Summer Camps Foster Kids’ Social Development and Peer Connection

Summer Camps Foster Kids’ Social Development and Peer Connection

On our latest episode of The Early Link Podcast, host Rafael Otto speaks with Dr. Christian Molstrom about the opportunities that summer camps provide for kids, and some of the challenges they may encounter before they attend.

Guest:

Dr. Molstrom is an emergency medicine trained physician and currently the medical director for Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care, which operates 15 clinics in the Portland and Vancouver area. He was born and raised in Oregon and graduated from the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in 2009.

Summary:

Dr. Molstrom kicks off the podcast by talking about the health benefits for children to be outdoors and active, including a reduction in anxiety, an opportunity to build their social networks, and more. He also discusses the connection between screen time, social isolation, and anxiety/depression, and how the structured outdoor space, environment, and opportunities to engage with a peer group at a summer camp can offset those effects.

Otto and Dr. Molstrom also talk about the experiences of their own children during the pandemic, regarding learning, social isolation, and how not all of the five senses are being utilized in the learning environment. And to make up for lost time, Otto asks Dr. Molstrom what outdoor activities he engages in with his own children. Dr. Molstrom then gives his own medical advice on what parents and families need to know about sending their kids to an outdoor camp at this time of year, as COVID-19 cases persist.

Transcript

 

[00:00:00] Rafael Otto: Hello everyone. This is the Early Link Podcast. I’m Rafael Otto. Thanks for listening. As always, you can catch us on 99.1 FM in the Portland Metro on Sundays at 4:30 PM or tune in at your convenience, wherever you find your podcasts. That includes Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Amazon Music. And as always, you can find them on our website at childinst.org.

My guest today is Dr. Christian Molstrom. He is an emergency medicine trained physician and currently the medical director for Legacy-GoHealth Urgent Care and they operate about 15 clinics in the Portland and Vancouver region. He’s an Oregon native and today we’re gonna be talking about summer.

It is July, summer is in full swing, although we’ve had a little bit of rain recently. But summer is here and people are sending their kids to summer camps, and this is a great time to do that. So we’re gonna talk a little bit about what that means and what some of those opportunities are. And maybe what some of the challenges kids face before they go into summer camps.

Dr. Molstrom, Christian, it’s great to have you here. Thanks for being on the podcast.

[00:01:04] Christian Molstrom: Thank you, Rafael. Appreciate the invitation and I’m really excited to talk about getting kids back outside and being healthy this summer.

[00:01:13] Rafael Otto: Well, such an important thing for kids to be outdoors and active. Just talk about some of the benefits of that. The importance of being physically active outdoors and what that means for kids.

[00:01:25] Christian Molstrom: Kids normally want to be outside and play and I think that any opportunity that you can get outside with your kids together, either with other families or with your family is vitally important. Especially now that we’re… seemed to be coming out of the pandemic. We had a couple summers where people didn’t get to travel very much. They may have decided to stay at home. We had some lockdowns and whatnot. And also a lot of camps were canceled. So for the last couple years, kids may not have gone to any kind of camp at all.

Please download the full transcript below.

“We can’t wait,” A Conversation on Oregon’s Literacy Crisis with Angela Uherbelau

“We can’t wait,” A Conversation on Oregon’s Literacy Crisis with Angela Uherbelau

On this segment of The Early Link Podcast, host Rafael Otto talks with Angela Uherbelau, founder of Oregon Kids Read, a grassroots literacy and equity group dedicated to ending our state’s literacy crisis.

Guest:

Angela Uherbelau started Oregon Kids Read because literacy is a civil right. She is a writer, racial equity advocate and past PTA president. Angela grew up in Southern Oregon and her public school teachers there had a huge, positive impact on her life’s trajectory. She’s worked on various local, state and national political campaigns and also served as a legislative director in the Oregon State Legislature. During the early days of COVID, she helped establish the Irvington Westminster Community Learning Hub which offered free full-time child care to families in need and also helped launch a Portland Public Schools one-on-one virtual tutoring program for struggling readers.

