Info Podcast

How do you help all children thrive? Get in-depth discussions and insider tips with Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak. Each episode gives access to real-world strategies and tools for dealing with behaviors that are challenging, pressures to “ready” children for Kindergarten, and the goal to build kinder, more inclusive, and more creative classrooms, which address the whole child. The host, Dr. Kristie Pretti-Frontczak, has 30 ears of experience in teaching and supporting early educators. You, too can become an ECE {R}evolutionary and reclaim children's right to learn through play, reimagine inclusive classrooms, and revolutionize early care and education.
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Feb 23, 2021

When school is virtual, many families are struggling to provide the type of support their children received in school while also managing a work/life balance.

It's enough to make child and parent want to pull their hair out. 

In this PreK Teach and Play podcast episode, autism expert Barb Avila and I explore how we can help children stay regulated and engaged during this pandemic. 

During our conversation, we examine...

  • How to "calm a storm" by getting children safe, being visually non-threatening, observing children's body language, and making a bid for connection 
  • Factors that cause the body to become dysregulated 
  • Why it's important to shift the mindset from behavior compliance to co-regulation
  • How boundaries make children feel more secure 
Nov 18, 2020

Anyone else confused about when to praise a child...if ever? When to reinforce something? What about punishment?

Wow...supporting children who are experiencing big emotions is not for the faint of heart that's for sure.

And it seems everyone (including me) has an option on how to "weather the storm".

In this PreK Teach and Play podcast episode, Alyssa Blask Campbell, Laura Fish, Dr. Shauna Tominey and I dig deep into what we mean when we use phrases like praise, rewards, and punishmentWe also work really hard to share practical ideas to help teachers and parents support young children's development and to weather the storm of big emotions.

During our conversation, we examine...

  • How to avoid teaching compliance over connection
  • Why our own emotional responses to undesired behaviors can result in both children and ourselves becoming dysregulated
  • How traditional views on praise, rewards, and punishment need a makeover...where our aim is to help the child develop, not manage their behavior.

Key take aways...

And while we share many tips and suggestions...we all agree on the need to hone our own awareness of what is going on (for ourselves and our children) and for co-regulating when supporting children's emerging ability to self-regulate.

This episode also includes access to a collection of annotated resources to help you think beyond Applied Behavior Analysis and the use of behavior charts.

Oct 23, 2020

What does inclusion mean to you?

For me, it is a fundamental human right...NOT just a rite-of-passage. It is when we experience a true sense of belonging. ​​

In this PreK Teach and Play podcast episode, I talk with Ijumaa Jordan and Isela Garcia about what inclusion means and explore our top tips for early educators.

This conversation was originally recorded for the 2020 Summer Leadership Institute sponsored by Inclusive Schooling and hosted by Dr. Julie Causton and me. The recordings from over 30 hours of expert conversations about inclusion from Pre-K to post secondary is available NOW on-demand!

During my conversation with Ijumaa and Isela, we explored:

  • How to shift our mindsets (regardless of where instruction takes place) to see our work as being with children vs. doing to children
  • Barriers to inclusion and how leaders can work to remove them
  • Tips about what makes inclusion a true possibility


Oct 1, 2020

When I talked with Dr. Susan Hopkins for Episode 46 of the Pre-K Teach and Play podcast, we explored what the term "self-regulation" really means.

In this bonus episode with the incredible Dr. Stuart Shanker, we go even deeper.

For example, did you know that at one time there were 447 different definitions of self-regulation in education....446 of which were all about self-control?

Yeah, I didn't either! 

In this Pre-K Teach and Play bonus podcast episode, Dr. Stuart Shanker explains how his fascination with the American Revolution as a young school boy in Canada resulted in a passion for understanding how children (and humans in general) develop.

In this bonus episode, Dr. Shanker discusses: 

  • What he discovered about the difference between the educational, neuroscientific, and physiological understandings in terms of what it means to self-regulate
  • The science of stress and why we need to reframe labeling reactions as stress-behavior...not misbehavior
  • How our brains have grown and evolved over time
  • What it really means to be a stress detective
Sep 17, 2020

We've all heard the word "self-regulation", but do you really understand what it means?

