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Donna Servideo

Donna Servideo

This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Donna Servideo and I work at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. I am a preschool teacher for children who are 2.9 to 5 years of age. I have been in this position for the past eight years. That is also the same amount of time I have been in this field. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Development and Human Services from Anna Maria College and started my teaching career at the YWCA.

I love this job so much and cannot see myself working in any other field.

The work that I do with preschool age children is very important. I work with the children to get them ready socially and academically for kindergarten. I work closely with the parents so that we can work together to get the children where they need to be. The field of Early Childhood Education is so important. We set the stepping stones for each of these children. Without the hard work we as educators do, there would not be as many children who are ready for kindergarten.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The state has a new mental health guide that focuses on young children called “Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resources and Services: A Guide for Early Education and Care Professionals.”

It’s a road map that’s packed with information as well as phone numbers and Internet links that early educators can use to connect children and their families to a wide array of resources and organizations.

Early education professionals will find “descriptions of services and supports for families with young children, as well as resources that can benefit your program, whether you work in an early education and care center or family child care setting.”

And: “To support staff conversations with families about their children’s social-emotional development, the guide also includes advice on how early childhood professionals can share their concerns with parents.”

The guide is published by the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), “an interagency initiative of the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.” CBHI worked with the state’s Department of Mental Health and its Department of Early Education and Care.

Some of the funding for this project came from the federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant that was awarded to Massachusetts in 2011.

Continue Reading »

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

From magnifying glasses and computers to blocks and counting, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) can be a powerful part of early education settings. To capitalize on this potential, Massachusetts has invested in STEM programs, and it is sharing the resulting resources.

In fiscal year 2014, the state budget included $250,000 to develop innovative preschool curriculum with a STEM focus. The Department of Early Education and Care used the money to award five grants to providers and community partners statewide, including the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, MA, which enrolled 40 students in a new STEM preschool located at the museum.

The resulting resources — curriculum guides and other materials — are published online in English, Spanish, and other languages on the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s STEM Nexus webpage.

The investment in STEM comes at an important time in children’s life. As a Strategies for Children research brief notes:

“Young children are naturally inquisitive learners who ask an average of 76 questions per hour. Young children are also natural scientists—they make sense of the world around them by making predictions, checking them, and using evidence to make inductions and deductions.”  Continue Reading »

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Racial segregation can start in preschool, according to a new report from Columbia University’s Teachers College that spotlights this disturbing trend.

The report — “A Better Start: Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education” — points to “racial, ethnic, and economic disparities in preschool classrooms across America,” according to a press release, “prompting calls for policymakers to focus on the value of diversity in early education classrooms as a means to increase equity and quality for America’s youngest learners.”

“If every child could be in a high-quality program, we could all go home and not worry about it,” Jeanne Reid told the Washington Post. Reid is a co-author of the report, which was funded by The Century Foundation and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council. “But a lot of programs are not high quality, and low-income children are most likely to be in low-quality programs.”

Instead of letting children from low-income families congregate in inadequate programs, the country should promote equal access to high-quality, research-backed early education programs, the report says.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

A new poll has found widespread, bipartisan support for expanding pre-K in the commonwealth.

“Massachusetts voters are strongly supportive of spending measures designed to expand access to high-quality pre-K,” according to a memo describing the results of the poll.

“Not only do voters support spending to improve access to pre-K, but they believe the state should invest significant resources in the effort. Majorities of both Democrats and Republicans support spending at least $250 million, as do majorities of every demographic group.”

Voters also “believe expanding access is essential to giving kids from lower-income families a fair chance of keeping up in school.”

The poll is based on a March telephone survey of 605 Massachusetts voters, and designed to be representative of the population of registered voters in the state. The survey was conducted by Anderson Robbins Research, and commissioned by Stand for Children on behalf of the Pre-K for MA Coalition. The coalition — which is led by Strategies for Children and by Stand for Children — “is a coalition of education, business, and civic leaders who know that early education and care can help close the state’s achievement gap and create more opportunities for disadvantaged children.”  Continue Reading »

Danielle

Danielle Scanlon

This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Danielle Scanlon, and I work at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. I have been in the early education and care field for about six and a half years.

As an infant teacher, I appreciate the value of early education and the amount of work infant and toddler teachers put into each lesson. Infants learn more in their first year than any other year of life. Young children, all children, learn best through play, hands on experimentation, and manipulation.

You cannot teach what red and yellow make by reading a book on colors. Infant and toddler teachers know this, so they create activities that let young children discover what happens to colors when they move them around on a giant piece of paper, covering themselves with paint.

I try to get the families involved in their infants’ education by inviting them to our room to help us create the paint art. This helps parents understand the value of play. The parents learn to appreciate that children need to explore using all of their senses, and children need to be able to make a mess to understand cause and effect. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Tuesday of this week, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means released a $38 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2016. The proposal represents a 3.1 percent spending increase over FY15. It relies on $572 million in one-time funds and does not recommend any tax changes.

The committee’s proposal is themed “Lifting All Families,” and “makes targeted investments to foster shared prosperity, encourage overall economic growth and create new opportunities for people in all corners of our commonwealth.”

Among these targeted investments are increases to early education and care. The Department of Early Education and Care and its programs are funded at $545.51 million, roughly $6 million higher than in the House of Representatives’ FY16 budget. This includes a $12 million investment to serve children on the state’s income eligible waiting list for early education and care subsidies. The Senate proposal also consolidates two major subsidy access accounts, Supportive Child Care and TANF. Continue Reading »

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