Meet the Active Supervision TOT cohort!

Early childhood educators and providers across Minnesota receive trainings that help them grow as professionals. The trainings are part of a large library maintained by Minnesota’s Department of Human Services (DHS). The people who lead these trainings go through their own trainings to learn how to do it. Those are called Trainings of Trainers (TOTs), and they are offered by the TARSS program at CEED.

Just recently, DHS updated its Active Supervision training, which is a very important required training for child care providers in Minnesota. 77 trainers applied to join the Active Supervision TOT in order to become approved to deliver this training. Learn more facts about this cohort of learners in the infographic below!

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TARSS is excited to announce the Active Supervision TOT cohort


TARSS aims to establish a pool of trainers representative of the Minnesota population, with experience working with diverse communities and with the communities in which they live. Having a diverse cadre of trainers allows providers to access training near their homes and work and receive training from people who know their communities.

Participant Characteristics

  • 77 applicants
  • 47% of participants have experience working in Family Child Care, 39% have expreience working in Child Care Centers, and 14% have experience working in Early Childhood Special Education.
  • Trainers accepted to the TOT train in English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Ukrainian
  • 6 eligible trainer types are represented
  • 46% are new trainers to Active Supervision
  • 5 participants are from Northwest Minnesota; 3 are from Northeast Minnesota; 12 are from the Twin Cities metro area, 4 are from Southern Minnesota, and 4 are from West-Central Minnesota

“Ask lots of questions and stay in touch”: a Q & A with Gabrielle Stroad on becoming a trainer

How do you become an approved trainer within Minnesota’s child care training system? Trainer Gabrielle Stroad reflects on the process as well as the challenges and highlights of the job.

Gabrielle Stroad’s work experience in the early childhood field is varied and extensive. She worked her way up from being a classroom aide to director of a child care center, and later, she opened a family child care program. She even drove a school bus! In 2022, she added another role to her resume by becoming an approved trainer within the state child care training system. In this Q & A, she shares her perspective on becoming a trainer and advice for those considering it.

Gabrielle Stroad
Gabrielle Stroad

You went from being an aide and teacher to being assistant director and then director of a child care center. Did you miss working with children when you took on a management role?

I still tried to be in classrooms as much as possible to be with my staff and the children. But I also loved managing a center, because I love connecting with people. I felt grateful that I had worked in all the positions I was managing. I had been in the aides’ and teachers’ shoes, and I could tell them, “I understand, and I am here to truly support you.” I enjoyed being able to talk with them about the “whys” of our work and help everyone focus on our purpose as educators and how we can help children and families. I do enjoy direct care though, and that’s why today, in addition to being a trainer, I am an ECSE paraprofessional in a preschool classroom.

What made you decide to become a trainer?

At the time, I was operating a family child care program, and I was working on finishing my two-year degree at the same time. Our family was starting to grow out of operating a child care program out of our home, so I decided to make a change. One of the things that I liked about being a center director and that I missed as a family child care provider was being able to work with a large number of educators and have an impact on more families. I remember running into a former employee and talking with her about her new job at a child care center. She told me, “I took everything you taught me and brought it to this new job.” It was amazing for me to hear that I inspired someone to bring even higher quality and more passion to their teaching. I feel I’ve learned so much from educators I’ve worked with in return. My hope in becoming a trainer was that I could reach people in that same way, and continue building that community of mutual support and learning.

What was the process like to become a trainer?

In my case, I would say that overall it was a little confusing. There was a hiccup because right when I was ready to apply, I learned about a change in requirements. It took me extra time to overcome that obstacle, but becoming a trainer was important to me. I believe it is important to make sure we have qualified trainers with the right credentials. However, there can be frustration when you have experience and knowledge but not credentials.

I’ve also heard from people in the field that sometimes they are put off when they see that a process like becoming a trainer has a lot of steps. What I would say to those folks is that the TARSS team and the Develop team are there for you. My grandmother used to say there are no stupid questions, and I’ve always been a person who’ll ask lots of questions. I’ll even ask questions that I know the answer to if I get the sense that others are not comfortable asking. I do feel that my willingness to ask questions helped me a lot in the process of becoming a trainer. 

You were also able to take advantage of the TARSS Trainer Observation and Coaching program. How did that work?

[Mentor FCC Project Specialist] Molly Hughes set up the observation for me and was my coach. We had met before at the Trainer and RBPD Specialist Symposium–which everybody should go to! Molly is very personable and kind. 

