For Parents

Availability of the Revised Early Childhood Indicators of Progress: Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards (ECIPs)

Availability of the Revised Early Childhood Indicators of Progress: Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards (ECIPs) 1161 736 Ivy Marsnik

In the first five years of life, a child’s brain grows to 85% of its full capacity. Children begin to form a sense of what is possible and attainable in their young lives, exploring the world around them and finding their place within it. We know the first years of life are critical to a child’s success, but because this complex and rapid development in young children is accompanied by a very diverse set of early childhood education and care programs, having a shared set of expectations and key milestones is the foundation of a successful early childhood education system. In Minnesota, this set of shared expectations is called the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress: Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards (ECIPs).

Recently revised, the state has just released its 2017 ECIPs now available on the MDE website. The revised standards now include ages birth to kindergarten entrance and are aligned with the Minnesota Kindergarten Academic Standards. The areas of learning covered by the ECIPs include:

  • Physical and movement development
  • Social and emotional development
  • Language, literacy and communications
  • Mathematics
  • Scientific thinking
  • Social systems
  • Approaches to learning
  • The arts

A basis for curriculum, child assessment, and program evaluation in Minnesota, the ECIPs are not only intended to be used by teachers and early childhood education providers, but by families as well. Since learning starts at home with parents serving as a child’s first teachers, the ECIPs also serve as a helpful tool and resource for parents interested in learning ways they can better support their child’s learning and development.

For School Success, Start with Breakfast

For School Success, Start with Breakfast 2048 1362 Ivy Marsnik

Parents know that school mornings can be the busiest time of the day. Between getting kids to school on time, signing permission slips, making sure homework is done, and everything else, breakfast can be a last minute thought. However, unless you are certain your child is eating breakfast at school, breakfast at home is vitally important.

For years we’ve been told we need to eat breakfast. It’s undeniably good for you! Every night, most of us fast, or go a period of time without food, for eight to ten hours as we sleep. To break the fast, it is important we eat breakfast and jump start our day. Breakfast provides important energy to the body and the brain which in turn enables all of us, including our children, to feel better, think better, learn better, and perform better.

Here are a few ideas for a healthy, quick, and low-cost breakfast on those busy mornings:

  • Enjoy homemade granola on top of a fruit and yogurt parfait, or as a standalone cereal (great hot or cold)
  • Make oatmeal with fat-free or low-fat milk and add fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruit
  • Try grits with light coconut milk with canned mango or peaches in light syrup or its own juices
  • Make a fruit smoothie with low-fat milk, fruit, and peanut butter
  • For a special treat, enjoy a delicious fruit tart

Eating breakfast is a lifelong habit worth teaching your child. It is important to remember that as the parent, you set the example. Even if you are not usually hungry in the morning, or don’t like typical breakfast foods, try a light yet well-balanced breakfast with at least three food groups. The reality is, almost any dish can be eaten for breakfast. So go ahead and serve those leftovers!

By planning ahead and forming good habits, your family will see that eating breakfast is not only quick and easy, but is also a great way to spend time in the kitchen together and set your day off to a strong start.


The University of Minnesota Extension’s Health and Nutrition, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education program is excited to partner with Way to Grow and has a shared vision for healthier families. Our education provides Minnesota families with tools and strategies to help counter the effects of food insecurity, poverty and obesity. One of the classes we offer is Cooking Matters® Minnesota. This is a six-week series of cooking-based nutrition education program that empowers people to eat healthier and make better use of their food resources. Program graduates report an increase in confidence to prepare healthy meals and excitement over understanding food labels and ways to stretch food dollars. Parents realize that small changes in how their families eat can make big differences in the end. Most importantly more families find making the healthy choice is now a much easier choice.

For more information on the University of Minnesota Extension’s Health and Nutrition, SNAP-Ed program, contact: Evalyn Cabrey, MS, RD, SNAP-Ed Regional Coordinator (Metro), at ecarbrey@umn.edu or 612-624-9942.

