Applications are available for the fall 2023 session. Please submit an application by September 15, 2023. Sessions begin in October. If you have any questions about the program email Peggy (email@example.com).
NOTE: Sessions can be in person, or if needed, can be a hybrid of in person and virtual, depending on the needs and schedules of providers. We will work with you to develop a schedule and delivery method that works best for you.
Start With The Arts (SWTA) focuses on instilling a lifelong love of reading and strengthening the quality of early childhood education across Vermont. It is an award-winning arts-based literacy program for early childhood educators and the children in their care.
SWTA couples direct service to children with professional development for early childhood educators in both home-based and small center childcare sites. Since 2006, SWTA has engaged more than 3,000 children and 500 childcare educators in every county of Vermont.
Start With The Arts received the Sally Fox Award in 2022 from the Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation. The Foundation created the Sally Fox Award following Sally’s death in 2014 to recognize her contributions to the well-being of Vermont Children. As an attorney who specialized in disability law and a state senator, Sally was a committed advocate of children’s rights and other progressive causes.
“I can’t express just how beneficial this program has been to both myself and the children in my care! I’ve watched these children grow into a group that can sit together, listen, and work as a group. The children now look forward to our weekly lesson and the activities that we as a group come up with that tie into each book that they have selected. The children have begun ‘teaching’ their parents! All my parents are very pleased with the outcome of this program!
To all providers: I was very hesitant to participate in this program. I felt that I had enough to do and that the children would not cooperate with someone coming into my program. I was wrong. Once I gave it a chance, I saw these children grow!”Participating Early Childhood Educator
SWTA is absolutely free of charge for participants, thanks to the generosity of our supporters and contracting agencies. The program runs twice per year, takes place at the educator’s location, and is scheduled individually to meet each educator’s needs.
Participating early childhood educators are eligible to use the hours completed to apply to a variety of state credentialing programs, including STARS and Advanced Specialized Care.
There are two tiers of the program for early childcare educators:
Tier 1: Start With The Arts
In SWTA, using the above-described methods, model lessons are provided directly to children in the classroom by Inclusive Arts Vermont teaching artists, after which the educator delivers their own arts-based literacy lessons.
How it works:
Weekly, our teaching artists model and present quality children’s books and engage children in exciting performing and visual arts activities. Next, the teaching artists support the providers in delivering their own arts-based literacy lessons. Additionally, professional development gatherings are held outside of childcare hours. The program culminates in a public display.
This program has also been adapted for therapeutic childcare centers, meeting their specific needs through arts-based literacy activities and play-based learning.
Tier 2: Family & Community Engagement
Tier 2 focuses on engaging families and caregivers in a child’s learning, both in and out of the childcare environment. This section of the program is a second tier of professional development for educators who have already completed Tier 1.
How it works:
In Tier 2, educators design and deliver their own activities, under the guidance of an Inclusive Arts Vermont teaching artists. The activities invite families to gradually increase their engagement with a child’s learning through the following sequential activities:
- Out the Door: Brief, low-risk introductory arts-based literacy activities completed as families enter/leave childcare.
- Bring Back: Families bring low-cost materials from home to help children create a group project during childcare hours.
- At Home: Families receive books and materials to engage in arts-based literacy activities at home.