I had also met the trainer who did the observation before. That made me feel comfortable and confident. My observer had a positive and professional vibe. She had a couple of questions for me, then I did the training. Afterwards, the observer and I talked about next steps, and we had a great conversation about child care. I felt a sense of partnership, which I really appreciated. The observer then sent the observation tool to Molly. Soon after, I met with Molly to talk about how the training went. She picked out areas I was strong in and areas that I might want help with. She asked good questions and listened to me. I really felt heard. I’ve never felt like I was being timed by anybody I’ve talked to at TARSS. Everybody is generous with their time and very open to helping.

One thing that I appreciated about Molly was how she structured our coaching session. I’ve had coaches before who started out by asking me what I wanted to talk about. That’s a tough question, because when I’m new, I don’t even know where to start. Molly helped me figure out where to start and where to go next. Then we set a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goal to work on in between sessions and planned when it was best to next meet. 

What are some of the challenges of being a trainer?

The biggest challenge is when you’re in front of people who aren’t interested in learning new things. I love to learn. I’m always the one sitting in the front row with my notebook taking notes and nodding my head. So it’s hard when I’m there to try and make an impact, and people choose not to be open to it. With that said, I’ve learned to give myself and the situation a lot of grace. I also accept it as a challenge and say, “How can I change that mindset?” 

A related challenge is building a relationship with the people you’re training, especially when you’re delivering someone else’s content. I used to love leading training as a center director, so I thought it would be a smooth transition to being an approved trainer. It’s really different, though. You’ve got to build that relationship with your audience within minutes. You also have to feel comfortable enough to deliver the content effectively so you give participants something that will better their programs. 

A final challenge is getting consistent training experience so that you can improve. Just like in any job, you get better with experience. Unlike many other jobs, though, trainers don’t train all day, Monday through Friday. Generally, I do about two trainings a month. This month I have three. But during my first year as a trainer I did 12 total. Because so much time passes between trainings, it can feel like it’s taking a long time to build skills and confidence.

What are some of your favorite parts of being a trainer?

One of my favorite things about being a trainer is also one of my favorite things about teaching children. I get a kick out of those “aha” moments, when someone makes a comment and the whole group says, “Oh, that makes sense, I’m excited to try that!” It doesn’t matter whether the idea came from the training content or from the participants’ experience. Seeing connections take place is amazing to me! I also love hearing people’s takeaways, even simple things like a new art activity they want to try. When you’ve been in the early childhood field for a long time, you tend to take certain practices and strategies for granted. It’s hard to remember what you didn’t know when you were starting out. I feel I’m most authentic as a trainer when someone asks me a question and I can say, “This is what I would do.” I love it when we’re able to make a connection between a real-life situation and the training content. 

What would you tell someone who is considering becoming a trainer?

I would say, “You’re going to have a lot of fun. Let’s do it!” But I would also tell them that navigating the process can be hard. My biggest piece of advice is to connect with TARSS staff and join the TARSS professional learning communities (PLCs). It’s really helpful to make connections with other people who are becoming trainers. I’ve done the new trainer and course writer PLCs. I made friends and exchanged numbers with other trainers so we could brainstorm together and check in with each other. The key is to ask lots of questions and stay in touch.

What’s something you wish more people understood about the early childhood field?

One of the things I often think about is how capable and smart children are, and how intentional we need to be in supporting their development. Why is it so important that early childhood teachers understand child development? Well, think of a toddler who is building with blocks. You might look at that child and say, “They’re playing,” or “They’re making a mess.” But another way to look at it is to say, “Wow, they’re picking up blocks and balancing them. They’re making stacks of three blocks.” That child is developing their motor skills, working on early numeracy, and building confidence.

Another thing I like to tell people is that here in Minnesota we have a lot of support for early childhood. Think of all the organizations that exist to improve early childhood education in Minnesota–TARSS, Child Care Aware, Parent Aware, and many others. A couple of months ago I did a training in St. Cloud. One provider who participated hadn’t heard of Parent Aware, so I was able to share things with her that could benefit her program. Recently I did a training at a child care center where they didn’t know about the free coaching that the Center for Inclusive Child Care offers. I’m grateful for what we have here in Minnesota that other states don’t necessarily have, and I try to get the word out about it. Our state government and organizations like the ones I mentioned are putting resources into child care, because child care is important, and I hope that mindset keeps growing in everyone.

