Family Child Care at Its Best

The Center in Excellence in Child Development recognizes that licensed family childcare providers are a major source of support for working families. The Family Child Care and Its Best program delivers high-quality, university-based education to licensed providers.
Offered statewide, these classes help caregivers improve their knowledge, skills and quality of care. The program is funded by the California Department of Education which enables us to offer these courses at no charge to participants.
Courses are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi. We currently offer 18 courses in seven different focus areas.

Health and Fitness Focus

Motor Skills and Movement: Promoting Young Children's Physical Development
5 hours
Physical play is an essential part of early childhood development. This workshop concentrates on the movement and perceptual-motor skills that young children are motivated to learn and practice. With adult support, these skills set the stage for lifelong health and well-being. The following areas, drawn from the California Preschool Learning Foundations, will be discussed in the context of family child care.
Topics include:

  • Fundamental movement skills such as balance
  • Perceptual-motor skills such as spatial awareness
  • Active physical play, outdoors and indoors

Healthy Habits: Nutrition and Well-Being For Young Children
Children’s health and healthy lifestyle choices can lay the groundwork for their later development. The Healthy Habits workshop focuses on supportive communication and participation in activities to help children develop behaviors that lead to healthy living. Such behaviors include making food choices, maintaining personal safety and oral health. Based on the California Preschool Learning Foundations and Frameworks, the following areas of health will be addressed:

  • Health habits, such as hygiene and sun safety
  • Personal safety, such as injury prevention and following safety expectations
  • Nutritional knowledge and self-regulation of eating

Infant-Toddler Focus

Learning through Relationships with Infants and Toddlers
This course addresses the emotional, social, intellectual and physical development of infants and toddlers and the supportive role of the caregiver. Participants will have an increased understanding of the role of relationships and emotional development in learning. Topics include trust building with infants and toddlers, temperament of children and adults, helping children become confident learners, and talking with parents about developmental disorders.

Guiding Young Children
This course addresses children's challenging behaviors, and ways to work effectively with children and parents. Practical suggestions for managing conflict while supporting children's optimal development are offered. Topics include using observation to understand behavior, effective communication skills, and parenting styles and cultural practices.

Culture and Care of Young Children
This course focuses on the impact of culture in the lives of children, families and childcare providers. This course emphasizes the role of childcare providers in establishing daily routines and practices that support healthy development and help each child form a healthy cultural identity. Participants will gain increased competency in providing care that is consistent with a child's home culture and in communicating with parents about cultural matters. Other topics include developing awareness of personal cultural values and practices, ways to help children with sleeping, eating, toileting and working together with parents on toilet learning.

Language and Literacy Focus

Supporting Young Bilinguals
This course outlines the stages of development children experience when learning a second language. Research on language acquisition will be presented in relation to guiding principles for English language learners. In addition, participants will learn to adapt existing activities and strategies for young bilinguals within a developmental and cultural context.
Topics include:

  • Process of bilingualism
  • Advantages of bilingualism
  • Strategies to facilitate second language acquisition
  • Fostering culturally and linguistically rich environments at school and at home
  • Incorporating families' cultures and funds of knowledge into early childhood settings

Introducing Language Through Play
Using a child-centered approach, this course focuses on the development of language and literacy skills needed for the transition to kindergarten. Participants gain increased understanding and competence in methods for supporting emerging language and literacy capabilities, as well as guidelines concerning the creation of a print-rich environment.
Topics include

  • Language development in early years
  • Infusing play with language
  • Promoting circles of communication
  • Supporting language development in the home

Supporting Emergent Readers and Writers
Using a child-centered approach, this course focuses on the development of literacy skills needed for the transition to kindergarten. Participants learn more about the components needed for children to learn to read and write. Recommendations for the creation of a print-rich environment and appropriate literacy activities are examined.
Topics include

  • Alphabetic understanding
  • Promoting phonological awareness
  • Choosing developmentally appropriate materials and activities
  • Supporting home literacy

Parent Engagement Focus

Serving Children with Special Needs and their Families
All children deserve the opportunity to participate in family child care. Yet providers are faced with special considerations and challenges, depending upon the needs of each child. This course provides an introduction to working effectively with children with special needs and their families.
Topics include:

  • Creating an atmosphere of acceptance
  • Early warning signs of developmental risks
  • How families deal with grief and loss
  • Helping families link to appropriate services

Partnering with Parents
Working effectively with parents is at the heart of quality care. A variety of issues—from feeding to finances—have the potential for conflict between provider and parent. This workshop highlights ways to work in partnership with parents and "stay on the same side."
Topics include:

  • Establishing an atmosphere of trust and cooperation
  • Communicating effectively
  • Addressing child-rearing values and beliefs
  • Developing clear policies and practices

