Top Interview Questions for Childcare Professionals: Mastering the Interview Process

Hel­lo child­care cen­ter direc­tors and admin­is­tra­tors! After sift­ing through numer­ous appli­ca­tions, you’ve nar­rowed down your list of poten­tial can­di­dates. Now, it’s time to delve into the inter­view process and find the per­fect fit. Whether you are a child­care cen­ter direc­tor, admin­is­tra­tor, or any­one look­ing to hire a new team mem­ber in child­care, we want to help you make the best deci­sion. That’s why we have com­piled a list of the top inter­view ques­tions to ask child­care pro­fes­sion­als. Let’s dive in!

Ace Conducting Childcare Interviews in 4 Easy Steps

It’s essen­tial to gath­er as much rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion about your can­di­dates as pos­si­ble. To stream­line the process, we rec­om­mend fol­low­ing these four pro­gres­sive steps:

  • Pre­lim­i­nary phone interview
  • In-per­son interview
  • Work­ing interview
  • Ref­er­ence checks

By start­ing with the least time-con­sum­ing steps and end­ing with those that pro­vide the most detailed infor­ma­tion, you’ll be able to effi­cient­ly eval­u­ate can­di­dates and make a well-informed decision.

Uncover the Perfect Candidate with Insightful Interview Questions

Ask­ing the right ques­tions will give you a bet­ter under­stand­ing of each can­di­date’s approach to the pro­fes­sion, past expe­ri­ences, and prob­lem-solv­ing skills. Here are some exam­ples of ques­tions to ask dur­ing the in-per­son interview:

Overall Approach to the Childcare Profession

  • Have you been inspired by a men­tor, and if so, in what way?
  • Which aspects of your pro­fes­sion do you enjoy, and which do you find challenging? 
  • What do you believe are aspects of a high-qual­i­ty child­care program?
  • Describe some expe­ri­ences in your work with chil­dren and fam­i­lies that have influ­enced how you approach your job.

Behavioral Questions: Assessing Experience and Personality

  • Which of your accom­plish­ments make you proud? Why?
  • What are you real­ly good at professionally?
  • In your pre­vi­ous posi­tion, you had many respon­si­bil­i­ties. How did you pri­or­i­tize your tasks?
  • Describe a time you real­ized that you had made a mis­take and what mea­sures you took to cor­rect it.
  • Describe a chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion involv­ing a child, a par­ent, a cowork­er, or a super­vi­sor and how you respond­ed to it.
  • In your pre­vi­ous posi­tion, how did you gath­er infor­ma­tion for assess­ing a child’s development?
  • Describe the team you worked with in your last role. Rate them on an A to D scale, and explain how you’d turn them into an A+ team.

Situational Questions: Evaluating Problem-Solving and Communication Skills

  • In your assess­ment of a child’s devel­op­ment, you have iden­ti­fied sig­nif­i­cant speech delays. How do you dis­cuss your con­cerns with the child’s par­ents dur­ing a teacher–parent conference?
  • A two-year-old in your group has just bit­ten anoth­er cry­ing child. What is your first reac­tion? What mea­sures will you take to pre­vent bit­ing inci­dents? How will you dis­cuss bit­ing inci­dents with the child’s parents?
  • A first-year teacher is over­whelmed dur­ing tran­si­tions. What advice do you give this teacher?

By ask­ing insight­ful inter­view ques­tions like these, you’ll be well-equipped to eval­u­ate your can­di­dates and select the ide­al team mem­ber for your child­care facil­i­ty. Remem­ber, the key to hir­ing the right per­son lies in under­stand­ing their expe­ri­ence, approach, val­ues, and per­son­al­i­ty, so don’t be afraid to dig deep and ask fol­low-up ques­tions as needed.

Look­ing for even more ques­tions to ask or, impor­tant­ly, what not to ask dur­ing an inter­view? What about how to con­duct a pre­lim­i­nary phone inter­view or work­ing inter­view? All of these ques­tions and more are answered in our pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment course Hir­ing and Super­vis­ing Qual­i­fied Staff in Child Care

Once you have found that per­fect can­di­date, you will want a train­ing plan to ensure their (and your) last­ing suc­cess. Check out our blog on child­care pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment where we dis­cuss ways to engage your staff and help them achieve their pro­fes­sion­al goals. 

Now that you’re armed with these inter­view tips and ques­tions, embark on your jour­ney to find the ide­al child­care pro­fes­sion­al for your facil­i­ty. Best of luck, and hap­py interviewing!

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800–685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

How to Choose Books for Infants in Childcare Settings

Read­ing to infants is an impor­tant part of their devel­op­ment. Stud­ies have shown that read­ing aloud to chil­dren from an ear­ly age helps them with lan­guage acqui­si­tion, lit­er­a­cy and even social-emo­tion­al devel­op­ment. That’s why it’s impor­tant to con­sid­er how you can incor­po­rate books into your infant care pro­gram. This blog post offers some tips on how to choose books for infants in child­care settings.

How to Choose Books for Infants

A key ele­ment of choos­ing books for infants is under­stand­ing what makes a book appro­pri­ate for young chil­dren. Here are some tips for select­ing the best books for your infant care program:

Expand the Story and Baby’s Vocabulary

Word­less or near-word­less books are great because they allow you to tell the sto­ry and extend the sto­ry, and they give babies a chance to explore the illus­tra­tions. This type of book also allows you to intro­duce new vocab­u­lary words as you tell the story.

Ensure Text Placement Does Not Interfere with Illustrations

When choos­ing books with text to read to infants, find those where the text is placed on a sep­a­rate page from the illus­tra­tions. This pre­vents the text from inter­fer­ing with the illus­tra­tions and allows babies to explore each pic­ture sep­a­rate­ly. The text should also be large enough so that babies can eas­i­ly see it from a dis­tance, but small enough that it does not over­whelm them when look­ing at the pic­tures up close. 

Utilize Rhymes, Songs, Fingerplays, and Fun Language

Rhyming sto­ries, songs and fin­ger­plays all help stim­u­late lan­guage devel­op­ment in infants. Look for books that use fun lan­guage and play­ful rhymes so babies can learn new words in a fun way.

Image of woman reading to children

Ensure Safety of Books Given to Babies to Hold and Play With

Babies love explor­ing things with their hands, which means you will want to make sure any book giv­en to a baby is safe. Look for stur­dy board books or fabric/cloth books specif­i­cal­ly designed with babies in mind (round­ed cor­ners, no remov­able pieces). 

Choose Books with Primary and Contrasting Colors in Illustrations

To keep infants engaged while read­ing aloud you will want books with illus­tra­tions that are bright and bold — look for pri­ma­ry col­ors such as red, blue, yel­low or green as well as con­trast­ing col­ors like black and white which can help draw baby’s atten­tion toward impor­tant ele­ments with­in each page illustration. 

