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The Pause Button

Written by Lorri Cooper on April 26th, 2010

Have you ever had a time in your life where you had to completely rearrange your priorities, or a time where what you want to do HAS to be less of a priority than what you must do?

That’s where I am right now.  My heart wants to blog. My head knows right now it can’t be a priority.

I have several contractual obligations that require my time and energy right now.  And, my oldest is graduating in a month!  Within a few weeks my time will be balanced again. (As in I won’t be working 18 hour days any more and I can and will pick up where I had to leave off.)

I greatly value the work we do together via this amazing technology and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, there will be more, much more, to come from this blog.

I just have to hit the pause button for a short while.

In the meantime, enrich a child’s life today.  Every day.

Thank you for reading!!


A Tribute to the Week of the Young Child

Written by Lorri Cooper on April 11th, 2010

Yesterday my mom and I went shopping for a dress for my son’s graduation.  I found two dresses, one for the ceremony and one for the party.  Just like when I was a kid, my mom took me shopping and I came home with more than I really needed. Just like when I was a kid, my mom and I talked, laughed, shared, and completely relaxed as we shopped ’til we dropped.

When I was growing up, after every mother/daughter shopping spree, I would subject my dad to a fashion show. The very cool thing is, he would sit patiently while I put on EVERY SINGLE new thing I got in every combination possible.  My dad was a very busy dad, yet he would stop and attend to me, just me, for as long as it took.

I clearly remember his attention, his praise, how he would stop whatever he was doing and make me feel like gold as I paraded for him my new stuff.  Half of the fun was the shopping, but it was just as much fun to race home, lay everything out on my bed, and proceed to show the most important man of my life my new clothes.

My dad helps me around the house and today he stopped by and mowed my yard for me.  As soon as he was done guess what I did?  I showed him my new dresses!  Just like the good ‘ol days, he told me how pretty they were, how he loved the colors, and he just had to ask if I really need a new pair of shoes for EACH dress or if I could just get by with one pair for both. (DUH! Of course I need a new pair for each dress!  Did I not teach him anything?)

My dad warmed my heart as a child, he made me feel important, he praised me, and he loved me.  Dearly.  And he still does.  I love how he treated me as I was growing up.  I wish all children could have the type of love and attention my dad gave me, and gives me.  I am so blessed.

In honor of the Week of the Young Child, I challenge all adults, with the distractions of technology, work, housework, and yard work, to stop everything we are doing and just give attention and shower praise on the children in our lives this week.

I know firsthand just  how wonderful this is for a child.  It’s my hope that today a child in your life will be blessed with your attention and praise. It is my hope for everyday.  In fact, let’s change it to Day of the Young Child and celebrate little ones everyday!

Photo on Flickr by betsyjean79


What’s Missing on Hand Washing Posters?

Written by Lorri Cooper on April 8th, 2010

Scrubby Bear teaches hand washing techniques to young learner

Just about every restroom in every preschool has at least one colorful, kid-friendly poster intended to remind children of the proper steps to hand washing.  Just about every preschool is aware of the need for teachers to remind, supervise, and remind again, about washing those hands.   These are very good things.

There is one thing, however, I’ve noticed missing from just about every hand washing poster I see: the step that requires children turn to the faucet off with the paper towel they dried their hands with.  I seldom hear teachers remind children to turn off the faucet with a paper towel either.

It is important, isn’t it?  If they turn the faucet off without a paper towel they are essentially contaminating themselves with the very same germs they just washed down the drain! That has a very high YUCK factor!

Out of curiosity I Goggled, “kid friendly hand washing posters.”  Of the six I reviewed just one of them included a  “turn the faucet off with a paper towel” step.  That poster, from the Iowa Department of Public Health, simply titled, Washing Your Hands, is one I highly recommend to child care centers.  I like it because it shows photographs of a real child partaking in each of the important steps of proper hand washing. Though I think it’s cute to use cartoon characters in kid-friendly posters, I believe children relate better to those that show real children, someone they could in fact imagine going to school with or playing on the playground with.

A few sites that offer some great hand washing activities for young children include:

Scrubby Bear and the Clean Hands Club, Henry the Hand, and The Art of Washing Hands

“Wash, wash, wash your hands, wash them everyday…scrub, scrub, scrubby, scrub, wash those germs away!”

Most teachers know that it’s  fun and important to teach children to sing a song while washing their hands, in order to ensure they wash long enough to unstick those sticky germs.

What songs do you teach children to sing while washing?

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What to do when a child chokes

Written by Lorri Cooper on April 6th, 2010

The following information is from e medicine health.

