Family Child Care at Its Best

The Center's Family Child Care at Its Best program provides high-quality, university-based child development education to thousands of licensed family childcare providers throughout California. The program is funded by a contract from the state Department of Education, which enables the Center to offer the courses free to participants who may otherwise be unable to afford them.

Teaching Pyramid Focus (formerly CSEFEL)

Language and Literacy Focus

Science and Mathematics Focus

Health and Fitness Focus

Social Competence Focus

Parent Engagement Focus

Infant-Toddler Focus

Options for Delivery

Family Child Care at Its Best courses take place at locations throughout California. Training sessions are scheduled mainly during evenings and weekends. The courses are free of charge to licensed and license-exempt family care providers.

Delivery of these courses for licensed providers is coordinated through local host agencies. Providers who wish to attend the next series in their area should contact the local resource and referral agency, family child care association, county office of education or First Five Comission.

Offered in multiple languages

Currently, Family Child Care at Its Best is taught in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Russian. Simultaneous translation in other languages can be arranged.

Teaching Pyramid Focus (formerly CSEFEL)
(May include technical support for participants)

Training Overview

Children's challenging behavior continues to be the number one concern of teachers and caregivers. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) has developed a framework for promoting children's social emotional development and reducing challenging behavior in group care. This framework, called the CSEFEL Teaching Pyramid Model, considers ways to teach young children about appropriate behavior from a prevention perspective. Family Child Care at Its Best at UC Davis Extension now offers training on Modules 1 and 2 of the Teaching Pyramid.

Module 1: Building Relationships and Creating Supportive Environments
(3 day class; 15 hours)

Topics addressed:

  • 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
  • Positive attention and feedback

Module 2: Social Emotional Teaching Strategies
(2 day class; 10 hours)

Topics addressed:

  • Developing friendship skills
  • Enhancing children's emotional literacy, including identifying feelings
  • Managing anger and disappointment
  • Encouraging children's problem solving skills
  • Using art, puppets, books and other materials to promote children's competence

Applying the Curriculum

As an outcome of these classes, family childcare providers will gain a wealth of ideas and strategies. In each module, participants will have the opportunity to make some of the recommended tools for use in their childcare homes. To help providers apply these strategies in their programs, the course instructor will provide email and phone call guidance in between class sessions.

Teaching Pyramid (Spanish)
La Pirámide de la Enseñanza (antes conocida como Entrenamiento CSEFEL)

Módulos 1 & 2

El comportamiento desafiante de los niños(as) continua siendo la mayor preocupación de los profesores(as) y proveedores(as) de cuidado infantil. El Centro para la Base Socio Emocional del Aprendizaje Temprano (CSEFEL por sus siglas en Inglés) ha desarrollado un marco de trabajo que se enfoca en promover el desarrollo socio emocional de los niños(as) y reducir los comportamientos retadores en el cuidado grupal. Este marco de trabajo llamado el modelo de La pirámide de la enseñanza de CSFEL considera diferentes formas de enseñar a los niños(as) pequeños, maneras apropiadas de comportarse desde la perspectiva de la prevención. Lo Mejor del Cuidado Infantil en el Hogar de la Extensión de UC Davis ofrecerá un entrenamiento de los Módulos 1 y 2 de CSEFEL. Los temas que se van a abordar son:

Módulo 1

Promoviendo el Éxito de los Niños(as) (3 días de clase)

  • Comprendiendo la relación entre el desarrollo socio emocional y el comportamiento desafiante
  • Estrategias prácticas para construir relaciones positivas con los niños(as)
  • Desarrollando horarios y rutinas que inviten a los niños a la cooperación
  • Dándoles a los niños(as) instrucciones y enseñándoles sobre las reglas
  • Atención positiva y retroalimentación

Para ayudar a los proveedores(as) a practicar estas estrategias en casa, el instructor del curso brindará asistencia telefónica y vía correo electrónico entre los días 1 y 2 de este módulo.

Módulo 2

Estrategias de Enseñanza Socio Emocional (2 días de clases)

  • Desarrollando habilidades de amistad
  • Mejorando el conocimiento emocional de los niños(as), incluyendo el de identificar sentimientos
  • Controlando la ira y la decepción
  • Fomentando las habilidades en los niños(as) para resolver problemas
  • Utilizando el arte, los títeres, libros y otros materiales para promover la habilidad de los niños(as)

Como resultado de esta clase, los proveedores(as) de cuidado infantil en el hogar recibirán abundantes ideas y estrategias para guiar y apoyar a los niños pequeños.