Summary:

In this episode, Uherbelau gives us an overview of literacy in Oregon right now and what’s behind the current crisis in early learning. She also covers the science of reading approach and what that means in the lives of young children. Listeners will also learn about Oregon Kids Read, its goals, and why she founded it. This episode also touches on what we can be doing as a state, as parents, and as advocates to see a real shift in classrooms surrounding literacy, and provides advice to parents & guardians who are concerned about their children in the classroom and in the school system.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Rafael Otto: Hello everyone. This is the Early Link Podcast. I’m Rafael Otto. Thanks for listening. You can catch us on 99.1 FM every Sunday in the Portland Metro at 4:30 PM, or tune in at your convenience, wherever you find your podcasts. That includes Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Amazon Music and others. And as always, you can find segments on our website at childinst.org.

My guest today is Angela Uherbelau. She is the founder of Oregon Kids Read, a grassroots literacy and equity group dedicated to ending our state’s literacy crisis where more than 50% of third graders aren’t reading at grade level. She’s also a freelance and opinion writer whose work has appeared in many regional and national publications.

Angela, welcome to the podcast.

[00:00:47] Angela Uherbelau: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

[00:00:49] Rafael Otto: So good to have you here today. I wanted to start with talking about the literacy crisis and what that means. I know, you know, I mentioned that in your bio and intro more than 50% of third graders aren’t reading at grade level. That data is, I think based on 2019 data, I know there’s some impacts of the pandemic and those kinds of things, but give us an overview of where we’re at with literacy in Oregon right now.

[00:01:16] Angela Uherbelau: Sure, yeah. So we are in the midst of what I would say was a literacy crisis, and since the pandemic has become a literacy emergency. So as you mentioned in 2019, which is the latest data that we have in Oregon, over 50% of our third graders were not reading at grade level. First of all, that is a pretty shocking statistic when you think most families, we drop off our babies in kindergarten, and we just expect that we’re handing them over to an educational system that will provide them at the very least with the building blocks of learning, the foundations of learning. And of course reading is the primary building block of learning.

So the fact that we have so many of our kids who are struggling with that foundational skill is really quite alarming. It’s also important for us to break down that number and look at specific groups of kids who have historically really been underserved and continue to be underserved in the state.

So when we’re talking about literacy, we’re talking about 70 plus percent of our Black, Indigenous, and other third graders of color, not reading at benchmark before the pandemic. We’re talking about with our students who have living… they’re living with disabilities, over 78% of them not reading at grade level.

Because there was a pause in statewide testing during COVID, we’re still waiting to find out exactly where our students are currently. But we know that even before, they were not being served in the way that they need to and deserved to in terms of literacy.

And I do wanna point out too that Oregon is not an outlier in this. This is a national problem, an national literacy crisis. But the good news is, there are solutions to it. There are things that we can do to improve, starting with just the basic understanding that research shows that almost any child can learn to read given the right instruction.

So I want to raise awareness about the crisis, the emergency around literacy. And we also wanna leave people with a sense of hope that this is not something that cannot be solved. We can solve this problem and give our kids the tools they need to become readers.

[00:03:35] Rafael Otto: I’d like to talk about some of those solutions. But before we do, what do you think is behind the crisis? And I know you described it as an emergency now. And I think we are hearing some things at least anecdotally about how difficult it was for young children to continue learning and continue to learn to read through the pandemic. And I know we’ll have more data about that, hopefully soon.

But even leading up to that, the numbers around third grade literacy and reading weren’t great. What do you think is behind that crisis and behind the situation that we’re in today?

[00:04:09] Angela Uherbelau: It’s a great question. I think that what is behind the literacy crisis is systemic failure. So this idea that reading is natural and it comes naturally is actually a myth. Language comes to us naturally. We’re wired for language, for oral language, but we are not wired to read. And so the vast majority of us require really systematic, and what we say is explicit, so very very clear instruction in learning how to build the building blocks of reading.

