Early Childhood Education in the Delta

A simple greeting can mean the difference between a good day and bad one, and Kenya Raymond wants every day to be good.

“It’s important to know how a person wants to be greeted, both parents and children,” said Raymond, an Early Head Start Child Care Partnership instructor from Moorhead. “It’s all part of interacting in a way that makes for a better day.”

These and other techniques were part of a recent “Conscious Discipline” training sponsored by Delta Health Alliance and the Sunflower Childcare Coalition, a community-driven initiative that provides high quality, affordable childcare options for families in Sunflower County. Raymond was one of about 60 teachers participating in the program that is designed to provide additional skills and techniques for administrators and teachers to use with children ages 0-3.

“Training sessions such as Conscious Discipline help augment the work of childcare facilities in the county, and learning techniques to improve interactions with children is a vital component,” said Carolyn Willis, Associate Vice President for Early Childhood Development for Delta Health Alliance.

These techniques include the ingredients for connection, such as eye contact, touch, presence and creating playful environments that lead to success. “Discerning the simplest actions,” remarked Willis, “such as ways that each child wants to be greeted is important, whether it be a fist bump, a high five or a blown kiss.”

“These kinds of interactions can calm a child down and make the day go more smoothly for all the children,” said Raymond, who teaches at Little Angels Daycare Center. “In addition, this kind of training carries over to the parents, getting them involved in what we’re doing.”

Delta Health Alliance and the Sunflower Childcare Coalition work with six early childhood centers in the county, serving 200 children. More than 50 full-time teaching staff work with young children in renovated and upgraded facilities. Each childcare center uses a standardized curriculum designed to ensure students are ready for kindergarten, and the centers coordinate health and nutritional services, including vision, oral and health screenings. “The Conscious Discipline seminar is just one more way to make sure we’re doing all we can for our Early Head Start Child Care Partnership instructors and the children they teach,” said Willis.