Welcome to the Ready Child blog!

View posts by our early learning expert to gain valuable insights into the developing brain and learn about activities that you can easily incorporate into day to help every child succeed in kindergarten and in life.

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About our blogger Diann Gano, M.Ed

Diann Gano

Diann Gano, M.Ed

Diann Gano—who opened her family child care program, Under the Gingko Tree in 1986—has long believed that “the earth gives us what we need to learn” and that nature is “the perfect environment for little brains to grow and learn in every day.” While conducting research for her master’s thesis on outdoor learning in early childhood settings, she learned about the Nature Explore Classroom Certification Program, which recognizes schools and other organizations that have made a commitment to providing outdoor classrooms and comprehensive programming to help children use the natural world as an integral part of learning. She enrolled in the Nature Explore Classroom certification program after completing her master’s degree in 2010, and Under the Ginkgo Tree was certified as a Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classroom Program in 2011.

A member of the Erikson Family Child Care Portal Project Advisory Board, Gano has also participated in the Erikson Institute’s Early Childhood Leadership Summit and served as a webinar panelist for Town Square Illinois, an online resource and professional development tool for home-based providers. She has presented at the local, state and national levels on topics such as indoor and outdoor learning environments, the importance of loose parts in early math education and the impact of immersion in the natural world on brain development in young children. In 2016, Gano was honored as a recipient of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Child Care Innovator Award for creating a school environment that inspires children to become more active and engaged learners. In May 2019, she received the prestigious Terri Lynn Lokoff/Children’s Tylenol National Teacher Award, which honors 50 outstanding early child care professionals across the nation each year for making a lasting difference in the lives of the children they serve and setting them on a path to success in school and in life. She received her BS in liberal arts from Western Illinois University and her MEd in education from St. Mary of the Woods College in Indiana.

Different Children, Different Learning Styles

Some children are great at building with blocks. Others are "word people" who master new vocabulary words daily. Some are expert tree climbers. These clues may give you insights into each child's learning style. When children excel at an activity, they repeat it often—and this makes them more likely to continue to build their skills […]

Read It Again!

“Can you read it again? PLEASE?”  Have you been hearing this plea over and over again lately? Maybe it's time for some new reading material! As September unfolds, the following STEM books are guaranteed to educate, enrich and entertain young children. The concept of a STEM-focused education (which incorporates science, technology, engineering and math into the academic curriculum) […]

Lessons From An Obstacle Course

"Go around the tree, through the tunnel, over the rocks, under the parachute and onto the swing. Then throw a beanbag through the hula hoop and run and touch the fence. The first person to do that WINS!" I listen as five-year-old Juan walks his eager friend through the steps of the obstacle course he […]

Happy National Root Beer Float Day!

"Can we make a concoction today?” asks Malhar, one of our budding scientists. It’s a hot Thursday afternoon and everyone is a little shagged from the heat—including me. A concoction sounds like a messy, energy-sapping endeavor, but Malhar is insistent. “Do you have any root beer?” he whispers to me after looking around to make […]

Digging For Gold!

"I found GOLD!" squeals Laura. Four little friends scurry over to join the latest "gold rush" in the sandbox. In the wee hours of the morning, when the sun is barely peeking over the horizon and the coffee is still being brewed, gold nuggets often "magically appear" in our sandbox. Or at least that's the […]

The Power of Magic Potions

Who wants to make magic potions with me?” asks five-year-old Katie. “Do you really know how to do that? Annika asks, hopping off of her swing to see what adventures Katie's magic potion proposition might bring. “You mix things up, like potions or recipes," Katie explains. "Sometimes things change colors or the mixture gets really […]

We Love Worms!

"AUGH!!! Worms! Look, look! They're everywhere!" Eleanor is jumping up and down hysterically. Nothing will summon our crew faster than a good worm sighting. Oh, how we love worms! Last spring, we witnessed an unusual natural phenomenon as a mass of earthworms wiggled out of their subterranean community in the soil and squirmed onto the […]

Painting With Water

If you struggle with the mess that seems to be an inescapable part of early childhood painting projects, I am right there with you! After years of dutifully setting up easels and wiping down paint-smeared hands, faces, shoes and surfaces in the messy aftermath of our creative endeavors, I finally had to face reality: The […]

Physics on the Playground

“Noa, what are you doing?” questions Jose. “I’m giving this rock a swing!” giggles Noa as she embarks on her latest investigation into force and motion. “Are you sure that will work?" James asks. “I think the rock will fall off!” We all stop what we are doing to observe as Noa cautiously pulls the swing back a few feet and […]

Calm Your Day With Clay

Two-year-old Elizabeth screams with delight, “I made a ball, I made a ball!” Ah, it’s another magical moment with clay. Making shapes, discussing length, adding loose parts or subtracting pieces of clay to share with a friend. There's a whole lot of math, science and engineering in that ball of clay! Clay allows children to […]