Unfortunately, it’s the current state of teacher prep programs nationally, and also here in Oregon, where our teachers are not trained in what is known as the science of reading.

The majority of teachers don’t get that training in their teacher prep programs. And so they come into the classroom full of enthusiasm, but they haven’t been given the tools, the really concrete tools they need, to help potential readers become readers. So I think that that is really at the heart of why we have such a crisis, in this country and in this state, is that the kids, the majority of kids who enter the classroom and need a specific kind of explicit instruction are not getting it. And they didn’t get it before COVID and many of them… too many of them are not getting it currently.

Please download the full transcript below.

Portland’s Islamic Preschool Program Offers High-Quality Early Learning, Connects Students to Culture & Community

Portland’s Islamic Preschool Program Offers High-Quality Early Learning, Connects Students to Culture & Community

On this segment of The Early Link Podcast, host Rafael Otto talks with Jawad Khan, chief programming officer at Muslim Educational Trust and a member of the Trust’s board of directors. 

Guest:

Jawad Khan has spent 22 years with Muslim Educational Trust as a teacher, college counselor, and administrator, and previously worked in the tech industry. Khan is based in Beaverton, Oregon and is an advocate for expanding preschool in Washington County.

Summary:

Khan shares about the Muslim Educational Trust, including how many students served, the importance of preschool in their focus, and Khan’s own personal experiences with the children he has worked with. He also talks about how the Trust acts as a cultural navigator, why a culturally-specific approach is effective in education, and addresses some of the challenges for students who are not in a culturally-specific setting. Tying into this, Khan brings up how the school addresses anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim sentiments with students. Khan also discusses his work to expand preschool in Washington County, detailing progress and what he hopes to accomplish. 

Transcript

[00:00:00] Rafael Otto: Hello everyone. This is the Early Link Podcast. I’m Rafael Otto. You can catch us on 99.1 FM in the Portland Metro on Sundays at 4:30pm or tune in at your convenience, wherever you find your podcasts. That includes iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and Amazon Music and as always on our website at childinst.org, where you can subscribe to our podcasts and our newsletter and learn more about our work in Oregon.

My guest today is Jawad Khan the chief programming officer at the Muslim Educational Trust and a member of the Trust’s board of directors. He has spent 22 years with the Trust as a teacher, college counselor, and administrator, and previously worked in the high-tech industry. He’s based in Beaverton, Oregon, and is an advocate for expanding preschool in Washington county,

Jawad, it’s great to have you here today.

[00:00:50] Jawad Khan: Thank you so much, Rafael. It’s a real pleasure to be here and looking forward to the conversation.

[00:00:55] Rafael Otto: I am too. And I would love to just start with more about your background. I know that you worked in the high-tech industry. You worked in the startup environment for a while, founded a company, and now you’ve been in the education world for more than two decades. Tell us about that background and how you came to the trust.

[00:01:12] Jawad Khan: Well, you know, I think it’s a little bit of a serendipitous journey. I think I look at it that way at least. I didn’t intend to work in the nonprofit and educational world when I started out. My parents immigrated here from India in the early seventies. I lived across the United States in multiple cities. Texas, California, Ohio, Colorado, Washington, South Carolina. I think a couple others I’m missing right now.

[00:01:37] Rafael Otto: All over!

[00:01:38] Jawad Khan: All over, all over. So I got to see a lot of great places. And I came to Oregon in the early nineties and finished high school here and went to college. I was going to, and I did actually, go out and work in the high-tech industry for a bit and then I started my own startup, as you mentioned, and with my friends from college, and we wind up selling that. And I was going to go to business school maybe after that. But I received an email from the Muslim Educational Trust, asking if I would like to teach. And really something like this organization and it’s very unique and the way that it addresses holistically, a lot of the challenges that the immigrant refugee population faces in a new world. I would have loved to be part of such an organization or be part of such a school when I was growing up. So I decided to defer business school and go and teach and I’ve been here ever since. And it’s been a real pleasure and a real joy to be part of this, and has also given me that experience about how much difference education can make.

