Shannon Cather

  • Chico US-CA


2008 - Present

Bachelor of Art

Chico State University

The classes I took in the child development area prepared me for working with children and being able to view them much more differently than I would have if I had not taken the courses.  I also learned about the policies and procedures that affect the programs children learn in and the ways that the children learn.I think within all of my classes I have learned the most about the basic elements of development within a child.  Such as, reflexes in infants, to how the begin their muscle control to crawl and walk and the beginnings of language development.  I have also learned a lot about development in the later years, especially the physical changes in school-age children.When I do graduate, I hope to offer the profession of child development information I have gathered and observed in my time here.  I can relay information about theories I have seen being put into practice or theories I have put into practice and believe in.  I will be able to share my ideas about how children grow, develop and learn.   As I went through the major and had the opportunity to take more and more Child Development courses, I came to understand what child development really meant.  It was not only about children and how they grow, it was about providing opportunities for those children in the avenues of health, nutrition and education.  I knew I was lucky to have found my passion so easily 

Work History

Work History
Aug 2012 - Present

Preschool Teacher

Associated Students Child Development Lab
Jun 2011 - Aug 2012

Head Preschool Teacher

Our Savior Lutheran Preschool
Aug 2011 - May 2012

Preschool Assistant

Associated Students Child Development Lab
2006 - 2009

Preschool Assistant

Heather Farms Preschool

Creativity in Work

As a college student and a preschool teacher, I have to come up with the answers to problems in the blink of an eye.  I need to have the ability to roll with the punches and the understanding that questions can often be solved in a variety of ways.

Every morning when I go into work as a preschool teacher, I know that this day will bring something different than any other day has.  It is my job to encourage and facilitate learning in the classroom for the children and many times the children have a particular idea or way to use a material that I need to help with. 

Assessment In the Field

The observations we make of the children in the environments can determine how we assess the programs or the quality of the learning.  Assessing children can give researchers and child development professionals a greater insight into what is going on with children.  Therefore sometimes it is impossible for the child to tell someone what they are experiencing, learning to assess programs and curriculum can be beneficial to people trying to understand what the children are experiencing.  

Real-Life Situation

Your job is as an early childhood interventionist  at the state-funded Regional Center.  One of the young children on your caseload has a visual disability.  Your supervisor lets you know that the physician has determined that the child's eyes are not functional and has spoken to the family about her recommendation to remove the child's eyes and replace them prostheses  in order to eliminate the constant discharge.  This will allow her to attend school more regularly because she will be healthier and other children will not be at a health risk.  The family has missed several appointments with the doctor and when you go to speak to them, the mom responds, "Oh, we're not going to have an operation like that.  Our whole church is praying for a miracle.  How could God do a miracle and restore her eyesight if her eyes aren't even there?"

My first response is “Wow. I have to be sensitive in this situation”.  Because it is my job to work with this family, I must work not to intrude on their beliefs and to be sensitive to their needs and customs.  I know that I still must be sensitive to what they believe or it will ruin the relationship I have worked so hard to build. I would say to the mother, “Is there anything I can do to change your mind?  While I appreciate your beliefs this operation would be the best thing for your child.  It will make her healthier which will help in turn help her education.  This can be a nerve-racking decision and I can be here for any questions or concerns you have and if I do not have the answer I will find someone who does.”  I want to make it clear to her that I believe that the operation is the best thing that can be done for her daughter.  But I also need to make sure not to alienate her or make her feel attacked.  It would be difficult to find a balance in wording when speaking to the mother.