Tip Sheet: Music and Inhibitory Control

Inhibitory control is the skill that allows us to resist an impulse. Children develop this skill over time and with practice. Music is a tool that can be used to help children learn inhibitory control. Find out more in our Tip Sheets!

Our evidence-based Tip Sheets for early childhood professionals break topics down into two parts: theory (Introducing It) and practice (Applying It). This set of Tip Sheets explores music as a tool for practicing inhibitory control. We created them in partnership with MacPhail Center for Music.

Inhibitory control is one of our executive function skills. It’s the skill that allows us to resist an impulse. Download Introducing It: How Music Integration Supports Inhibitory Control Development in Young Children to learn more about this skill and how it ties into making music. Download Applying It: Helping Young Children Practice Inhibitory control with Music to discover tips on making music a part of your work with children.


Below is a list of resources referenced in Introducing It: How Music Integration Supports Inhibitory Control Development in Young Children.

  1. Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64.
  2. Rodriguez-Gomez D.A., Talero-Gutiérrez C. (2022). Effects of music training in executive function performance in children: A systematic review. Front Psychol., 13.
  3. Brown, G., Blumenthal, M.A., & Allen, A.A. (2022). The sound of self-regulation: Music program relates to an advantage for children at risk, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 60, 126-136,
  4. Carlson, S. (2020) Executive function skills are the roots of success [Video]. TEDx Conferences.
  5. Evans, G. W. (2004). The environment of childhood poverty. The American Psychologist, 59, 77-92.
  6. Joret, M.-E., Germeys, F., & Gidron, Y. (2017). Cognitive inhibitory control in children following early childhood music education. Musicae Scientiae, 21(3), 303-315.
  7. Frischen, Schwarzer, & Degé (2021). Music lessons enhance executive functions in 6- to 7-year-old children. Learning and Instruction, 74.
  8. Degé, F., Frischen, U. (2022). The impact of music training on executive functions in childhood—a systematic review. Z Erziehungswiss, 25, 579–602.
  9. Degé, F., Patscheke, H., & Schwarzer, G. (2022). The influence of music training on motoric inhibition in German preschool children. Musicae Scientiae, 26(1), 172-184.
  10. Slater J, Ashley R, Tierney A, Kraus N. (2018). Got rhythm? Better inhibitory control is linked with more consistent drumming and enhanced neural tracking of the musical beat in adult percussionists and nonpercussionists. J Cogn Neurosci. 30(1), 14-24. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01189

Below is a list of resources referenced in Applying It: Helping Young Children Practice Inhibitory Control with Music.

  1. Gadberry, Anita L. (2011). Steady beat and state anxiety. Journal of Music Therapy, 48(3), 346–356.
  2. Diamond, A. (2013). Executive functions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64.
  3. Rodriguez-Gomez D.A., Talero-Gutiérrez C. (2022). Effects of music training in executive function performance in children: A systematic review. Front Psychol., 13.
  4. Brown, G., Blumenthal, M.A., & Allen, A.A. (2022). The sound of self-regulation: Music program relates to an advantage for children at risk, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 60, 126-136., 10.1016/j.ecresq.2022.01.002
  5. Holmboe, K., Bonneville-Roussy, A., Csibra, G., Johnson, M.H. (2018) Longitudinal development of attention and inhibitory control during the first year of life. Dev Sci., 21.

Our latest Tip Sheet suggests ways to use music in your work with children

Looking for advice on integrating music into your work with children? Our latest Tip Sheet is called Applying It: Engaging in Musical Play with Young Children. We created this resource in partnership with MacPhail Center for Music. Try out some of our ideas for musical play with infants through preschoolers!

Musical play has a lot to offer besides entertainment. One benefit is that it can help young children learn and practice emotional regulation skills. If you’re wondering how to get started integrating music into your classroom activities or other work with children, our latest Tip Sheet can help! It’s called Applying It: Engaging in Musical Play with Young Children. We created this Tip Sheet in partnership with expert educators at MacPhail Center for Music. This downloadable resource gives practical suggestions for using music in the classroom.

Related: Download our companion Tip Sheet, Introducing It: The Benefits of Music Integration to Emotional Regulation Development in Young Children, to learn more of the science behind the positive effects that music can have on growing brains and bodies. Plus, check out our other Tip Sheets for more topics of relevance to early childhood educators.
Give some of our musical play ideas a try, then let us know how it went!

