Registration Has Begun for Spring Semester @ DCTC

spring-02Although it seems as though fall semester just began, we’re entering the ‘season’ for spring semester course registration. We’d love for you to join our Early Childhood & Youth Development program, for a degree or just a few courses. We are offering both on campus and online courses this spring.

Current students – If you haven’t yet spoken with your program advisor (Sharon or Dawn), please do so right away. We will assist you in choosing courses and provide you with your registration code. If you’ve already met with us, please register right away to reserve your seat in your preferred courses!

Interested students – If you’re seeking an award from DCTC (certificate, diploma, degree), begin the process by filling out an application. Looking to take a couple Early childhood courses, but not an entire degree? Undeclared status refers to students who wish to take classes without pursuing a certificate, diploma or degree. Undeclared students are limited to 11 or fewer credits per semester. The undeclared student course registration form allows students to register for 11 or fewer credits. Please complete the form and return in person or via mail to:

DCTC Registration
1300 145th Street East
Rosemount, MN 55068

Or fax the completed form to DCTC Registration at 651-423-8775.

*It is highly recommended that you also connect with the Early Childhood and Youth Development faculty.

Dawn Braa                                        Sharon Bergen
dawn.braa@dctc.edu                     sharon.bergen@dctc.edu
651.423.8315                                    651.423.8398

See YOU this spring!

Adventures in Eating: Discovering MyPlate

I’m excited to announce that after a short break, we’re bringing back the Adventures in Eating feature on this blog! We’re excited for how it may positively impact teachers, children, and families. Mary Schroeder is the author of this feature. She works for the University of Minnesota Extension Office. Learn more about her below.

Discovering MyPlate – A Free Resource for Teaching Nutrition

I always enjoy reviewing new resources  to introduce children to food and nutrition. I’m especially excited about Discover MyPlate which is designed for kindergarten aged children.

Discover MyPlate (developed by the United States Department of Agriculture) is fun and inquiry-based nutrition education that fosters the development of healthy food choices and physically for kindergartners and it’s FREE to teachers Read more »




Carlson,Nancy_book2Nancy Carlson understands children’s feelings and turns that understanding into delightful picture books that help children confront some of life’s most embarrassing moments and experiences. In this lively, free-wheeling discussion with Marti & Erin, Nancy highlights her two most recent books: the self-explanatory Sometimes You Barf and It’s OK to Ask!, a wonderful story about how to help your children connect with and respond to children with visible disabilities (a collaboration with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare). Tune in so you and your children can benefit from Read more »

The Body Matters Too! Book Study Expert Commentaries for Chapters 10, 14, 15, 16 (Week 7)

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This week we are discussing Chapter 10: The Myth of the Brain/Body Dichotomy, Chapter 14: The Body Matters Too, Chapter 15: Reading, Writing, Rithmetic, and Recess, and Chapter 16: Why Kids Need Gym. We have two guest experts this week to provide insight and lead our discussion: Lorie Barnes and Rich RairighJust joining us? Get all the book study details HERE.


Lorie Barnes1Some questions are easy to answer.  Like, “Would you be interested in being a part of an innovative, online nationwide book study of Rae Pica’s newest title, ‘What If Everybody Understood Child Development?: Straight Talk About Bettering Education and Children’s Lives’?”   Answer: “Yes!” Other questions however require and inspire deeper pondering and reflection.  Like the title of this book for example.  In this week’s blog post, we are diving into Chapters 10 and 15 from Part II: Understanding the Mind/Body Connection.  In Chapter 10: The Myth of the Brain/Body Dichotomy, we are equipped with resources and perspectives that can help us challenge long-held practices that do not adequately and intentionally educate the whole child.  Chapter 15: Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic… and Recess, invites us to be defenders of recess and play as a means of supporting children’s positive experiences and outcomes.