By the time I will leave the home visit, I hope to have talked to the mother more about the operation and the benefits for her daughter.  I would reiterate the importance of keeping her daughter and those around her healthy, all while staying level-headed about the importance of the situation.  I hope that I would be able to give the mother all of the information I have to make her feel more educated about making a decision about the operation.  The most serious issue to consider in this situation is the daughter’s health.  Although it is extremely important not to alienate the family, the health of a child should always been the number one priority.  But because we do not know how the mother will decide it is difficult to gauge how the daughter’s health will turn out.  In the end, I would encourage the mother to rethink the operation and use my relationship with the family and the child to convince them of the importance of getting the operation.  I would have to hope that the mother would learn to understand how the operation can keep her daughter healthy and that waiting for a miracle would not be worth it.


I have worked in the field of early childhood education for 6 years.  I feel deeply connected to the stories of the children and I do my best to make the classroom  a safe and comfortable environment for the children.  Honesty and ethical treatment is always extremely important when dealing with children.  Anything other than the truth could lead to more lies in the future and it may change the care the teachers could provide to the children. Honesty is so important when dealing with children and having an honest relationship with the parents can have a great effect on how care with the children will develop.  Another extremely important aspect of working in an effective classroom is related to how the staff provides care for the children.  With the variety of styles that children use to learn, a program needs to adapt to what the children need.  A high quality program should include communication with the family, compatibility with the family's needs and appropriate child/adult interactions that can benefit the child.  In five years, I hope to be an accomplished preschool teacher moving my way up to become a program director.  The more experience I have gained in early childhood programs, the more I enjoy the subject.   Being a preschool teacher seems to come so easily to me and I feel very comfortable in the classrooms and in a position of leadership.   I feel that I have extensive knowledge on some subject areas regarding preschool classrooms and I have limited knowledge in others.  I know that each day in the classroom is a learning experience and I am excited to know that during these future five years, I will get to learn a lot more about the career that I love.

Critical Thinking

I had the opportunity to use logic and scientific reasoning in a variety of courses throughout my higher education; Science classes, observation classes and any other class where I had to discuss pros and cons.  I was also able to take an entire course, Methods of Inquiry in Child Development, that focused solely on scientific reasoning in child development and the statistic skills used to interpret the research collected.

Of the things I have learned in this area, I would say the thing I understand the most clearly is being able to take objective observations and notes of children in the field.  When I first started taking Child Development courses, I was surprised to learn how in detail each note had to be and in what style the notes must be written in so they could not be considered biased. 

Program for the Children and Families

Since I have begun my higher education, I have gained knowledge on the subject of high-quality programs for children. I first learned about what kinds of elements were needed to have a high quality program and then some issues that could occur in programs that would lead to the discomfort of the children or the families..  I know that the children and families are greatly affected by a program that is not well put together but I would like to know how it affects them in the long-term.  If a child or a family do not feel comfortable and taken care of at a program, it is unlikely that they will want to return and in some cases, that means that the child will miss out on vital educational opportunities.  My supervised practicum and internship provided me with the opportunity to implement developmentally appropriate curriculum activities and evaluate their efficacy.  I assessed whether the curriculum plans were doing what they were supposed to be and whether the curriculum is developmentally appropriate.   As a member of the child development profession, I can offer newer programs ideas and resources of how to make a program high quality and ways to evaluate their curriculum.    

I have also done work based on how to provide quality care in programs in classes and at work.  The following is an assignment I completed while interning at a preschool facility:

At my program site, the children participate in both adult-directed activities and child-initiated play.  Some of the adult-directed activities include: taking walks around the neighborhood, stamping with hands and story time at circle.  Child-initiated play happens when the child chooses his or her own activities like playing in the play kitchen, playing baseball outside or making sandcastles in the sandbox.  From the limited amount if time I have seen it seems to me that the children usually enjoy the adult-directed activities just as much as they like the activities they choose.  Many of the children choose to participate in dramatic play.  Dramatic play is defined as when, “children pretend that one object is something else or take on a role other than being children”(Henniger, 2009, p. 131).  When the children play house together in the kitchen area, this is a prime example of dramatic play.  In the social construct of play, many of the children at my program site participate in associative play.  The definition of associative play is when, “children borrow and loan play materials, and the group members are engaged in similar activities”(Henniger, 2009, p.133).  The children often play together in the sandbox and lend the shovels and pans to each other.  At the program site where I am working, all of the cognitive and social constructs of play are displayed in the children.