Choking is a true medical emergency that requires fast, appropriate action by anyone available. Emergency medical teams may not arrive in time to save a choking person’s life.

In children, choking is often caused by chewing food incompletely, attempting to eat large pieces of food or too much food at one time, or eating hard candy. Children also put small objects in their mouths, which may become lodged in their throat. Nuts, pins, marbles, or coins, for example, create a choking hazard. In the United States, almost 200 children die each year from choking, most of them younger than four years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that more than 17,500 children 14 years of age or younger are treated in U.S. emergency departments for choking episodes annually

Someone who cannot answer by speaking and can only nod the head has a complete airway obstruction and needs emergency help.

Please click here to learn more about the signs of choking and what to do when it happens.

I share this with you because a few days ago my daughter choked on a mozzarella stick and was not able to breathe. Though I tried to help her I was in such a panic that I wasn’t able to.  Thankfully a fast-thinking restaurant employee did know what to do and consequently, saved my daughter’s life.

Choking is actually quite common. The last preschool consultation visit I went on I was told that they no longer serve hot dogs because a 3-year-old recently took a bite while walking with his lunch tray to the table and choked on it.  He wasn’t able to breath, but again, an adult knew what to do and saved him.

Would you know what to do?  Would you be able to do it in an emergency situation?

I thought I did.  I thought I could.

I found out the hard way that I didn’t so now I am taking steps to prepare for the next time I’m with someone who is choking.

I don’t think it’s a matter of if, but of when.

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An Angel Saved My Daughter’s Life Tonight

Written by Lorri Cooper on April 4th, 2010

Tonight my little girl choked.  I mean seriously choked.  We were eating at a local Applebees restaurant when she coughed, coughed again, and then in one of those moments that parents most dread, she sought me out with panic stricken eyes…no breath to be had.

She couldn’t breathe.  I tried to help her.  I patted her back.  I tried to do the Heimlich maneuver.  I looked at her face, told her to cough, tried the Heimlich maneuver again…but to no avail.  She could not breathe and I was in such a panic I wasn’t able to help her!

I yelled for help.  A manager of the restaurant was instantly there.  She took my little girl in her arms, thrust her fist upwards against her chest once, twice, a third time, and then, as quickly as it began, it was over.  My daughter took a big breath, started coughing again, and then her and I both dissolved into an embrace of sobbing on to the floor.

As I held her to me, in that moment, she was a newborn once again. She was not my nine-year-old with the sassy sense of humor who loves dogs, cats, shoes, and Bunny Tracks ice cream.  She was not my young hero who can rip up a basketball court, who is counting the days until she can wear make-up, and who refers to herself as one with a serious “passion for fashion.”  That girl had been temporarily misplaced for the tiny 7 pound baby she was so long ago.

The one that needed me for her very survival.

Looking back on that moment now I realize that holding her and sobbing on the floor of the restaurant wasn’t as much about protecting her from harm as it was about protecting me from the harm that almost came to be, the harm of losing her.

Isn’t it amazing how children become for us the very thing WE need for survival?

As I sobbed with relief I was struck with an indescribable force at just how very precious she is.  I cried for every mother who has ever been powerless to save their own child.  I wept for the beauty of the gift of children and for the very fact that they can so quickly be taken from us.  My sobs were for the realization of how irreplaceable and impactful my little girl is, as all are-these children of ours.

And now, in this late hour, as my little one sleeps soundly beside me, I am once again swept away with emotion.  As I listen to her sleeping breath inhale in and exhale out, I find myself in a place of deep gratitude for her presence in my life and for the woman who saved her life tonight.  This woman is an angel, in the right place at the right time, not by coincidence, but by the grace of God.  My daughter’s angel’s name is Gayla.

There were others too.  Others in the restaurant who were watching, waiting to step in if needed, themselves void of breath as they watched my daughter fight to regain hers.  An audience of celestial beings silently coaxing my sweet angel’s breath back into her body.

My sons were there too.  One of them, my middle child, who has recently been named as his sister’s hero on her “All About Me” poster at school, was moved to tears having been deeply touched by what he witnessed.  My eldest son happened to be our waiter during what was his first Saturday night shift.  When the choking scene was over and we were assured that all was well once again, he walked into the kitchen of the restaurant and announced, “Well, Gayla just met my family…”

Oh how precious they are!  Hug ‘em close, each and every one of them.

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National Association for the Education of Young Children

Written by Lorri Cooper on April 2nd, 2010

NAEYC is the GOLD STAR of early childhood programs

This post is the first in a series that will describe available early childhood quality assurance systems.