Handmade Books of Family Photos or Photo Albums of the Baby’s Family & Home

Using hand­made pho­to albums or books made from pho­tos of the baby’s fam­i­ly and home can pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring the baby’s home into the child­care set­ting. These can pro­vide com­fort and famil­iar­i­ty while also rein­forc­ing con­cepts such as fam­i­ly mem­bers’ names and roles with­in the fam­i­ly unit—all while pro­vid­ing visu­als of famil­iar faces and places!

Choosing Appropriate Books is Essential

Choos­ing appro­pri­ate books is an essen­tial part of pro­vid­ing qual­i­ty care to infants in child­care set­tings. By pay­ing atten­tion to these elements—expanding sto­ry lines; text place­ment; rhymes; safe­ty; col­or choice; per­son­al­ized content—you can ensure your infant care pro­gram has engag­ing read­ing mate­r­i­al. Read­ing aloud encour­ages lan­guage acqui­si­tion, lit­er­a­cy skills, social-emo­tion­al learning—all while fos­ter­ing a love of lit­er­a­ture! Start off strong by care­ful­ly select­ing age-appro­pri­ate stories!

Learn more!

For more infor­ma­tion on infants and pro­mot­ing ear­ly lit­er­a­cy, check out our course Infants in Child Care.

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing about fos­ter­ing lit­er­a­cy in preschool­ers? Check out our blog “Why is Lit­er­a­cy Impor­tant in Preschool?

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

Finding Qualified Childcare Provider Candidates

Whether you are a cur­rent or aspir­ing direc­tor, find­ing the best can­di­dates to hire can be daunt­ing, but there are steps you can take to ensure you are find­ing top-notch tal­ent. In this blog, we explore strate­gies cov­ered in our course Hir­ing and Super­vis­ing Qual­i­fied Staff for find­ing qual­i­fied child­care provider can­di­dates and ensur­ing they are a good fit for your program.

Understand the Qualifications Needed for the Position

When it comes to find­ing can­di­dates for a posi­tion, it’s essen­tial to under­stand the qual­i­fi­ca­tions need­ed for the posi­tion. First and fore­most, a child­care provider should have a gen­uine love and con­cern for chil­dren’s well-being. Many posi­tions require a high school diplo­ma or equiv­a­lent: some may require spe­cif­ic train­ing. Oth­er qual­i­fi­ca­tions may include CPR and first aid cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, expe­ri­ence work­ing with chil­dren, and the abil­i­ty to pass a back­ground check. Check your state’s licens­ing require­ments for the posi­tion you are look­ing for. Your state gov­ern­ment may require the posi­tion to have addi­tion­al train­ing or expe­ri­ence. It’s also impor­tant for child­care providers to have strong com­mu­ni­ca­tion and orga­ni­za­tion­al skills and the abil­i­ty to mul­ti­task and remain calm under pres­sure. By meet­ing these qual­i­fi­ca­tions, indi­vid­u­als can secure a reward­ing career in pro­vid­ing qual­i­ty care and edu­ca­tion to children.

Create an Effective Job Description

A job descrip­tion is a crit­i­cal tool in any recruit­ing process. It is a snap­shot of the pro­gram’s job respon­si­bil­i­ties, require­ments, and expec­ta­tions for a par­tic­u­lar role. It should pro­vide a sol­id foun­da­tion for poten­tial can­di­dates to under­stand the job and assess whether they believe they would be a good fit. An effec­tive job descrip­tion must be infor­ma­tive, accu­rate, and easy to read. It is also essen­tial to com­mu­ni­cate expec­ta­tions clear­ly to pre­vent con­fu­sion among can­di­dates. Over­all, a well-craft­ed job descrip­tion can encour­age the best-suit­ed can­di­dates to apply. Well craft­ed job descrip­tions make an excel­lent impres­sion on can­di­dates by con­vey­ing a pro­fes­sion­al and orga­nized com­pa­ny culture.

Utilize Resources to Find Potential Candidates

When scout­ing for poten­tial can­di­dates for an open posi­tion, har­ness­ing all avail­able resources is essen­tial. This means uti­liz­ing dif­fer­ent recruit­ment tools (web­sites, bul­letin boards, word-of-mouth) to dis­cov­er and con­nect with poten­tial can­di­dates. More­over, don’t for­get the val­ue of net­work­ing with­in your indus­try. Attend­ing indus­try events and con­fer­ences and join­ing pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions can help you dis­cov­er qual­i­fied can­di­dates that may not be active­ly search­ing for a job but are open to new oppor­tu­ni­ties. Using var­i­ous chan­nels to seek out poten­tial hires can increase your chances of find­ing the per­fect can­di­date for your program.

Image of two people talking

Develop an Interview Process That Matches Your Needs

Devel­op­ing an inter­view process that match­es your com­pa­ny’s spe­cif­ic needs is cru­cial when hir­ing new employ­ees. Not only will this make the hir­ing process more effi­cient, but it will also ensure that you are find­ing the right can­di­dates for the job. To cre­ate a suc­cess­ful inter­view process, iden­ti­fy the key skills and expe­ri­ences required for the posi­tion. From there, devel­op a set of ques­tions and sce­nar­ios that will allow you to assess the can­di­date’s abil­i­ties. Addi­tion­al­ly, con­sid­er incor­po­rat­ing behav­ioral ques­tions that refer to can­di­dates’ pri­or expe­ri­ences, such as “Describe a chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion involv­ing a child and how you respond­ed to it.” Behav­ioral ques­tions can help you bet­ter under­stand how the can­di­date will fit with­in your com­pa­ny cul­ture. By cre­at­ing an inter­view process tai­lored to your com­pa­ny’s needs, you’ll be much more like­ly to find employ­ees who can help your busi­ness thrive.

Ulti­mate­ly, find­ing qual­i­fied child­care providers is an impor­tant and long-term endeav­or. Find­ing and con­nect­ing with the right per­son can require time and effort. Exe­cut­ing each step well will help you ensure a suc­cess­ful hir­ing expe­ri­ence and can bring the best can­di­date for your team aboard. What expe­ri­ence or advice do you have to help oth­ers in the search to find ded­i­cat­ed child­care providers? Share your thoughts in the com­ments below!

Learn More!

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about find­ing qual­i­fied child­care provider can­di­dates? Take our course Hir­ing and Super­vis­ing Qual­i­fied Staff to learn about con­duct­ing inter­views, iden­ti­fy­ing qual­i­fied can­di­dates, employ­ee ben­e­fits, poli­cies, super­vi­sion, and more! Look­ing for some inspi­ra­tion? Check out our blog “Top Rea­sons to be a Child­care Provider.”