[00:02:43] Rafael Otto: Tell me more about the trust. You have preschool classrooms all the way through grade 12. How many students do you serve? Tell me more about what your school looks like.

Please download the full transcript below.

Abogando por Preescolar para Todos con Yasmin Martinez y Bridget Cooke

Abogando por Preescolar para Todos con Yasmin Martinez y Bridget Cooke

Éste es nuestro primer podcast en español, y queremos agradecer a nuestras invitadas y a nuestro colega Yonny Castillo-Flores por apoyar la producción.

Invitadas y Resumen:

En éste podcast, una de las invitadas es Bridget Cooke, la directora ejecutiva de Adelante Mujeres, cuya experiencia incluye trabajar con familias y mujeres inmigrantes y organizaciones sin fines de lucro en Oregon, California y Chile.

También estamos acompañados por Yasmin Martinez, una madre que aboga para los niños y las familias de su comunidad, en el condado de Washington aquí en Oregon.

Ambas están involucradas en el esfuerzo de traer preescolar para todos los niños de tres y cuatro años y están trabajando para llevar este empeño en la boleta electoral este noviembre. 

Pueden escuchar a su conveniencia donde quiera que encuentren sus podcasts, incluyendo Apple Podcasts, Spotify, y Amazon Music. Y como siempre, en nuestra página de Internet en childinst.org donde puede suscribirse a nuestros podcasts y nuestro boletín informativo para obtener más información sobre nuestro trabajo en Oregon. 

Transcripción

Rafael Otto: Hola a todos. Este es el podcast The Early Link, soy, Rafael Otto. Gracias por acompañarnos. Pueden escuchar a su conveniencia donde quiera que encuentren sus podcasts, incluyendo Apple Podcasts, Spotify, y Amazon Music. Y como siempre, en nuestra página de internet en childinst.org donde puede suscribirse a nuestros podcasts y nuestro boletín informativo para obtener más información sobre nuestro trabajo en Oregon.

Este es nuestro primer podcast en español, y quiero agradecer a nuestras invitadas y a mi colega Yonny Castillo-Flores por apoyar la producción. 

Una de mis invitadas hoy es Bridget Cooke, la directora ejecutiva de Adelante Mujeres, cuya experiencia incluye trabajar con familias y mujeres inmigrantes y organizaciones sin fines de lucro en Oregon, California y Chile. También estamos acompañados hoy por Yasmin Martínez, una madre que aboga para los niños y las familias de su comunidad, el condado de Washington aquí en Oregon. Ambas están involucradas en el esfuerzo de traer preescolar para todos los niños de tres y cuatro años y están trabajando para llevar este empeño en la boleta electoral este noviembre.

Yasmin Martinez: Muchas gracias. 

Bridget Cooke: Si, un gusto estar aquí­ con ustedes. 

Rafael Otto: Yasmin y Bridget continuarían la conversación, y comenzaran a explicar por qué están involucradas en el esfuerzo para aprobar preescolar para todos en el condado de Washington.

Yasmin Martinez: Bueno, quiero empezar dando las gracias por esta oportunidad. Bridget me invito directamente. Yo soy una mama de un preescolar que está en su programa preescolar. Entonces cuando me invito, realmente al momento no pensé que tan gigante esto podría ser. Pero a través de un tiempo me di cuenta de que, esta me abrió la mente, y es una gran oportunidad, no solo para los estudiantes de preescolar, sino para la comunidad y el futuro de nuestra comunidad. ¿Verdad? Creo que es sumamente importante porque esta rellenando una aria donde unos niños pueden aprovecharse gran mente y pues eso es sumamente importante porque es el base. El base para un niño, el futuro del estudiante y de familias y la comunidad. 

Bridget Cooke: Que interesante Yasmin, me encanta como has dicho eso, de que después te diste cuenta de que realmente es un esfuerzo gigante con un impacto gigante. Y antes de decir porque yo me he involucrado en este esfuerzo. ¿Quiero saber un poco más de lo que tú esperas lograr? Que es lo que preescolar para todos significar­a para todas las comunidades. 

