Even though Discovery Preschool was closed for Veterans Day, the staff was at work receiving special instruction in childhood education.
Sheila Wray, the early learning series coordinator from the Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC), took the preschool staff through multiple levels of education techniques for different age levels.
"My job is to support and educate child care providers, and I do that through thread services," said Wray. She described thread services as a statewide child care resource and referral network. Thread services are part of the Alaska Child Care Resource and Referral Network, she said.
Wray took the 12 members of the staff, plus the owner Blue Shibler, through programs she described as setting the stage for learning and planning learning activities. Topics included different kinds of knowledge, early learning guidelines and developmental domains.
Wray said the importance of such training lies in the fact children learn in different ways as infants, toddlers and preschool ages, and all are taught at Discovery.
"When planning environments for them, you need to know how they learn and develop," she said.
"One thing I'm hoping my staff learned is that establishing a healthy relationship with the children they work with is a foundation for learning and to be able to establish those relationships with children has to be meaningful and intentional," said Shibler. "Our goal is to create experiences for young children to construct knowledge and advance in development."
Jodi Palmer, who is Discovery's lead teacher for toddlers and assistant administrator, shares this view, saying, "My big thing is I want parents to know it's not just a place to drop kids off and play. It's a learning environment."
Shibler explained the training was also necessary because the state's child care licensing department requires all staff members working with children in a licensed capacity to obtain 20 hours of relevant training a year. She said Nov. 19 will mark their preschool's one-year anniversary and she noticed in the training files that some staff had yet to complete enough hours.
"Having training when the school was already closed to children was very efficient," she said.
She said it can often be difficult for child care workers to find time or motivation to seek training outside of work because the days can be very long and strenuous.
AEYC is the agency that subcontracts with threads to do referral services. It also has the Imagination Library and other childhood services for Southeast Alaska.
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