Final­ly, once you have made that per­fect hire, start think­ing about ways to help your staff improve the qual­i­ty and effec­tive­ness of their work. Our blog about why pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment is so impor­tant for ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tors is a great place to start.

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

How to get free childcare training in Maryland

Are you look­ing for free online child­care train­ing with cer­tifi­cates in Mary­land? Look no fur­ther Mary­lan­ders! In today’s blog we will dis­cuss how you can get free child­care train­ing using a the child­care train­ing reim­burse­ment pro­gram devel­oped by the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (MSDE).

How to get $400 in free childcare training reimbursements in Maryland

The Mary­land State Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion Office of Child­care (MSDE OCC for short) offers train­ing reim­burse­ments to child­care providers. All providers in Mary­land with a lev­el two child­care cre­den­tial or high­er can get $400 in free train­ing annu­al­ly. That’s right, $400 in free train­ing each year!

Train­ing reim­burse­ments can be used for approved Core of Knowl­edge train­ing, pre-ser­vice train­ing, and approved con­fer­ence and col­lege train­ing. You can even use the reim­burse­ments to get the train­ing you need to renew or apply for your CDA credential. 

MSDE OCC approves all Care Cours­es that grant 2 or more clock hours for Core of Knowl­edge train­ing require­ments. Child­care pro­fes­sion­als can have these cours­es ful­ly reim­bursed through the Mary­land train­ing reim­burse­ments pro­gram up to $400 per year. 

In addi­tion, Care Cours­es offers a free 1‑clock-hour train­ing that you can take with­out need­ing to apply for the reim­burse­ment. MSDE approves this free cours­es for elec­tive train­ing hours in Maryland.

“My cours­es are com­plet­ed and I enjoyed them. I’ve been in the Mary­land Cre­den­tial­ing Pro­gram for a long time and I’ve been tak­ing cours­es to con­tin­ue my edu­ca­tion for about 28 years. Thank you for adding new cours­es to your pro­gram. It’s so much eas­i­er to work at my own pace at home, it’s con­ve­nient and affordable.”

- Kathy in Arnold, Maryland

How to Submit Maryland Training Reimbursements

To sub­mit an MSDE train­ing reim­burse­ment application:

  • Go to the Mary­land OneStop web­site and click apply online.
  • Cre­ate an account and fill out the required information.
  • Upload the required doc­u­ments and submit.

Doc­u­ments and infor­ma­tion you will need:

  • You will need your CCATS/Party ID# (locat­ed on your cre­den­tial certificate)
  • Your Care Cours­es (or oth­er approved train­ing) cer­tifi­cate of com­ple­tion. Care Cours­es cer­tifi­cates are locat­ed in the My Cours­es area of your Care Cours­es account.
  • The receipt for the course(s) pur­chased. Your Care Cours­es receipts are locat­ed in the My Orders area of your Care Course account.

Appli­ca­tions are free, take 10–30 min­utes to com­plete, and are approved with­in 1–30 days. 

Vio­la! Train­ing require­ments com­plet­ed and ful­ly reimbursed.

“I love Care Cours­es! The process—from order­ing a course [Chal­leng­ing Behav­ior: Pos­i­tive Guid­ance in Child Care] to print­ing my com­plet­ed certificate—was seam­less, easy and effi­cient. Thank you, Care Courses.”

Cathy in Glen Burnie, Maryland 

So easy to study from a coursebook!

How to get a level two Maryland childcare credential

In order to be eli­gi­ble for train­ing reim­burse­ments through the state, you will need a lev­el two child­care staff cre­den­tial. Lets dis­cuss the pur­pose and gen­er­al require­ments for the staff credential. 

Mary­land child­care cre­den­tial pro­gram aims to pro­duce a high­ly skilled work­force, improve the qual­i­ty of child care pro­grams, and enhance the sta­tus and com­pen­sa­tion of child care providers. All reg­is­tered fam­i­ly child­care providers and child­care cen­ter staff in licensed facil­i­ties are eli­gi­ble for the program. 

When apply­ing to the cre­den­tial pro­gram, par­tic­i­pants agree to work direct­ly with chil­dren on a dai­ly basis in a child care set­ting for at least one year. Par­tic­i­pants must also com­plete required con­tin­ued edu­ca­tion train­ing hours and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment activ­i­ties. MSDE issues the cre­den­tial for 12 months, and cre­den­tials must be renewed annu­al­ly. Those seek­ing the Cre­den­tial can take train­ing from an approved train­ing orga­ni­za­tion, like Care Cours­es, or from approved train­ers or accred­it­ed col­leges or universities. 

Sub­sti­tutes or vol­un­teers at a reg­is­tered fam­i­ly child care home or licensed child care cen­ter are inel­i­gi­ble for the program. 

All appli­cants should read the pro­gram book­let to learn about the pro­gram and require­ments before applying.

Level 1 Staff Credential:

To reach lev­el one, child­care providers must be licensed and in good com­pli­ance with licens­ing requirements. 

Level 2 Staff Credential:

To reach lev­el two, appli­cants must:

  • Com­plete 45 clock hours of Core of Knowl­edge approved train­ing with a min­i­mum of 20 hours com­plet­ed in the Child Devel­op­ment Core of Knowl­edge area. (Check out our cours­es cat­e­go­rized by core knowl­edge area on our website.)
  • Com­plete 1 Pro­fes­sion­al Activ­i­ty Unit (PAU). PAU* activ­i­ties vary and must be approved. How­ev­er, you can eas­i­ly get 1 PAU by par­tic­i­pat­ing in a child care event at a cen­ter where par­ents are invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate. You can also get 1 PAU by becom­ing a mem­ber of a local, state, or nation­al child care pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion such as NAEYC. 
  • Com­plete 12 clock hours of train­ing annu­al­ly. (Providers can use the reim­burse­ment pro­gram to pay for these 12 hours of training.) 

To apply for or increase your cre­den­tial lev­el, you must com­plete the cre­den­tial appli­ca­tion found on the MSDE OCC web­site. Make sure to fol­low the steps out­lined by OCC. First time appli­cants will need to write a short reflec­tive essay and all appli­cants should read the Child Care Cre­den­tial Pro­gram Book­let pri­or to sub­mit­ting the appli­ca­tion. All appli­cants should review the help­ful resources, tips, and guides list­ed on the OCC web­site before com­plet­ing the application. 

Approval and additional information 

Once approved, you will be grant­ed a one-time bonus of $200 (received in the form of a check) and be eli­gi­ble for $400 in free child­care train­ing reim­burse­ments each year!

Each lev­el beyond lev­el two comes with addi­tion­al cash incen­tives and ben­e­fits. Review the charts on pages 14–16 of the pro­gram book­let to learn about the ben­e­fits of high­er cre­den­tial levels. 