Second verse same as the first Read more »

Spring Semester Online Child Life Course @ DCTC

medical-play-materials-e1412695748870Are you in need of one child life class, taught by a CCLS, that meets the 6 requirements put forth by the CLC? We offer such a class at Dakota County Technical College! I have included the steps for what you will need to do to register for our spring semester fully online child life course- ECYD 2900 Introduction to the Child Life Profession: History and Practice (3cr). This course meets the 6 required components required by the Child Life Council and is taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist. Read more »

2015 NAEYC Annual Conference (Discount!)

naeyc 2015 conf

As is common for many in early care and education, I am looking forward to the 2015 NAEYC Annual Conference! This year it is being held in Orlando, FL. What do I love about the NAEYC conference? The fantastic and inspiring workshop sessions, the  enlightening conversations with professionals, the networking and sharing of ideas, and the list goes on!

NAEYC is offering a conference discount to my fans and followers! How cool is that? Receive 15% OFF your conference registration by using the discount code Read more »




Siegel,Dan_book2“As parents, many of us are uneasy about how we will see our children through adolescence – how we’ll handle the times when they push away from us or engage in risky behaviors. But UCLA professor Dr. Dan Siegel sees a great opportunity in the teen years for parents and other caring adults to capitalize on the teenage brain changes and provide the guidance and encouragement that will move teens toward a vibrant, healthy adulthood. In his conversation with Marti & Erin, Dr. Siegel debunks common myths of Read more »

Terrorist Tots? You’re Outta There! Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapters 8, 9, and 29 (Week 6)

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This week we are discussing Chapter 8- But Competition Is Human Nature, Chapter 9- Terrorist Tots, and Chapter 29- You’re Outta Here! Teacher Tom is our guest content expert this week to provide insight and lead our discussion. Visit Teacher Tom’s website to learn more about his work. You can find him on Facebook at TheTeacherTom. Tweet with him @TheTeacherTom Just joining us? Get all the book study details HERE.


Blog Book Study Contribution from Teacher Tom Hobson

Teacher Tom

Growing up, children of my generation were told that competition was a healthy thing. Competition was defended as a manifestly good, a character builder, an important part of growing up. It’s how we learned about winning and losing, discipline, teamwork, and a certain type of focused fierceness.

I grew up believing these myths of competition, carrying them well into my adulthood, but my years working with young children has lead me to see that what biologists are increasingly coming to understand about the nature human beings: it is not about “survival of the fittest,” but rather “survival of the most cooperative,” a position that Charles Darwin himself came around to in his later years.

Pica argues that competition is a learned rather than in-born behavior, a position I’ve found to true, especially among the preschoolers I teach. When left to their own devices, when allowed to play freely with their friends, we find that young children are much more likely to Read more »

Mondays with Me: Girls In A So-Called Boys’ Sport



Ring,Jennifer_book“As the only girl on her Little League teams, Jennifer Ring’s daughter more than held her own with her male teammates. But when she wanted to continue playing baseball instead of switching to the girls’ softball team, the adults around her put up barriers at every step. Dr. Ring, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, chronicles her daughter’s story and that of other young women in baseball in her new book, A Game of Their Own: Voices of Contemporary Women in BaseballJennifer’s conversation with Marti & Erin is about much more than baseball; Read more »

Play Is Not a Four Letter Word: Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapter 13 (Week 5)

What If Book Study Marketing PicThis week we are discussing Chapter 13: Play Is Not a Four Letter Word. Dr. Walter F. Drew is our guest content expert this week to provide insight and lead our discussion. Visit Dr. Drew’s website to learn more about his work. You can find him on Facebook at Dr. Drew’s Blocks. Just joining us? Get all the book study details HERE.



“The goal of education is to create possibilities for children to invent and discover.”   Jean Piaget

In Chapter 13, Rae Pica makes the point that “True play is open-ended and intrinsically motivated. True play is not directed by adults.”  To be insensitive to the significance of this teaching – or worse yet to ignore the implications – would be to miss the opportunity to strengthen the essential developing capacities of young children.

What Can We Do to Cultivate Play and Creativity in Child Development?

As a way of elaborating on Rae Pica’s comments, I invite you to view a short unedited YouTube video of 5 and 6 year old children as they engage in a compelling example of a true play experience that is open-ended and intrinsically motivated. And not directed by adults.

