Language and Literacy Development Journey

The subject of my language and literacy development paper is Lavy, a first generation child born in the United States to an Ecuadorian father and Jamaican mother.  Lavy has two older brothers, one who developed language and cognitive disabilities from a car accident at the age of three.  For the first two years of Lavy’s life, she was target, meeting her developmental milestones within the appropriate age guideline in accordance to pediatric recommendations, NAEYC and state guidelines.

  Before her third birthday, through a series of observation, her parents and teachers noticed signs which signaled there was a problem with her hearing.  Lavy was officially diagnosed with more than thirty percent hearing loss in one ear.  With a team of specialists, doctors and teachers in place, Lavy and her parents follow the individualized curriculum set for her to master language and speech skills needed to be school ready and continued academic success beyond her primary education.

As I have no classroom experience I am building my study based on research and conversations I have had with mentors and friends, who are educators.  My concerns are am I on target with the situations that I have created for Lavy; the pitfalls, concerns and developmental milestones she has achieved at the toddler, preschool and elementary school age.   Attached is my introduction of Lavy and the toddler section which introduces her disability.  The toddler section is the most instrumental piece as this is when children begin talking.

My second concern is ensuring that I have developed the proper support in developing her secondary language of Spanish, with both parents and brothers speaking both English and Spanish in the home.  I welcome all comments.Wk6AssignHarwellL IntroductionWk6AssignHarwellL ReferencesWk6AssignHarwellL Toddler stage

I’m still evolving

July 2013

Perseverance. Believing. Everyday there is a lesson to learn and I’ve learned quite a few. I started this journey towards obtaining my master’s last fall. The beginning of 2013 had me questioning my choice. Was I pursuing the right dream or had I simply pushed too hard? So in March, I withdrew from my classes and took a deep breath. When I came up for air, I found my purpose was still intact but simply took another direction. It’s July and I’m feeling renewed. I’m still on the road to obtaining my master’s in education. Only now my focus is Early Childhood Studies. I believe in the proverb of “it takes a village to raise a child”. I can’t wait to get started and be able to share my journey with you.

June 2016

July 2013 was my first personal blog entry as I entered the Master’s Program at Walden University.  Last June I completed my studies and am actually walking in a few weeks. What a journey it’s been so far.  There’s a little bit more gray in my hair, yet I continue to press forward in my goal to make a difference in the lives of our youngest generation.  As I continue my educational journey, I’ve found that advocating  is becoming a passion.  Working with children on reading and literacy issues is a joy.  I continue to work with a local before/aftercare program in developing reading and language platforms.  I am a firm believer that the earlier children can find and apply their voice, the better success they have at school and in life.

I’m fascinated by how the pieces connect.  The importance of prenatal care.  How brain research helps us understand cognitive, behavioral and socio-emotional development.  The more information I learn, the more engrossed and engaged I become.  This journey is far from over.  Drop in from time and time and share what I learn.

Trauma, Stress and Early Childhood

Over the past several weeks, Dr. Leeson and several of my class colleagues discussed the affects that trauma, whether slight or severe, has on young children and their ability to process, cope and survive traumatic situations.

Strolling through my collection of articles, today I ran across a post from NEA Today Express entitled How Trauma Changes Children’s Brains.  Researchers are discovering that continued stress and trauma can change the makeup of a child’s intellect and thinking (Flannery, 2016).  As educators it is important for us to include conversations about stress and traumatic events weekly with our students.  Presenting a calm environment for them to openly discuss issues and concerns where their peers and teachers can provide avenues of how to handle different situations. Do you agree or disagree?     All comments are welcomed.

I’ve included the link to the article here.