While not cov­ered in this blog, the Mary­land child care admin­is­tra­tors cre­den­tial offers admin­is­tra­tors many ben­e­fits as well. 

Now that you know how to get free train­ing in Mary­land, check out our Mary­land train­ing blog. This blog dis­cuss­es the many ways you can use Care Cours­es for your pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment in Maryland. 

“Every­thing is going per­fect. I am doing the cours­es [Days with Tod­dlers: Cur­ricu­lum Plan­ning for Ages 12–36 Months] dur­ing spare time and the infor­ma­tion, exam­ples and quiz are all on tar­get, keep me inter­est­ed and allow me to review some knowl­edge from my career.
Thank you!!”

Cecil­ia in Bethes­da, Maryland

*PAUs or Pro­fes­sion­al Activ­i­ty Units are a mea­sure­ment of pro­fes­sion­al activ­i­ties that engage par­tic­i­pants in the broad­er aspects of ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion. PAUs help oth­ers under­stand the pro­fes­sion, pro­mote ear­ly child­hood, and fur­ther the par­tic­i­pants own knowl­edge. Approved train­ing does not count toward PAUs. The MD child­care cre­den­tial pro­gram book­let pro­vides a help­ful list of PAU examples.

Care Cours­es’ Core of Knowl­edge train­ing orga­ni­za­tion num­ber is CKO-150280. Our con­tin­ued train­ing orga­ni­za­tion num­ber is CTO-2281. Our pre-ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion num­ber is PSO-19. 

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800–685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

How to Get Children Interested in Reading

Read­ing with tod­dlers and preschool­ers is an impor­tant part of their devel­op­ment. It’s not only a way to bond with chil­dren, but it also helps them devel­op lan­guage skills, increase their vocab­u­lary, and get ready for school. But some­times get­ting tod­dlers and preschool­ers inter­est­ed in read­ing can be a chal­lenge. In this blog post, we’ll out­line the ben­e­fits of read­ing with tod­dlers and preschool­ers, as well as pro­vide some tips on how to encour­age literacy.

Let Children See Reading Valued

One of the best ways to get chil­dren inter­est­ed in read­ing is by show­ing them that read­ing is impor­tant. When­ev­er pos­si­ble, let chil­dren see you read­ing a book or news­pa­per. Read signs, labels, and lists out loud, run­ning your fin­ger under the words as you read, and mak­ing the details come alive. Demon­strate how inter­est­ing the world of text is.

Cloth­ing tag: “90% cot­ton, 10% span­dex. Span­dex! What a fun word. Kind of like a rub­ber band that you can wear as cloth­ing. It’s used in clothes like leg­gings and super­hero cos­tumes because it allows peo­ple to move around eas­i­ly and feel com­fort­able.”

Infor­ma­tion on food con­tain­er: “60% of your dai­ly vit­a­min C! That means that this snack

Bandaid box: “CVS Brand. Did you know that stands for Con­sumer Val­ue Store? Some­times let­ters stand for whole words.” 

Tiny stick­er on apples: “Look at that teen­sy tiny lit­tle stick­er! It says ‘93283 organ­ic hon­ey crisp apple.’ Did you know that the “9” on fruit and veg­gie stick­ers always means it is organic?” 

Create a Cozy Reading Nook

When it comes to read­ing with tod­dlers or preschool­ers, set­ting up a cozy spot can help cre­ate an invit­ing atmos­phere for them to explore books. Make sure to have plen­ty of com­fort­able cush­ions or blan­kets near­by so they can snug­gle up and relax while enjoy­ing a sto­ry together.

Visit the Library

Vis­it­ing the library togeth­er is anoth­er great way to get chil­dren inter­est­ed in read­ing. Not only does it allow them to explore dif­fer­ent gen­res and titles, but it also gives them access to plen­ty of free resources like sto­ry­time events, children’s book clubs, pup­pet shows, craft activ­i­ties, and more! Plus it’s great for teach­ing kids about respon­si­ble bor­row­ing habits from an ear­ly age.

After a Vis­it to the Library — So Many Books!

Incorporate Books into Other Activities

Incor­po­rat­ing books into activ­i­ties like dur­ing tran­si­tions and in learn­ing cen­ters can help pro­mote lit­er­a­cy too! 

Use Voice Inflections While Reading & Do Letter & Sight Word Hunts

To keep things fun for tod­dlers and preschool­ers while you’re read­ing aloud, use voice inflec­tions when­ev­er possible—this will engage them more than plain monot­o­ne read­ings would! Also, try doing let­ter hunts (find­ing spe­cif­ic let­ters on pages) or sight word hunts (find­ing words that start with cer­tain letters)—these are great ways to rein­force their ear­ly lit­er­a­cy skills while still keep­ing things live­ly enough so they don’t lose inter­est halfway through the book! 

Ask Children to Make Predictions about What Happens Next

Ask­ing chil­dren what they think might hap­pen next in the sto­ry can help keep their atten­tion engaged as well as stim­u­late their prob­lem-solv­ing skills. This activ­i­ty may even encour­age crit­i­cal think­ing skills as they come up with pre­dic­tions based on evi­dence from ear­li­er parts of the story!

Choose Diverse Books

Final­ly, make sure you are choos­ing diverse pic­ture books with char­ac­ters that look like the chil­dren. This helps chil­dren see them­selves reflect­ed in the sto­ries. When chil­dren see char­ac­ters that look like them or have sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences to them, it can boost their self-esteem and sense of belonging.


Read­ing is an incred­i­bly impor­tant part of a child’s development—it helps build lan­guage skills, increas­es vocab­u­lary, and stim­u­lates cre­ativ­i­ty. For child­care providers who want to nur­ture these qual­i­ties in young chil­dren, there are many strate­gies avail­able including:

  • let­ting chil­dren see that read­ing is val­ued by those around them
  • cre­at­ing a cozy read­ing nook
  • vis­it­ing the library
  • incor­po­rat­ing books into dai­ly activities
  • using voice inflec­tions when reading
  • run­ning fin­gers under each word as you read
  • doing letter/sight word hunts
  • ask­ing chil­dren to make pre­dic­tions about what hap­pens next
  • choos­ing diverse pic­ture books

All these meth­ods will help encour­age young chil­dren’s nat­ur­al inter­est in lit­er­a­cy while pro­vid­ing bond­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties between adults and chil­dren alike. With these tips in mind, you can help chil­dren devel­op lit­er­a­cy skills and get chil­dren inter­est­ed in reading!

Click here to find more blogs on activ­i­ties for young chil­dren!

