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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

We’re happy to welcome a new early education blog to town: The Birth Through Third Grade Learning Hub.

Learning Hub blogger David Jacobson travels around Massachusetts visiting the homes, centers, and classrooms where young children learn.

The impetus for the blog? For several years, it has been clear to Jacobson that communities were implementing new programs and practices without knowing what their neighbors were doing. The blog is a way to share these experiences among cities and towns.

Specifically, the blog “tracks, profiles, and analyzes Birth-Third initiatives with the aim of promoting learning, exchange, and knowledge-building across communities.”

Jacobson works at Cambridge Education, an educational consulting company, in two roles, as Professional Excellence Director and Early Years Lead.

His blog entries offer compelling, first-hand accounts, including this one from “The Boston K1DS Project: Implementing a New Curriculum in Community-Based Preschools” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Kindergarten is changing, according to a recent Education Week article called “The Case for the New Kindergarten: Challenging and Playful.”

Not only are more children enrolled in kindergarten — nationally, 56 percent of children attended full-day kindergarten in 1998, compared to 80 percent today (and 88% in Massachusetts) — but kindergarten classrooms “are also far more academically oriented.”

“Our research shows that most kindergarten teachers now think academic instruction should begin in preschool and indicate that it’s important for incoming kindergartners to already know their letters and numbers. Today’s kindergarten teachers are spending much more time on literacy and expect their students to learn to read before first grade.”

The article was written by Daphna Bassok, an assistant professor of education and public policy at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Amy Claessens, an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, and Mimi Engel, an assistant professor of public policy and education at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. (more…)

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Photo: Courtesy of the City of Boston

Photo: Courtesy of the City of Boston

Here’s an exciting birth announcement from The City of Boston, the Boston Housing Authority, and Nurtury (formerly known as Associated Early Care and Education):

It’s a brand new building!

The Nurtury Learning Lab at Bromley-Heath

Serving children ages 0 to 8

20,000 square feet of classroom space

14,000 square feet of outdoor learning and play areas

LEED Gold Certification

Click here for the Facebook Pictures!

The new building had its ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday. And Boston Mayor Marty Walsh helped out with the ceremonial scissors.

“The Nurtury Learning Lab, located at the Boston Housing Authority’s (BHA) Bromley-Heath public housing development in Jamaica Plain, will anchor a campus of services for children and families,” according to a press release. The building “integrates early education, family and community learning opportunities and support, and professional development activities for early educators throughout Boston and eastern Massachusetts.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Colorado and Hawaii are joining the list of cities and states that are forging ahead on early education by expanding access and quality.

Colorado’s Education Investments

The Colorado Legislature approved a budget deal that invests new funding in early education and K-12.

Chalkbeat Colorado, an educational news website says, “The bottom line is this. The package increases Total Program Funding, the combination of state and local spending that pays for basic school operations, to $5.91 billion in 2014-15 from $5.76 billion this year.”

And as an Associated Press article explains, “Two Colorado education bills aimed at restoring school budgets hurt by years of budget cuts have been signed into law.”

As a result, statewide average per pupil spending is increasing from $6,839 this year to $7,020 next year.

Among the budget’s allocations:

• $27 million for English language learner programs

• $18 million for the READ Act, which provides special services to K-3 students who are behind in reading, and

• $17 million to create 5,000 additional slots for at-risk preschool and kindergarten children

(more…)

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The Boston Strong Tower. Photo: Courtesy of the Boston Public Schools.

The Boston Strong Tower. Photo: Courtesy of the Boston Public Schools.

“Dear Boston Public School Kindergarteners,” Mayor Marty Walsh wrote in a letter last February. Walsh introduced himself and added that as some of Boston’s “youngest and most important residents” the children had the right to share their opinions about the city.

Walsh went on to ask this question: “What suggestions do you have about construction in our city to make Boston a fairer and more interesting place for children?”

It’s easy to focus on how cute this request is, but at the heart of this letter is a meaningful invitation for children to be engaged young citizens.

“This is a big question so take your time in answering it. Talk to your classmates, your teachers, and your family. Do research to get ideas. Write your ideas and please make a model to help me understand your ideas better,” the mayor wrote, encouraging kindergarteners to engage in civic discussions. (more…)

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“Investing in early education is becoming not a question of ‘if’ or ‘why’, but ‘how?’” These introductory comments by

Photo by Chau Ly courtesy of the Department of Early Education and Care

Photo by Chau Ly courtesy of the Department of Early Education and Care

Albert Wat, senior policy analyst at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, helped set the stage for the day’s conference, Birth Through Grade 3 Policy Forum: Developing Strategic Pathways to College and Career Success.

More than 250 early educators, K-12 administrators, and community leaders gathered at the DCU center on Friday, May 16, to discuss birth-grade three policy strategies at the local and state levels. Community-wide efforts, collaboration, and shared accountability were among the prominent themes of the day.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Higher Education, the Readiness Centers Network, and Strategies for Children. A team of representatives from these agencies have been working collaboratively on a shared B-8 agenda since Massachusetts was awarded a grant from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) back in June, 2013. Five other states received similar NGA policy academy grants.

Saeyun Lee, senior assistant commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, told attendees, “This event is the result of months of analysis from the NGA team. Today, you will be able to contribute to the state’s birth-grade 3 agenda.” Even though the NGA grant ends in four to five months, the work will be ongoing. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last December, Liz Simons wrote an opinion piece about early education for the San Jose Mercury News called “Kids and Math: Teaching it early, at home and in school, is critical.”

“Surprisingly few people know how important it is to teach little kids math,” Simons wrote, “but the math a child knows upon starting kindergarten is one of the strongest predictors of later school success – at least as predictive as literacy and more than social-emotional skills.”

Simons is the president of the Heising-Simons Foundation, which is dedicated to sustainable, research-based solutions in education, environment, science, and policy. The foundation “promotes the development of math skills and interest in math in young children (preschool to grade 3).” Two of the foundation’s reports on early math are available here.

Simons’ piece is also posted as “Give Them Math” on the website of Too Small to Fail, a nonprofit organization that encourages parents and businesses to take actions to support the health and well-being of children ages 0 to 5.

Teaching math in early education settings should be fun.  As Simons wrote, “children delight in purposeful, playful mathematics instruction.”

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