TARSS launches peer mentoring opportunity

Family child care providers do important, demanding work. TARSS’ new initiative, Mentor FCC, will leverage peer mentorship to help support them.

The Trainer and RBPD Specialist Support (TARSS) program is piloting a new peer mentoring initiative specifically for family child care (FCC) providers throughout the state. Mentor FCC will pair experienced FCC providers with newer FCC providers–as well as those at any stage of their career who would like peer support. Participants will have the opportunity to make a difference by sharing their experience and giving feedback about Mentor FCC that will make the initiative stronger.

“Our goal is to help FCC providers across the state form connections with each other. Running a family child care business is very demanding, and it can be hard for FCC providers to find a mentor and build a relationship with them,” says Molly Hughes, Mentor FCC Project Specialist.

Mentors and mentees will meet virtually for up to 4 hours a month. The commitment is for one year. Mentors will be paid $30 an hour and will be required to participate in the Mentor FCC Online Learning Community (OLC) for an hour a month. 

TARSS is currently accepting applications for both mentor roles and mentee roles. There is a special need for rural FCC providers, FCC providers of color, and bilingual FCC providers to participate.

Questions? Get in touch with Molly Hughes.

CEED team leads revision of Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress

The Minnesota Department of Education recently tasked CEED with revising the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (ECIPs). This important document describes things that children should know and be able to do before kindergarten. To revise the ECIPs, CEED staff put together work groups that drew members from geographically and racially diverse communities and from a wide range of fields.

Minnesota’s Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (ECIPs) lay out a shared set of expectations for Minnesota’s young children at different ages. The ECIPs describe things children should know and be able to do before kindergarten. This document, which was designed to inform practice in the early childhood field, was originally drafted in 2007 and last revised in 2016. Last year, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) tasked CEED with a new revision of the ECIPs. Emily Beckstrom and Ashley Bonsen, both project specialists, and Anna Landes Benz, curriculum specialist, teamed up to lead the project.

A toddler climbs out of a sandbox
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Every state has its own early learning guidelines for preschoolers, and most have early learning guidelines for infants and toddlers, too. Program directors and educators may refer to these guidelines when developing instructional activities for the children in their care. Specialists like speech-language pathologists may refer to them when coming up with plans for the children they work with. In Minnesota, the ECIPs consist of eight domains, each representing a major area of child development:

  • Approaches to Learning
  • The Arts
  • Language, Literacy, and Communication
  • Mathematics
  • Physical and Movement Development
  • Scientific Thinking
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Social Systems

The number of domains, the skills and knowledge categorized under each domain, and the names for the domains vary from state to state. 

“The domain that we in Minnesota call ‘The Arts’ is a good example of how early learning standards vary. Minnesota’s ECIPs link creativity and curiosity to making art, like theater or music. But not all states have ‘The Arts’ as a standalone domain,” says Beckstrom. “The dispositions and skills that our document associates with art might show up in a different domain, such as Approaches to Learning.”

Determining the revision process

Beckstrom, Bonsen, and Landes Benz designed Minnesota’s ECIPs revision process almost from scratch. For guidance, Landes Benz, CEED Director Ann Bailey, and CEED Professional Development Coordinator Deborah Ottman, met virtually with the team that led the revision of Ohio’s Early Learning and Development Standards. CEED staff used elements of what had worked well in Ohio, such as a public comment survey. They issued an open call for applications to work groups that would tackle each individual domain. Their work group application process, too, drew inspiration from the one that was used in Ohio–and it was very successful.

“We got almost two hundred applications in 10 days,” says Bonsen. “People are extremely passionate about children and early childhood education, and that’s what oozed out of all the applications.”

Some work group participants were invited to apply. Others nominated themselves or others. The work groups were made up of geographically and racially diverse experts from a wide range of fields. There were teachers and staff from public schools and Head Start; center and family child care providers; and parents. College faculty; experts on special education, the hard-of-hearing population, and other needs and abilities; and occupational and speech-language therapists also joined. Most participants had five years’ experience or more in their field. Some work group members had been part of the 2017 revision of the ECIPs.

“It was helpful to have those [returning] participants, especially those who were working in the same domain and saying, ‘We had hoped this would happen. It didn’t. Let’s work on it again’,” says Landes Benz.