For many years I thought I did, but I was wrong.

There's so much more depth and meaning behind the concept than just dealing with your emotions. It's also not just about thinking. It's about things that are happening automatically beneath the threshold of conscious awareness.

In this episode, we explore:

  • What's below the threshold of our awareness
  • What we need to do to co-regulate
  • What's going on in this thing called the interbrain
  • How humility helps us learn
  • The genuine need for children to play.

So not only do we talk about what's going on in the brain and what is meant by self regulation, but we also begin to scratch the surface of our shared love around the necessity of children and play.

Aug 21, 2020

While I can't recall all the details, from the first time I met Lisa Pepper-Satkin, to the time we recorded this podcast (which was actually back in February of 2020), I remember how she made me feel during each encounter. In a word: inspired! 

Lisa has really helped me to grow in my thinking about what it means to we show up in the world, as well as how we can transform the culture in which we are working, living, and being. 

While our discussion happened pre-pandemic, its incredible to look back now and see how even then we were in awe of the way our world is always changing, forever in flux, with new and different opportunities for positive change.

Take a listen and explore what it means to dare to be yourself!

Jul 16, 2020

This episode is actually a repeat...meaning I lost the first recording and had to go back and ask Isela to sit and chat with me again.

I'm so glad she said yes because I remember the 1st recording brought me to tears (in a good way) and so did this one.

Whether you are a leader by title or not, this episode if for you!

In it, we dig into what it means to show up and be open-hearted. Not just with our staff, but with families, with children, with one another. We also dig into what it means to be a leader and explore practical tips for how to be a better leader, and to be honest, a better human being.

Be sure to grab this episode's freebie's a leadership bundle from Dr. Garcia, which includes her:

  • Barriers to Effective Communication
  • Leadership Skills Infographic
  • Communication Connection Sandwich

Learn more about Dr. Garcia's work at

Jun 17, 2020

For me...this quote from Ijumaa Jordan says it all!

I'll allow your initial shock, but we're still going to move forward. It's not going to stop us. We still had to talk about...we still have to move forward, because right now children are being harmed-" Ijumaa Jordan

Here are just a few of the topics we dive into:

  1. Developing humility
  2. Classroom rules
  3. Characteristics of the White dominant culture
  4. Referring to others as our "friends"
  5. Implications for prioritizing the individual over the collective
  6. Where White Supremacy "shows up" in professional development
  7. And so much more!

And so, we can grow together, because that gives me hope. It's not necessary that we actually have to know the same thing or do the same work, but that we're willing to do the work together to make those, the changes that we want, to move to that world where all needs are met, where there's no lack. ~ Ijumaa Jordan, ECE Consultant

May 20, 2020

This is such a powerful episode!

In it we talk about many of the issues that we're facing... living through a pandemic, and we aim to provide hope, specific strategies, and practical ideas of how we might transition to and reimagine what education will look like in the future.

I learned so much, I have pages of notes and in fact, within an hour of recording this episode, I was already sharing what I've learned. Here's a quick example...

Right at the start of our conversation Lori shared three things the brain just can't take, meaning things that will impact across any age our ability to learn, our ability to thrive:

  1. chronic unpredictability
  2. isolation
  3. emotional or physical restraint

Sound familiar?

Listen now and learn what you can do!

Apr 15, 2020

Do you all know Dr. Barb O'Neill? Host of the Transform Challenging Behaviors Online Conference. 

Well in this episode you get to hear how the conference came to be, what Barb has learned over the years (aka her top tips for addressing behaviors that are challenging), and what to expect during the 3rd annual conference.

We also talk a bit about how she came to love puppets and how to use them with young children to promote their social-emotional health and well-being. 

The download for this episode includes a FREE e-Book with over 60 practical strategies you and use immediately to help with behaviors that are challenging.

Apr 7, 2020

In this bonus Pre-K Teach & Play podcast episode, I sit down to talk with Pat Radel, a special education lawyer, advocate, and father.

We start off by sharing what he know as of April 7, 2020 about serving students on IEP during the pandemic.