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

Childcare Professional Development

Are you a direc­tor inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about child­care pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment? Are you seek­ing ways to engage your staff and help them achieve their pro­fes­sion­al goals? Keep reading!

Why is professional development important for early childhood educators?

Pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment refers to train­ing, resources, and tools used to deliv­er knowl­edge and skills that can help edu­ca­tors improve the qual­i­ty and effec­tive­ness of their work. Pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties can improve staff skills, knowl­edge, atti­tudes, and career advance­ment. We cov­er ways to engage staff in and increase access to pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment in our course Staff Devel­op­ment and Moti­va­tion in Child Care.

We use the term staff devel­op­ment to mean the coor­di­nat­ed deliv­ery of pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment to staff. Staff devel­op­ment is most effec­tive when based on the needs of indi­vid­ual staff members. 

Most states require that teach­ers receive train­ing every year (or, in some cas­es, every two or more years). Pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment should be con­sis­tent with your state’s ear­ly learn­ing, teacher com­pe­ten­cy, and licens­ing stan­dards. Ear­ly learn­ing stan­dards are the con­cepts and skills chil­dren need to learn and devel­op between birth and kinder­garten. Teacher com­pe­ten­cy stan­dards are the knowl­edge, skills, and val­ues required of teach­ers in ear­ly child­hood pro­grams. Licens­ing stan­dards are the reg­u­la­tions your facil­i­ty must com­ply with to main­tain its license.

Professional development training topics

Staff pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment can cov­er var­i­ous train­ing top­ics. Exam­ples include

  • new staff orientation;
  • top­ics such as child devel­op­ment, chal­leng­ing behav­ior, spe­cial needs, nutri­tion, etc.;
  • teach­ers’ skill-build­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties (such as imple­ment­ing cur­ricu­lum or con­duct­ing a child assessment);
  • prob­lem-solv­ing skills;
  • com­mu­ni­ca­tion between admin­is­tra­tion and staff;
  • com­mu­ni­ca­tion between staff members;
  • devel­op­ing com­mu­ni­ty partnerships. 

Pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment train­ing comes in var­i­ous for­mats: in-ser­vice train­ing pro­vid­ed by a facility’s direc­tor, team meet­ings, peer sup­port groups, webi­na­rs, con­fer­ence work­shops, adult edu­ca­tion cours­es, col­lege cours­es, and distance–learning cours­es. Make sure you choose a form of train­ing that your licens­ing author­i­ty accepts.

To reach your staff devel­op­ment goals, offer pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment that

  • cov­ers top­ics rel­e­vant to each participant’s par­tic­u­lar needs,
  • is appro­pri­ate for all par­tic­i­pants’ learn­ing styles,
  • stim­u­lates par­tic­i­pants’ cre­ativ­i­ty and enthusiasm,
  • sup­ports par­tic­i­pants’ self-esteem,
  • focus­es on clear­ly defined goals,
  • takes into account par­tic­i­pants’ per­for­mance evaluations,
  • is con­sis­tent with pro­gram per­for­mance stan­dards and goals.

Pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment should be moti­vat­ing and engag­ing. Present all learn­ing activ­i­ties as part of an ongo­ing effort to devel­op the best prac­tices to help chil­dren reach their goals. Mod­el this approach by com­mu­ni­cat­ing the ben­e­fits of con­tin­u­ous learn­ing activities.

Childcare professional development funding

Some states offer fund­ing to teach­ers that cov­ers the expens­es of spe­cif­ic pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment cours­es or oppor­tu­ni­ties. Reach out to your state licen­sor to inquire about fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties or schol­ar­ships. We include con­tact infor­ma­tion for licen­sors at the bot­tom of our state pages.

Learn more!

To learn more about approach­es to coach­ing, strate­gies to improve pro­gram qual­i­ty, and how to increase access to and engage staff in pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, take our course Staff Devel­op­ment and Moti­va­tion in Child Care.

For infor­ma­tion about state train­ing require­ments, reg­istries, and more, vis­it our “Train­ing For My State” blog page or the state pages on our web­site.

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

Animal Activities for Preschoolers

If you’re look­ing for ani­mal activ­i­ties for preschool­ers, you’ve come to the right place! Preschool­ers are often fas­ci­nat­ed by ani­mals and love to learn about, imi­tate, and play ani­mal-themed activ­i­ties. Keep read­ing to dis­cov­er fun ani­mal-themed activ­i­ties for preschool­ers that are easy to adapt to the needs of your program.

Preschool Animal Activities

Animal of the day

Select an ani­mal to focus on each day of the week (take sug­ges­tions from the chil­dren!). Each day, select a book on the “ani­mal of the day.” Sing a song with words or sounds relat­ed to the day’s ani­mal. Encour­age children’s ques­tions about the ani­mal. What does it eat? Where does it live? How does it move? Encour­age chil­dren to try imi­tat­ing how the ani­mal moves and sounds. Let chil­dren take the lead and fol­low their interests.

Image of two children playing with toy animals

Animal Sorting

Pro­vide a selec­tion of ani­mal toys from var­i­ous habi­tats (aquat­ic, trop­i­cal, arc­tic, etc.) and lay them out for the chil­dren. Ask chil­dren which habi­tat they think an ani­mal lives in and try to orga­nize the toys by habi­tat. The activ­i­ty can be as sim­ple as “which ani­mals live in the water and which live on land?” Chil­dren can also match baby ani­mals with their moth­ers or group ani­mals togeth­er based on dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics, such as whether or not they have fur or tails, or the num­ber of legs they have.

Sort­ing activ­i­ties pro­mote essen­tial ear­ly lit­er­a­cy and math skills and help chil­dren learn to inter­pret the abun­dance of infor­ma­tion that sur­rounds them. Pro­vide lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren to sort and exper­i­ment. Chil­dren will often start to sort with­out prompting.

Encour­age chil­dren to build habi­tats for the ani­mals with blocks, craft mate­ri­als, and oth­er toys. Don’t wor­ry about keep­ing things accu­rate. Chil­dren can get cre­ative and sil­ly with their ani­mal habitats!

Shapes and Movements Game

Imi­tate var­i­ous ani­mal walks. Add body twists and stretch­es. Include arm move­ments. Alter­nate walk­ing, leap­ing, hop­ping, run­ning, skipping—whatever move­ments all the chil­dren in the group are capa­ble of doing.

Let chil­dren who wish to do so be the leader. Ask chil­dren to sug­gest ani­mal move­ments to imitate.

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ties dur­ing the preschool years pro­mote large-motor skill devel­op­ment and coor­di­na­tion. Fun, engag­ing activ­i­ties that get chil­dren mov­ing are more appro­pri­ate for preschool­ers than orga­nized sports. Encour­age chil­dren to exper­i­ment with how they move and have fun!