Yasmin Martinez: Creo que el preescolar para todos es una gran oportunidad para hacer cambios. Cambios para mejorar, como les digo, no solamente en ese estudiante, esa familia, y a nivel comunitario, hacemos un mejor futuro para todos. ¿Y darle la oportunidad a los que no han tenido esa oportunidad, verdad? Porque preescolar para todos es eso, para todos que no tienen esa oportunidad hasta hoy en día.   

Bridget Cooke: Si. Que lindo seri­a. ¿No? Yo creo que mi involucramiento viene de ser la directora ejecutiva y cofundadora de Adelante Mujeres. Y precisamente cuando comenzamos la organización hace veinte años, estábamos mirando cuales son los obstáculos que impiden a que la mujer logre sus sueños, la mujer latina inmigrante. Porque vienen aquí­ con muchos anhelos, con muchas esperanzas para sus hijos, pero después encuentran a todo el mundo desconocido y hace muy difícil saber cómo realmente apoyar y hacer realidad estos sueños para sus hijos. Entonces hicimos un análisis, muchas conversaciones con mujeres latinas inmigrantes y todas querían volver a estudiar. Habían tenido que dejar la escuela tal vez después de la primaria, o puede ser que ni lograron terminar estos seis años. Entonces, yo reflexionando de como las mujeres enfrentan estas barreras, nos dimos cuenta de que, aunque hay muchos programas, no estaban diseñados con la mujer latina y sus necesidades en mente. Y por supuesto, una clave para eso es asegurar que hay cuidado de niños mientras la mujer esa estudiando. Que los niños puedan estar en un lugar seguro, un lugar de confianza. Entonces lanzamos la organización. Las mujeres están con nosotros estudiando sacando sus GED, estudiando inglés, liderazgo y crecimiento personal mientras sus niños bien cuidaditos en el cuidado de niños. Pero nos dimos cuenta de que tenemos a los niños con nosotros, seis horas diarias, hay que aprovechar más y ofrecerles a ellos también un espacio y una oportunidad educacional. Entonces tomamos como un año de reestructurar el programa para aumentar el nivel de servicio y asegurar que las maestras estén bien preparadas para realmente hacer funcionar un espacio de educacional y que deferencia, comenzamos a ver desde ese punto para los niños, pero también para todas las familias.

Entonces, ahora, como organización, tenemos ocho salones de educación de temprana edad. Cuatro que son preescolares y cuatros que son para infantes y caminadores. Pero, aunque es bellísimo y nos encanta ofrecer estos salones y oportunidad a la comunidad, casi diariamente recibimos llamadas de las familias buscando un lugar seguro para sus hijos. A veces ganan demasiado para poder participar en Head Start. Pues como sabes, para una familia de cuatro no se puede ganar más de treinta y cinco mil. Igual con treinta y cinco mil casi no se puede vivir. Entonces ganaban un poco más y también nosotros no teníamos campo para ellos. Entonces vimos esto preescolar y nos hemos metido completamente como organización. Fui la co-chair del task force este ano, comenzando en mayo del año pasado y ahora soy la que coordina el equipo de organizadores, no para hacer realidad Este proyecto.

Y tenemos otros miembros de nuestro personal como Patricia Alvarado que están en comité contigo. ¿No es cierto?

Por favor, descargar la transcripción.

Lacey Hays on the Power of Parent Voice & Advocacy

Lacey Hays on the Power of Parent Voice & Advocacy

On this episode of the Early Link Podcast, host Rafael Otto speaks with Lacey Hays, a parent and advocate in Washington County here in Oregon. She’s currently co-chair for the Early Learning Washington County Steering Committee and a member of both the Preschool for All Technical Advisory Committee and the Organizing and Outreach Committee. All of that work is in support of establishing Preschool for All in Washington County.

