Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy

The purpose of this document is to increase Michigan’s capacity to improve children’s literacy by identifying a small set of research supported literacy instructional practices that could be a focus of professional development throughout the state. The focus of the document is on classroom practices, rather than on school- or systems-level practices (which will be addressed in a future document). The document focuses on prekindergarten, as literacy knowledge and skills developed in the preschool years predict later literacy achievement.1 Prekindergarten education has the potential to improve “reading-by-third-grade” outcomes. Early childhood programs can also help to address disparities in literacy achievement. Research suggests that each of the ten practices in this document can have a positive impact on literacy development. We believe that the use of these practices in every classroom every day could make a measurable positive difference in the State’s literacy achievement. They should be viewed, as in practice guides in medicine, as presenting a minimum ‘standard of care’ for Michigan’s children.

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Research on Back Sleeping and SIDS

The single most effective action that parents and caregivers can take to lower a baby’s risk of SIDS is to place the baby to sleep on his or her back for naps and at night.

Compared with back sleeping, stomach sleeping carries between 1.7 and 12.9 times the risk of SIDS.1 The mechanisms by which stomach sleeping might lead to SIDS are not entirely known.

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Early Childhood Conference – Planting the Seeds for the Future 2016

The Early Childhood Conference provides quality local supports to support raising and caring for healthy children. This conference is intended for Montcalm County Parents (Biological, Foster, Adoptive, Grandparents) and Early Childhood Service Providers serving families with children ages 0-5 years of age (childcare providers, preschool teachers, home visitors, infant mental health professionals, health care professionals, social services professionals, school personnel and therapists). Registration is now open, workshops fill up quickly, so if you are interested in attending please send in your registration form soon.

Early Childhood Conference – Planting the Seeds For the Future Registration Materials 2016

Preschoolers and Praise: What Kinds of Messages Help Kids Grow?

A three-year-old dressed in a superhero cape collapses in a corner and yells, “I can’t put on my shoes! I can’t!” A four-year-old proudly sets the table “all by myself,” only to fall apart when a glass of water tips over.

Preschool children are in the early stages of  developing their self concept — their mental picture of who they are, what they can do, and who they are capable of becoming. During this pivotal time, the language parents and educators use with preschoolers — particularly when they face challenges or struggle to learn new skills — can help them shape a healthy mental model of how people learn and grow.

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Helping Others Understand Academic Rigor in Teachers’ Developmentally Appropriate Practices

When children and their families enter the prekindergarten classroom, they see a room designed to engage children in intentional and active learning. Within the first 20 minutes of the day, children sign in, answer a yes-or-no poll question (“Do you like to swim?”), and then consult a chart to determine at which learning center they will start their morning. The teacher, Ms. Price, circulates to help children achieve specified learning goals. In the writing center she helps Angela print her name by referring to the alphabet chart to help her find the letter that makes the L sound. She asks José about his new shoes, which they will sing a song about later at circle time. She assists Steven by dictating words for a message he will share with his classmates during circle time. Ms. Price talks directly to the children (“Tell me about your new shoes”), offers reminders when needed (“We will start cleaning up in 10 minutes”), and comments on their work (“Angela, I see you wrote all of the letters in your name”).

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2-1-1 Service to be Suspended For Montcalm and Ionia Counties


The 2-1-1 service for Montcalm and Ionia Counties will be suspended effective January 2, 2016.  Discussions have been ongoing for months regarding the importance of this service and the need for sustainable funding. United Way Resources Button

On December 3, 2015 the Montcalm Human Services Coalition voted unanimously that it “does not support the continued diversion of local funds for 2-1-1 and recommends that the service be suspended until a sustainable source of funding can be found”.

Residents needing assistance may visit for a directory of community resources.