It’s Never Too Early to ENGAGE, CONNECT, AND LEARN!
Join the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), early childhood education students, teachers, child care providers, parents and families across the nation to celebrate the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) from April 2 – 8! Help spread the word about “the importance of high-quality early learning, and the critical role early childhood educators play in a child’s development and learning.”
Since 1971, NAEYC has partnered with over 60,000 families and family-serving organizations to highlight the importance of the early years (birth through age 8) through its annual Week of the Young Child™ celebration. The theme for #WOYC22 is “Step It Up.” For Maryland’s Family Engagement Program, “Step It Up” means supporting children, parents, families and educators as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the Maryland Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework puts forth seven goals for family engagement to be used across Maryland’s early childhood system and within individual programs. Specifically, the following activities celebrating WOYC meet Goal Two of the Framework: Family engagement initiatives should promote positive parent-child relationships.
Remember: Strong partnerships between educators and families support lifelong, healthy child development.
Below are six fun-filled WOYC daily activities to engage children, parents and families while promoting school readiness and positive parent-child relationships:
Seed Saturday (The Family Seed Challenge)
Tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, oh my! Kick-off WOYC by becoming #HealthyGreenFamilies! For National Garden Month and the spring planting season, teach children the value of growing their food by planting a school, program, family or community veggie garden. Showcase your children’s green thumbs by sharing photos with @MDEngageEarly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the Hashtags #HealthyGreenFamilies and #WOYC22.
Making the Band: The Family Edition! As a guide, e-mail the Five Tips to Making Music at Home to parents and families a few days in advance. Families can create their musical instruments at home, such as strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. After completing their instruments, download a great song, check out a virtual dance party and make a WOYC music video at home using their instruments. Share your family band’s live performance with your program and other families on social media. Remember to tag @NAEYC and @MDEngageEarly using the Hashtags #MDFamiliesEngage and #WOYC22.
When you cook with children, you create family bonds and encourage healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. By following step-by-step directions, measuring ingredients and counting serving sizes, your little chefs learn basic math concepts, which can lead to a STEM career. Before cooking, get Tips to Introduce Your Little Chef to New Recipes. Discover MFE’s Top Healthy Spring Recipes, especially for picky eaters. Share photos or videos of your little chefs “in action” with @MDEngageEarly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the Hashtags #MyLittleChef, #WOYC22 and #HealthyGreenFamilies.
- MFE Presents: #HealthyGreenFamilies (video)
- Visit the Little Chef’s Corner
- Download the Little Chef’s Certificate
Work Together Wednesday
You know the words to the song: “Clean up, Clean up, Everybody Do Your Share.” That’s right, pump up the music: it’s time for spring cleaning. For Work Together Wednesday, teach children essential life skills such as responsibility, teamwork, independence and the importance of a clean environment and recycling. Partner with parents and families to host a classroom, playground, home or community clean-up. Education.com recommends making it fun for children by skating for dust bunnies to clean hardwood floors or waxing on and off to wash cars and windows.
Get those creative juices flowing, and get those little hands dirty! Young children are naturally curious and creative, and they learn best by doing. Through arts and crafts projects, children learn problem-solving, fine motor and social skills. For Artsy Thursday, encourage children to use their imaginations to create a work of art. Ask parents and families to use art supplies and a large piece of paper to create a family tree or portrait. Want to get creative? Other options can include creating a Melted Bead Bowl or Decorated Egg Holder. Get helpful tips with the Arts At-Home Activity Sheet.
Parents and families need your support now more than ever! Goal One of the Framework: Family Engagement initiatives should promote family well-being. Maryland’s vision for family engagement is a two-generation strategy. Families are the key to a child’s early development and learning. If your school or program allows it, invite parents and families back into the classroom. If not, host a virtual parent/family meet-up. Invite a guest speaker such as a nutritionist, mental health professional or yoga instructor. Make it simple, fun and relaxing for families. After your event, use the Parent and Family Certificate below to engage families, establish relationships and show your support.
Help promote family engagement by making sure parents and families have fun and creative learning activities to do at home with their children. Learn more about the 2022 Week of the Young Child®.