One area of child development that has received little attention, but which is a positive instructional strategy and strong indicator of creative potential, Read more »

20th Annual Midwest Child Life Conference


Calling All Midwest Child Life Professionals!

Registration is open for the 20th Annual Midwest Child Life Conference! If you are interested in attending the conference, please follow the link for information on the sessions, cost, and registration.






Mattson,Jessica_hsJessica Mattson knew something was not right with her son’s development when he was a year old. But she wasn’t sure where to turn, especially since her pediatrician thought Ben was doing fine. Eventually, with encouragement from a cousin, Jessica sought help through her school district’s early intervention team, leading to identification of Ben’s special needs and appropriate services to help him learn and develop as fully as possible. Although every child and parent’s experience is unique, Jessica’s story highlights Read more »

More Than a Pretty Face: Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapter 6 (Week 4)

What If Book Study Marketing PicToday we are discussing Chapter 6: Teaching Girls They’re More Than a Pretty Face. Diane Levin is our guest content expert this week to provide insight and lead our discussion. Visit Diane’s website to learn more about her work. Find her on Twitter @DianeELevinJust joining us? Get all the book study details HERE.


dianelevinA Child Development Perspective on How & Why Media & Marketers Promote “Pretty Faces” to Young Girls and What We Can Do about It by Diane Levin

Thank you, Rae Pica.  The child development issues you raise in Chapter 6, “Teaching Young Girls that They Are More Than a Pretty Face,” are vitally important for parents, teachers, and the wider society to address if we want to promote the optimal well-being of girls in these times.  Several factors you address stand out for me and connect directly to why I felt I needed to write my book, So Sexy So Soon. (Levin, D. & Kilbourne, J., So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. New York: Ballantine Books, 2009).

The degree to which young girls growing up today focus so much on appearance and think that popularity comes from looking “right”, has not always been quite as extreme as it is today.  And the increasing focus of young girls on these issues is not happening totally by chance.  It is deeply connected to both how children think in the early years and how they develop ideas about gender.  But, it is also highly related to what they learn about how to define their gender from what they see males and females doing in their environment. Read more »

Bubble Wrapping Not Required! Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapter 4 (Week 3)

What If Book Study Marketing PicToday we are discussing Chapter 4: Bubble Wrapping Not Required.  Mike Huber is our guest content expert this week to provide insight and lead our discussion.  You can access Mike’s blog or learn more about his books at RedLeaf Press and RedLeaf Lane Find him on Facebook at Mike Huber’s Children’s books.  If you are just joining us, you will find all the book study details HERE.


Mike-HuberBubble Wrapping Not Required depicts the absurdity of our society’s fear of risk.  Pica focuses on parents’ fears of anything negative happening to their children.  I’d like to think about parents’ hopes for their children.  We want children to be resilient.  Resilience requires taking risks.  We want children to be joyful.  Nothing beats the joy of successfully taking a risk.  Risk is a part of being alive and children need to know how to deal with risk.

But it’s not risk alone.  Resilience comes both from risk and persistence.  You have to try and you have to fail.  The risk might be physical.  It might be emotional.  We know that children will get hurt. We know they will cry.  Our job isn’t to keep them from falling.  It’s to help them up and hug them when they do fall.

Let’s be clear that risk is different than hazard.   Read more »

Book Study Expert Commentary for Chapters 3 and 5 (Week 2)

What If Book Study Marketing PicWelcome to week 2 of our book study! This week we are discussing Chapter 3 (The Power of Joy) and Chapter 5 (When Did A Hug Become A Bad Thing?) Gwen Simmons is our guest content expert this week to provide insight and lead our discussion. Communicate with Gwen on Twitter @gwen_naeyc. If you are just joining us, you will find all the book study details HERE.

Gwen Simmons

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. – Albert Einstein

Playfulness, humor, joy, and the celebration of learning are the real “basics” that should abound in any environment where children spend their time. – Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld

“What do Albert Einstein and Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld have in common? A belief that teachers who embrace creativity and joy in their teaching inspire children to discover, question, explore the world in deep and meaningful ways.

The recipe for this approach to teaching is both simple and complex. Read more »

EC Blog Book Study Begins- Join In!