Other Work

I have completed a number of assignments in my education at Chico State University that are related to the topics that are important to the profession that I hope to be going into.

1. Assessment in Research Studies

The hypothesis of this study stated that identical twins would have higher levels of prosocial behavior scores than fraternal twins or singletons.  Through ANOVA testing, it was found that identical twins had the highest mean score of prosocial behaviors, followed by fraternal twins, then singletons.  The results of the ANOVA test found a statistically significant difference in mean prosocial behavior scores between the three groups, thus supporting the hypothesis.

The information found in this study would be most useful for parent education purposes.  Educators and parents are always looking for ways to better understand children.  Relationships between twins are often difficult for outsiders to understand and information from this study will benefit the outsiders.

2. Assessment in the Classroom The only thing in this classroom that seems a bit odd to me is some of the vision-lines in both the indoor and the outdoor environments. The bathroom is hard to monitor unless an adult is the in the bathroom with the children. This makes it difficult to properly scaffold the children, because you are not providing them with the freedom they may need. In the outdoor environment, the large play structure is difficult to monitor. The children like to tie ropes on the back of the play structure and jump off, but it is nearly impossible to watch them unless an adult is behind the play structure as well. But then the adult cannot see the patio once he or she is behind the play structure.  3. Theories in Child Development The information processing theory helps to describe how humans are able to store, transform and retrieve information. Using particular strategies, the human brain is able to store information they are given and retrieve it when needed. Some important skills that are used in this process are automatization, generalization and elaboration. The use of these skills help children learn and understand new information by organizing the information into existing schema. Two very useful skills that help all people store information are rehearsal and organization. Rehearsal is defined as "a memory strategy in which one repeats a number of times the information one wants to remember" (327). This strategy relates to the phrase "practice makes perfect". By repeating the new information over and over, either mentally or orally, the child or adolescent is more likely to remember it. For example, when children are learning new spelling words, repeating them out loud or practicing writing them down can help the child recall the information later on. Organization is defined as " a memory strategy that involves putting together in some organized form the information to be remembered" (328). Using this strategy, the child or adolescent can group new information in ways that will make it easier to remember. The example used in the book displayed a list of words such as "sweater, hat, apple, jeans, sandwich, milk" (328). Using the organization strategy, a child or adolescent would group the words in two different categories: food and clothing. By relating some of the new information to each other, the whole of the information becomes less confusing.  4. Lesson Planning Because I was only able to do my response with four children, I was able to give more individual attention to each of the children.  The children were able to ask me questions and interact with me better because of the small number of students there.  One of the children seemed to enjoy the lesson more than the others.  He was asking me questions during the learning of the song and made sure he sang enthusiastically.  The children had a bit of trouble following the moves at the beginning but as we practiced the picked up the moves and the words quite well. In order to help the children learn the new song, I used strategies from a previous course I took here on the Chico State campus.  These strategies prepared me for the experience I would have doing this curriculum response.  The biggest challenge I faced was the amount of children I was able to do the response with.  Although the response did go well, I think the children may have been more excited if there were more participants doing the song with them.  This response was developmentally appropriate because it provided the children the opportunity to develop their fine and gross motor skills. Through this experience I became more comfortable with dealing with situations that arise spontaneously.  When I arrived at the preschool that morning, the fact that the children were going on a field trip was sprung on me.  My ability to roll with the punches has increased tremendously because of my experience at the preschool.

