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Finding the Right Fit: Preschool and Child Care Information

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Stephen Barnes.


Early Childhood Outreach Librarian


Even at nearly 40-years-old, I still remember the smell upon entering my preschool classroom: a singularly comforting mix of crayons, fingerpaints, books, and surface cleaner.

It’s remarkable to me how much of my own preschool experience has stuck around as core memories. I remember my first preschool teacher, Ms. Jan, and how much I adored her. I remember constantly being asked to declare my favorite color and struggling between red and blue (I finally chose blue for most things, but I still love both to this day). I remember “Bring Your Dad to School Day” and how proud I was to show my dad that I could hammer a nail into a wood block — an item which my dad subsequently kept far longer than necessary.

I’ve been thinking about my preschool days a lot lately, which makes sense since, as MPPL’s Early Childhood Outreach Librarian, I spend a lot of time visiting local preschools. Every time I enter a classroom for a storytime visit, that familiar smell fills me with nostalgia. And it reminds me why I do this work: I’m there not only to help my young friends learn and build their literacy skills but also to create positive experiences that may turn into core memories. It’s a responsibility I take quite seriously.

In Mount Prospect, we are fortunate to have an abundance of high-quality early childhood programs to choose from — but that can also be quite daunting. MPPL is here to help by offering our various resources.

A child’s early years are a time of rapid growth and development, which is why quality early childhood education is important to the future success of our youngest learners. If you are researching potential programs for your child(ren), keep an eye out for the elements that make up a high-quality program for each developmental stage as described by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to ask valuable questions of the programs you are considering.

If you’re looking for more resources to inform your preschool and child care search or your child’s development, visit our Find Preschools and Child Care information page and check out the additional resources below.

A photo of Becoming brilliant : what science tells us about raising successful children

Becoming brilliant : what science tells us about raising successful children

Golinkoff, Roberta M., author.

While the U.S. economy becomes ever more information-driven, our system of education seems stuck on the idea that “content is king,” neglecting other skills that 21st century citizens sorely need. Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek introduce the “6 Cs”: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence. They also show parents ways they can nurture their children’s development in each area.


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A photo of Growing an in-sync child : simple, fun activities to help every child develop, learn, and grow

Growing an in-sync child : simple, fun activities to help every child develop, learn, and grow

Kranowitz, Carol Stock.

Because early motor development is one of the most important factors in a child’s physical, emotional, academic, and overall success, the In- Sync Program of sixty adaptable, easy, and fun activities will enhance your child’s development, in just minutes a day. Discover how simple movements such as skipping, rolling, balancing, and jumping can make a world of difference for your child-a difference that will last a lifetime.


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A photo of Mind in the making : the seven essential life skills every child needs

Mind in the making : the seven essential life skills every child needs

Galinsky, Ellen.

There are hundreds of books that give parents advice on everything from weaning to toilet training, from discipline to nutrition. But in spite of this overwhelming amount of information, there is very little research-based advice for parents on how to raise their children to be well rounded and achieve their full potential, helping them learn to take on life’s challenges, communicate well with others, and remain committed to learning. These are the “essential life skills” that Ellen Galinsky has spent her career pursuing, through her own studies and through decades of talking with more than a hundred of the most outstanding researchers in child development and neuroscience. The good news is that there are simple everyday things that all parents can do to build these skills in their children for today and for the future. They don’t cost money, and it’s never too late to begin.


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A photo of Nurtureshock : new thinking about children

Nurtureshock : new thinking about children

Bronson, Po, 1964-

Award-winning science journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman demonstrate that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring–because key twists in the science of child development have been overlooked. The authors discuss the inverse power of praise, why insufficient sleep adversely affects kids’ capacity to learn, why white parents don’t talk about race, why kids lie, why evaluation methods for “giftedness” and accompanying programs don’t work, and why siblings really fight.


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A photo of Play : how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul

Play : how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul

Brown, Stuart L.

Stuart Brown, a physician, psychiatrist and clinical researcher, has made a career of studying the effects of play on people and animals. His conclusion is that play is no less important than oxygen – it’s a powerful force in nature that helps determine the likelihood of the very survival of the human race. Sprinkled with anecdotes demonstrating the play habits of subjects as diverse as polar bears and corporate CEOs, Brown and co-writer Vaughan present a compelling case for promoting play at every age.


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A photo of Quirky kids : understanding and supporting your child with developmental differences

Quirky kids : understanding and supporting your child with developmental differences

Klass, Perri, 1958- author.

This classic, coauthored by New York Times columnist and pediatrician Dr. Perri Klass, has been fully revised and updated to reflect the recent significant changes in the recognition and care of children whose development doesn’t go as expected. It includes new information about therapeutic interventions, managing co-morbidities, and getting support for children with developmental differences at school. Additional information covers community resources, initiatives at hospitals, clinics, and even theme parks, that make life easier for children with developmental differences and their families. The authors also offer a stronger focus on self-care for parents in this new edition, with the pediatrician’s perspective of supporting families as they go through the diagnostic process over time.


