1 Jun

Child Behavior Support: Solution Kit

Today I’d like to introduce you to a wonderful resource… the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning! The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) is focused on promoting the social emotional development and school readiness of young children birth to age 5.  CSEFEL is a national resource center funded by the Office of Head Start and Child Care Bureau for disseminating research and evidence-based practices to early childhood programs across the country.

This website it full of great resources for parents and educators, including practical strategies for supporting and guiding children’s behavior. One at the top of my list is the Solution Kit– be sure to check it out! Print and laminate the cards individually (in color). Then, put them in a brief case or some sort of suitcase/carrier that’s simple for the children to carry, open, and use. When a situation comes up in which children need to solve a problem, remind them to use the solution kit. Of course, you’ll first need to introduce it and explain/demo all of the solutions (a few times). Provide guidance and support as you facilitate the situation…let them choose and try their solution…it may or may not work. They may need to try a few before they resolve the issue at hand. This teaches grit while sending the message that THEY ARE COMPETENT and SKILLED!

30 Mar

I Have…Who Has…?

ihavenumbersWrap Around Games are one of my all-time favorite games for children. Why? They encourage social interaction and reinforce critical thinking skills. I have made many different games for toddlers to school-agers (colors, shapes, dinosaurs, etc.)

How does the game work? Pass out all the cards, one to each child. One child begins by saying, “I Have…Who Has…?” The child that has that item says, “I Have…Who Has…?” The game continues until all of the children have gone. You’ll know the game was played correctly when the game ends with the same person that began – hence the name Wrap Around Games.

PreKinders has a *FREE* printable NUMBERS WRAP AROUND GAME. Check it out! Want the SHAPE GAME too? You can grab it HERE.  There is a Fact or Fiction *FREE* game online through Lakeshore Learning (for school-age children).

20 Mar



It’s great for kids (and adults, for that matter) to be active and involved in vigorous sports. However, some activities put participants at particular risk for repeated concussions, with potentially life-long consequences. But information is power and this week’s Mom Enough show is packed with information about how to recognize and respond to concussions and, most important how to prevent concussions in your young athletes. Don’t miss this important discussion with Jon Roesler, Epidemiologist Supervisor with the Injury and Violence Prevention Unit at the Minnesota Department of Health. TUNE IN HERE!

What new things did you learn in the Mom Enough discussion about the causes and consequences of concussions? What steps will you take to prevent your children from suffering concussions, especially repeated concussions, which do great harm?

For a checklist of symptoms that may help your doctor in diagnosing a concussion, click here.
For Minnesota Medicine’s “This is Your Brain on Sports” article, click here.
For the MN Department of Health’s Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury information, click here.
For the Brain Injury Alliance of Minnesota, click here.

22 Dec

Another Semester Down…Almost

grading papersThe end of the semester has come. As I grade through the seemingly never-ending pile of papers, I reflect. How did the students respond to the textbook and certain activities this semester? How engaged did they seem during class? I consider the success level on student assignments and how that success was determined. Should I modify the assignment? The rubric? Do I allow for students to “show what they know” in a variety of ways, depending on their personal preferences and learning styles? Although the semester is over for students, my learning continues.

In fact, I learn quite a bit each semester. Did that new approach produce the desired results? Was that structure a headache or worth it? Were there student needs I was unprepared for? How can I better set each student up for success, while still allowing them to meet high standards?

One of my favorite reflection tools at the end of the semester is the exit ticket. Each student completes one, whether in a face-to-face or online course, before they leave the course. It’s their final task. The exit ticket provides me with student insight for the course but also assists me in learning more about each student. Although I modify it slightly every semester, here’s what the exit ticket entails:

When answering the following, reflect on the entire course.

  • Top 10 takeaways
  • Favorite aspect or activity
  • Talk about the textbook
  • Syllabus assessment
  • Personal growth/new insights
  • Do over- what is something you’d do differently?
  • Greatest achievement
  • Anything else you’d like me to know…

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to semester break like the next person, but I also recognize the importance of reflecting during those final hours. In fact, this is a crucial step in reflective practice. According to Educational Psychologist, Dr. Kenneth Wolf, “Reflection is what allows us to learn from our experiences: it is an assessment of where we have been and where we want to go next.”

