“Preschool is founded on play; experts say it’s how children learn best. But not all play is the same.

“How, then, should parents decide what school is right for their child? They can readily compare cost and location, but quality is tougher to discern…”

“Jane Lannak, director of the Early Childhood Learning Lab at Boston University and a clinical associate professor, said children need to develop a love of learning as they play, and to feel respected and part of the classroom community.

“One good way to foster those ideals is to help them follow their interests, she said. Parents should look for a program with structure in which children make some choices about what activities they do.”

From “How to pick the right preschool for your child,” by Jennette Barnes, the Boston Globe, July 30, 2015

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Quick, grab a book, because today “is the launch of a new Read Where You Are day of action to raise awareness and encourage reading.”

Read Where You Are is being launched by the White House and the U.S. Department of Education to promote children’s literacy and school-readiness in the fall.

“Young people who do not read over the summer fall behind their classmates, especially low-income students,” the Read Where You Are website says.

“Research shows that summer learning loss adds up, especially for low-income students. By 8th grade, that lost learning time accounts for 2/3 of the achievement gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers.

“Reading over the summer makes a difference during the school year. When students are able to keep reading, they can keep learning, catch up, stay sharp and are more prepared when the new school year begins.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released its 2015 KIDS Count Data Book, an annual report on how children are doing nationally and in individual states.

Among the key findings: despite some positive economic changes, childhood poverty stubbornly persists.

“About 1.7 million more children live in low-income working families today than during the Great Recession,” the foundation explains on its website. “In 2013, one in four children, 18.7 million, lived in a low-income working family in the United States. Nearly a third of children are living in families where no parent has full-time employment. And even when parents are working full time, wages and benefits are often not sufficient to adequately support a family.”

The Data Book “showed some signs of slight improvement, including high school graduation rates at an all-time high and a falling percentage of uninsured children. But the bright spots weren’t enough to offset a picture that many children have been left behind amid the nation’s economic recovery,” according to a news story from the Associated Press. Continue Reading »

“The implications of the study’s findings are far-reaching… First, there’s a message to educators that social and emotional learning can be just as important as cognitive skills.”

“The new study, a comprehensive 20-year examination of 800 children from kindergarten through their mid-20s published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, found a link between a child’s social skills in kindergarten and how well they were doing in early adulthood.”

“Study: Behavior in kindergarten linked to adult success,” by Kelly Wallace, CNN, July 16, 2015

*     *     *

“A couple of interesting things here, though – it’s amazing that something that you’re measuring in kindergarten can predict anything at all 15 to 20 years down the road.

“But the second thing that’s important is that not all social skills might matter to the same extent. Teachers also rated these kindergarten students on their aggressiveness, but researchers find that these ratings do not predict whether kids will get in trouble with the police 15 to 20 years later. Again, it’s the pro-social skills – the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – this is what shapes the likelihood that you’ll stay out of trouble later on.”

Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s social science correspondent, speaking in “Nice Kids Finish First: Study Finds Social Skills Can Predict Future Success,” July 16, 2015

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

For all its fun, Summer is also a time when children might experience the “summer slide” of losing ground academically. This problem is particularly acute for children from low-income families, many of whom have been shown to lose two to three months in reading achievement during the summer.

But now cities across Massachusetts are creating opportunities for students to keep learning and growing through activities that are engaging, fun, and educational.

As we blogged last month, many cities kicked off this season by celebrating National Summer Learning Day, a day of advocacy promoted in part by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This summertime work continues in Boston, Holyoke, New Bedford, Springfield, and other communities.

“Research shows that low-income children experience summer learning loss at a much higher rate than their middle-class peers, who typically benefit from enriching summer programs, learning experiences, and homes filled with books and reading,” according to the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Over the course of one summer vacation, this summer learning loss creates an approximate three-month achievement gap in reading skills between the two groups of children. By middle school, the cumulative effect adds up to a gap equal to two full years of achievement.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Last week, on Friday, July 17, 2015, Governor Charlie Baker signed the fiscal year 2016 state budget into law. This budget has $162 million in line-item vetoes.

The vetoes include a $5 million reduction in funds for early education and care programs, as well as a $17.6 million reduction for full-day kindergarten grants.

The Legislature can vote to override these vetoes. But legislators need to hear your encouragement.

Please take a moment to send them an email and ask them to support early education funding in fiscal year 2016.

Thank you.

“When policymakers and citizens talk about expanding children’s access to high-quality early education, they sometimes overlook the need for a stable stream of funding for early education programs. Instead, programs serving children birth-to-five are typically funded by a patchwork of streams blended or braided together to serve as many children as possible. Without dedicated funding for early care and education, state agencies are left to piece together revenue sources for their youngest children. Unsurprisingly, this leaves many states, including South Carolina, with underfunded programs.”

“Funding Education for our Youngest Learners,” by Kaycie Gillette-Mallard, a post on the New America Foundation’s EdCentral blog, July 13, 2015



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