parent aware recently launched a new and improved website – parentaware.org. the new site offers improved search tools and helpful information to guide families in their search for quality child care and early education programs in minnesota. the search results will continue to feature the growing number of programs that have received a parent aware star rating.parent aware’s star ratings help parents find programs that go above and beyond to prepare children for school and life. our one- to four-star rating system – a free service – measures best practices identified by research that help children succeed.participating programs have:• volunteered for extra, in-depth training• devoted themselves to strong, caring relationships with each child• adopted the latest approaches to keeping children’s learning on track• committed to daily activities and routines that help children learn• placed a focus on children’s health and safety.stars defined families use parent aware star ratings to find programs using best practices that prepare children for kindergarten.when a program volunteers to participate in the parent aware star rating process, we like to say they are letting their stars shine. they are going above and beyond health and safety requirements and are sharing that with families looking for quality care and education programs.participating programs receive a rating of one, two, three or four stars. parent aware ratings are based on demonstrated use of practices that best prepare children for kindergarten. each rating level builds on the next, helping families easily identify how far a program has progressed in adopting these practices.at each level, quality indicators are measured in four key areas:•physical health and well-being•teaching and relationships•assessment of child progress•teacher training and educationto earn a one star rating, programs have introduced practices that best prepare children for kindergarten:•volunteered for training on the fundamentals of how children grow and learn, and how to track children’s developmental progress.•develop strong relationships with children and their families by always learning more about each individual child, and by offering families information about helpful community services.•are committed to improving their own training and education, to continue to grow as a professional in the early learning field.to earn a two star ratings, programs use many of the practices that best prepare children for kindergarten. do all of the things one-star programs do, and also:•are committed to school readiness by planning and evaluating daily schedules, learning activities and materials, classroom layout, and health-related practices.•volunteered for training on minnesota’s early learning standards.•develop strong relationships with children and their families by having open two-way conversations with parents about their child, sharing information about child’s growth and development, and offering information about paying for child and health care.•plan for and pursue ongoing learning in the early childhood field.to earn a three star rating, programs use most of the practices that best prepare children for kindergarten. do all of the things one- and two-star programs do, and also:•are committed to school readiness by using child assessment and curriculum, and always working toward making instruction more individualized, stimulating and language-rich in order to promote critical thinking.•have education credentials, are committed to ongoing professional development, and have volunteered for training in some of the following: key areas of children’s development; cultural and socio-economic differences between families; practices that support inclusion; offering healthy meals; and engaging children in physical activity and active play.•develop strong relationships with families by doing some of the following: sharing assessment results, helping them access family support services, and providing information in parents’ primarily languages.to earn a four star rating, programs excel in the use of most of the practices that best prepare children for kindergarten. do all of the things one, two and three-star programs do, and also:•are committed to school readiness by using best practices in child assessment, and always working toward making instruction more individualized, stimulating and language-rich in order to promote critical thinking.•have education credentials, are committed to ongoing professional development and have volunteered for training in most of the following: key areas of children’s development; cultural and socio-economic differences between families; practices that support inclusion; offering healthy meals; and engaging children in physical activity and active play.•develop strong relationships with families by doing most of the following: sharing assessment results, helping them access family support services, and providing information in parents’ primarily languages.the in-depth training requrements include the following workshops:overview of curriculumin this training, participants will examine the role of curriculum and its relationship to early learning standards and child development. we will evaluate a variety of curriculum approaches and the components of an effective curriculum. participants will also look at the way in which child assessment can be used to inform curriculum practices and to individualize care and education for young children. __________________child developmentall children are born eager to explore their world and master their development. join us as we review the theories of child development, the importance of developmentally appropriate practice, the developmental milestones of the first five years of life, including brain development and factors that can influence child growth and development. we will examine the function and importance of play in the lives of young children as well as highlight how observation and assessment of children is important as early childhood educators.__________________authentic observationauthentic observation is an introduction to the use of observation to understand and support children’s development. in this interactive session you will learn why observation of young children is essential to high quality care and education, techniques for observing in an intentional way, and methods for making connections between your observation information and daily routines and activities. ____________________ cultural connectionschild care providers and the children they serve need to develop skills to deal with diverse people and situations. whether they are cultural, ability, class or orientation differences, providers and children need to learn appropriate attitudes and behaviors to be successful in developing relationships with others. during this workshop, we will explore how we teach children attitudes and behaviors. we will offer practical suggestions for helping all children reach their full potential. _______________________focus on core concepts: literacy & physical____________________focus on core concepts: social emotional & math_____________________________intro to children with special needs.the number of children with special needs is continuing to increase. as a result, most providers will have opportunities to provide care to children with a variety of special needs. this workshop will review some of the warning signs for developmental concern including challenging behavior, some of the diagnosis most commonly seen in children, as well as resources to support inclusive care. we will also review the referral for screening process and resources for early intervention._____________________________ecipsjoin us for an exploration of minnesota’s early learning standards, the early childhood indicators of progress (ecips). the ecips offer the latest research on common developmental expectations for children from birth to age five. this tool provides a framework for understanding child development. learn to match common child care materials to indicators, evaluate activities in relation to the ecips, examine child observations and evaluate curriculum choices that you are making.