Learn More!

Look­ing for more ways to engage chil­dren in phys­i­cal activ­i­ties? Check out our course Fun and Fit­ness: Address­ing Child­hood Obe­si­ty. Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about the way chil­dren learn and spe­cif­ic activ­i­ties to address chil­dren’s dif­fer­ent learn­ing styles? Check out our course Many Ways to Learn for Tod­dlers and Preschool­ers.

Click here to find more blogs on activ­i­ties for young chil­dren!

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

Curriculum for Early Childhood Education

Are you inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing a cur­ricu­lum for ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion but don’t know where to start? Keep reading!

What is an early childhood curriculum?

A cur­ricu­lum is a plan for help­ing chil­dren learn. Your cur­ricu­lum is your entire program—everything that is part of the children’s day. Chil­dren are learn­ing all of the time—during their every wak­ing moment.

What is an emergent curriculum?

An emer­gent cur­ricu­lum is planned around children’s gen­uine inter­ests as they are revealed dur­ing self-direct­ed play.

In an emer­gent cur­ricu­lum, you allow the children’s inter­ests to guide and alter the direc­tion of planned activ­i­ties. In the process, the chil­dren will learn vocab­u­lary and con­cepts that they wouldn’t learn if you fol­lowed a rigid­ly struc­tured curriculum.

You fol­low the chil­dren’s lead, pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties and mate­ri­als for the chil­dren to design their activ­i­ties, and devel­op activ­i­ties based on their inter­ests. Use the chil­dren’s ideas and ques­tions to guide your plans. As a result, chil­dren will be empow­ered know­ing that their inter­ests are respect­ed. Their involve­ment in deci­sions about the cur­ricu­lum will encour­age their cre­ativ­i­ty and help ensure their invest­ment in their learning.

Creating an early childhood education curriculum

As you begin to con­struct your cur­ricu­lum, con­sid­er the var­i­ous ele­ments. Your cur­ricu­lum includes

  •  the envi­ron­ment, which includes the space chil­dren occu­py, the atmos­phere cre­at­ed by that space, the arrange­ment of fur­ni­ture and equip­ment in that space, and the pic­tures and bul­letin boards on the walls;
  •  the sched­ule of children’s days;
  •  children’s per­son­al care routines;
  •  the mate­ri­als and equip­ment pro­vid­ed for children’s use; 
  •  the activ­i­ties in which chil­dren participate.

A cur­ricu­lum that is appro­pri­ate for children’s devel­op­ment will pro­vide plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties for them to

  • prac­tice and per­fect skills they have already developed,
  • expand these skills,
  • devel­op new skills.

Activ­i­ties that are appro­pri­ate for chil­dren reflect their inter­ests and are child-direct­ed, allow­ing each child as much choice as pos­si­ble. Thus, chil­dren should feel wel­come to use mate­ri­als in their own ways. Pro­vide open-end­ed mate­ri­als—mate­ri­als that can be used in many dif­fer­ent ways—to pro­mote exper­i­men­ta­tion and creativity.

Addi­tion­al­ly, pro­vide objects and oppor­tu­ni­ties for prob­lem-solv­ing that are appro­pri­ate to each child’s devel­op­men­tal lev­el. Every child should be free to suc­ceed (or not) inde­pen­dent­ly with­out adult interference.

Remem­ber that children’s learn­ing occurs all day, not just dur­ing spe­cial “teach­ing” times. Talk with each child often dur­ing the day. Inter­act with each child in ways appro­pri­ate to that child’s lev­el of devel­op­ment and learn each child’s inter­est. These inter­ac­tions will inform the curriculum!

Learn more!

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about cur­ricu­lum in ear­ly child­hood? Check out our cours­es Great Days with Kids: Cur­ricu­lum and Les­son Plan­ning and Days with Tod­dlers: Cur­ricu­lum Plan­ning for Ages 12–36 Months.

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

Care Courses Maryland Childcare Training

Are you look­ing for child­care train­ing in Mary­land? Care Cours­es Mary­land child­care train­ing is an excel­lent and con­ve­nient online and dis­tance learn­ing option for com­plet­ing your required Mary­land train­ing hours. Care Cours­es offers online child­care train­ing as well as our Course­Book for­mat that blends online learn­ing with a pro­fes­sion­al­ly print­ed book mailed direct­ly to you. Read on to learn how Care Cours­es can be used in Maryland.

Childcare certification courses in Maryland

All Care Cours­es that grant two or more clock-hours train­ing are approved by the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (MSDE) Office of Child Care (OCC) for Core of Knowl­edge train­ing hours. MSDE approves our child­care cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cours­es for those who work in child care cen­ters, large fam­i­ly child care homes, and fam­i­ly child care homes. Our cours­es may be used by direc­tors, child care teach­ers, assis­tant child care teach­ers, aides, edu­ca­tion pro­gram admin­is­tra­tors, child­care providers, employ­ees, co-providers, fam­i­ly child care direc­tors, and fam­i­ly child care teachers. 

All Care Cours­es, includ­ing our one-hour cours­es, are approved by MSDE for “con­tin­ued” annu­al train­ing hours in Mary­land. We offer a free one clock-hour online child­care train­ing course as well. 

Want to learn more about Care Cours­es or get free child­care train­ing? Check out Play­ing Out­doors to get your free course today!

In addi­tion, MSDE Office of Child Care requires that all child care providers com­plete a min­i­mum of 6 out of their 12 required annu­al clock hours of con­tin­ued train­ing in any of the fol­low­ing core of knowl­edge areas:

  • Child Devel­op­ment
  • Cur­ricu­lum
  • Health, Safe­ty and Nutrition
  • Spe­cial Needs
  • Pro­fes­sion­al­ism
  • Com­mu­ni­ty

We have cre­at­ed a help­ful Care Cours­es Mary­land Core of Knowl­edge areas break­down on our web­site. This web­page breaks down how each of our cours­es meets the six Mary­land Core of Knowl­edge areas. 

Do you still have ques­tions about Core of Knowl­edge train­ing in Mary­land? We love sup­port­ing Mary­lan­ders! Give us a call dur­ing our office hours and we will be hap­py to assist you in pick­ing out your cours­es: 1–800-685‑7610 M‑F, 9am-5pm ET. 

“I absolute­ly loved this Sup­port­ing Breast­feed­ing in Child Care  course! I enjoyed the videos and audio. It helped to rein­force impor­tant points that I’d read or was reading.”

- Care Cours­es stu­dent from Gwynn Oak, Maryland

Maryland Childcare Training Reimbursements 

Are you inter­est­ed in get­ting your Child Devel­op­ment Asso­ciate Cre­den­tial or CDA Cre­den­tial in Mary­land? Care Cours­es offers dis­count­ed CDA train­ing for the Infant Tod­dler Cen­ter-Based, Preschool Cen­ter-Based, and Fam­i­ly Child Care CDA settings. 