It’s finally here – the day that our blog book study begins. It is my genuine hope that this study intrigues individuals, serves as inexpensive professional development, provides access to resources otherwise not attainable, and encourages meaningful conversations throughout this country and perhaps even the world.

This is our newest feature on the blog: Beyond The Pages. Beyond the Pages is an online blog book study. This feature acknowledges the importance of reading books while taking you beyond the pages and creating group dialogue. Stacie Goffin has charged those in early childhood education to “continue the conversation” and we believe that this is one method to do that.

Our first book study is centered around Rae Pica‘s book What If Everybody Understood Child Development? We highlighted her book on the blog last May. You can learn even more about this book in Rae’s candid interview. Find her online at Rae Pica’s Bam-Radio Facebook page and on Twitter @BodyMindChild #AskingWhatIf.

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We’re pleased to announce that we have an amazing lineup of early childhood experts to assist in leading the conversation around this book! There are many ways for you to participate in this study. If you are just joining us, you will find all the book study details HERE.

Today we are discussing Chapters 1 (All Children Are Not The Same), 2 (The Earlier The Better?), and 7 (Doing Away with Baby Stuff). Angèle Sancho Passe is our guest this week to provide insight and lead our discussion. Visit Angèle’s website to learn more about her books and work in early childhood.Angele Passe

Angèle says, “It’s a privilege to continue the conversation boldly started by Rae Pica! In What if Everybody Understood Child Development?, she tells us that the proverbial pendulum has swung in the wrong direction and too far. Her examples of zero tolerance, no recess, play as a waste of time, and general misunderstanding of academics for young children make us cringe.

Yet we could argue that as the insiders in early childhood education we may have brought this nonsense on ourselves. Read more »

Hold an Early Childhood Staff Book Club…

You’ve always wanted to host an early childhood staff book club, right? It doesn’t get any easier than this! We’ve done all the work for you. Your staff can follow along by reading chapters, viewing our coordinating expert commentary, and participating in the conversation by commenting on our blog or Facebook posts with people all over the nation (and perhaps world) that care about and influence the lives of children. You could even host a book club night with treats to discuss in person after they’ve participated online. This provides for even more reflecting and connecting!

Beyond the Pages is an online blog book study. This feature acknowledges the importance of reading books while taking you beyond the pages and creating group dialogue. Stacie Goffin has charged those in early childhood to “continue the conversation” and we believe that this is one method to do that.What If Book Study Marketing Pic

Our first book this fall will be Rae Pica‘s What If Everybody Understood Child Development? Visit the following link to learn all the details! http://blogs.dctc.edu/dawnbraa/2015/08/05/new-feature-beyond-the-pages-a-blog-book-study/ Did I mention that 16 content experts will also be participating and leading the discussion?! The author, Rae Pica, has even agreed to answer questions. It’s going to be epic and it launches tomorrow, Monday, 8/31/15!

Please share the news in your circles of influence today.

Thank you,

Dawn Braa

Receive Training Hours for Book Study!

I’m please to announce that MN participants of our Beyond The Pages book study this fall may earn 7 training hours for active participation. This is approved through the MNCPD Policy Automatic Approval of Training.

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The following guidelines are for MN participants seeking a certificate for active participation in the fall 2015 Beyond The Pages Early Childhood Book Study:

  1. Participants will email Dawn Braa (dawn.braa@dctc.edu) indicating intention of participation.
  2. Participants will need a copy of the chosen book- What If Everybody Understood Child Development? by Rae Pica
  3. Participants will subscribe to this blog  in the upper right-hand corner with an email address.
  4. If you are on Facebook, JOIN our event! https://www.facebook.com/events/431601440379065/ 
  5. Participants will read the chapters according to the timeline and review the correlating expert commentary weekly on our blog.
  6. Participants will participate by posting thoughtful and reflective responses (regarding book readings and expert commentaries) in the comments section of the blog post each week for the duration of the blog study. That means that participants will post 14 reflections. If participants are bloggers themselves and are blogging about this experience, including their reflections, they are able to simply post the weblink to their blog post in our blog comments section.
  7. Participants will keep an organized log (Word document) of all comments or blog posts (with dates and chapters) and email them to Dawn Braa (dawn.braa@dctc.edu) at the end of the study.
  8. Participants are responsible for submitting their certificate to Develop to be entered in their learning record.