This article was written by Sharmyn Phipps, SNAP-Ed Educator
University of Minnesota Extension, Health and Nutrition Programs, SNAP Education

Minneapolis Summer Programs

Minneapolis Summer Programs 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Summer is just around the corner and we are just as excited as your children are! For many of us, summer is time to get out and have fun. Don’t let it pass you by! Below are a few summer programs that may help your child get the most out of their summer. The programs on this list are either free to participate in, or have scholarship programs for interested families to keep cost from becoming a barrier. Spots tend to fill up quickly and summer programs start soon. If you see something that interests you, act fast. Here’s to a great summer!

Education & Personal Growth
  • Hennepin County Libraries offer free programs for all ages in addition to some parent-child classes. The Library Lab provides a space for children to learn about the wonders and excitement of chemistry; Bruce the Bug Guy presents lively, entertaining, hands on program featuring all sorts of creepy crawlies; The Hennepin County Northeast Library also has baby story time programs, yoga classes, spaceship origami, and so much more! Check them out at hiclib.org or call 612-543-6775. Options vary by location.
  • The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program helps children in grades 1-6 read books of their choosing to earn a free book of their choice. Visit a store near you or check them out online for more details.
  • The Boys and Girls Clubs (Jerry Gambles Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities in Near North and the Southside Village Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities in Powderhorn) offer programs for ages 5-18. Yearly membership fee is $5 per child/young adult with breakfast and lunch provided. Programs include academics, sports, arts, nature, teen programing, mentoring, and more. For more contact: Near North – 612-522-3636; Powderhorn – 612-822-3191.
  • Park Avenue Freedom Schools Summer Program accepts children who have finished kindergarten through 8th grade. Weekly themes focus on identity and the ways they can make a difference in themselves, in their families, and in their communities. Find them online or call 612-825-6863 for more information.
  • WE WIN Institute is a free program for K-4th grade children. Students earn school credits while they enhance their math, reading, and writing skills. The program also includes activities such as mural painting, gardening, and dance. Transportation, breakfast and lunch is provided. Upon completion of the program, committed students will be eligible for a trip to Valley Fair! Visit the website at we-win.org or contact them at 612-721-2364.
Sports & Activities
  • Minnesota Vikings Youth Skills Development Camp is a 4-day, free coed football camp for ages 8 through 18 hosted by the MN Vikings and professional coaches. Spots are limited. For more information, contact Jeff Robinson at 952-828-6500 or Char Davis at 612-230-6448.
  • The Brian Coyle Center & Teen Programs offers school and summer programs for K-12th graders from day camps and fieldtrips, overnight camping opportunities, athletic teams to tutoring services, you’re sure to find something that fits. For more, call Pillsbury United Communities at 612-338-5282
  • Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board has swimming lessons for children of all ages. Locations vary. For questions and more information, call Sahara at 612-655-7564.
Art & Music Programs
  • The Minneapolis College of Art and Design offers summer camps to students ages 5-18. Participants are also offered an extended care option which offers both free play time and organized activities with Chilldren’s Theatre Company. Scholarships are available, but limited. Register by phone at 612-874-3765.
  • MacPhail provides accessible musical learning experiences through over 50 different camps designed to meet the needs of the student. Program is open to ages 3 through grade 3. Contact student services at 612-321-0100 or visit macphail.org.
  • The Loft Library Center Young Writers’ Program advances the artistic development of young writers and inspires a pssion for literature by offering creative writing classes to youth ages 6-17. Located on Washington Ave. downtown, The Loft fosters a thriving literary community in the heart of Minneapolis. Register online at loft.org or call 612-215-2575.

10 Tried-and-True Family Game Night Ideas

10 Tried-and-True Family Game Night Ideas 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Throughout the year, Way to Grow hosts Family Game Nights as part of our Great by Eight program. On average, over 30 families attend and each family receives a game to take home. These events have become a favorite for Way to Grow families. We feature a different game each time and wanted to share a few educational games we have found to be kid tested, and educator approved!

