Promoting community partnerships in New Orleans to help children succeed in school and life


IMG_0469The principals in Early Learning Focus created “First Teacher Louisiana,” a comprehensive training program for family childcare providers, for the Louisiana Department of Family Services.

Our legacy spans almost 25 years, beginning with the creation of First Teacher Magazine. Founded by former teacher and veteran of the educational publishing industry, Lisa Schlakman, First Teacher Magazine was developed in response to early childhood educators’ (including licensed daycare and preschool) urgent need for relevant and useful information to enhance the learning experience of children. Our team of experienced contributing experts—including teachers, parents, and teaching artists—has created a comprehensive library of early childhood resource books and learning programs for major educational publishers, including Random House and Addison Wesley. These materials have been used by hundreds of thousands of people around the country.

In 1994, we launched Everyday TLC, a weekly newsletter to support the huge family child care market—one that had been virtually overlooked and was in desperate need of resources to support their day-to-day work with infants, toddlers, preschool children, and after-schoolers. Until EverydayTLC, family childcare providers had traditionally been thought of as little more than babysitters and there were little or no resource materials geared specifically to their professional needs. (Everyday TLC and First Teacher Magazine merged in 1999 to offer a single, all-inclusive printed resource.) EverydayTLC was quickly identified as an excellent early childhood resource by providers, trainers, and administrators.

In 1999, in response to the growing use of PCs in homes, schools, and libraries, we began the process of creating Taking three years to create, is the product of 25 years of research and early childhood development experience.

In 2001, Cooking Up Learning, a nutrition education series was developed in response to requests from local USDA food program sponsors for an affordable learn-at-home training option for family childcare providers.

With the coming of the internet, EverydayTLC became available online in the Summer of 2007.

In 2008, the EverydayTLC Early Childhood Institute was formed to offer CURRICULUM, TRAINING and COMMUNITY to the hundreds of thousands of child care professionals who have been loyal subscribers to our publications over the years as well as those who have done our workshops and trainings.

In 2008, we developed First Teacher Louisiana, a comprehensive training program for family childcare providers, for the Louisiana Department of Family Services.

Seamless Transitions Program

For the past five years, we have initiated and implemented the Seamless Transitions Program, including the first New Orleans Diverse Delivery partnership between Langston Hughes Academy and Wilcox Academy of Early Learning.  In 2012-13 the Seamless Transitions Diverse Delivery Project (STDD) , funded by IMH facilitated the formal partnership between Andrew Wilson Charter School (Wilson) and McMillian’s First Steps (McMillian’s).

The success of these two partnerships has led the RSD to add extra weight to the 2013-14 applications for LA4 classes by schools that include a Diverse Delivery partnership and to request the ST staff to aid centers and schools in creating new partnerships.

ELF Early Learning Resource and Training Center

Most recently, we have opened the ELF Early Learning Resource and Training Center in the Broadmoor Neighborhood of New Orleans. The Center provides a venue for collaboration among all people involved in caring for and educating community children and enables limited funding to be stretched by providing resources efficiently and effectively to a variety of early childhood programs and classrooms and children by creating a system for sharing resources.

The Center is outfitted with early childhood resources, including books, games, CDs and theme boxes with props, most of which are available for loan to community early childhood educators. Materials are chosen, based on best practices described in the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale (ECERS), and skills and concepts highlighted in the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten, and Louisiana Early Learning Standards.

Materials are arranged in “learning centers,” including Dramatic Play, Art, Blocks, Creative Writing, Library, Science, Water and Sand Play, Games and Puzzles, Math and Manipulatives and Listening that can serve as models and teaching tools for professional development sessions that will be held in the Center. In addition, the Center has a “Make and Take” section with both instructions and supplies, where teachers can create customized activities and games to meet specific curricular or student needs.

Center Staff

Center staff help teachers find appropriate resources for their classrooms on an ongoing basis. Realizing that time is almost as important to teachers as access to the resources themselves, we have created a system whereby teachers can email their planned curriculum in all subject areas to early childhood curriculum experts and receive, in response, lists of developmentally appropriate resources, materials and ideas for activities.

Center staff helps implement special activities in the classrooms and periodically visit each classroom to help with enhancing the learning environment, especially centers.


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