Science and Mathematics Focus

Scientific Inquiry for Young Children
This course encourages participants to examine ways to provide a rich science environment for children. Participants explore everyday science and practice principles of inquiry and documentation to enhance discovery and scientific learning.
Topics include 

  • Environments and activities that encourage science development
  • Introducing and documenting scientific inquiry
  • The outdoor classroom

Building Numeracy Skills and Beyond
This course encourages participants to examine ways to provide a rich math environment for children. Participants learn strategies and activities that build developmentally appropriate math knowledge and skills in the preschool years.
Topics include

  • Important math concepts for preschoolers
  • Environments and activities that encourage math development
  • Supporting parents as teachers of math

Social Competence Focus

Child Observation
This course addresses the continuum of formal and informal observation. Participants will learn to critically analyze assessment tools, as well as the appropriate use of documentation and portfolios. Issues of bias will be addressed in relation to the role of the observer. Observation will be considered as part of a responsive process as well as a quality improvement tool.
Topics include:

  • observation techniques
  • developmentally appropriate standards and observation: how do they fit?
  • making good use of observation results
  • culturally and linguistically appropriate assessments

Social Emotional Development in Group Care
Participants will explore developmental theory in relation to both individual and group care. They will be encouraged to consider the origins of children's behavior; including how biological factors, early childhood settings, family dynamics and the greater community influence child development. Participants will learn to incorporate methods of guidance and discipline that facilitate pro-social behavior, problem-solving, self-regulation, positive self-concept and self-esteem.
Topics include:

  • challenging behavior: prevention and intervention
  • Bronfenbrenner's ecological model
  • working with parents
  • promoting conflict resolution
  • NAEYC standards

Setting the Stage for Social Competence
Participants will take a preventative approach to challenging behavior and plan activities that promote social skills. Participants will learn specific strategies, using the environment and adult-child interaction, to facilitate friendship and build community.
Topics include:

  • Social-emotional guidance
  • The use of social stories
  • California’s preschool learning foundations
  • Building a sense of self

Loss, Trauma and Young Children
This workshop addresses the emotional impact of loss and trauma on young children. In addition to concrete information for increasing the physical safety of children in family child care, the course explores the provider's role in helping children cope with stressful events, such as divorce, separation and changing caregivers.
Topics include

  • behavioral indicators of trauma
  • strategies to help children cope with loss
  • prevention of onsite injuries

Teaching Pyramid Focus

Teaching Pyramid, Module 1: Building Relationships and Creating Supportive Environments
Topics addressed in the Teaching Pyramid Module 1 include: understanding the relationship between social-emotional development and challenging behavior; practical strategies for building positive relationships with children; developing schedules and routines that invite cooperation from children; giving directions and teaching children about rules/expectations; and using positive attention and descriptive feedback. Participants must complete three days of Module 1 training.

Teaching Pyramid, Module 2: Social-Emotional Teaching Strategies
Topics addressed in the Teaching Pyramid Module 2 include: developing friendship skills; enhancing children's emotional literacy, including identifying feelings; managing anger and disappointment; encouraging children's problem-solving skills; and using art, puppets, books and other materials to promote children's competence. Participants must complete two days of Module 2 training and are required to complete Module 1 before Module 2.

Integrated Learning

Caring for Children in Mixed Age Groups
Unlike many child care settings, family child care homes and some center-based care settings integrate children of different ages. This interaction results in greater opportunities for children to form friendships and relationships than they could have in a group of same-age children.

Mixed-age settings provide children with opportunities to observe, emulate and initiate skills and behaviors that can be monitored in a safe and developmentally appropriate manner. Participants will engage in:

  • the role of the adult as a careful planner
  • theoretical frameworks that support the importance of play
  • setting up a safe place for all ages to learn and grow
  • strategies to benefit mixed age children in a group setting

Young Children Learning through Positive Risk
The ability to recognize and avoid harmful situations, or risks, is necessary to survival. Risk is perceived differently for a variety of reasons. There are many benefits to be gained from taking appropriate risks during the course of development, in particular, the early years of life. Participants will:

  • self-assess and explore risk perception through the lens of individual differences and global perspectives
  • consider research based benefits of risk in the development of physical, cognitive, and social skills
  • learn how to support children as they take appropriate physical risks in every day play and planned learning experiences
  • learn strategies to encourage children as they initiate and participate in cognitive risk-taking behaviors
  • be able to provide children with guidance in their social risk-taking behaviors that are developmentally and temperamental appropriate.

Contact Us

To learn more about the Family Child Care at Its Best training program or to request a custom program for your clients.
Dianne Thompson
Director, Center for Excellence in Child Development, UC Davis Extension
(530) 752-9423
dfthompson@ucdavis.edu