Before the work groups convened, CEED staff worked with Rebecca Nathan (Aviellah Curriculum and Consulting), who provided critically important grounding in best practice around diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) for facilitators and work group members. Nathan helped guide the content, conversation starters, and framework that the work groups used to keep a strong equity lens at the heart of the revision project. Nathan often reminded the facilitators that keeping DEIA front-and-center during work group meetings was only a first step. Like all DEIA work, ensuring that the ECIPs serve young children from all of Minnesota’s communities is an ongoing process.  

The work groups came together for three virtual working meetings facilitated by CEED personnel (Bailey, Beckstrom, and Bonsen). Each group followed the same revision process. They began by agreeing upon a diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) approach. Next they evaluated existing content and language in each domain and looked at the latest research. Frederique Corcoran, a doctoral student at CEHD, created research summaries for each domain, organizing the latest information about child development and the impact of recent societal changes. Finally, the work groups drafted proposed changes and developed consensus around the new drafts. Participants brought their knowledge and experience to the process, as well as strong opinions that sometimes gave rise to healthy debate.

“Some groups were very much on the same page from the beginning,” says Landes Benz. “For others, the complexity of the domain created more room for passion.”

One challenge was to show how much room for individual variation there truly is in child development. The ECIPs categorize skills into an age-range continuum, describing what children can do aged zero to one, one to two, two to three, and so on.

“A particular skill might be observable by age two, but then again, it might not,” Bonsen explains. “How do we capture that variability?”

Another challenge was categorizing skills and abilities into the eight domains.

“For example, writing letters or numbers shows up in fine motor development. It should also show up under literacy, art, and math,” Bonsen continues. “How do we demonstrate that when you’re working on a coloring activity, it’s not just coloring? By the way, all these domains of development are linked! If the ECIPs show this, we can help those new to the field understand that there is a lot of fuel for learning in play. Play is not just free time.”

Many of the work groups found that the existing ECIPs did not necessarily reflect the different cultures and environments in which Minnesotan children grow and learn.

“For example, the previous version of the Physical and Movement Development domain might have talked about a child using a spoon to feed themself. But that is not an East African cultural reference. Our work groups needed to come up with observable skills that were free from the trappings of Western culture,” says Bonsen.

“So the challenge was to not be too rigid about the exemplars, but extrapolate to what’s actually intended,” Landes Benz adds. “If the kids don’t specifically string beads on a string, what would be comparable to that?”

“We try to remind ourselves that if we don’t check the bias that’s in this tool right now, kids are going to receive that,” says Beckstrom. “So the work groups worked diligently to be really honest about the bias that we did see in the ECIPs and to address it in new language choices.”

The team credits Corcoran’s research with helping the work groups describe development within domains in a robust and inclusive way.

The legacy of the pandemic

Each of the work groups confronted two themes that flowed from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as broader changes in society. The first was technology.

“Technology has a dominating role in almost every domain related to relationship development, attention, and persistence,” Beckstrom says. 

“Children access technology at younger and younger ages,” Bonsen adds. “Some one-year-olds know how to skip ads on YouTube. Whether we like it or not, digital literacy is something children need to be members of society.”

The second theme was trauma and resilience. The revised ECIPs are informed by the role of trauma, particularly as it impacts skills in the Approaches to Learning domain. These include executive function skills. MDE specifically requested that CEED take a close look at how executive function is represented in the ECIPs. MDE wanted the document to clarify the role of executive function in early learning and development. The team brought on CEED’s resident expert on executive function, Research Associate Alyssa Meuwissen, PhD, to assist with this effort.

Before sending the draft ECIPs to MDE for review, the CEED team engaged content experts to take a final look at them. The feedback they received was encouraging, and it matched up with Corcoran’s research findings and what they heard from work group members.

“They are all agreeing,” says Landes Benz. “It’s good to feel that validation, in all these different information streams, that we’re on the right track instead of there being a conflict or gap.”

Tip Sheet: Musical Play with Young Children

Applying It: Engaging in Musical Play with Young Children is a Tip Sheet that we created with MacPhail Center for Music. This Tip Sheet gives specific advice on integrating music into your work with children, from infants to preschoolers.

Did you know that in addition to being an enriching experience, music in the classroom can help children build emotional regulation skills? Our evidence-based Tip Sheets for early childhood professionals break topics down into two parts: theory (Introducing It) and practice (Applying It). Our latest Tip Sheet is Applying It: Engaging in Musical Play with Young Children. We created it in partnership with MacPhail Center for Music. This Tip Sheet gives specific advice on integrating music into your work with children, from infants to preschoolers.

