Our Story

Growing Children’s Skills for Life

During the early childhood years, children begin forming attitudes and behaviors they will carry into adulthood. Parents, teachers, and other caregivers share the responsibility of helping young children to be kind, respectful, cooperative, well-behaved, open to learning, and self-disciplined. Yet in today’s complicated world, it can be hard to know how to guide children’s positive development.

We all struggle at times to find the right balance. How do we encourage children’s independence and still set limits for their behavior? How do we help children fully experience the carefree joys of childhood and still prepare them to cope with life’s ups and downs? AcornDreams was created to assist adults in meeting these challenges by offering tools, support, and information for fostering children’s social-emotional life skills and healthy behaviors.

AcornDreams offers insights into the behavior of children. Our practical tips and educational materials equip adults to influence children’s behavior in positive ways. Our professional staff summarizes current research and best practices that can be easily used in daily interactions with children. We provide opportunities for online connections to others who, like you, want young children to be happy, healthy, and resilient.

Strong Roots:
Wingspan, LLC – Developer of Research-Based Effective Programs

AcornDreams is a service offered by Wingspan, LLC. Since 1993 Wingspan has reached hundreds of thousands of children ages 3 – 8 years old through our classroom program Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices. Through Al’s Pals and our program for family child care, Al’s Caring Pals: A Social Skills Toolkit for Home Child Care Providers, children learn to get along with others, use self-control, accept differences, resolve conflicts peacefully, cope, and make healthy choices.

Rigorous research shows that our programs work. Children show improved social behaviors and limited aggressive, antisocial behaviors. Children are more likely to share, use kind words, make and keep friends, and solve problems peacefully. They are less likely to kick, hit, tease, and bully others. Due to extensive positive research findings, Al’s Pals has been nationally recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education and other federal agencies and organizations as an effective, evidence-based classroom program.

Parents have benefited from Wingspan’s parent education program, Here, Now and Down the Road…Tips for Loving Parents. The program strengthens parents’ abilities to build their children’s social-emotional skills. Here, Now and Down the Road parent groups are interactive and relaxed. Parents learn to apply down-to-earth approaches to their own family life in practical and personal ways.

Branching Out:
Making Our Effective Resources Available to All Caring Adults

For years, teachers, parents, and other caregivers not involved in our programs have inquired about our work. They, too, wanted tools to help children learn to calm down, think flexibly, and use their creativity. AcornDreams was launched in response to these requests. We make the approaches and materials that are so effective in Al’s Pals, Al’s Caring Pals, and Here, Now and Down the Road available to all adults who care about young children.

Whether you are a parent, teacher, child care provider, mental health clinician, home visitor or health care provider, you will find practical tips and materials that are easy to use. Our blog, original children’s books and music, instructional handouts, and behavior guides offer sensible ideas for families and educators in today’s complex, fast-paced world. Resources at AcornDreams.com address topics ranging from responding to whining and tantrums to the value of a healthy diet, play, and physical activity. We sift through the overwhelming amount of information and advice available and pull out what is sound so you don’t have to.

AcornDreams extends the reach of Wingspan’s expertise and decades-long experience creating proven-effective programs and conducting professional training. Our blog is hosted by Wingspan’s staff, trainers, and consultants. They bring a variety of educational backgrounds and professional experiences in early childhood education and care, child development, parenting, mental health and wellness, substance abuse and violence prevention.

Sprouting Connections:
Interactive Online Community

AcornDreams hosts online discussion communities for our dedicated Al’s Pals and Al’s Caring Pals participants. From the beginning, these partners expressed interest in a forum where they could share their successes and challenges and learn more about building children’s skills, and we listened. Join us to learn new ideas, gather information, and share your strategies with others from all around the country (and Canada and Bermuda!).

Nurturing Growth:
Fostering Children’s Positive Development

Early childhood experiences can last a lifetime. When young children learn to care about others, stop and think, use self-control, express feelings, solve problems, and make healthy choices they are forming the building blocks for success in school and life. At AcornDreams we are committed to strengthening caring adults’ abilities and confidence to create a strong foundation for the children in their lives.

We have learned what works from our years of experience training teachers, parents, and caregivers. We use that collective knowledge to provide you with tools that promote children’s positive growth and development. We welcome the opportunity to share our expertise and help you navigate the joys and challenges of guiding children toward a healthy and bright future.