We then explore 20 U.S.C. 1414 (d)(1)(A)(i)(I)(bb) that states - IEP shall identify “for preschool children, as appropriate, how the disability affects the child’s participation in appropriate activities”

The bulk of our conversation centers on 5 underutilized aspects of the IEP.

  • Student Strengths - 20 USC 1414 (d)(3)(A)(i)
  • Concerns of the Parent - 20 USC 1414 (d)(3)(A)(ii)
  • Communication/Assistive Technology - 20 USC 1414(d)(3)(B)(iv) & (v)
  • Supports for School Personnel - 20 USC 1414 (d)(1)(A)(i)(IV) - statement of services “to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child” - 20 USC 1414 (d)(3)(C) - “support for school personnel” - e.g. information on specific disability & implications for instruction  (Note - Official Comment to the enabling regulation makes it clear that this refers to support to meet unique & specific needs of child, not general in-service) 
  • Parent Counseling & Training - definition of “related services” under 34 CFR 300.34 

We end the conversation (abruptly due to tech issue on my end) about eligibly determination at this time. We specifically explore the requirement to administer a standardized test.


To learn more about Pat go to

Mar 15, 2020

I've been talking with so many fellow ECE {r}evolutionaries these past few weeks.

I see you and I hear you. 

In these unprecedented times, having to think about how best to support children on IEPs can feel overwhelming...and maybe even a bit scary.

And while information can help some of us with our can also add to the confusion and uncertainty. There are so many opinions and ideas coming from districts and everywhere you look on social media.

There are endless ideas and things being sent home with families on how best to “homeschool” students. Yet are these practices in line with our core values of family-guided practices, differentiation, and embedding during play and daily routines?

I thought I'd join the conversation - and take it in a slightly different direction.

In this bonus Pre-K Teach and Play podcast episode I'm joined by early childhood special education expert and professional development provider, Beth Diedrick.

Here are the big ideas that we cover in our conversation:

  1. Practices that support a strong home-school connection and partnership versus trying to "do school" at home.
  2. Considerations for children who have diverse abilities and an IEP in place - not from a legal perspective, but in terms of supporting their growth and development.  
  3. Possibilities for our field - and ultimately our children - that are emerging in this time of uncertainty.
Feb 17, 2020

In this episode I chat with my longtime friend, colleague, and autism expert Barb Avila, and Dr. Dan Siegel, a New York Times bestselling author and clinical professor of psychiatry.

We dive into some really amazing stuff. Like how interpersonal neurobiology intersects with autism and the challenges of forming secure attachments with 24 children at the same time!

We end with a brief conversation that left me knowing just how necessary the ECE {r}evolution is...and a few words of hope from both of my guests.

Jan 15, 2020

One question that comes up all the time when I'm taking about how to teach before the peak and weather the storm is, "What do we do about giving a child our attention when they are demonstrating behaviors that are challenging?".

I suspect...what you really want to know is...

"What do we do when some team members and experts suggest the strategy of planned ignoring and others say connect with the child"?

So...who is right?!?!

In this episode here's what you'll learn:

  • Five reasons ignoring (broadly defined) is problematic
  • Three solutions for what to do instead of ignoring
  • Three take aways
  • Links to tons of practical solutions (see show notes at
Nov 12, 2019

This podcast is divided into two parts.

Part 1:

The first, clarifies why our primary job is to extend the green zone for optimal learning, even when it comes to placement decisions for children who qualify for early childhood special education.

It will be a bit of an eye opener/conversation starter for those who think we're soothing the nervous system by placing a child in a more restrictive environment. In other words, while a "self-contained" classroom might "look better" or to us might even feel a little bit better (or safer might be the word), we're actually promoting rigidity, which is also outside the zone of optimal learning.

Part 2:

In the second part of the podcast I explore the two jobs teachers have...the one when children are in the green zone and then one when they aren't.

If they're in the Green Zone, our job is really to keep them there and to notice, recognize, and identify when they might be leaving that Green Zone. Our job is to also help children learn how to stop, think, and then become self-aware of their emotions and how to help keep themselves in the green zone. 

