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“Are all of Burlington’s children on the path to a healthy and prosperous future? Compelling scientific research into the brain development of infants and young children shows that the early years of a child’s life are critical to developing the skills necessary to become a thriving adult. A lack of household economic resources is the single largest indicator for a host of poor childhood educational and health outcomes…

“By focusing on parent mentoring in combination with a market-driven scholarship approach to early education, we can we can strengthen Burlington’s future by providing our youngest with a healthy start.”

From “Burlington Beginnings: A White Paper on a Comprehensive, Coordinated Sustainable Early Learning Initiative,” January, 2015, a summary of early education plans in Burlington, Vt.

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“How come you decided to tackle the issue of early childhood educator pay?”

That’s the question Marcy Whitebook was asked during a recent interview in the online publication Crosscut about her academic research.

Whitebook’s answer was a personal one. She had been both excited and troubled by her experience as an early educator:

“As a recent college graduate, I chose a career as a nursery school teacher. I was enthralled by witnessing and facilitating how young children learned. But it quickly became apparent that there was something amiss — many parents could not find or afford good services, only some teachers had access to education and training, only a handful of programs paid a decent wage and I witnessed one skilled fellow teacher after another leave to pursue a career that offered greater respect and reward.”

Whitebook decided to act. She explains:  Continue Reading »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Elizabeth A. Gilbert has spent years working in early childhood settings, and she says she has seen too many underprepared early educators, adults who themselves have poor literacy skills.

So in 2010, Gilbert and her colleagues set up a program to help early educators build their skills. Today, Gilbert is the coordinator of this effort, the Early Childhood Education Learn at Work program, which is part of the Labor/Management Workplace Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Earlier this month, Gilbert wrote about her program’s work in a Washington Post blog called, “The famous ‘word gap’ doesn’t hurt only the young. It affects many educators, too.”

Gilbert writes that it’s not just children who grapple with the word gap that the Hart-Risley study found. It’s also early educators.  Continue Reading »

“…I can tell you there’s nothing more important than that development of that brain in the first four years of life,” Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley said earlier this month at the Alabama Governor’s Early Childhood Education Leadership Summit.

Nearly 300 early education leaders attended the summit, which “highlighted the state’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program, home visiting programs, child care centers, and elementary schools and new federal grants for Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships and Pre-K expansion,” according to a press release.

“Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said the success of K-12 education depended on the success of early childhood education,” a news story in the Montgomery Advertiser explains.

Bice adds: “If the leaders in this state do what’s right for children and rethink some of the things that we are currently doing and do this together, we can make a lot of difference for kids.”  Continue Reading »

Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Federal officials are sounding an alarm: children who are being suspended or expelled from preschool need help.

“Recent data indicate that expulsions and suspensions occur with regularity in preschool settings,” according to a recent letter signed by both U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Expulsions are “a problematic issue” Burwell and Duncan write, because removing children from preschool programs can have “adverse outcomes across development, health, and education. In addition, stark racial and gender disparities exist in these practices, with young boys of color being suspended and expelled at much higher rates than other children in early learning programs.”

The secretaries add: “These trends warrant immediate attention from the early childhood and education fields.”  Continue Reading »

“Nationwide, state funding for pre-K increased by $672 million, to a total of $6.3 billion. This is a 12 percent increase in state investment in pre-K programs over fiscal year 2013-14. This year’s increase builds on a 6.9 percent funding increase from the prior year.”

Bruce Atchison and Emily Workman in “State Pre-K Funding: 2014-15 fiscal year,” a report from the Education Commission of the States, January 2015

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Researchers know that talking to babies helps their vocabularies grow. The more words infants hear the better. But studies show that in addition to more words, babies benefit from hearing more complex words. And as children grow, parents can help by having more “abstract” conversations.

Meredith Rowe, a Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) professor, explains her findings on language development in an interview posted on HGSE’s “Usable Knowledge” website.

“We’ve known for a while that the quantity of input matters. I think the shift to a focus on quality rather than quantity was a natural next step in the field,” Rowe explains, adding:

“It is much easier to send a message about quantity, but if we know that quality trumps quantity, statistically, then perhaps we can really try and change the message to be more about having high-quality conversations with children rather than just ‘talking a lot.’”  Continue Reading »

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