*Participants must successfully complete all requirements to be eligible for a certificate.
**Duplicate certificates will not be sent.

At this time, certificates are only available for MN residents. If you live outside MN and are seeking training hours, I suggest you also document your active participation and inquire with your state about approval possibilities. We are not guaranteeing approval of any kind outside MN.

Early Childhood Book Study Special Guest #16 Announced!

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The sixteenth and final special guest expert participating in this book study is…Stacie Goffin!


Stacie Goffin is the Principal of the Goffin Strategy Group. Established in 2004, the Goffin Strategy Group dedicates itself to building early childhood education’s ability to offer effective programs and services to young children through leadership, capacity, and systems development. Stacie works with local and state non-profits, philanthropy, governments, and national organizations. A widely published author, Stacie’s conceptual leadership focuses on advancing early childhood education as a professional field of practice.

Prior to forming the Goffin Strategy Group, Stacie led the five-year effort to reinvent the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s [NAEYC] early childhood program accreditation system. This effort resulted in a newly designed delivery system, updated accreditation criteria, and first-ever national program standards for early childhood education programs serving children from birth through kindergarten.

A former senior program officer at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, professor in higher education, and preschool educator, Stacie served as the founding chair of multiple organizations, including the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, Kansas City’s Metropolitan Council on Early Learning, and the West Virginia Network for Young Children.

Stacie is an author of several seminal publications, including Ready or Not: Leadership Choices in Early Care and Education (with Valora Washington); Early Childhood Education for a New Era: Leading for Our Profession; and the recently released Professionalizing Early Childhood Education as a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era. Both her writing and presentations have earned her a well-respected reputation as an agent for change.

You can learn more about Stacie Goffin online by visiting her webpage. Stacie will be closing our What If Everybody Understood Child Development? book study and announcing our winter/spring study book choice on Dec. 7th.

*Just joining us and want to get started? You can find all the book study details HERE. Grab your copy of the book and join us for this epic online event beginning on Aug. 31st!

Early Childhood Book Study Special Guest #15 Announced!

What If Book Study Marketing PicThe fifteenth special guest expert participating in this book study is…Deborah Hirschland!

Deborah HirschlandDeborah Hirschland, MSW, has spent over three decades working with children, parents, and teachers. A frequent presenter on early childhood issues – one who is known for her engaging style, accessible explanations, and practical approaches to intervention – she offers consultation and training to a range of early care and education programs across her home state of Massachusetts and beyond.

Deborah was on the faculty of the Boston University School of Social Work for many years, and later taught in its Postgraduate Program in Clinical Work with Children, Adolescents, and Families. Currently, she is affiliated with the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology’s Freedman Center for Child and Family Development. Over the course of her career, she has offered workshops and presentations at a range of agencies, university-based programs, organizations, and institutes. Those include, among many others, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, the Head Start and Early Head Start Programs of Communities United, Inc., Georgetown University’s Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, Harvard Medical School’s Department of Continuing Education, the Together for Kids Project, the Connected Beginnings Training Institute, and the Center for Parents and Teachers.

In addition to her work as a child and family therapist, clinical supervisor, parent mentor, early childhood mental health consultant, and presenter, Deborah is a contributor to the Zero to Three Journal and the author of two books, When Young Children Need Help: Understanding and Addressing Emotional, Behavioral, and Developmental Challenges (Redleaf Press, 2015) and Collaborative Intervention in Early Childhood: Consulting with Parents and Teachers of 3- to 7-Year-Olds  (Oxford University Press, 2008).  

You can learn more about Deborah Hirschland online by visiting her webpage. Deborah will be adding dialogue regarding chapters 27 and 28 of Rae Pica’s book What If Everybody Understood Child Development? on Nov. 30th.

*Just joining us and want to get started? You can find all the book study details HERE. Grab your copy of the book and join us for this epic online event beginning on Aug. 31st!