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July 2020

 Child washing hands while wearing a mask

Consider the 4-month-old who has been at home since COVID-19 began and has only interacted with his parents and immediate family. Consider the toddler who stayed at home for several weeks and has returned to his childcare that looks very different than when he left. Consider a girl who asks her parents often what her first day of kindergarten will be like and is told, “I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.” As adults, we have experienced the stress of the pandemic, shelter-in-place order, and gradual reopening. Children are experiencing this stress as well and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead. With this in mind, IEL is committed to providing timely and responsive resources for parents and teachers.

Resources for Returning to Childcare and Preschool

IEL has a new toolkit called Returning to Early Childhood Programs After COVID-19, which includes sections for understanding children’s feelings, recognizing stress, supporting children, and providing information for families. Also available is a new tip sheet, Returning to Childcare During COVID-19.

girl wearing a face mask

We also have a blog, Getting Your Child Ready to Return to Childcare, which provides simple strategies for helping children understand how social distancing practices may impact their time at a childcare center. Our new series of graphic tip sheets, Keeping Healthy and Safe, is about teaching young children social distancing practices. These positive and colorful tip sheets are wonderful resources to post in childcare centers and distribute to families. All of these resources are posted under the COVID-19 Resources button on the IEL website, a one-stop shop for resources related to COVID-19.

IEL Welcomes Natalie Danner
Natalie Danner

Only July 1, we welcomed Dr. Natalie Danner to our IEL team as a postdoctoral research associate. Most recently, Natalie has worked for five years in university-based early childhood teacher preparation programs in Nebraska, Oregon, and Connecticut. Before that she was an early childhood teacher and school leader in New York City and Arizona for 10 years. She received her Ph.D. in early childhood special education from the University of Illinois, so this is like a homecoming for her. We look forward to her contributions to IEL through blog posts, podcasts, tip sheets, and other valuable resources.

IEL Offers New Way to Easily Browse Through Our Tip Sheets

To make it easier to look through our wide variety of Tip Sheets, we have created various PDF collections so users can see them all with just a few clicks. The new PDFs include:

They are available in English and Spanish. Using these electronic documents is a great, environmentally friendly way to familiarize yourself with all our tip sheets!

Military Families Learning Network Webinar Series
 Military Families Learning Network logo

The Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) is conducting a webinar series this year entitled Intentional Design: Promoting Positive Behavior. Webinars in this series are geared toward EI/ESCE professionals yet have information that is tremendously helpful to parents as well. Webinars are free for anyone to attend and include a variety of free downloadable materials.

Help Us Serve You Better

The IEL Project wants to hear from you to learn how we can best serve you through our Web-based resources. Please complete our online survey and let us know how we can support you in your role as a parent, caregiver, or teacher of young children.

Question Answering Service

The Illinois Early Learning Project provides reliable resources and information in response to your questions on the parenting, care, and education of young children in Illinois. To take advantage of this service, please call our toll-free number at (877) 275-3227 during business hours or send us your question using our online form.

Upcoming Conferences

ILAEYC Growing Futures, October 22–24, recently announced as virtual event

Piecing It All Together Conference, postponed until October 22, Collinsville, IL

Given the implications of COVID-19, many conferences and professional development offerings have been canceled. It is best to check with the sponsor before making plans to attend any event in the near future.

Tell a Friend!

Please forward our e-newsletter to your friends to help spread Illinois Early Learning News throughout the state!

We'd Like to Hear From You

For more information about the Illinois Early Learning Project, contact us at (877) 275-3227 or iel@illinois.edu.


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