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Archive for the ‘Cognitive development’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Fall is coming and it’s going to be a busy season for early education and care advocates. There’ll be hearings on important legislation and the crucial work of drafting the budget for fiscal year 2017.

To make the advocacy case, try this useful tool: the 2013 policy brief “Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education.”

As we blogged earlier this week, the brief is a “review of the current science and evidence base on early childhood education.” Yesterday, we looked at the impact on children’s academic skills and on their socio-emotional development.

In today’s blog, we’ll look at what the brief says about early education’s quality, its long-term outcomes, and its effect on diverse subgroups.

 

Quality Matters

“Children show larger gains in higher-quality preschool programs,” the brief says, summing up the research. “Higher-quality preschool programs have larger impacts on children’s development while children are enrolled in the program and are more likely to create gains that are sustained after the child leaves preschool.”

“The most important aspects of quality in preschool education are stimulating and supportive interactions between teachers and children and effective use of curricula.” (more…)

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Why do some children who endure traumatic experiences develop in healthy ways while others are harmed?

One answer is resilience. And in a new collection of videos and working papers, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child looks at what resilience is; how to build resilience in children; and how public policy can help promote resilience.

“We define resilience as a good outcome in the face of adversity,” Jack Shonkoff, the director of the center, says in an introductory video. That adversity can include having a mentally ill parent, living in a poor community, attending a weak school, or being exposed to violence.

“It’s tempting to think about children as either having this resilient quality — or not. But resilience is built over time; just as and in parallel with how the architecture of the brain is built over time,” Philip A. Fisher, a University of Oregon psychology professor, says in the video.

“It’s not just in the person,” Shonkoff explains about resilience. “It’s in the interaction between the person and the environment.” (more…)

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Photo: Courtesy of the Milton Early Childhood Alliance

Photo: Courtesy of the Milton Early This bChildhood Alliance

This blog was originally published on May 12, 2014. 

On a rainy day last month in Milton, preschoolers and their parents wearing raincoats and boots went for a “StoryWalk,” at Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum.

What’s a StoryWalk? Children go for a walk and stop along the way where the pages of a book are posted so they can hear the story read aloud — or read it themselves or to a younger sibling.

In this case, the book read was “Possum and the Peeper” by Anne Hunter, a seasonally appropriate book about a possum woken from his winter nap by peeping sounds. Laminated pages of the book were posted along the way. The Patriot Ledger has a photo gallery of the StoryWalk here.

Susan Dolan, the director of the Milton Early Childhood Alliance, organized this StoryWalk with the Trailside Museum, and she explains that StoryWalks promote early literacy, encourage parents and children to do outdoor activities, and support the crucial idea that parents are their children’s first teachers. In addition, Dolan says, StoryWalks introduce parents and children to new books. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children (MassAEYC) is holding its 11th annual spring conference — “Children: A Link to Our Future” — on March 27th and 28th, 2015.

The event will be held at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center, located at 219 Littleton Road, in Westford, Mass. And registration has been extended until tomorrow.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Lisa Murphy, an early childhood specialist and the founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc., a company that provides workshops and training sessions.

Murphy’s topic is “Many Kinds of Smart! Understanding the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.”

“Think you are good at your job because you love children?” the conference brochure asks in its description of Murphy’s presentation. “What about the ones that challenge you?”

Using these questions as a framework, Murphy “puts her own spin on Howard Gardner’s classic theory.”

“By providing easy to implement, yet possibly challenging, ‘comfort zone stretchers,’ Lisa challenges teachers to make sure they are celebrating all of the children in the classroom, not just the ones they like.” (more…)

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“Singing—much like rhyming—is a special form of language that improves children’s memory, and teaches them rhythm and melody. Brain research has shown that when children are sung to, both the left and right sides of their brains are activated, strengthening their neural connections. Singing can also teach children new vocabulary words.

“But children don’t get the same benefits from listening to a CD or musical video. According to Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, the benefits to brain development occurs best when a parent or caregiver sings directly to, and with, a young child.”

“Even Singing Off Key Can Bring a Smile to Children’s Faces,” a blog post on the website Too Small to Fail, March 11, 2015

(And parents, don’t just sing to your child, think about how they can participate in the song.)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

This month, a National Geographic article explores “Baby Brains,” looking at the factors that hinder or help infants’ neurological development.

“Peering inside children’s brains with new imaging tools, scientists are untangling the mystery of how a child goes from being barely able to see when just born to being able to talk, ride a tricycle, draw, and invent an imaginary friend by the age of five,” the article explains. “The more scientists find out about how children acquire the capacity for language, numbers, and emotional understanding during this period, the more they realize that the baby brain is an incredible learning machine. Its future—to a great extent—is in our hands.”

The article adds: “The amount of brain activity in the earliest years affects how much there is later in life.” A picture of the EEG scans of eight-year-olds shows “that institutionalized children who were not moved to a nurturing foster care environment before they were two years old have less activity than those who were.” Again, early nurturing was essential for building brains.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What do you think young children need to develop strong social/emotional and learning skills?

Let the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) know.

EEC is holding three public hearings in Boston, Brockton, and Worcester to get public feedback on a draft of proposed social-emotional learning standards.

Called the “Pre-School and Kindergarten Standards in the domains of Social-Emotional Development and Approaches to Play and Learning,” the draft can be downloaded by clicking here.

The need for standards is clear. As the draft explains: “The preponderance of outcomes from both research and evidence-based practice clearly show the strong connection between social and emotional learning, academic learning, and success in life. In fact this synergistic development of social and emotional and academic skills promotes and facilitates higher order thinking.”  (more…)

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