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Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Checklists You can use the checklists for a variety of purposes: to assess the strengths of your program, to measure growth, to compare administrator and teacher ratings, to establish program objectives, or to communicate with parents and community members. The checklist items—or “indicators,” as we call them—represent the ideal, which for many programs will be something to strive for. Just know that improvement will be progressive. For example, the first time you complete a checklist, you may find that your program demonstrates fewer than half of the indicators. Later, after goal setting, action planning, and some effort to improve practices, you may find your program is meeting most or even all of the indicators in the same section. Few, if any, programs will be able to meet all the indicators right away—and that’s okay. Within this book’s six parts, there are twenty-four sections; the sections serve to narrow the broad subject matter of each part. Each section contains a few paragraphs explaining its slice of the subject matter, as well as a brief list of the topics covered by the goals and checklists that follow. Each goal is worded to describe an aspect of an early childhood program’s commitment— your program’s commitment—to a healthy practice. For example, a goal in the Safety section, under the topic “Supervising Children,” is “We plan the environment to optimize supervision of children in our care.” This goal statement is followed by a checklist made up of four indicators, which are: The environment is arranged so children are always visible. If our setting has small spaces, closets, or other hard-to-supervise spaces, mirrors are used to help with visual supervision. If infants are cared for, then cribs are kept near the play space. Cribs are not in separate rooms that are unsupervised. Infant monitors or other mechanical devices are never used to supervise children, even sleeping children. These and all the indicators in Healthy Children, Healthy Lives represent the range of ways your program can achieve the goals that facilitate providing a healthy program. The indicators are aligned with national standards, accreditation criteria, current research, and developmentally appropriate practices. The indicators within each checklist are not presented in order of impor- tance or difficulty, because they are all important to the development of a program that fully supports children’s wellness. We developed the checklist indicators to be challenging but achiev- able. Once you dig in, you may discover you’re already doing some of the practices described by the indicators. Some practices may even be required by your licensing rules. You may find indicators that describe things you’re not currently doing but could do with a bit of effort. You may also find indicators that will be very challenging to achieve, practices that will take a great deal of time and energy to accomplish. All programs will likely find wellness areas where they are xvi COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL