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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: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As we wrote last week in Part One of this blog, the Ninth Annual Wheelock Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care called on the field to: unite; develop an agenda; and tell a compelling story that will inspire policymakers — especially the next governor of Massachusetts — to commit to a grand plan for improving the commonwealth’s early education and care system.

Interactive Dialogue Groups

After the keynote speakers, the audience broke into smaller interactive dialogue groups that covered a range of topics, including:

- family engagement

- assessments

- infants and toddlers

- play

(more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Need help engaging an infant, toddler or preschool-aged child? Check out “Resources for Early Learning,” a website produced by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care and the WGBH Educational Foundation, with support from federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funds. 

“This site provides exciting, engaging media-rich learning opportunities for educators, parents, and caregivers of children. From detailed lesson plans to simple, everyday activities, you will find everything you need to help your children succeed,” the website explains.

The goal is to empower adults — parents and early education and care providers — by giving them the “skills, training, knowledge, and understanding needed to help young children grow and learn.” The website was developed by a team of experts, educators, and parents.

 The site has three main sections:

In the section for educators, there is a nine-unit curriculum for children ages 3 to 5 that uses a media-based approach to cover STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as well as English Language Arts. The curriculum includes activities and recommended books to read out loud. This approach is designed to help children develop academic and social and emotional skills. Educators will also find a search feature that finds activities. And there’s a link to a range of best practices in professional development.

(more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Last month, Boston EQUIP — the Early Education Quality Improvement Project— released two reports on the quality of early childhood programs in Boston:

- Community Profiles 2013, a comprehensive online survey of early education providers in Boston, and

- the Boston Quality Inventory (BQI) 2013, an in-depth study of program quality conducted at a sample of home-based and center-based early education and care programs

 These reports present crucial data that help inform and advance the policy conversation about how to improve program quality. Research shows that early education programs must be high-quality in order to see lasting positive impacts on children’s development.

Launched in 1994, Boston EQUIP is “a project of Associated Early Care and Education with a broad goal and mission – to collaborate with members of the Boston early education community to systematically evaluate, set goals for, and improve upon the quality of early childhood programs,” according to a press release. The project is aligned with Boston’s Thrive in 5 School Readiness Roadmap, which “sets goals and strategies for strengthening, coordinating and improving the quality of child and family-serving systems in the city, in order to prepare children to succeed in school.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new report, “Building a Foundation for Success,” looks at the unmet preschool needs of children in the commonwealth — and proposes three ways that Massachusetts might expand its preschool programs to create more access.

Released by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), a nonprofit research organization, the report examines the number of preschool-age children in Massachusetts and the public funding streams that support their enrollment. The report costs out “a range of options for expanding and improving early education and care for these 3- and 4-year-olds in Massachusetts.” The options proposed range in cost from $153 million to $606 million in increased annual state funding on top of what is currently being spent. This increased state funding would be bolstered by non-state sources such as sliding scale parent fees or local education funding, depending on the model used.

“Right now we have a very fragmented system and that leaves many kids without access to any early education at all,” Noah Berger, MassBudget’s president, told the Boston Globe. However, Berger added that there was a growing consensus that a wide expansion of early education options was good for children and for the economy.

Carolyn Lyons, Strategies for Children president and CEO, is encouraged by the report. “This new report by MassBudget builds upon ongoing state and local policy conversations across the commonwealth on how to pay for and structure high-quality universal pre-k. Research shows that high-quality early education has (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Here in Massachusetts, our state legislators are drafting their budget recommendations for fiscal year 2015. In the next few weeks, they will meet with leaders in the House of Representative and the Senate to share their priorities. High-quality early education should be at the top of that agenda.

Research shows that high-quality early education provides cost-effective social and academic benefits for children. In the commonwealth, these children are our “rising stars,” and they are counting on everyone — educators, parents, advocates, neighbors, grandparents, administrators, students and citizens — to speak up on their behalf.

So contact your state legislators. And please join Rising Stars 2014. Send your legislator stars to remind them about the importance of early education.

  • Decorate stars: Invite young children in your early education program/family/neighborhood to decorate stars. Click here for a star template. Please cut out the stars. On the back of the decorated stars, attach a message about the importance of investing in our rising stars. On the message sheet, include the child’s name, the name of your program (if applicable), and your city or town.
  • Help children grades K-3 fill out their very own K-3rd Rising Star to send to state legislators! Make sure to complete both sides.
  • Future early educators: Send a message to your legislators asking them to prioritize young children and the early education workforce by personalizing this letter.
  • General supporters of young children: Personalize this letter to your legislators on behalf of young children and families in Massachusetts. In the section labeled “your role,” choose from one of the following or write another that best describes you: parent, voter, resident, professional educator, voter, administrator, grandparent, concerned citizen, etc.
  • Send materials to your state legislators! Mail your decorated stars and letters to legislators in your district. Look up your legislators here:https://malegislature.gov/People/CityList
  • Let us know if you participated. Return your participation form to:

Laura Healy
Strategies for Children/Early Education for All
400 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02110

If you have questions, please contact Laura Healy at 617-330-7389 or EEAintern@earlyeducationforall.org.

Thank you for supporting all our rising stars.

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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

The new budget season will begin in January when Governor Patrick presents his state budget recommendations for fiscal year 2015.

So this month, the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) met to approve its FY15 aspirational budget. FY15 starts on July 1, 2014.

Last Year’s EEC Budget

Last year’s FY14 EEC budget was $509 million. It included:

- $15 million to reduce the wait list for early education and care for children from income-eligible families. The FY 14 budget also had

- $11.5 million for a rate reserve to support early educators’ salaries and benefits

- level funding for universal pre-K, full-day kindergarten and the early childhood educator scholarships

- funding for a special commission to study the cost of administering early education and care services

- funding for a two-year independent study of the state’s provision of child care supports

FY15 Budget Proposal

This year the EEC Board is asking for an increase of $93.7 million. This increased investment is a wise step that would expand children’s access to early education (more…)

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