The first such system I’ll cover is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  Below is a quote taken from the “About NAEYC” tab on the NAEYC website.

“The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. NAEYC is committed to becoming an increasingly high performing and inclusive organization.”

While the above quote adequately describes the mission of the organization, NAEYC’s Accreditation System can really be described in two words:  GOLD STAR.

The best of the best child care programs have achieved the GOLD STAR of approval known as NAEYC Accreditation.

I use the word “achieved” above in a very literal sense.  Programs that are NAEYC Accredited have worked incredibly hard to meet over 450 criteria, and have proven that they meet those criteria in a lengthy, back-breaking, and sometimes expensive process.

NAEYC can be summed up in five words:

  • Comprehensive -NAEYC bases it’s 10 Standards of Quality, and the accompanying 450+ criteria, on what is best for the whole child, carefully taking into consideration each of the following: curriculum, the teacher/child relationship, the teacher behaviors, assessment practices, the health and safety of the center and of the child, the qualifications of the teacher, the relationship of the center with families served, the  relationship of the center with the community, the physical environment of the center, and the leadership and management of the center director.
  • Knowledgeable-NAEYC knows early childhood.  Their accreditation system and their recommendations for the field of early childhood are strongly immersed in research.  They are widely respected as the authority on children ages birth through 8.  When NAEYC talks, people listen…for good reason.
  • Strong-According to NAEYC’s website, membership now includes over 90,000 “individuals who share a desire to serve and act on behalf of the needs and rights of all young children,” and is the “world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children.” 90,000?  World’s largest?  That’s strength!
  • Dedicated- NAEYC offers accreditation of programs for young children, as well as associate degree programs and baccalaureate programs. In other words, NAEYC’s mission includes the elevation of programs and teachers already in existence, as well as proper training of pre-service teachers who will eventually be teaching young children.
  • Necessary-The work NAEYC does, the information they offer, and the leadership they provide has, and is, shaping and elevating early childhood.  It is work that is important and impactful.   NAEYC is making a positive and necessary difference.

The NAEYC Accreditation system is not without its limitations and challenges.  Some find the cost and dedication required of child care programs to attain accreditation beyond what their limited resources can handle.

Though the requirements are comprehensive and strict, with little room for error or noncompliance, that is exactly what makes those that achieve accreditation through NAEYC deserve to shine as bright as the gold star in which they’ve earned.

That’s what it takes to be the best of the best!

Related posts:

Reform Isn’t Enough: Time to Rethink Public Education and begin at Age Three at Birth to Thrive Online

In Pre-K-Degree Matters at Inside Pre-K

Raising the Bar

Benefits of Collaboration

Preschool Programs of High Quality

Spinning Heads

Measures of Preschool Quality

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Some States Just GET IT!

Written by Lorri Cooper on March 30th, 2010

Governor Chris Gregoire

Congratulations to Washington State, whose governor, Chris Gregoire,  just signed several early learning bills.  Governor Gregoire is quoted in an article that appeared yesterday in Birth to Thrive Online as saying, these bills “recognize that learning starts from the moment that a little one greets the world…”

Indeed it does.

Clearly, Governor Gregoire is a leader who is up-to-date on current research, including the economic benefits, of ensuring quality learning experiences for all children.  She is a leader who understands the importance of investing in early childhood and in the necessity of building a solid foundation.

Governor Gregoire, in the same article cited above is also quoted as saying, “This is a defining moment in the state of Washington.”

Indeed it is.

What other states are making early childhood a priority?  Which are not?  Which were but now run the risk of losing ground?

Would love to hear what’s going on in your state.  Please leave your comment below or email Lorri Cooper at

Photo on Flickr by WSDOT


Detonation of the “F” Bomb

Written by Lorri Cooper on March 27th, 2010

Today I was in the YMCA woman’s locker room when I overheard a conversation taking place between two young women in the row of lockers next to mine.  One of these young “ladies” was complaining about a member of her family and thought it necessary to use about every version of the F word imaginable in her description of what this person did and how she felt about it.  She was unabashedly bold in both her descriptions and her voice level.

I tried to ignore it…for about 8 seconds.

And then a thought occurred to me, “how can an advocate for children stand for this, in a public place, where children are present?” So I did the most reasonable thing possible…I told on her!

It reminded me of my childhood.  I have a cousin who is a couple years younger than me.  When we were growing up my brother and I and the other cousins used to torment her.  As the teasing droned on my cousin would inevitably stomp her little foot, squeeze her tender fist into tight balls, and SCREAM at the very top of her petite squeaky voice,  “YOUR TOLD ON!”  She would then proceed to stomp, like an elephant in a china shop, to follow through with her promise of tattling.