Guest:

Lacey Hays has lived with her wife, eight-year-old son, and a menagerie of pets in Hillsboro, Oregon on the border of where the city meets the forest. For the past seven years she’s been a strong parent voice for equitable early childhood education and early childhood special education in Washington County and the state of Oregon, participating in and, at times, chairing committees dedicated to creating policies that work for parents and providers in our community. When she takes off her advocacy hat, she can be found editing manuscripts, writing hopeful science fiction stories, and exploring the vast and beautiful wild places of Oregon with her wonderful family.

Summary:

In this segment, Hays shares the story of her son and how he has helped drive her advocacy work. As an active parent advocate in Washington County, she details all of the work she is currently involved in and how she balances being a parent. Hays also speaks to the importance of parent voice in policy development and improving access to various parts of the early childhood system, such as early intervention, special education, and preschool. Because of Hays’ involvement with the implementation of Preschool for All (PFA) in Washington County, she also addresses the similarities and differences between Washington and Multnomah County’s PFA strategies, and what she hopes to achieve with it in the future.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Rafael Otto: Hello everyone. This is the Early Link Podcast. I’m Rafael Otto. I appreciate you tuning in. You can catch us on 99.1 FM in the Portland Metro on Sundays at 4:30 pm or tune in at your convenience, wherever you find your podcasts, including iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon Music. And as always on our website @ childinst.org. You can visit us there and stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter and podcasts. Today, I’m speaking with Lacey Hays, a parent and advocate in Washington County here in Oregon. She’s currently co-chair for the Early Learning Washington County Steering Committee and a member of both the Preschool for All Technical Advisory Committee and the Organizing and Outreach Committees. All of that work is in support of establishing Preschool for All in Washington county.

Lacey, it’s great to have you on the podcast today.

[00:00:51] Lacey Hays: Thank you for having me.

[00:00:53] Rafael Otto: Lacey, would you be willing to share the story of your son? Because in talking with you, it’s my understanding that… that has been a driver for what you’re doing these days as an advocate for young children. Would you mind sharing that story with us?

[00:01:06] Lacey Hays: Yeah, my son is the reason for all of this. He was born in 2013, just a normal childbirth. And for the first few months of his life seemed to be, or everyday typical baby, sleeping, crying, eating. And around sixteen months though, we started to notice that while he was walking and crawling and meeting other milestones, he still wasn’t speaking. So we weren’t getting “mama,” we weren’t getting pointing. So during his 16 month checkup, we talked to his doctor and she said, “Hey, I can send you guys over to early intervention, but if you guys wanted to wait just a month or two, just to see if he catches up, because it’s still a little early and he’s not outside the range of normal we can do that, too.”

We got the early intervention referral in and we decided we were going to wait before we actually called on it. At about 17 months, we were giving him a bath. We had these little foam letters that you can stick to the wall in the bathtub and we’d tell him the letter name. And so he picks up the “O” and he goes, “Ooh.” And I look at him and I’m like, “Well that’s just a coincidence. Babies make lots of noises.” So we stuck it to the wall and he picks up the “T” and he goes, “Te.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s getting kind of strange.” So I pick up the “E” and he goes, “Eh.” I’m like, “Okay.” I have a background in English education. It’s my degree. And one of the classes we’re required to take is language acquisition and immediately I was like, “Well, that’s very unusual, kind of backwards language acquisition. He can’t speak, but he’s reading letters. This is really unusual.” So we went to early intervention and we found out that he had a receptive and expressive language delay.

They also looked and said, “Does he ever stop moving?” He’s my only child. I said, “well, no, but he’s one. It’s not normal?” And they said, “Well, he’s moving a little bit more than you would expect for a, for a one-year-old, 12 months plus.” They thought that maybe he wasn’t slowing down long enough to focus on the environment around him to actually take in language.

[00:03:28] Rafael Otto: Okay.

[00:03:30] Lacey Hays: So we went on this adventure with early intervention. We started having home visits and they were wonderful. Our teacher, Amy, is still holds a really special place in our heart. And as we started exploring more over the next year. We realized that he could also read a little bit by the time he was two. He wouldn’t do it on cue, but he would just read something off of a sign every once in a while.

Please download the full transcript below.

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