Early Learning Newsletter | October 2021 | A Month of Celebrations


The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter

A Month of Celebrations

October 2021

Boy pondering fall leaves. Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels

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In This Issue:

From the Directors

David Cantrell and Jamila Smith

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

Fall has arrived! We have transitioned to a new season and new schedules as children and families are back to their school routines. The Department continues to offer guidance and new resources to support in-person early learning opportunities, and we hope that you will check out some of these resources highlighted below.

October is Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month. One of the largest demographic shifts in the last decade is the increase in the number of children who speak English as their second language. The majority of these children are born in the United States, and thus from a very young age are acquiring both the language of their family as well as the language of the larger community. These very young children are dual language learners (DLLs). For our Voices From the Field interview, we interviewed Lillian Durán, a professor at the University of Oregon whose work supports DLLs. We also have included resources to support DLLs and their families.

October is a month of celebrations. We have provided a variety of resources to honor the many commemorations observed this month.

Thank you for reading "Early Learning"!

David Cantrell, Ph.D.
Acting Director and Deputy Director
Office of Special Education Programs
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Jamila Smith
Director, Innovation and Early Learning Programs
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education


Project Spotlight

Hero Elementary

Hero Elementary Nominated for International Award

Twin Cities Public Television, a 2015 and 2020 recipient of a Department-funded Ready to Learn Programming grant, has been nominated for the Japan Prize for Audiovisual Works for its Hero Elementary double episode about AJ Gadgets and his autism. The Japan Prize is an international award that recognizes outstanding work in education.


Early Learning Updates

Lessons from the Field participants

The Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently hosted a webinar, Lessons from the Field — Safe and Supportive Early Learning, that engaged panelists in a conversation about supporting young children and families’ access to high-quality early learning through outreach and sustained connections, while addressing equity and utilizing best practices. Slides, a transcript, and resource documents from the webinar are available.


Leaders in the Department Out and About

Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Learning

Miriam Calderon

Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Learning, is speaking on Oct. 6 at noon EST at the State of Latino Education Summit. She will be part of a panel of educational leaders focusing on policies, programs, and advocacy efforts that remove barriers to educational opportunities for Latino students. Register for the panel at: www.StateofLatinoEd.com.

Katherine Neas

Katherine Neas, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and Miriam Calderon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Learning, recently presented at the Division for Early Childhood’s virtual conference, along with other federal early childhood leaders from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The panel shared the federal vision for early childhood.


Katherine Neas

Voices From the Field

Lillian Durán

Interview with Lillian Durán:
Supporting Dual Language Learners

We recently interviewed Lillian Durán, who shares how her work at the University of Oregon supports DLLS and their families. We invite you to read the full interview on the OSERS blog.


This Month’s Recommended Resources

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Resource Collection

The Department-funded Comprehensive Center Network has developed a collection of resources to help English learners make use of diverse learning opportunities. Resources include a variety of policy briefs as well as a practice guide. The Region 4 Comprehensive Center has developed briefs that focus on bilingual education, addressing the bilingual teacher shortage and teacher certification policies in relation to bilingual teacher shortages.

Mother with baby

Infants with Significant Disabilities

The Department and HHS have collaborated on a document that explains how infants with significant disabilities and their families are supported in Early Head Start programs, including how Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part C and Early Head Start program staff are working together to ensure that services are provided. The resource was developed to support programs as they promote the inclusion of infants with significant disabilities and their families.

Cover - Transition to Kindergarten

Kindergarten Transition

HHS’ National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning has released a brief that discusses key strategies to support a child’s successful transition to kindergarten, including the quality of the transition supports and the importance of collaboration.

Blind girl

Blindness Awareness Month

In honor of Blindness Awareness Month, we are providing an updated resource from the HHS-funded National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health (NCCVEH)/Prevent Blindness. The Center has updated its Considerations for Conducting Children’s Vision Screening Safely in Schools, Head Start and Early Care and Education Programs During the Covid-19 Pandemic resource, including a downloadable guide and FAQs.

Young girl practicing Yoga

Supporting Emotional Well-Being

The CDC has provided funds to the National Academies to develop tools to support the cognitive, affective, and behavioral well-being of children and their families. These tools use web-based interactive approaches to illustrate techniques that can reduce anxiety and increase coping skills and resilience.


Featured Webinar

Graphs and Charts

Data Literacy

The Department is hosting a webinar on data literacy on Oct 15. Big data — the ability to harness and use data at scale — has transformed our economy, our democracy, and our daily way of life. Join the webinar to learn what federal, state, and local partners are doing to address gaps in data science and artificial intelligence and what resources exist to bring data education programs to schools.


Funding Opportunity

Child with magnifying glass

“Learn the Signs. Act Early"

CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, with support from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, have announced a funding opportunity restricted to Louisiana and Maryland for Act Early Ambassadors to work with CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities.

The application deadline is Oct. 8, 2021.


Connect With Us Online!

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Check out more early learning stories, including "Voices From the Field" posts, on OSERS Blog.