Accord­ing to the CDA Coun­cil, over 13,000 CDA Cre­den­tials have been award­ed in Mary­land. Hav­ing a CDA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is a great achieve­ment and it offers many benefits. 

In Mary­land:

  • hav­ing a CDA (plus addi­tion­al train­ing, col­lege cred­its, and expe­ri­ence) qual­i­fies you to work as a direc­tor in a preschool with 21 or more chil­dren, or a preschool with infants and tod­dlers, or in a large fam­i­ly child­care home.
  • hav­ing a CDA (plus addi­tion­al train­ing and expe­ri­ence) qual­i­fies you to work as a direc­tor in a preschool with 20 or few­er chil­dren or a school age center.
  • hav­ing a CDA (plus addi­tion­al train­ing and expe­ri­ence) qual­i­fies you to work as a teacher in a preschool cen­ter or large fam­i­ly child­care home.
  • hav­ing a CDA (plus addi­tion­al train­ing) qual­i­fies you to work as a provider in a fam­i­ly child­care home

We offer many blogs on the CDA cre­den­tial process includ­ing how you can get your CDA cre­den­tial in Mary­land. We also offer unlim­it­ed CDA sup­port for all of our stu­dents and a free CDA 101 tuto­r­i­al to make sure you are ready to get your CDA cre­den­tial in Maryland. 

Ready for the next step? Click to learn more about the CDA cre­den­tial process in Maryland. 

Maryland Childcare Training Reimbursements 

MSDE offers train­ing reim­burse­ments up to $400 per year per licensed child­care provider to assist ear­ly child­hood pro­fes­sion­als par­tic­i­pat­ing in the MD Child Care Cre­den­tial Pro­gram at lev­el two or high­er. Train­ing reim­burse­ments can be used for approved Core of Knowl­edge train­ing includ­ing all Care Cours­es that grant two or more clock hours. Mary­land train­ing reim­burse­ments are a won­der­ful resource that will allow you to get free child­care train­ing every year. 

To sub­mit an MSDE train­ing reim­burse­ment appli­ca­tion, go to the Mary­land OneStop web­site, click apply online, cre­ate an account, and fill out the required infor­ma­tion. You will need your CCATS/Party ID# (locat­ed on your cre­den­tial cer­tifi­cate), your Care Cours­es cer­tifi­cate of com­ple­tion (locat­ed in the My Cours­es area of your Care Cours­es account), and the receipt for the course pur­chased (locat­ed in the My Orders area of your Care Course account). Appli­ca­tions are approved with­in 30 days. 

Get­ting free child­care train­ing through Mary­land train­ing reim­burse­ments is an excel­lent way to save mon­ey and enhance your pro­fes­sion­al skills. You can even use Mary­land child­care reim­burse­ments to get free CDA train­ing with Care Courses.

Maryland Childcare Staff Credential Training

You can use Care Cours­es for the clock hours required to attain lev­els 2, 3, 4 and 4+ of the Mary­land State Child Care Cre­den­tial. You may also renew all lev­els of child­care cre­den­tial using our cours­es. Review the Mary­land Child Care Cre­den­tial pro­gram’s brochure or email us at to deter­mine how many clock hours you need for your cre­den­tial level. 

Remem­ber, if you have a lev­el two cre­den­tial or high­er, you can get up to $400 of free child­care train­ing per year from Care Courses! 

“I love your cours­es!! I’m always excit­ed to see some­thing new like the Lead Safe­ty in Child Care course I recent­ly took. I learned a lot and it’s so easy to com­plete dur­ing nap time. Keep up the good work!!”

- Care Cours­es stu­dent from Halethor­pe, Maryland

Maryland Preservice Childcare Training

Pre-service Orientation Requirement for Teacher Aides

Mary­land approves our course First Steps in Child Care: An Ori­en­ta­tion to meet the Mary­land pre-ser­vice ori­en­ta­tion require­ment for teacher aides in child care cen­ters and large fam­i­ly child care homes. Check out the course descrip­tion to learn more. This 3 clock-hour course is only $25!

9 Hour Communication Pre-service Training

MSDE approves our course Under­stand­ing Each Oth­er: Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Fam­i­lies, Staff and Your Com­mu­ni­ty for the Mary­land child care cen­ter pre-ser­vice 9 clock-hour com­mu­ni­ca­tion requirement.

Providers often ask us about the 45 and 90 hour pre­ser­vice cer­ti­fi­ca­tion train­ing require­ments in Mary­land. While we do not cur­rent­ly offer these train­ings, we are devel­op­ing new 45 hour pre­ser­vice cer­ti­fi­ca­tion cours­es. Email us at to express your inter­est in these upcom­ing courses. 

“I loved this site! The course First Steps in Child Care: An Ori­en­ta­tion was easy to fol­low and got straight to the point with the infor­ma­tion! Thanks for offer­ing such a great course for such low costs!” 

- Care Cours­es stu­dent from Gaithers­burg, Maryland

Other Maryland Childcare Certification Training 

Maryland Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Training

MSDE approves our course Keep­ing Infants Safe for the state train­ing require­ment for Sud­den Infant Death Syn­drome (SIDS). This course covers:

  • sud­den infant death syn­drome (SIDS),
  • sud­den unex­pect­ed infant death (SUID),
  • adverse child­hood expe­ri­ences (ACEs), and
  • safe sleep prac­tices, abu­sive head trau­ma (AHT)/shaken baby syn­drome, and ear­ly brain development. 

Check out the full course descrip­tion on our website. 

Maryland Breastfeeding Support Training

Our course, Sup­port­ing Breast­feed­ing in Child Care, ful­fills Mary­land’s breast­feed­ing sup­port require­ment. Check out the course descrip­tion on our website. 

Maryland Training Organization Approval Information

Care Cours­es’ Core of Knowl­edge train­ing orga­ni­za­tion num­ber is CKO-150280. Our con­tin­ued train­ing orga­ni­za­tion num­ber is CTO-2281. Our pre-ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion num­ber is PSO-19. 

Contact Care Courses

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

Why is literacy important in preschool?

Devel­op­ing lit­er­a­cy is a com­plex, mul­ti­step process requir­ing time, prac­tice, and resources. You might be won­der­ing, “why is lit­er­a­cy impor­tant in preschool?” 

What is lit­er­a­cy? Lit­er­a­cy is the abil­i­ty to read and write. As defined by the Nation­al Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics, lit­er­a­cy is the “abil­i­ty to use print­ed and writ­ten infor­ma­tion to func­tion in soci­ety, to achieve one’s goals, and to devel­op one’s knowl­edge and potential.”