Language and Literacy Focus
(May include technical support for participants if 2 of 3 classes are requested)
Each class may also be requested individually with no technical support.

Supporting Young Bilinguals
(5 hours)

With a particular focus on the early years, participants will learn about the different ways young children become bilingual, the advantages of being bilingual, and the myths and truths related to this topic. Participants will examine strategies to facilitate second-language acquisition and develop a foundation for understanding the diverse experiences of the children and families in their programs. They will also explore the process of building respectful partnerships between family childcare providers and families who have different home languages.

Topics include:

  • The process of bilingualism in young children
  • Advantages of bilingualism
  • Strategies to facilitate second-language acquisition
  • Incorporating families' cultures and funds of knowledge into early childhood settings

Sample Curriculum


Supporting Emergent Readers and Writers
(5 hours)

Using a child-centered approach, this course focuses on the development of literacy skills needed for the transition to kindergarten. Participants will gain increased understanding of the components needed for children to learn to read and write. Suggestions about the creation of a print-rich environment and appropriate literacy activities will be included.

Topics include:

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

Introducing Language Through Play
(5 hours)

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

Topics include:

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

Science and Mathematics Focus
(May include technical support for participants if both classes are requested)
Each class may also be requested individually with no technical support.

Building Numeracy Skills and Beyond
(5 hours)

This course encourages participants to examine ways to provide a rich mathematical environment for children. Participants will learn strategies and activities that build developmentally appropriate mathematical knowledge and skills in the preschool years.

Topics include:

  • Important mathematical concepts for preschool-age children
  • Environments and activities that encourage mathematical thinking and reasoning
  • Supporting parents as teachers of math
  • California's Preschool Learning Foundations in Mathematics

Scientific Inquiry for Young Children
(5 hours)

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

Topics include:

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

Health and Fitness Focus

New course coming in Winter 2015

Healthy Habits: Nutrition and Well-Being for Young Children
(5 hours)

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:

Topics include:

  • 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

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

Social Competence Focus

Child Observation
(5 hours)

This course addresses the continuum of informal and formal observation. Participants will learn to critically analyze assessment tools and explore ways to use their observations to support children, families and program development. 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
  • Making good use of observation results
  • Issues of cultural, linguistic and developmental appropriateness in assessment

Sample Curriculum


Social-Emotional Development in Group Care
(5 hours)

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 that facilitate pro-social behavior, and promote conflict resolution, problem solving, self-regulation, positive self-concept and self-esteem.

Topics include:

  • Challenging behavior: prevention and intervention
  • Promoting conflict resolution
  • Working with parents

Setting the Stage for Social Competence
(5 hours)

Participants will take a preventative approach to challenging behavior and plan activities that promote pro-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
(5 hours)

This course 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
  • The link between attachment and loss
  • Strategies to help children cope with grief and loss
  • Prevention of injuries

Parent Engagement Focus

Serving Children with Special Needs and Their Families
(5 hours)

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 advanced session allows an opportunity to discuss how providers can include children with special needs in their program.

Topics include:

  • Reasons for concern of developmental risks and delays
  • How families deal with grief and loss
  • Helping families link to appropriate services
  • Creating an atmosphere of acceptance in your program

Sample Curriculum


Partnering with Parents
(5 hours)

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
  • Effective communication skills
  • Addressing child-rearing values and beliefs
  • Developing clear policies and practices

Infant-Toddler Focus

This series of classes emphasizes the needs of children from birth to age five. The series aims to enhance the quality and safety of family childcare environments. Each class makes practical use of the most recent research in child development and early childhood education.

Learning through Relationships with Infants and Toddlers
(10 hours)

This course addresses the emotional, social, intellectual and physical development of infants and toddlers and the supportive role of the caregiver. Participants will gain an increased understanding of the role of relationships and emotional development in learning.

Topics include:

  • Building trust with infants and toddlers
  • Understanding the temperament of children and adults
  • Helping children become confident learners
  • Talking with parents about developmental processes

Sample Curriculum


Guiding Young Children
(10 hours)

This course addresses the social-emotional characteristics, biological traits, and environmental influences on children's behavior. Practical suggestions for helping children manage their behavior while supporting optimal development are offered.

Topics include:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Responding to conflict
  • Environments that promote social competence
  • Challenging behavior

As a result of this course, participants will refine their skills in addressing the behaviors of infants and toddlers.

Sample Curriculum


Culture and the Care of Young Children
(10 hours)

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.

Topics include:

  • Developing awareness of personal cultural values and practices
  • Ways to help children with sleeping, eating and toileting
  • Working together with parents on toilet learning

Sample Curriculum