Download this free resource below, and don’t miss Introducing It: The Benefits of Music Integration to Emotional Regulation Development in Young Children!


Below is a list of sources referenced in Applying It: Engaging in Musical Play with Young Children.

  1. MacPhail Center for Music. (2023, June 20). Sing, play, learn with MacPhail®: The finger family. 
  2. MacPhail Center for Music. (n.d.) Teaching BIG feelings to little people using music and literacy.
  3. Cerniglia, E. G. (2013). Preschool Through Kindergarten: Musical Play in Early Childhood Classrooms: Taking It One Step Further. YC Young Children, 68(5), 68–73.

Deeper Dive

For additional information and suggestions on integrating music into your classroom, check out these sample resources.

Our NEW Tip Sheet explores music and emotional regulation

Music is a part of every human culture, and many caregivers instinctively include musical play in their interactions with children. But music does more than entertain; there’s evidence it can help children learn emotional regulation skills. Read more in our latest Tip Sheet!

Did you know that in addition to being an enriching experience, music in the classroom can help children build emotional regulation skills? Our latest Tip Sheet explains. We created this Tip Sheet, called Introducing It: The Benefits of Music Integration to Emotional Regulation Development in Young Children, in partnership with MacPhail Center for Music.

Music affects us on several different levels. Music can help convey a sense of safety, helping to calm activated nervous systems. On the flip side, musical play can be an outlet for our feelings and offer a chance to practice labeling different emotions. Music also presents opportunities for creativity and social interaction. And it can help groups coordinate their efforts, as when educators rely on familiar songs to help children transition between activities or focus on a task like cleaning up toys.

Related: Curriculum Specialist Anna Landes Benz blogs about the areas of development that music has an impact on

Read about how music enrichment can help children get ready to learn and grow! Download Introducing It: The Benefits of Music Integration to Emotional Regulation Development in Young Children, and check out our other Tip Sheets for more topics of relevance to early childhood educators.

Tip Sheet: Music and Emotional Regulation

Did you know that in addition to being an enriching experience, music in the classroom can help children build emotion regulation skills? Download our latest Tip Sheet to learn more.

Our evidence-based Tip Sheets explore topics of relevance to early childhood professionals. Our latest is called Introducing It: The Benefits of Music Integration to Emotional Regulation Development in Young Children. We created this Tip Sheet in partnership with MacPhail Center for Music. It explains how music enrichment can help children build emotional regulation skills and get ready to learn and grow. Learn more by downloading this free resource below, and don’t miss our companion Tip Sheet: Applying It: Engaging in Musical Play with Young Children!

Make sure to check out our other Tip Sheets! Do you have feedback to share or an idea for a topic you’d like to see covered in a Tip Sheet? Email us!


Below is a list of resources referenced in Introducing It: The Benefits of Music Integration to Emotional Regulation Development in Young Children.