Flannery, M.E. (2016) How Trauma Changes Children’s Brains. NEA Today.  Retrieved from

3 Questions on Personalized Learning for Every Educator — Evolving Educators

The April 30, 2016 #satchat conversation was about personalized learning and it led to an active chat. The US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology (@OfficeofEdTech) co-moderated as educators from all over the world and of all titles participated. As I reflected on the chat, three questions came to mind about personalized learning […]

via 3 Questions on Personalized Learning for Every Educator — Evolving Educators

Anxiety and Resilience

Script from podcast


Risk factors associated with anxiety disorders in children

Lisa Harwell

Walden University

Risk factors associated with anxiety disorders in children

Good afternoon community, welcome to this week’s edition of Elle’s World – Everything Education. I’m your narrator, Lisa Harwell.   Last week the discussion topic centered on the importance of attachment, which is extremely important for young children, age zero through eight.  This week I would like to discuss that without healthy attachments and social environments, what are some risk factors that children can be exposed to that could possibly affect their academic success and relationships into adulthood. How can we as educators address these issues to find viable solutions for at risk children?

Anxiety can be described as our emotional uneasiness in stressful situations.  Anxiety, in children,  can be displayed in forms of mild shyness to severe bouts of depression, bed-wetting, anger issues, eating disorders or experimentation in drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms.  Anxiety disorders can result from a number of factors: social environment, family relations and behavioral (Pantis et al., 2015).  Research reports that children from low-income or dysfunctional families are at a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders (Pantis et al., 2015).  Children begin learning social interaction as early as six months of age.  As toddlers, they began to build their own judgements and expectations about the security of different relationships they develop (Kerns & Brumariu, 2014). For children, healthy attached relationships come with spending quality time, on a consistent basis in order for them to feel secure.  Relationships not built on these premises can contribute to other anxiety disorders, physical ailments or behavioral issues in children.

Traumatic experiences such as physical or sexual abuse and other direct or indirect exposures to violence can trigger anxiety disorders.  At least one child out of every ten children is exposed to some type of physical abuse (Bishop et al., 2014).  Risk factors for children enduring physical abuse can range from eating disorders, bullying, anger management issues and depression.  Often times, the abuser is someone that the child knows, making them fearful of establishing healthy and trusting relationships with other peers or adults.  Repeated exposure to sexual abuse can lead to sexual risk behaviors or addictions beginning in adolescents onto adulthood (Wilson et al., 2014).

The effects of anxiety disorder at an early age can be detrimental if left untreated.  As educators, with the right discussions and tools we can decrease these situations and provide our students with a safe haven in which they can be productive, feel secure and thrive academically and socially.  One of the most important tools we have is communication.  Establishing a strong partnership with parents and support personnel to help identify stressing qualifiers in order to create a plan of action that will help diminish anxiety and build coping mechanisms for children to utilize. Encourage an open door policy in your classrooms.  Allow free time for students to come and discuss their concerns or fears.  Sometimes just listening provides an opportunity for children to work through their anxiety.

More comprehensive intervention programs similar to Friends for Life (Zwaanswijk & Kösters, 2015) teach children how to identify anxiety symptoms along with methods on how to cope through relaxation and other cognitive behavioral skills, such as positive reinforcement in self-respect and confidence building (Kösters et al., 2015).

Experts caution us in our examination of risk factors to include the whole picture before implementing any plans of action.  Every aspect from family, to cultural, local to national environment, as well as the biological factors of the child and parents should weigh into the interplays and interactions of a child’s world (Woolfenden et al., 2015).

Every parent wishes that their children can be shielded from traumatic situations until they reach adulthood.  However our world is dynamic.  Social and economic policies dictate how calm our world remains on a daily basis.  As parents and educators, the best tools we can provide our children are the tools and resources to alleviate risks that compound anxieties in order for them to succeed successfully, both academically and socially.

Thank you for listening to this week’s discussion.  If you would like to comment or need a written copy of this podcast, feel free to visit Elle’s World – Everything Education at




Bishop, M., Rosenstein, D., Bakelaar, S., & Seedat, S. (2014). An analysis of early developmental trauma in social anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Annals of General Psychiatry, 13(1), 1-24

Kerns, K. A., & Brumariu, L. E. (2014). Is insecure parent-child attachment a risk factor for the development of anxiety in childhood or adolescence?  Child Development Perspectives, 8(1), 12-17.