When children are in the red or blue zone. Our job shifts to offering a lifeline to a child. Helping them to be curious about us and allowing for processing of big emotions. 

Key Take Away Message:

"I have two different jobs. I'm either in the Green Zone with the child and I'm helping them learn self-regulation skills, how to problem solve, how to have an appropriate response when things don't go their way, and how to keep themselves in the Green Zone. But the moment a child moves into or rather their body moves them into the red or the blue, my job also moves or changes. And now my job is to help process, co-regulate, offer a lifeline."

Oct 14, 2019

If your behavior "management system" is public (verbal or visual), if it is whole group, or if it is highly symbolic, it's a practice that we can no longer engage in.'s three strikes and you're out, behavior charts.

In this episode, I unpack the top three reasons (ok five reasons) that behavior charts aren't effective in helping children learn to self-regulate. I also talk about why we have used them, and how our good intentions shouldn't be criticized...just adjusted.

This episode if for you if you want to know:

  1. The top five reasons for bagging behavior charts
  2. The top four reasons people use behavior charts
  3. Solutions for what to do instead

After listening to this episode, you'll understand what all I'm categorizing as behavior charts and why they are ineffective with young children.

Sep 16, 2019

In Episode 35, we dive into more of the practical stuff...and what to do with conflicting messages around screen time and young children. For example, what do we do when we want to limit screen time and we also want children to have technology literacy skills?

There's an ancient parable about a farmer who lost his horse, and as As Heather Lanier say in her Ted Talk, "The parable has been my warning that by gripping tightly to the story of good or bad, I close down my ability to truly see a situation. I learn more when I proceed and loosen my grip and proceed openly with curiosity and wonder."

And for me, the same goes for screen time and young children. While I have strong opinions (grounded in wisdom and research for the most part), I know I can be quick to judge when I see a smartphone propped up in a child's stroller, a parent "mindlessly" scrolling on their phone, while their children try to get their attention. And let's be honest, when it comes to my own addiction to my phone where I can't possibly leave the house (ok room) without it.

Let's take it one step forward...what can we learn from the parable about what happens when we quickly judging things as "good" or "bad" when we see a headline that screen time CAUSES developmental delays?
Well, we generally would all say, "Oh, that's bad!". If another post shares how a mother deployed in the service of our country was able to sing a lullaby to her baby using SKYPE, we would then likely say, "Oh, that's good!" And if you asked most teachers their thoughts on the impact of screen use on children's interaction and play skills, they would say, "Oh, that's bad." Yet at the same time can find many opportunities throughout the day to broaden what their children are exposed to. For example taking a virtual field trip to look about an endangered animal on YouTube. Then they would say, "Oh that's good."
It's complicated right...let's start with getting more clarity on our WHAT before we pick the how (use or non use of screens).
Aug 17, 2019

You've seen the posts right? The ones that talk about the dangers of screen time and children's brains. How caregivers are more interested in texting than connecting with their children. And how secondhand screen time is the new smoking epidemic.

But what can you believe when it comes to children and screens? What about district policies that promote the use of screens with young children?

In this episode, which was so good (and so long) I had to divide it into two parts, my guests and I raise the fact that there is not a common definition of "screen time". This has huge implications for all of those posts and policies devoted to this very hot topic.

We also kicked the episode into high gear by sharing advantages. as well as the downsides, when it comes to our 24-7 access to screens.

Spoiler alert, there are more and more downsides as we see it.

NOTE: This is part 1 of a 2 part series on screen time and young children.

Jul 17, 2019

In this episode, I talk to Alyssa Blask Campbell about supporting and intentionally teaching self-regulation.

Or as Alyssa would say, “Helping tiny humans process big emotions”.


In this episode, we delve into the difference between coping mechanisms and coping strategies, what self-regulation is (and isn’t), and myths about how children learn to become increasingly self-regulated.

