Early Childhood Professional Development

Karen Rucker, M.S.
ECE Master Trainer


Standard Area 4:

Developmentally, Culturally, and Linguistically Appropriate Teaching Practices

Including Behavior Management


Interested in a topic not listed? Contact the instructor, Karen Rucker, regarding the possibility of customizing a session to address your center's specific professional development needs or to address a specific age group. For additional information, click on the Contact tab or send an email to krucker@RespectingChildren.com  or call 717-314-8368.

All Age Groups

Behind the Scenes:  Examining How Adults Contribute to Children's Challenging Behaviors (2 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 4 & Standard Area 6 and STARS SQ.3.4.4)  Often challenging behaviors are the product of multiple factors that may not be readily apparent, including the adults in the program!  Join us as we examine the bigger picture including developmentally appropriate behaviors, mistaken behaviors, unrealistic expectations, and imitation.  Small group activities, case studies and group discussions will be used in this professional development session.

The Importance of Relationships: Creating Powerful Interactions to Support Children (2 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 4 and STARS SQ.3.4.5; SQ.3.4.9; SQ.3.4.10)  There's a huge difference between going through the motions of teaching and actually supporting children's learning.  The key lies in the types of interactions - both verbal and nonverbal - that you engage in with children throughout the day.  Based on the book Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend Their Learning, this session explores strategies to become more intentional and purposeful in building relationships with young children.

NEW!! 10 Strategies to Extend Learning for Young Children - Ages birth to 5 years  (2 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 4 & Standard Area 5 and STARS SQ.3.4.10) An intentional teacher becomes skilled in capturing opportunities to scaffold children's experiences in the early childhood classroom.  Based on the book Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend Their Learning, this session explores ten strategies to expand children's discovery while employing curriculum and capturing teachable moments.

Why An Apple Is Worth 1000 Words: Learning Through Play (2 hrs / C1 - Standard Area 1 & Standard Area 4 and STARS EC.2.2):  In the adult world, play is often viewed as the absence of work and is considered of lesser value or time 'wasted.'  In the child's world, play is the work that allows them to decode the world around them while creating and practicing relationship skills.  The tuned-in early childhood educator recognizes the value of play and sets the stage for children's construction of knowledge.  We will explore what research tells us about play and how to best support learning through play via the teacher's role.

Exploring Developmentally Appropriate Practices (D.A.P.) (2 hrs / C1 - Standard Area 4 and STARS SQ.3.4.10):  D.A.P. is an expression that is frequently heard in our field, but not always clearly understood.  Based on the most recent NAEYC Position Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practices, we will explore the six components of D.A.P. and the importance of implementing all of these elements in your classroom.

COMING THIS FALL! The Real Curriculum Superpower: RELATIONSHIPS (2 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 4 & Standard Area 6 and STARS SQ.3.4.5; SQ.3.4.9; SQ.3.4.10): What if when planning curriculum, we challenged ourselves to ask how it will support relationships - between the child and ourselves; between children and their peers; between ourselves and families; between ourselves and stakeholders?  What if all children left our classrooms confident in their personal value, knowing that they are lovable and unconditionally loved; and that mistakes are opportunities and not relationship liabilities?  if we truly want to best prepare children for their future, hands down, relationships need to be the core of everything we do in early care and education.

NEW!! KEYNOTE ONLY - Essential Ingredient of a High Quality Care Program: R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (1.5 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 4 & Standard Area 6) All children deserve to be treated in a way that respects who they are and who they have the potential to become.  Truly respecting children means that we talk with them, not at them; that we handle their bodies and minds with care, not carelessness; and that we afford them no less than we would want afforded to ourselves.  Join as we discuss the important role of respectful relationships in promoting positive outcomes for children.

Infant/Toddler Specific

COMING THIS FALL!  Viewing Infant/Toddler Behavior from a Brain Development Perspective (2 hrs / Standard Area 1 & Standard Area 4 and STARS SQ.3.4.4)  Behavior is influenced by a myriad of factors, including one we sometimes forget to take into consideration: brain development.  Learn how the connection between various areas of the brain are expressed through behavior and understand some of the root causes of challenging behaviors in infants and toddlers.  Discussion includes the additional layer of varying cultural expectations on children's behavior.  Partially based on work by Zero to Three, this session focuses primarily on infants and toddlers.

NEW!!  CAUTION! Sometimes Toddlers Bite (2 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 1 & Standard Area 4 and STARS SQ.3.4.4): Although biting is typical behavior for toddlers, it often leads to great anxiety for both teachers and families.  This session will focus on some reason toddlers bite; methods to prevent and/or reduce biting behaviors; and how to appropriately respond when biting occurs.  Includes what NOT to do.

Preschool Specific

NEW!! Webbing as a Tool to Create Preschool Curriculum (2 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 4 & Standard Area 5 and STARS SQ.4.4.6): Webbing is a brainstorming method used to generate curriculum ideas in multiple categories, such as topic areas, learning centers or developmental domains.  It also provides multiple opportunities to individualize instruction.  This hands-on session will take a look at how to create webs and utilize them in activity planning.

NEW!!  First, There Is No Magic Wand... Positive Behavior Guidance in the Preschool Classroom (2 hrs / C2 - Standard Area 4 and STARS SQ.3.4.4)  Everybody wants the magic wand - the one "trick" that will resolve all challenging behaviors.  Newflash! There is NO magic wand.  Positive behavior guidance strategies address individual child needs and incorporates a toolbox of techniques to prevent challenging behaviors while teaching children appropriate responses to situations.