Lit­er­a­cy is impor­tant in preschool because the atti­tude toward read­ing and writ­ing that chil­dren devel­op dur­ing their ear­ly years as they inter­act with lan­guage and books is a crit­i­cal aspect of emerg­ing lit­er­a­cy. 

Emerg­ing lit­er­a­cy skills form the foun­da­tion for children’s lat­er lit­er­a­cy devel­op­ment. Researchers have found that emerg­ing lit­er­a­cy skills pre­dict children’s future read­ing and writ­ing skills and pro­fi­cien­cy in using lan­guage to express thoughts and ideas. While explic­it read­ing and writ­ing instruc­tion typ­i­cal­ly begins in kinder­garten, children’s foun­da­tion­al lit­er­a­cy skills start to devel­op at birth. An infant’s efforts to grab for a book and bat at its pages to show inter­est, a toddler’s scrib­ble, or a 4‑year-old’s fas­ci­na­tion with sto­ry time are all foun­da­tion­al read­ing and writ­ing milestones. 

How do you teach literacy to preschoolers?

A well-equipped lit­er­a­cy learn­ing cen­ter is one of the most effec­tive ways to pro­mote and devel­op children’s emerg­ing lit­er­a­cy skills. An effec­tive lit­er­a­cy learn­ing cen­ter is well-stocked with var­i­ous books and lit­er­a­cy mate­ri­als that reflect children’s inter­ests, cul­tur­al back­grounds, and learn­ing preferences. 

It is impor­tant to intro­duce read­ing and writ­ing togeth­er. Young chil­dren need emerg­ing read­ing skills to help them learn about writ­ing, and they need emerg­ing writ­ing skills to learn about read­ing. A lit­er­a­cy cen­ter that con­nects the two areas of emerg­ing lit­er­a­cy devel­op­ment can effec­tive­ly sup­port and bol­ster children’s lit­er­a­cy skills.

Addi­tion­al­ly, it is ben­e­fi­cial to include lit­er­a­cy mate­ri­als and activ­i­ties in all of your learn­ing centers—the sci­ence cen­ter, art cen­ter, block cen­ter, pre­tend play cen­ter, and wood­work­ing cen­ter. Strate­gi­cal­ly plac­ing lit­er­a­cy mate­ri­als through­out children’s play areas will rein­force the role of lit­er­a­cy in all areas of learning.

Preschool Literacy Activities


Book­mak­ing is a fun and reward­ing activ­i­ty that encour­ages children’s cre­ativ­i­ty and self-expression.

First, sta­ple sev­er­al pieces of blank paper togeth­er or punch holes in blank pages to place in a binder. A binder allows chil­dren to add pages lat­er on if they wish. Pro­vide pen­cils, crayons, and mark­ers in a loca­tion that is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble to the children.

Encour­age preschool­ers to fol­low their inter­ests when cre­at­ing their books. Some chil­dren will enjoy cre­at­ing fic­tion­al sto­ries. Oth­ers may wish to make an ABC book, an auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal sto­ry, or a how-to guide. If chil­dren have dif­fi­cul­ty select­ing a top­ic, ask them ques­tions to spark their imag­i­na­tion. You may want to ask child about a sto­ry they told you ear­li­er in the day or an activ­i­ty they engaged in recently. 

As the preschool­ers work on their books, encour­age them to use some of the foun­da­tion­al fea­tures of books, including

  • title;
  • author;
  • page num­bers;
  • set­ting;
  • essen­tial plot ele­ments (begin­ning, mid­dle, end, conflict);
  • char­ac­ters.

Chil­dren can decide whether or not their books will include print­ed words in addi­tion to their draw­ings, scrib­bles, and oth­er marks. Encour­age preschool­ers to make revi­sions and con­tin­u­ous­ly think about their sto­ries. Dis­play fin­ished books in the lit­er­a­cy cen­ter and invite chil­dren to read from their books dur­ing sto­ry time. 

Book­mak­ing can also be a group project. The group can work togeth­er to select a top­ic and then brain­storm ideas to include in their book. Each child can draw pic­tures or write a short sto­ry or thought relat­ed to the topic. 

Name Writing

A dai­ly sign-in rou­tine in the lit­er­a­cy cen­ter is a sim­ple writ­ing activ­i­ty that preschool­ers will enjoy. For many chil­dren, their first name is one of the first words they learn to write, and they often take a par­tic­u­lar inter­est in learn­ing and per­fect­ing this task. Suc­cess in writ­ing their name con­firms children’s grow­ing com­pe­ten­cies in alpha­bet knowl­edge and print aware­ness and lays the ground­work for more com­plex and struc­tured writ­ing composition.

When the chil­dren enter your pro­gram each morn­ing, ask them to sign in. They can write their names on a sheet of paper on a clip­board or a white­board. Some pro­grams use pages with children’s pho­tos print­ed in a col­umn and spaces for children’s sig­na­tures to the right.

As with oth­er activ­i­ties, the process is more impor­tant for chil­dren than the prod­uct. Some chil­dren will make a mark that may not resem­ble an actu­al let­ter or only write the first let­ter of their name. “Sig­na­tures” may look like scrib­bles. The goal is to give chil­dren an oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the pur­pose of writ­ing, not to per­fect their sig­na­tures. Avoid any remarks or oth­er reac­tions that com­pare chil­dren’s “sig­na­tures.”

Choosing Books for Children

Stock your lit­er­a­cy cen­ter with a col­lec­tion of high-qual­i­ty books. To broad­en children’s expo­sure to dif­fer­ent gen­res, include non­fic­tion and poet­ry books in addi­tion to fic­tion. Reg­u­lar­ly intro­duce new books, and rotate books to keep the children’s inter­est and atten­tion. Pro­vide books that cov­er the inter­ests, back­grounds, lan­guages, expe­ri­ences, and oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics of the chil­dren in your program.

Look­ing to stock your lit­er­a­cy cen­ter with some new books? Check out sug­ges­tions from The Smith­son­ian and The New York Pub­lic Library.

Learn More!

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about ear­ly lit­er­a­cy? Check out our cours­es Many Ways to Learn for Tod­dlers and Preschool­ers and Mak­ing Learn­ing Fun. Look­ing for sug­ges­tions to improve your lit­er­a­cy cen­ter? Check out our course The Ear­ly Child­hood Envi­ron­ment: Learn­ing Cen­ters.

Look­ing for more fun activ­i­ties to try with the chil­dren in your care? Check out our blogs Cre­ative Art Activ­i­ties for Chil­dren and Cook­ing with Chil­dren: Overnight Oats.

Care Courses Contact

Please let us know how we can be of addi­tion­al assis­tance! Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings and week­ends: We’re here to help!

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