So today, after a quick peek at the young woman mouthing the offensive language told me she could, and most likely would, use her not-so-tender fist to rearrange my face if I asked her to please stop shouting naughty words out loud, I, just like my little cousin so long ago, stomped to the front counter at the Y and told on her!

I’d like to extend a thank you to the nice young woman to whom I tattled,  who immediately proceed to have a talk with the one spewing the offensive language, which, thankfully, came to an abrupt halt upon “getting in trouble” with the YMCA staff.

One of my own children once asked me how naughty words, and the naughty finger, came to be naughty. I didn’t have an answer for him.  I guess I still don’t, but we all know they are inappropriate, so why is it that filthy language is becoming more and more common place in public?

This trend is unsettling, and unnerving, and unfair, to young children and their parents who don’t want their children to be exposed to filth.  I don’t use language like that at home, and I don’t want my children, or yours, or any children, to hear it while at the Y, or at Wal-Mart, or in the movie theater.  I don’t want to feel like I can’t take my children out in public for fear they will be exposed to the very things I passionately try to protect them from.

When I hear people use the F-bomb in public, especially in the presence of children, I feel somewhat terrorized, kind of like a real bomb just dropped, leaving me dazed and confused and leaving a wake of destruction in its path.

Speaking up, protecting children’s young innocence from such negative influence, is our adult responsibility, even if it means using that ageless child-like tactic known as tattling.

How have you stepped up to the plate to protect children?  Please share your stories and inspire all of us to do what it takes to do what’s right for children.

Photo on Flickr by yoshiffles


Parents are Their Child’s Most Influential Teachers

Written by Lorri Cooper on March 26th, 2010

How can parents help their child's brain "jump" to the next level?

Did you know…

  • a baby’s brain creates synapses, or new brain connections, as the child grows?
  • a child’s brain will eventually weed out (synaptic pruning) those synapses that are not regularly stimulated?
  • there are specific activities that can be done at home that  will stimulate your child’s brain growth and development to maximize the creation of new synapses and to minimize synaptic pruning?

Did you know…

  • bed wetting is called enuresis?
  • about 25% of 4 to 6-year-olds wet their beds occasionally?
  • enuresis is more common among boys, is linked to heredity, is more common among identical than fraternal twins?
  • bed wetting is not associated with family socioeconomic standing, life events, or family changes, but is related to the maturation of the central nervous system?
  • there are specific ways to help your child, and yourself, deal with bed wetting?

Did you know that parents truly are their child’s first and most influential teachers and that knowing information such as what’s above would help parents understand and enhance their child’s growth and development?

Did you know that I am offering a series of educational seminars for parents of young children, ages birth though 5?

The first hour of each session will be dedicated to learning about specific domains of development including brain growth, language growth, physical growth, and social/emotional growth.  The information will be based on the latest research and will be presented in an engaging, interactive manner.

The second hour of each session will be dedicated to learning and even practicing specific activities that parents can do at home to help strengthen their child’s development in each of the above domains.  The activities shared will be easy to implement, inexpensive or free to access or create, and fun!

Each session is designed to give parents the information, activities, and resources they need to scaffold (build and support) their child’s development to the next level.  When adults scaffold a child’s learning the adults provides structure, a model, or other support so the child can master what’s needed to move to the next level.

Did you know parents are going to love this and young children will benefit from it!

For more information on this parent education series please go to the “Upcoming Classes” tab above.

Photo on Flickr by lapolab


The Tambourine Hat

Written by Lorri Cooper on March 23rd, 2010

Music exploration in action!

The neatest set of pictures showed up in my Google Reader today, a post from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds on how they incorporate music into their day.  The pictures do a beautiful job showing how music brings joy to young learners. My favorite picture is of a little girl who has a tambourine on her head and is shaking herself around to make the instrument play.  The caption says,”Trying the tambourine as a jingling hat!”

So many teachers would get after a child for putting a tambourine on their head…but this teacher not only allows it, she finds value in it!  She understands that there is value in using an old object in a new way…that doing so fosters new learning. She gets it!

I wrote a post a while back, Music Center: Open Daily, that discusses how important it is to have musical instruments available for students daily to use if they choose.  The post described above does a wonderful job of bringing my post on music centers to life. Thank you for that, Teacher Sheryl from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds!

And, thank you for promoting choice and self-expression through music!  Those are some very lucky two and three year olds!

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