young children is a never
ending job. I am responsible for putting the safety and wellbeing of every child I have a
relationship with as a top priority. Who I am outside of the classroom reflects who I am as a
teacher and a professional and it is my responsibility to ensure every family and child feels safe
in my care.
7. Conceptual Framework:


Teaching and learning are a dynamic process. As a teacher, I am committed to lifelong

learning. I will continue to be curious about the world around me and hope to maintain my own
inner child. As a teacher and educator of young children I feel that it is my responsibility to
follow childrens lead as they ask questions and investigate the world. I feel that teachers should
be open to testing childrens ideas and answering their questions in a hands on way. I feel
strongly that everyone has the potential to learn more, think differently, and test their ideas. As a
teacher I feel that it is our responsibility to be willing to ask the silly questions, test the crazy
ideas, and never lose our childlike sense of curiosity.
While maintaining our own childlike sense of wonder it is our professional responsibility to
ensure the safety and well-being of children. Through carful observation, getting to know
childrens families, and staying up to date on professional standards I continue to meet high
standards in professional and ethical responsibilities.
Throughout my college education I have also studied sociology as a second major. I have
spent a significant time learning about diversity in education and teaching to create a fair and just
world. If every child was taught kindness and compassion for others despite their differences the
world could be a better place by the next generation. My experiences working with young
children have taught me that building a community of trust and respect among young children
and teaching them to care about others and the world around them is how I can contribute to
creating a just and equitable world where every person feels respected and safe as they are.
8. Summary:
At the beginning of this quarter I braced myself for the many new opportunities,
challenges and experiences ahead. Over the course of seven weeks I took on many classroom
routines and assumed responsibility as lead teacher for two weeks. Taking on this leadership role
helped me reflect on my identity and personal philosophy as an early childhood professional.


This quarter solidified my understanding that my personal approach and attitude are the decisive
element to my success as a teacher. I have the power to create an environment where all children,
families, and professionals feel safe, respected and supported. I choose each day to be happy and
live peacefully and as I move forward as a professional I hope to share and teach this philosophy.
I want children to know that they always have a choice. They can choose to try new things, be
kind to themselves and others, and be curious about the world.
Working with young children and their families brings me so much joy because together I
know we can make a positive difference in our society. It is my number one goal to always
remain positive in my relationships with children families, and professionals. I am committed to
lifelong learning and growth as I continue to advocate for children and families. As a teacher I
am not only a facilitator of learning, but am constantly learning myself. I want to be open to
feedback, new ideas, and growth as I consistently reflect on my practice.
The Preschool years are an incredible period for development, exploration, and discovery.
Working with children, families, and professionals in this placement has taught me a tremendous
amount about developmentally appropriate and ethical practices.


Developmental/ Academic Domains


Corresponding Learning Experience

Social/ Emotional

Health and Safety

Cognitive- Approaches to Learning

Language and Literacy




Music and movement- many of my

morning meeting incorporated
listening to music and moving our
bodies (gross motor)
I offered children many opportunities
for fine motor development including:
planting small seeds, practice cutting,
writing, stencils, stamps, and much
Many of my greetings involved asking
questions to learn more about each
There was a theme of kindness during
my lead teaching weeks. We did many
activities which supported childrens
understanding of empathy and
Structure planning and building
Boat building
Writing and sending letters
Exploring with paint at the light table
Herb playdoh
During our discussions about kindness
we talked about how we can be kind
to ourselves/ take care of our bodies
Each learning experience was openended and allowed for children to
explore a variety of materials in their
own way.
Letter stamps
Writing letters
Writing the kindness chain
Reading stories
Making letters in paint at light table
Creating patterns
Counting links in the kindness chain
Measuring how high the herbs have
Exploring natural rocks at the sensory
Planting herbs and watching them