  1. Brain Quest 
    Brain Quest is the perfect bring-along game for those trips out of town. Play it in the car, or make a night of it by hosting your own trivia night. Skill areas: Critical thinking, information recall, and listening
  2. Farkle
    Farkle is a fun game of strategy and luck! Take a risk and keep rolling to build your score, or play it safe so you don’t lose your points. Skill areas: Math and critical thinking
  3. Memory
    This classic game is easy to play with children of nearly any age. Print your own like this fun shape version, or create your own using paper and markers. Try using letters of the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, or pictures tailored to what your child is learning. Skill areas: Critical thinking, information recall, and topic you choose!
  4. Pictionary
    Pictionary is an easy game to play with no supplies (other than a pen and paper) required! Draw the first thing that comes to mind or create your own word bank for children to draw from. Then, set the clock! Skill areas: Fine motor skills, creative thinking, and vocabulary
  5. Puzzles
    Puzzles have many benefits to early childhood development. They promote not only cognitive skill development, but social-emotional skills such as concentration and patience as well. Skill areas: Fine motor skills, memory, critical thinking and problem-solving
  6. Qwirkle
    Qwirkle was a huge hit at our most recent Family Game Night. Players take turns adding blocks adjacent to at least one previously played block. The blocks must match either the color or shape of the previous block. Skill areas: Color and shape recognition, pattern building
  7. Spot it!
    Spot it! is played with 31 cards that are each decorated with colorful images. The images may vary in size and position, but there is always one, and only one, match between any two cards. The aim of the games is always the same: be the first to spot it. Each game includes variations for all skill levels. Spot it! Jr. is for ages 4-7, though we think this game is just as fun for adults, too! Skill areas: Vocabulary building, cognitive processing speed, visual perception, and motor skills
  8. Story Cubes
    This compact, pocket-sized game packs a lot of fun! Practice your creative storytelling skills together, or alone. Story Cubes come in many themes from prehistorical times to enchanted fairy tales. For older children, practice writing out the stories to increase the target skill areas. Skill areas: Creative thinking and storytelling
  9. Uno
    Uno has been a family favorite for decades and for good reason. Easy for children to pick up and hard to put down, this game is fun for all ages. Skill areas: Strategic thinking, color and number recognition
  10. Zingo
    Another Way to Grow Family Game Night favorite is Zingo. Practice matching images and words to your Zingo card. Fill your card to win! With two levels, this game is perfect for ages 4-8. Skill areas: Vocabulary, matching, and sight word recognition

Preschool Reading Book Wish List

Preschool Reading Book Wish List 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Way to Grow Preschool teachers compiled this list of preschool reading books essential to any little one’s library. You will recognize many of these preschool reading books as early childhood favorites. Unfortunately, we know many of the children in our program lack access to these books and many like them. We also know that a pathway to success begins by ensuring every young person has access to books from the moment they are born. In response to this need, insurance professionals attending the 2016 SITE conference will be collecting these titles to benefit Way to Grow families. These books will supplement our home visiting curriculum and to help encourage parents to read to their preschoolers daily by fostering an early love for reading.

  1. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
  2. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
  3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Eric Carle
  4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
  5. Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
  6. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  7. Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
  8. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  9. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  10. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
  11. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  12. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  13. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  14. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  15. It’s Mine by Leo Lionni
  16. Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus

Print this list of preschool reading books!

Parent Education – Our Message to Parents

Parent Education – Our Message to Parents 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Way to Grow Partners with Local Newspaper in Launching Parent Education Section

Way to Grow is happy to announce our partnership with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. As a contributing partner to the new parent education section, Message to Parents, we will focus on the most critical issues affecting the communities we serve. In order for parents to fulfill their roles as their children’s first teachers, they need access to the tools and information critical to their children’s success. Each month, we will be sharing parent education tips to encourage parents by saying we can do this; we can give our children better opportunities to succeed in school and life – and here’s how.

The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder was a natural partner for Way to Grow in this endeavor. The hearts of our organizations are united by the same goal: to empower the second generation by working with and through their parents. Way to Grow has been working with parents in isolated communities for over 26 years. Through this project, we aim to cast our knowledge of early childhood and parent education far and wide, sharing the best information and advice we can to help each family rediscover and achieve their highest potential.