  1. Rosanbalm, K. D., & Murray, D. W. (2017). Co-Regulation from Birth through Young Adulthood: A Practice Brief. OPRE Brief #2017-80. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Mehr, S.A., Singh, M., Knox, D., Ketter, D.M., Pickens-Jones, D., Atwood, S., Lucas, C., Jacoby, N., Egner, A.A., & Glowacki, L. (2019) Universality and diversity in human song. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax0868
  3. Teie, D. (2016) A comparative analysis of the universal elements of music and the fetal environment. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1158. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01158
  4. Harrington, E.M., Trevino, S.D., Lopez, S., & Giuliani, N.R. (2020). Emotion regulation in early childhood: Implications for socioemotional and academic components of school readiness. Emotion. DOI:
  5. Brown, E., Blumenthal, M.A., & Allen, A.A. (2022). The sound of self-regulation: Music program relates to an advantage for children at risk. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 60, 126-136. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2022.01.002
  6. Brown, E.D., Garnett, M.L., Velasquez-Martin, B.M., & Mellor, T.J. (2017a). The art of Head Start: Intensive arts integration associated with advantage in school readiness for economically disadvantaged children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 45(2018), 204-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2017.12.002
  7. Brown, E. D. , Sax, K. (2013). Arts enrichment and emotion expression and regulation for young children at risk. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28, 337-346. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2012.08.002
  8. Kraus, N., Hornickel, J., Strait, D.L., Slater, J., and Thompson, E. (2014). Engagement in community music classes sparks neuroplasticity and language development in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1403. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01403
  9. Porges, S.W., Bono, K.E., Ullery, M.A., Bazhenova, O., Castillo, A., Bal, E., & Scott, K. (2018). Listening to music improves language skills in children prenatally exposed to cocaine. Music and Medicine 10(3), 121-129. DOI: 10.47513/mmd.v10i3.636
  10. Halverson-Ramos, F., Breyfogle, S., Brinkman, T., Hannan, A., Hyatt, C., Horowitz, S., Martin, T., Masko, M., Newman, J., & Sehr, A. (2019). Music therapy in child and adolescent behavioral health. American Music Therapy Association, Inc.
  11. Winsler, A., Ducenne, L., & Koury, A. (2011). Singing one’s way to self-regulation: The role of early music and movement curricula and private speech. Early Education and Development, 22(2), 274-304. DOI: 10.1080/10409280903585739
  12. Brown, E. D., Garnett, M. L., Anderson, K. E., & Laurenceau, J. P. (2017b). Can the arts get under the skin? Arts and cortisol for economically disadvantaged children. Child Development, 88(4), 1368-1381. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12652
  13. Torre, J.B. & Lieberman, M.D. (2018) Putting feelings into words: Affect labeling as implicit emotion regulation. Emotion Review, 10(2), 116-24. DOI: 10.1177/1754073917742706
  14. Porges, S. W. (2022). Polyvagal theory: a science of safety. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 16(871227). DOI: 10.3389/frint.2022.871227
  15. Unyte (2023). The Safe and Sound Protocol.
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  17. Webb, A.R., Heller, H.T., Benson, C.B., and Lahav, A. (2015). Mother’s voice and heartbeat sounds elicit auditory plasticity in the human brain before full gestation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(10), 3152-7.  DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1414924112
  18. Wolf, D. (n.d.). Why making music matters: Singing, playing, moving, and sharing in the early years. Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.
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  20. MacPhail Center for Music. (2023, March 20). Teaching BIG Feelings to Little People Using Music and Literacy.
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Mind in the Making: Essential Life Skills for Children and Adults: new online modules from the Families and Work Institute and CEED

Along with our partners at Mind in the Making, we’re excited to announce a new online training series suitable for professionals who work with children and families as well as parents! The series offers research-based ways to bolster children’s (and adults’) executive function skills.

We’re excited to announce a new, 8-module online training series called Mind in the Making: Essential Life Skills for Children and Adults. We’re offering this training series in partnership with the Families and Work Institute. With author Ellen Galinsky, motivational speaker Erin Ramsey, and nonprofit leader Jacquelyn Santiago Nazario as guides, the modules explore the science behind executive function through the lens of Seven Essential Life Skills. 

Mind in the Making: Essential Life Skills for Children and Adults
- Cost: $130
- 16 clock hours awarded by CEED
- Convenient online format

The Seven Essential Life Skills are:

  • Focus and Self-Control
  • Perspective Taking
  • Communicating
  • Making Connections
  • Critical Thinking
  • Taking on Challenges
  • Self-Directed, Engaged Learning

These skills are described in detail in this downloadable graphic:

Executive function has become something of a buzzword. But what does this term really mean? It refers to a set of brain-based skills that allow us to manage our social, emotional and cognitive capacities to pursue goals. We use these skills many times every day, like when we need to follow directions, resist an unhelpful impulse, switch tasks, or consider another person’s perspective. (Check out our free, downloadable Tip Sheets on executive function for more information.)

Executive function skills are fundamental to success in school, at work, and in social environments. Like other skills (tying shoelaces, riding a bike, learning an instrument), children aren’t born with them. They learn them through practice, ideally with the help of trusted adults–people like us. So, can we adults also improve our executive function skills? Yes, we can! In fact, when we understand, value, and practice these skills, we’re in the best possible position to help the children in our care do the same.

Mind in the Making: Essential Life Skills for Children and Adults is based on research from child development experts here at the University of Minnesota and at other leading academic institutions around the country. The training series offers “virtual field trips” into these researchers’ labs so participants can learn about the studies that have shaped our concept of executive function. The series also includes plenty of practical tools and strategies. Participants will use these to apply their new knowledge right away at work and and often report that this training is life-changing.

This training series is suitable for professionals who work with children and families, such as educators in schools and child care settings, parent educators, social workers and home visitors, medical professionals, and early interventionists. It’s also appropriate for parents and caregivers with children aged from birth through eight.

Get all the details and register for Mind in the Making: Essential Life Skills for Children and Adults!