After the final grade has been entered, I will take a break to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. This short break provides me with a much needed breather so that I can return next week, ready to apply what I’ve learned and move forward in planning the next semester.

What tools do you use for self-reflection regarding your teaching practice? Comment/Reply below.

17 Dec

Beyond The Pages Book Study (Goffin): MNCPD Approved Training (Self-paced)

I’m pleased to announce that MN participants of our Beyond The Pages book study (Goffin) may earn 6 training hours for active participation. This is an approved course through the MN Center for Professional Development! This course applies towards the Core Competency Area of VIII. Professional Development and the CDA Content Area of Maintaining Professionalism.

Participants can participate LIVE each week following the book study schedule OR may complete it as a self-paced course.

The following guidelines are for participants seeking MNCPD/Develop hours or a certificate for active participation in the Beyond The Pages Early Childhood Book Study (Goffin):

  1. Participants will SUBSCRIBE to the Enhancing Young Minds (EYM) blog. Then, drop me a note stating your participation by visiting my Contact Me page. Include your name and email address. Put “BOOK STUDY” in the subject area and “I PLAN TO PARTICIPATE” (and anything else you’d like me to know) in the message area. Simply follow along each week to access the new discussions about the book.
  2. Participants will pay for training hours/certificate by visiting the top-right of this blog and click Donate under PAY for Book-study Certificate Here. ($30)
  3. Participants will obtain a copy of the chosen book Professionalizing Early Childhood Education as a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era by Stacie Goffin.
  4. If you are on Facebook, JOIN this eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/1078301142189381/
  5. Participants will read the chapters according to the timeline and review the correlating expert commentary on my blog.
  6. Participants will participate by posting thoughtful and reflective responses (regarding book readings and expert commentaries) in the comments section of the blog post each week for the duration of the blog study. That means that participants will post 8 reflections. If participants are bloggers themselves and are blogging about this experience, including their reflections, they are able to simply post the weblink to their blog post in our blog comments section.
  7. Participants will keep an organized log (Word document) of all comments or blog posts (with dates and chapters) and email them to Dawn Braa (dawnbraa1@gmail.com) at the end of the study.
  8. Participants are responsible for submitting their certificate to Develop to be entered in their learning record UNLESS they JOIN DEVELOP (free to create an account). If participants submit their MNCPD Develop ID# to Dawn along with their organized log of participation, course completion will automatically be entered onto their MNCPD learning record!

*Participants must successfully complete all requirements to be eligible for training hours/certificate.
**Duplicate certificates will not be sent.

If you live outside MN and are seeking training hours, I suggest you also document your active participation and inquire with your state about approval possibilities. I am not guaranteeing approval of any kind outside of MN, but you will receive a certificate after successful completion.

To learn more about this study, including the FAQs, click HERE!

3 Dec

Congratulations! First Book Study Finisher!


Jennifer from MN is the first to have completed my first Beyond The Pages blog book study for training hours. She participated in all 14 discussions – way to go!

Jennifer says of the study, “I enjoyed the wide variety of topics covered and thought all the guest bloggers brought helpful insights.  I can’t wait to hear what we will read this spring!”

Thank you for your participation Jennifer! It was lovely to have you as a participant.

*If YOU missed the fall study, don’t worry! Since it’s online, you can participate at any time 🙂 Simply visit my college program blog where it’s hosted. Decide on a pace that works for you. Get Rae Pica’s book, read it according to the timeline (not necessarily in order), and read the correlating guest expert commentaries (click on chapter links) and comments for more insights and resources. Be sure to comment on the blog – share your thoughts and stories – be heard!

The announcement for the next book study will be coming next week…stay tuned!

27 Nov

Welcome to My Enhancing Young Minds Site!


This site is dedicated to supporting early childhood educators and parents in enhancing young minds. You’ll find good articles and neat features like early childhood guest speakers, Adventures in Eating, MomEnough programs, Bam!Radio programs, and my newest feature- blog book studies! Spread the word- please share this site with your social networks.

I’d love to stay connected! Subscribe (in the upper right-hand column) to receive an Enhancing Young Minds weekly newsletter. Just enter your name and email address. I’d also like to invite you to join my Facebook Ideas & Resources Community!