Kösters, M. P., Chinapaw, M. M., Zwaanswijk, M., van der Wal, M. F., & Koot, H. M. (2015). Indicated prevention of childhood anxiety and depression: Results from a practice-based study up to 12 months after intervention. American Journal of Public Health, 105(10), 2005-2013.

Pantis, E., Sipos, R., Predescu, E., & Miclutia, I. (2015).  Assessment of the risk factors involved in  the onset of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents.  Acta Medica Transilvanica, 20(4), 19-22.

Wilson, H., Donenberg, G., & Emerson, E. (2014). Childhood violence exposure and the development of sexual risk in low-income African American girls. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 37(6), 1091-1101.

Woolfenden, S., Williams, K., Eapen, V., Mensah, F., Haven, A., Siddiqi, A., & Kemp, L. (2015).  Developmental vulnerability – don’t investigate without a model in mind. Child Care, Health & Development, 41(3), 337-345.

Zwaanswijk, M., & Kösters, M. P. (2015). Children’s and Parents’ Evaluations of ‘FRIENDS for Life’, an Indicated School-Based Prevention Program for Children with Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression. Behaviour Change, 32(4), 243-254.


My Journey Continues

“Opportunities to make change”

For the life of an educator, these words ring at the core of our being.  It is what makes us continue to promote new ideas, research and explore new possibilities.  When I started this journey three years ago, my mind was an open sponge.  Today I find that my sponge has enlarged abundantly.  The beauty of education is that as long as you have an open mind, you continue to learn, to process, adapt and make change.

The assignment that resonated the most with me this term was the discussion on attachment.  From birth, we learn.  Edelman (2016) commented in a recent child watch column how from the time we are born we are “wired” to interact with people.  Good, bad or indifferent it’s these attachments that we make that allows us to grow and adapt to each circumstance of our lives.  Experiences can make us resilient and strong, and others can leave us feeling insecure, unwanted and emotionally detached.  Repeated emotional trauma as studies report find “that children who combine a behaviorally inhibited temperament with an insecure attachment status display the highest levels of anxiety disorders symptoms”, (Muris et al., 2011, p 158).

How we respond as parents and educators can make a world of difference to a child who needs reassurance.  A colleague of mine, Kim Edwards brought up one of the most critical components that we can provide the children that we encounter; that is that the backdrop or story of a child is critical in how they learn.  As Edwards (2016) stated poignantly “When people hear a story that they can relate to they are more likely to empathize with the story and act upon it”.

Early childhood development lays the foundation or the blueprint of how children flourish mentally, physically and emotionally.  They absorb and learn so much before they begin the first grade.  The seeds we plant has to grow strong roots in order for them to navigate through life.  As I continue to pursue my studies in the field, I still feel strongly that working in the early childhood education field I can make a difference.  In my love for reading, I want to continue to challenge children to read and love the sound of their voice, on paper and out loud in their own words.  For children to communicate and be vocal early in life sets the stage for exploration and learning.

As educators we can help promote that opportunity by becoming their advocate.  We can help deter physical and emotional abuse if we allow ourselves to be open to listen and show we care.  We can show a child a world full of wonderment that they want to be excited about.  We have to take those opportunities to teach when and where we see them.  That’s my dream.  It has become my goal.

Last week when I was recording my advocacy piece on resilience, my husband listened quietly from the hall.  When I finished he told me that I had to find a way to use my voice on this journey towards my new career.  So, I hope you continue to follow my blog.  Starting next month, I’m committing to incorporating a podcast every month regarding a current issue in early childhood education on my page.  I look forward to any comments you all have to offer.



Edelman, M. W. (2016).  Mother’s Day Call to Action.  Retrieved from

Edwards, K. (2016).  Child Development and Learning: Attachment.  Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (2015m). Vision of the field of early childhood [Audio file]. Baltimore, MD: Author

Muris, P., Brakel, A., Arntz, A., & Schouten, E. (2011). Behavioral Inhibition as a Risk Factor for the Development of Childhood Anxiety Disorders: A Longitudinal Study. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 20(2), 157-170.