End of the School Year

kids1As the school year is coming to an end, the friendships, the cliques, dance parties, year-round sports, will now turn into new friendships at summer camp, field trips to the discovery place, swimming, and a whole lot of unforgettable memories.

Speaking for myself, I was always shy and had to have my mom walk me to the classroom door on the first day of school. Not knowing anyone in a room full of kids was not something I looked forward to. But that first day of school determines what friends you will gain, extra curricula activities and a big opening door for the next 180 days.

kids2As weeks have gone by, I’ve gained my new friends that make me feel comfortable to be around. I suppose this is how cliques came about. Finding out what sports you like to play or just being the type that likes to “get in the books,” happens during a school year. Each day a child grows into their own individual, independent, person as the countdown from one hundred eighty days left of school begins.

I always dreaded the last day of school and then at the same time just as excited for it to start my summer vacation. I’m sure you’re thinking, “dreading the last day of school?!” To me, it was leaving my friends and everything I’ve gotten adjusted to; to starting all over again in two months. School becomes a second home to children during the school year. When you get adjusted to a daily schedule, change isn’t easy.

To a lot of kids, summer means summer camp during the week. Summer camp opens many doors for children. For example, there is no other bond better than a summer camp family bond. This is my first year as a Summer Camp Coordinator for Partners in Learning. As a child I had my mother to entertain my brother and me for 65 days. She loved having play dates over and keeping us busy (kept her busy too!). Summer camp is just as rewarding. Planning all the field trips, themes for the weekly lesson plans, planning what to do to make this a memorable summer, is a wonderful challenge. I am excited about the end of the school year so that the summer fun can begin!

Shanna-FreezeShaina Freeze is the School Age Coordinator at Partners In Learning. She graduated from UNCC in December 2012 with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Women’s studies. She recently returned to Partners In Learning after having worked there two years while in school.

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To Be or Not to Be a Stay At Home Mom

Thirty-two years ago, I can remember being faced with the decision of whether to be a stay at home or working mom.  I started working and tried staying at home for a while, and decided to go back to work.  I know many young parents face this decision.  My daughter has chosen a different route and is a stay at home mom.  She is doing a wonderful job and I asked her to share her challenges and joys of being a stay at home mother.  

So here they are by Megan Honeycutt Berg:

Being a stay-at-home mom is a great adventure.  The ups and downs of every day are enough to give you quite a few of gray hairs.  Some days I sit back and look at the little person I created and think, “Wow, I did a good job,” until I see that same little creation throw my phone into the toilet or draw on herself with a pen.  As a stay-at-home mom, I have the 1451576_10200841259376829_2015779913_n amazing opportunity to not miss a thing in my child’s life (the good, the bad, and the ugly).  First steps, first words, the sweet cuddles during the day, potty training, temper tantrums, eating the dogs’ food, and decorating the walls with poop are all a part of my daily life.

The joys far outweigh the struggles, but there are many struggles.  Whether my child is at school or at home, she has to learn.  The difference is that I am in charge of what she learns, and when she learns.  The weight is all on me.  Children learn at their own pace, but I feel that my child has to be on the same level as children her age in school.  This struggle is also seen as a joy because I can watch her little face light up as she realizes that she has learned something new.

Staying at home with my daughter has given us a bond that I cherish every day.  She is my best friend, and I am hers.  Although, trying to have a full conversation with a 3 year old can be interesting.  I wake up to her smiling face every morning and know that we get to spend the entire day together doing exciting activities.

1926863_10201614181499399_1920399702_nI love spending time with my daughter, but nap time is heaven!  I need alone time.  Having alone time is tough.  During the day I am everything to my daughter.  I am her chef, chauffeur, maid, playmate, teacher and mommy.  I would like to pass some jobs out to my husband when he returns home, but my daughter doesn’t see it that way.  I cater to her every need during the day so why would it be any different when her daddy gets home?  Unfortunately, there isn’t a switch that can be flipped on and off when this mommy needs a break

 Having the privilege to be a stay-at-home mom is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.  I witness the little giggles, big smiles, learning experiences, and every temper tantrum.  There are good times and difficult times, but combining them all is what makes great memories and we get to make them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As you can see, there are many challenges and joys to staying at home as there are if you choose to work outside of the home.  Mothers need to make the best decisions for their children, husbands, and themselves.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It has to be what best fits your family!  Just remember that whichever you choose, enjoy the ride!

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.

Special Needs Mini Conference

mini conference

Susan King, author of Optimism for Autism, will be returning to Partner’s In Learning’s Special Needs Mini-Conference as keynote speaker on May 3rd for an encore presentation. She is a wife and mother of four adult children and she will be sharing her journey as the mother of a young man with Autism. She will talk about the challenges and joys of raising a child with Autism.