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A photo of Scribble art : independent process art experiences for children

Scribble art : independent process art experiences for children

Kohl, MaryAnn F., author.

Scibble art is packed full of more than 200 open-ended process art activities that use common art supplies and household items. Process art builds children’s confidnece in their own ideas and choices by allowing them to choose from a selection of art supplies, and then embark on exploration, invention, free choice, and play with art. Children immerse themselves in the process of creating rather than following a predetermined outcome or product, a critical developmental building block that helps unlock a child’s individual creativity.


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A photo of Siblings without rivalry : how to help your children live together so you can live too

Siblings without rivalry : how to help your children live together so you can live too

Faber, Adele.

Already best-selling authors with How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish turned their minds to the battle of the siblings. Parents themselves, they were determined to figure out how to help their children get along. The result was Siblings Without Rivalry. This wise, groundbreaking book gives parents the practical tools they need to cope with conflict, encourage cooperation, reduce competition, and make it possible for children to experience the joys of their special relationship. With humor and understanding–much gained from raising their own children–Faber and Mazlish explain how and when to intervene in fights, provide suggestions on how to help children channel their hostility into creative outlets, and demonstrate how to treat children unequally and still be fair. Updated to incorporate fresh thoughts after years of conducting workshops for parents and professionals, this edition also includes a new afterword.


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A photo of The importance of being little : what preschoolers really need from grownups

The importance of being little : what preschoolers really need from grownups

Christakis, Erika, author.

To a four-year-old watching bulldozers at a construction site or chasing butterflies in flight, the world is awash with promise. Little children come into the world hardwired to learn in virtually any setting and about any matter. Yet in today’s preschool and kindergarten classrooms, learning has been reduced to scripted lessons and suspect metrics that too often undervalue a child’s intelligence while overtaxing the child’s growing brain. These mismatched expectations wreak havoc on the family: parents fear that if they choose the “wrong” program, their child won’t get into the “right” college. But Yale early childhood expert Erika Christakis says our fears are wildly misplaced. Our anxiety about our children’s futures has reached a fever pitch at a time when, ironically, science gives us more certainty than ever before that young children are exceptionally strong thinkers. In her pathbreaking book, Christakis explains what it’s like to be a young child in America today, in a world designed by and for adults, where we have confused schooling with learning. She offers nuanced, real-life solutions to real-life issues that move past the usual prescriptions for fewer tests, more play. She looks at children’s use of language, their artistic expressions, the way their imaginations grow, and how they build deep emotional bonds to stretch the boundaries of their small worlds. Rather than clutter their worlds with more and more stuff, sometimes our wisest course is to learn how to get out of their way.


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A photo of The origins of you : how childhood shapes later life

The origins of you : how childhood shapes later life

Belsky, Jay, 1952- author.

After tracking the lives of thousands of people from birth to midlife, four of the world’s preeminent psychologists reveal what they have learned about how humans develop. Does temperament in childhood predict adult personality? What role do parents play in shaping how a child matures? Is day care bad-or good-for children? Does adolescent delinquency forecast a life of crime? Do genes influence success in life? Is health in adulthood shaped by childhood experiences? In search of answers to these and similar questions, four leading psychologists have spent their careers studying thousands of people, observing them as they’ve grown up and grown older. The result is unprecedented insight into what makes each of us who we are. In The Origins of You, Jay Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt, and Richie Poulton share what they have learned about childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, about genes and parenting, and about vulnerability, resilience, and success. The evidence shows that human development is not subject to ironclad laws but instead is a matter of possibilities and probabilities-multiple forces that together determine the direction a life will take. A child’s early years do predict who they will become later in life, but they do so imperfectly. For example, genes and troubled families both play a role in violent male behavior, and, though health and heredity sometimes go hand in hand, childhood adversity and severe bullying in adolescence can affect even physical well-being in midlife. Painstaking and revelatory, the discoveries in The Origins of You promise to help schools, parents, and all people foster well-being and ameliorate or prevent developmental problems.


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A photo of The read-aloud handbook

The read-aloud handbook

Trelease, Jim.

Recommended by “Dear Abby” upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. It has also been a staple in schools of education for new teachers. This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning), The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers.


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A photo of The smartest kids in the world : and how they got that way

The smartest kids in the world : and how they got that way

Ripley, Amanda, author.

In a handful of nations, virtually all children are learning to make complex arguments and solve problems they’ve never seen before. They are learning to think, in other words, and to thrive in the modern economy. What is it like to be a child in the world’s new education superpowers? In a global quest to find answers for our own children, author and Time magazine journalist Amanda Ripley follows three Americans embedded in Finland, South Korea, and Poland for one year. Their stories, along with groundbreaking research into learning in other cultures, reveal a pattern of startling transformation: none of these countries had many “smart” kids a few decades ago. Things had changed. Teaching had become more rigorous; parents had focused on things that mattered; and children had bought into the promise of education.


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Stephen loves telling stories and singing songs in preschool and kindergarten classrooms all over Mount Prospect. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books, attends tons of musical theatre, travels all over the world, and cuddles with Roscoe and Binx, his chihuahua and black cat.

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