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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

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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Source: The Brain Building in Progress website.

Source: The Brain Building in Progress website.

December was Brain Building in Progress month at Registry of Motor Vehicle sites across the state.

While some people got driver’s licenses, young children were given an even more exciting “License to Learn.” These licenses never expire and they encourage children to be “learners for life.”

The project united the efforts of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation with the two leaders of the state’s Brain Building in Progress communications initiative: the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on March 5, 2014. 

A new report published by the Society for Research in Child Development — “Multilingual Children: Beyond Myths and Toward Best Practices” — focuses on “the strength of being multilingual and its benefit for children’s later outcomes and well-being.”

Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the report draws on more than 100 studies. “The qualitative review concludes that multilingualism is an advantage to be nurtured and maintained rather than a risk factor to be eradicated early in a child’s life,” Education Week explains in a recent review of the report.

In the Education Week piece, Allyssa McCabe, a lead author and a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, debunks two myths covered in the report. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“Some Early Childhood Experiences Shape Adult Life, But Which Ones?” NPR asks in a recent blog post.

“Most of us don’t remember our first two or three years of life — but our earliest experiences may stick with us for years and continue to influence us well into adulthood,” the post says

“Just how they influence us and how much is a question that researchers are still trying to answer. Two studies look at how parents’ behavior in those first years affects life decades later, and how differences in children’s temperament play a role.”

One finding: “Babies and toddlers raised in supportive and caring home environments tended to do better on standardized tests later on, and they were more likely to attain higher degrees as adults. They were also more likely to get along with their peers and feel satisfied in their romantic relationships.”

Both studies were published in the journal Child Development. To learn more, click here and also here.

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new report — “A Strong Start for Family Engagement in Massachusetts” — takes a look at how Massachusetts is managing family engagement programs.

Produced by the Harvard Family Research Project, the report is part of the December issue of the “FINE Newsletter: The Role of Organizations in Anywhere, Anytime Learning.” (FINE is the Family Involvement Network of Educators.)

“From high-quality statewide home visitation models to robust communications and outreach systems, the state of Massachusetts has long been a leader in high-quality family engagement,” the report says. But instead of being content with their success, state officials used federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Funds to do even more.

“Massachusetts leveraged the windfall of federal dollars in order to deepen and sustain its existing, widely recognized initiatives and to selectively innovate projects.”  (more…)

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President Obama hugs Alajah, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit.  Photo: The White House.

President Obama hugs Alajah Lane, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit. Photo: The White House

Yesterday was a historic day at the White House. President Obama hosted an early education summit that included an announcement about increased resources for young children and families.

The White House Summit on Early Education brought together a wide range of stakeholders — mayors, school superintendents, members of Congress, philanthropists, funders, and corporate and community leaders — who shared their work on providing high-quality preschool programs.

And President Obama announced that states had won over $1 billion in early childhood grant awards. The president also announced an additional $330 million in private funding.

“Early education is a win for everyone,” Obama said in his summit speech. High-quality programs give children a strong start and they save taxpayer dollars. And as Obama pointed out, progress has been bipartisan. Red and blue states including Oklahoma and Georgia and New York and New Jersey have boosted their commitment to high-quality preschool.  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Mental health matters, especially in early childhood. That’s why the Massachusetts Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership has released a new tool for providers and programs that want to integrate child mental health into pediatric primary care.

The new “Early Childhood Mental Health Toolkit: Integrating Mental Health Services into the Pediatric Medical Home” presents a model that is based on “a partnership between a family partner and mental health clinician,” according to the partnership’s website.

“A small change at the pediatrician’s office can make a large difference for all U.S. children,” the website says. “Integrating early childhood mental health staff, services, and systems into pediatric practices, also known as medical homes, transforms primary care visits into holistic visits that care for the physical and mental health of a young child.”

It’s a whole-child approach that can help families access services more quickly.

“While some mental health needs clearly call for the services of a specialist,” the website explains, “experience indicates that with adequate supports, the pediatric (more…)

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