What You Will Learn

  1. The difference between coping mechanisms and coping strategies and how to use them to help children (and even yourself) process big emotions
  2. How the way self-regulation is “marketed” often misses the point by focusing on children learning self-control vs. expressing emotions, and why its important to let children express how they feel even when it is inconvenient to you
  3. How to set or maintain boundaries with children while also giving them the opportunity to process their emotions
  4. Why we should stop using the word “reinforcement"
  5. How sensory integration plays a major role in emotional regulation
  6. What the collaborative emotion processing (CEP) method is and how to implement it to respond to children’s emotions in a way that builds their emotional intelligence
Mar 22, 2019

In this episode, I talk to Dr. Shauna Tominey about her book, Creating Compassionate Kids: Essential Conversations to Have with Young Children.

The main purpose of her book is to support adults to build compassion and understanding through the conversations we have with children. 

What You Will Learn

  1. How to model compassion by letting children know they are loved no matter who they are or what they experience
  2. How to support children in becoming self-aware, while also understanding differences among people and families
  3. How to build resilience in children by discussing how stress or tragedy can make us stronger
  4. How to help children use their recognition of being loved, their self-awareness, understanding of others, and personal resilience to demonstrate compassion for others

We also talk about the progression of inclusion, how compassion addresses bullying, and the importance of explaining what you are doing and why.

Dec 16, 2018

In this episode you'll learn about my six reasons that pacing guides, and other means to standardized curriculum, won't help young children thrive in school or in life.


This episode is for you if…

  1.  You’ve ever asked, “Why do we use pacing guides in Pre-K?
  2.  You’ve helped create a pacing guide and were left feeling less than satisfied.
  3.  You want to ensure all children in your program have the same opportunities but don't want undermine your teachers or standardize the process of early learning.

This episode's freebie is a handout that contains links to several Big Ideas for Early Learning resources. Go to to request.

Nov 8, 2018

In this episode, I take on the topic of quality curriculum for inclusive Pre-K programs. And for those who think it comes in a "box" or is delivered to your's not!

This episode is for you if...

  1.  you've ever asked, "What is the best curriculum to be using with young children?
  2.  you're currently in search of a curriculum, particularly for use in a blended pre-K program
  3.  you've been wondering, beyond licensing stars and steps, "Is this program of high quality?
  4. you're a policy maker or a leader aiming to align early-childhood-recommended practices with other educational initiatives and requirements

An eight step process for selecting and implementing a quality curriculum is shared (free download at 

Listeners can also access the transcript and request our free Quality Curriculum Framework Rating Rubric at

Jun 5, 2018

This Pre-K Teach & Play episode is for you if you are interested in learning more about the importance of self-regulation, about common myths or misperceptions about self-regulation, and why our job is critical in ensuring children’s success in school and of course in life.

Your take away is that the brain areas associated with self-regulation are malleable, and self-regulation can be practiced and strengthened!

As a bonus to this episode, you’ll learn more about how important it is to address development and learning from a whole child perspective, how to use Dr. Megan McClelland and Dr. Shauna Tominey's book, Stop, Think, Act to create embedded learning opportunities with evidenced-based interventions, and about a self-paced course they offer through Oregon State University called Red Light, Purple Light: A Self-Regulation Intervention Program.

Apr 1, 2018

We all know that learning centers, and center time for that matter, play a key role in the delivery of early experiences for children. So what's the downside and how can they be improved to support wholeness and integrated brains?

This episode is for you if:

  1. You'd like to take a more intentional look at how to best design learning centers
  2. You want to ensure a "YES Brain" approach to early learning
  3. You're supporting other educators and want to know "What makes a good learning center?"

Episode includes a free download with seven strategies to ensure learning centers are engaging, designed in ways that build upon children's interest and different abilities, and incorporate a "healthy mind platter".

Feb 4, 2018

In this podcast episode, Laura Fish and I share how early educators can broaden their perspective around the "causes" for challenging behavior. You will learn how to discover the “why" behind a child's behavior.

This episode is for you if you are interested in:

  1. Helping children remain the Green Zone (how to respond instead of react)
  2. Strengthening your understanding of what may contribute to challenging behaviors
  3. Understanding the concept of prevention and promotion vs. intervention
  4. Aligning teaching practices with children's basic needs and drives
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