The conference is a free event for both parents and teachers; child care credit will be given to teachers needing continuing education hours. The Arc of Rowan will provide free child care at Partners In Learning to participants attending the conference. This annual event is a wonderful networking opportunity for the early education and special needs community in our area. Local agencies will be available throughout the conference to share and discuss the services that they provide for individuals, families, professionals, and members of the community.

optimism for autismThis year’s breakout sessions promise to be captivating and will inspire parents and professionals with ideas and hope! You will leave the mini-conference ready to try (and make) new things, with knowledge on your child’s development, and excited to not only be your child’s parent, but their number one advocate!

Participants will be able to attend two breakout sessions. Topics included are (1) use Pinterest to boost your child’s development; (2) hear from parents who have been there and done that and who are willing to share their journeys; (3) making shoe box activities; (4) how to make, or find cheaply, toys and tools that encourage fine motor skills and sensory play; (5) learn from and put yourself in the shoes of a retired Rowan County schools special education teacher; (6) how to have a passion for advocacy; and (7) discipline tips and how to determine triggers of behavioral problems in order to intervene and correct behavior in children with and without special needs.

If any of these topics sounds interesting to you or if you wish to network with the early education and special needs community in our area, please join us for our Special Needs Mini-Conference. The conference will be held in the Ketner building on Catawba College’s campus on May 3rd, 2014. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. If you need childcare, please drop your child off at Partners In Learning before arriving at Ketner for registration. For more information and to sign up for the mini-conference, please call Partners In Learning at (704) 639-9020. We look forward to seeing you there!

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist

Katie Zink, Infant-Toddler Family Specialist

 

 

Katie Zink is a graduate of Catawba College and serves as a CBRS therapist for Partners In Learning. Prior to her role as a therapist, Katie served as a teacher beginning in 2009.  Working with children is her life’s passion.

Playing is our Job!

IMG_2141Children learn and develop by exploring the world in which they live. From the beginning of life they explore using their senses. A young infant learns that crying brings comfort, a toddler learns that biting may get what they want, a preschooler learns about math through building with blocks and the possibilities are infinite! It is our role as parents to ensure that we have a loving nurturing environment that encourages and stimulates the child’s natural inquisitive nature.

It is our role as parent to provide quality learning rich environments. Parents need to have a sound understanding of young children’s developmental milestones. By understanding the milestones, we are able to provide developmentally appropriate activities. We must be genuinely kind and nurturing. This allows children to feel safe, loved, and allows children to take risks.

IMG_2182But sometimes we adults think we need to rush a child along. Because we know how important education is, we want our children to learn and so we set out to teach them as much as we can. Although this impulse is good in itself, sometimes we can actually get in the way of a child’s learning by trying too hard to teach them!

We don’t need to push children or cram information into their heads. We just need to ensure they have the opportunities to explore knowledge for themselves. We can expose them to a rich environment and then allow them to explore it freely.

Let’s step away and let the PLAY begin!

 

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.

The Effects of Poverty on Children

As an early childhood educator in Rowan County for the past 34 years, I have observed many changes in young children’s lives that have negative and positive effects.  The continued rise in poverty in our county has increased the negative effects on our children and the future of our county.  One U.S. department of Agriculture report puts Rowan’s 2011 poverty rate at 18.9 percent with nearly 30 percent of our children living in poverty.”   The effects of poverty on young children are astounding.

Salisbury has a high poverty level and a high property crime index. On a scale of 1-10, with the national average being three for crime on property, Salisbury is a seven.  Statistics show that 61 percent of Rowan County students receive free lunches.   Knox has approximately 80 percent of students living in poverty while Koontz has 89 percent of students living in poverty.

Children who live in extreme poverty or who live below the poverty line for multiple years suffer the worst outcomes.   Children who experience poverty during their preschool and early school years have lower rates of school completion than children and adolescents who experience poverty only in later years.

Poverty presents a chronic stress for children and families that may interfere with suc­cessful adjustment to developmental tasks, including school achievement.  The association between poverty and children’s de­velopment and academic performance has been well documented, beginning as early as the second year of life and extending through elementary and high school.

When these risks occur during preschool years, they can have long-lasting consequences. For example, readiness for school on entry to kindergarten sets the trajectory for future success.  Lee and Burkman, found that most American stu­dents who start school significantly behind their peers can never close the readiness gap.  Rather, the gap tends to widen as they move through school.  The consequences of early school fail­ure are increased likelihood of truancy, drop out, and unhealthy or delinquent behaviors.

Between 30 and 40% of children entering kindergarten in the United States are estimated to not be ready for school.  In addition to the direct effects of a lack of resources or other risk factors associated with poverty, there are also negative effects of caregiver behavior, including inconsistent caregiving or harsh parenting, leading to more disorganized child behavior. The cycle continues as caregivers react to their children’s more difficult-to-handle behaviors.

Schools in our county are under-funded, beset by disciplinary problems, staffed by poorly equipped teachers, and confronted with difficulties meeting their educational mandates.  This problem is not going to just go away and every aspect of our society and it’s future is affected by it.  We must shine a light on this problem and develop long lasting strategies to combat this problem.  No child deserves to grow up in poverty and it is everyone’s problem!

Adapted from:  The Effect of Poverty on Child Development and Educational Outcomes

http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=psycd_fac

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt, Executive Director

Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.