Archive for the ‘Early educators’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children


Three things we’re grateful for:

New America’s report on Massachusetts’ birth-to-third-grade policies

This amusing article about what reading does to your brain and the news that the national nonprofit RIF (Reading is Fundamental) plans to give away collections of “50 high quality children’s picture e-books.” To find out more go to www.billionebookgift.org

* This cool conference video from NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) and the power of early educators. Click here to see more NAEYC videos.



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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The city of Cambridge, Mass., has released its “Early Childhood Task Force Report 2015.” It’s a comprehensive look at how the city can build an early childhood system that improves the lives of its youngest children.

“We should be breaking open bottles of champagne. This is fulfilling hopes and dreams of so many people in Cambridge,” school committee member Fred Fantini said, according to a Wicked Local Cambridge article, which adds:

“The task force [has] developed a three-year-plan to improve early childhood education that would require an intended budget of $190,000 in 2016, $1.3 million in 2017, and $2.3 million in 2018. In the first year of the plan, the money would go towards affordability of early childhood services, program quality, and governance. In 2017 and 2018, family engagement and health care will be included in the budget costs as well.”

In a memo, City Manager Richard C. Rossi explains that the task force did its work with this powerful vision in mind:

“All children in Cambridge receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade. As a result, all children enter school ready to thrive academically, socially, emotionally and continue to do so through third grade and beyond.” (more…)

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Patricia Hnatiuk teaching at Wheelock College.  Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Patricia Hnatiuk teaching at Wheelock College.
Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children


How are colleges and universities doing at training early educators? A new policy brief — “Early Childhood Higher Education: Taking Stock Across the States” — provides answers, pointing to fragmented efforts that need more organization and consistency.

The brief is based on information collected through the Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory, “a research tool for describing the landscape of a state’s early childhood degree program offerings at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.”

The inventory is administered by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at the University of California at Berkeley. The organization also produced the policy brief.

The brief “highlights findings from inventories conducted in seven states to date —California, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island — on the extent to which ECE teacher preparation is currently integrated across the birth-to-age-eight continuum, and on variations in field-based practice opportunities for teachers of young children.” (more…)

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“On behalf of the nation’s governors, we urge Congress to enhance state early childhood education programs by continuing Preschool Development Grants as part of FY 2016 appropriations.

“Governors understand that early childhood education is a key component of building a literate, knowledgeable and skilled 21st century workforce. Preschool Development Grants, including expansion grants, enable governors to build on their efforts to promote school readiness by accelerating state-focused innovation to improve access and quality in early childhood education. States use the program to better serve our youngest students, including English language learners and early learners with disabilities; improve the professional development of preschool teachers and administrators; and expand access to early education programs to thousands of students.”

A letter from the National Governors Association to Congress, November 10, 2015

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is weighing in on preschool with an article about the challenges of creating programs that maximize best outcomes for children.

Called “Preschool is for Real,” the article starts by noting that children and teachers are doing a lot of hard work.

“Imagine yourself as a preschooler. Everything’s an adventure, from pretending you’re a superhero to chasing a butterfly to painting a self-portrait. There is so much to explore, discover and learn at preschool, and it all feels like play—hours and hours of play,” the article says.

“But behind all the fun and games, preschool teachers have one very serious goal: To prepare children for kindergarten and future academic success. To achieve that, they have the daunting task of helping young children learn specific social, emotional, physical, linguistic, cognitive, literacy and math skills, which are defined in state learning guidelines or standards. All this sounds very much like school, although preschool teachers make it all feel like play.” (more…)

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“My husband is among about 50 adults who are participating in an Oakland Public Library program to train volunteers to read to low-income three and four year olds in preschool and Head Start classrooms for a half hour each week. He has just completed his 18 hours of mandatory training, plus two observations of storytime conducted by child librarians. Once he presents his assignment to fellow volunteers (which involves two books, several fingerplays and songs as well as ideas about how to handle challenges that might arise with eager and squirmy listeners) he will be cleared to face his assigned preschoolers.

“Some hear about this training and think it is excessive; as a former preschool teacher, I consider this level of preparation appropriate for a volunteer, but far too little for a preschool teacher. Disturbingly, however, my husband’s volunteer training exceeds that of many teachers working with preschool-age children each day across our country…”

“Despite all we have learned about the crucial development in the first years of life and the important role of teachers in facilitating early learning, ECE [early childhood education] jobs offer little premium to those teachers who have earned degrees.”

“It’s time to change how we prepare and support early childhood educators,” by Marcy Whitebook, posted on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website Impatient Optimists, October 19, 2015

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Education officials have released the state’s new social-emotional learning (SEL) standards: officially called the “Massachusetts Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten in the Domains of Social and Emotional Learning, and Approaches to Play and Learning.”

It’s a key step toward teaching young children the so-called “soft” skills they need to be successful in school and later in life.

“Children enter early education programs with a vast diversity in experiences, language, culture, development, and ability, creating the widest developmental range of any age group,” the standards say. “Some may have spent extensive time in group settings, others no time at all.” Given these diverse experiences, building social and emotional skills is an essential part of building a cohesive group.

Massachusetts isn’t alone. Educators and advocates across the country have the same goal. (more…)

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