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Archive for the ‘Early Learning Challenge’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Somerville has a cool new early childhood website: SomervilleHub.org.

Produced by the Somerville Early Education Steering Committee, the website helps “connect local families with young children to the full range of information and resources they need to raise healthy, active children from birth to age 8,” a press release explains.

The wide range of information and insights include: facts on growth and development; good ideas about free craft activities offered by local businesses; kids’ programs run by local nonprofit organizations such as Eagle Eye Institute; and information on childcare and school options, social services, family events, and local parks.

Somerville’s goal is to provide a central hub for parents “especially in the early childhood years, to help their children develop kindergarten-readiness and then thrive and reach their full potential once enrolled in school.”

In an impressive nod to Somerville’s diversity, the website’s content can be translated into some 80 languages that range from Afrikaans and Albanian to Mongolian and Nepali to Yiddish and Zulu. (more…)

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Faculty and graduates of UMass Boston's early education bachelor’s degree program.  Anne Douglass is third from the right.

Faculty and graduates of UMass Boston’s early education bachelor’s degree program. Photo: Courtesy of the University of Massachusetts Boston.

It’s not just Massachusetts preschool programs that are growing and improving. There’s also exciting growth in the higher education programs that train and prepare early educators.

In Massachusetts, it’s clear that these two educational systems — preschool and higher education —should develop in concert with each other, so that early educators are always learning the newest concepts and strategies for teaching young children.

Some of the seeds for this growth were planted when UMass Boston was asked to develop an accessible, affordable way to train early educators, according to UMass Boston’s Anne Douglass, an early childhood education professor and the program director of the Bachelor’s and Post Master’s Certificate Programs in Early Education and Care. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

This summer federal officials announced that states could apply for preschool development grants: a $250 million federal program that will help “states to build, develop, and expand voluntary, high-quality preschool programs for children from low- and moderate-income families.”

Now an impressive 32 states (as of Monday) have declared their interest in the program, which is being jointly run by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“These grants would lay the groundwork to ensure that more states are ready to participate in the Preschool for All formula grant initiative proposed by the Administration,” according to the Department of Education.

Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and New Hampshire are among the nine states applying for the program’s “development grants,” funding for states with little or no public preschool infrastructure. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This blog was originally published on July 24, 2013.

Libraries and museums can engage, teach and delight children. But too often these institutions are not part of the policy conversation about early education.

A new report – “Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners” – calls for tapping and investing in more of the strengths and knowledge of these vibrant institutions.

“Libraries and museums can play a stronger role in early learning for all children,” the report says. “As our nation commits to early learning as a national priority essential to our economic and civic future, it is time to become more intentional about deploying these vital community resources to this challenge.”

The report comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

The nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums have 10 key strengths, according to the report, among them:

- Museums and libraries provide high-quality, easily accessed early education programs that engage and support parents in being their children’s first teachers. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Early education is in the spotlight like never before… yet real progress is elusive,” according to a report being released today by the New America Foundation called: “Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.”

“President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for increased investments in child care, pre-K, home visiting, and other programs,” the report says. “Thirty-five states entered the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants competition, which has so far invested about $1 billion in 20 states’ infrastructure. A long-overdue reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant overwhelmingly passed the Senate this year, with potential in the House.”

In addition, the report notes that philanthropies, governors, and state legislatures increasingly recognize the importance of investing in children.

Nonetheless, the report says, achievement gaps have widened. There aren’t enough seamless transitions from pre-K to grade school. Too many low income children aren’t getting the support they need. And Congress isn’t providing stable funding. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The interesting thing about Liz Belsito’s favorite children’s book — “Whose Mouse Are You?” by Robert Kraus, which her parents read to her when she was young – is that the book’s theme of family engagement echoes a key theme in Belsito’s career.

“I’ve always tended to wear the family support hat,” Belsito said of her work, in a recent interview. A college graduate of UMass Amherst with an MSW from SUNY Albany, Belsito said that within social work she focused on public policy.

Today, Belsito is the Race to the Top Project Director at the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). She oversees the efforts funded by the $50 million, federal Race to the Top — Early Learning Challenge grant that Massachusetts was awarded in 2011. EEC has used the grant to build on the earlier work Massachusetts has done to build a high-quality and responsive system of early education and care.

Now that there are 18 months left in this four-year grant, we asked Belsito to tell us about recent and upcoming Race to the Top efforts. (more…)

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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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