Read more about this exciting project and hear from our fellow contributing partners. And, don’t miss our first Message to Parents: Choosing the Right School for Your Child.

Promoting Early Literacy Development – Tips for Parents

Promoting Early Literacy Development – Tips for Parents 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

At its core, early literacy development begins with what children know about reading and writing long before they themselves can read and write. Here are a few tips to help promote early literacy development at home:

1. Enjoy more conversation

Make the most of the time you spend with your child by simply talking and listening to them more. Listen to children’s songs in the car or use this valuable time together to talk about anything from the alphabet to the weather.

2. Avoid baby talk

Stick to more grown up language to build a long lasting foundation for literacy development. Many activities can promote rich language use, such as visiting a museum, zoo or other exhibit. You’ll find yourself using words to describe your surroundings in these settings that you may not often use in routine conversation.

3. Bring back the bedtime story

Researchers estimate that less than half of children under the age of five are read to daily. Reading with your child from birth is one of the best ways to promote early literacy development. Just a few minutes a day makes a big difference, so take a trip to the library and make sure you aren’t forgetting those bedtime stories!

4. Expand on school projects

If you don’t know what your child is working on in school, ask their teacher to share their unit plans. Once you know what your child is learning, build on those lessons at home to help deepen their knowledge and draw more connections to them. Have fun with this! If, for instance, your child is learning the letter “B” this week, take them to the beach (weather permitting), or create a collage using magazine and newspaper clippings of items or activities that start with the letter “B”. If your child is a little older, and perhaps learning about the environment, check out a really cool book about the rainforest, and talk about the differences between that environment and the one in which they live.

5. Encourage them and express pride

Nothing fosters a love for learning faster than the encouragement of a proud parent. Whether your child just learned their ABCs or finished their first chapter book, be sure to tell them what a great job they have done. Recognizing their hard work paying off will set healthy patterns for the future.

Not to Miss: 5 Children’s Books to Read this Summer

Not to Miss: 5 Children’s Books to Read this Summer 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

With the final weeks of summer upon us, these children’s books are sure to keep your child’s interest in reading through to the first day of school and beyond. Our not-to-miss list includes books addressing cultural and linguistic diversity while including social experiences and events of daily life easy for kids to relate to. Featuring a diverse representation of characters and family structures, these books are sure to provide a basis for planned learning about other cultures and traditions children may encounter in their classrooms and communities at large.


Green is a Chile PepperGreen Is a Pepper: A Book of Colors
By Rosanne Greenfield Thong

In this lively picture book, children discover a world of colors all around them: red is spices and swirling skirts, yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. Many of the featured objects are Latino in origin, and all are universal in appeal. With rich, boisterous illustrations, a fun-to-read rhyming text, and an informative glossary, this playful concept book will reinforce the colors found in every child’s day!

 


Last Stop on Market StreetLast Stop on Market Street
By Matt De La Peña

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.

 

 


Little Melba and Her Big TromboneLittle Melba and Her Big Trombone
By Katheryn Russell-Brown

Melba loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. At age seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. Melba’s extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century.


Once Upon an AlphabetOnce Upon an Alphabet
By Oliver Jeffers

If words make up the stories and letters make up the words, then stories are made up of letters. In this menagerie we have stories made of words, made FOR all the letters. From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.


Ramadan MoonRamadan Moon
By Na’ima B. Robert

Ramadan, the month of fasting, Doesn’t begin all at once. It begins with a whisper. And a prayer. And a wish. Muslims all over the world celebrate Ramadan and the joyful days of Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of the month of fasting as the most special time of year. This lyrical and inspiring picture book captures the wonder and joy of this great annual event, from the perspective of a child. Accompanied by Iranian inspired illustrations, the story follows the waxing of the moon from the first new crescent to full moon and waning until Eid is heralded by the first sighting of the second new moon. Written and illustrated by Muslims, this is a book for all children who celebrate Ramadan and those in the wider communities who want to understand why this is such a special experience for Muslims.

 

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