5. Research on School Age Children 

Divorce can bring on many changes in a family, which directly and indirectly influence the children involved.  This website describes some of these changes and emotional adjustments, as well as ways to help both the child and parents cope.  There are a variety of exercises suggested that involve both the parent and the child, such as drawing, playing, writing, time capsules, exercising, and communicating.  These exercises were suggested to help build relationships between family members and assist children with adjustments in their lifestyles. Drawing, writing and time capsules can help children express their feelings through a creative outlet.  A history timeline was specifically suggested, this can help the child deal with the concerns he or she may have about the future, as well as understand what had happened in the past.  Furthermore, playing was an important creative way for the child and parent to deal with the divorce.  The types of play that were suggested were puppets and role-playing.  These games can promote healthy interactions between both the parent and child, while acting out scenarios in a positive way.  These activities are all good ways to help build or keep a healthy relationship with your child.  They can also be modified and used in a classroom.

Experience with Developmental Delays

I have had some experience observing and working with children with developmental delays, particularly autism.  Although my experience is limited, I have enjoyed learning as much as I can about the subject.  I currently work with a child that has been diagnosed with autism, who is part of a integrated program.  I have also included this information into my education.  The following is a paper I wrote after observing a child at the Autism Clinic that is on the Chico State University campus: 

On Monday, May 9th, at 2:00 I observed a learning session at the Autism Clinic.  Josie Cline ran the session for a 5 year old girl named Naomi.  Before Naomi arrived, I was able to investigate some of the environment of the clinic which consisted of two big rooms, an observation booth and a quiet room.  In the main big room, a small rock wall was set up, a swing area and mats with a foam pit in the corner.  Double doors went into the second room with some equipment set up and materials available.  In the quiet room, there were pillows and soft mats set up with an interactive fish and bubble tube that changed colors.  When we first entered the clinic, we were able to speak a little with Josie before Naomi arrived.  We were told that Naomi was high functioning and we would be able to stay in the big room with them to watch.  Josie had to make different accommodations in the environment and in the schedule based on Naomi.  Josie gave Naomi options of what she wanted to participate in that day and when Naomi would get distracted with another activity, the rock wall for example, Josie would put a limit to how much longer was spent on the current activity and then “reward” Naomi by letting her do what she was wanting to do.  The similarities between my observations and the autism reading were limited.  Because Naomi was high functioning, she did not display many of the behavioral symptoms that were described in the article.

Professionalism and Collaboration

I have work and volunteered in a variety of preschool classrooms and each workplace environment has been very different.  I have acquired the skills of acting professional in the classroom.  I work well with other staff members and I am able to either be a contributing member of a team or a leader.  I believe that collaboration is the most important feature of working effectively as a team.  I often make decisions with the collaboration of others and I am able to take information from a variety of people and make it all work together.  This core value has helped me build lasting relationships with others because I can be counted on to work well in a team and be there as a support when I am needed.  Being able to collaborate is also extremely important in any job because one will always need to work with other people.  My ability to collaborate benefits me in my professional life because I am able to effectively display my points while still fitting in the points of my co-worker.  This makes the working relationship I have with my co-worker less stressed and we know that we can rely on each other. It is much more important to first deal with the children and families but as a staff member, one does have responsibilities to the program.  Of course, no one wants to do all the cleaning, but in order to keep the classroom safe, it is important to clean up.  I am willing to work with the other staff members to provide the best possible environment for the children.  I have demonstrated my professionalism and cooperation in internships I have completed and workplaces at which I am employed.  When I first started at the internship site, I was nervous about overstepping my boundaries as a intern to infringe on the staff members.  But as time went on, I realized that I was there to be a member of the teaching team within the classroom and the staff would be appreciative of what I could bring into the classroom.  Related to that, I have also demonstrated my knowledge of professionalism in my work environments.  I have recently started work at the place I was previously interned as a staff member.  The head teachers have stated to me that because of my professionalism and work ethic I was hired.  They convey to me that they are impressed with how I am improving in the classroom and how I act as a model for the interns that are now working in the classroom.  Finally, as a member and recent officer in the Child Development Student Association, I use professionalism to complete tasks related to the club and communicating with other members in the club.