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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

Donna Servideo

Donna Servideo

This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Donna Servideo and I work at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. I am a preschool teacher for children who are 2.9 to 5 years of age. I have been in this position for the past eight years. That is also the same amount of time I have been in this field. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Development and Human Services from Anna Maria College and started my teaching career at the YWCA.

I love this job so much and cannot see myself working in any other field.

The work that I do with preschool age children is very important. I work with the children to get them ready socially and academically for kindergarten. I work closely with the parents so that we can work together to get the children where they need to be. The field of Early Childhood Education is so important. We set the stepping stones for each of these children. Without the hard work we as educators do, there would not be as many children who are ready for kindergarten.  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The state has a new mental health guide that focuses on young children called “Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resources and Services: A Guide for Early Education and Care Professionals.”

It’s a road map that’s packed with information as well as phone numbers and Internet links that early educators can use to connect children and their families to a wide array of resources and organizations.

Early education professionals will find “descriptions of services and supports for families with young children, as well as resources that can benefit your program, whether you work in an early education and care center or family child care setting.”

And: “To support staff conversations with families about their children’s social-emotional development, the guide also includes advice on how early childhood professionals can share their concerns with parents.”

The guide is published by the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), “an interagency initiative of the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.” CBHI worked with the state’s Department of Mental Health and its Department of Early Education and Care.

Some of the funding for this project came from the federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant that was awarded to Massachusetts in 2011.

(more…)

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Danielle

Danielle Scanlon

This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Danielle Scanlon, and I work at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. I have been in the early education and care field for about six and a half years.

As an infant teacher, I appreciate the value of early education and the amount of work infant and toddler teachers put into each lesson. Infants learn more in their first year than any other year of life. Young children, all children, learn best through play, hands on experimentation, and manipulation.

You cannot teach what red and yellow make by reading a book on colors. Infant and toddler teachers know this, so they create activities that let young children discover what happens to colors when they move them around on a giant piece of paper, covering themselves with paint.

I try to get the families involved in their infants’ education by inviting them to our room to help us create the paint art. This helps parents understand the value of play. The parents learn to appreciate that children need to explore using all of their senses, and children need to be able to make a mess to understand cause and effect. (more…)

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Mass Literacy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy education across Massachusetts, is featuring a series of blog posts by Jean Ciborowski Fahey on how word games boost early literacy.

“What do you get when you combine a monthly dose of poetry with daily word play? A well-prepared early reader,” Fahey blogged last week in a post called “Word games to boost early literacy skills: Rhyming fun.”

Capitalizing on the fact that April is National Poetry Month, Fahey adds:

“Word play is a really fun way to train your preschooler for learning-to-read. The training requires no special equipment. Instead, it takes fun, intention, and frequency so that the wiring so crucial for connecting sounds to letters begins to form in children’s brains. Connecting sounds to letters is the basis of learning to read and spell. And, April being poetry month is the perfect time to begin.” (more…)

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Photo: Courtesy of the Milton Early Childhood Alliance

Photo: Courtesy of the Milton Early This bChildhood Alliance

This blog was originally published on May 12, 2014. 

On a rainy day last month in Milton, preschoolers and their parents wearing raincoats and boots went for a “StoryWalk,” at Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum.

What’s a StoryWalk? Children go for a walk and stop along the way where the pages of a book are posted so they can hear the story read aloud — or read it themselves or to a younger sibling.

In this case, the book read was “Possum and the Peeper” by Anne Hunter, a seasonally appropriate book about a possum woken from his winter nap by peeping sounds. Laminated pages of the book were posted along the way. The Patriot Ledger has a photo gallery of the StoryWalk here.

Susan Dolan, the director of the Milton Early Childhood Alliance, organized this StoryWalk with the Trailside Museum, and she explains that StoryWalks promote early literacy, encourage parents and children to do outdoor activities, and support the crucial idea that parents are their children’s first teachers. In addition, Dolan says, StoryWalks introduce parents and children to new books. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

While the state waits for new revenue to significantly expand early education and care opportunities for young children, it’s important to ensure that the existing subsidy system is operating as effectively as possible.

This was the intention of state legislators in FY14 when they approved $500,000 in funding to conduct a two-year, independent study of The Department of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) child care access accounts. These accounts are commonly referred to as Income Eligible, TANF, and Supportive Child Care. They consist of federal funds and required state matches, and they make up the majority of EEC’s budget.

Now, two years have passed and the research results are in.

The Urban Institute, a D.C.-based policy research organization, has released its findings in a series of policy reports that look at:

• improving the efficiency of the system

• analyzing gaps in the availability of subsidies, and,

• assessing the balance between providing quality early education for children and providing workforce support for guardians

Massachusetts wins praise for its strengths and gets feedback on ways to improve its vision and its delivery of services.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Imagine a citywide approach to helping young children prepare for school.

That’s the city New Bedford is striving to be. The city’s public school system is working with local center-based preschool providers, as well as diverse stakeholders including the New Bedford Art Museum, the city’s housing authority, and the United Way of New Bedford to develop school readiness programs.

“We’ve never really had that alignment conversation,” Diane Sullivan said in a recent interview. Sullivan is the supervisor of Early Childhood Special Education for New Bedford Public Schools.

Sullivan helps lead the Birth through Third Grade Alignment Partnership effort, which has been underway in New Bedford since fall 2014. The work is funded by the Department of Early Education and Care, using federal Early Learning Challenge funds.

Taking what Sullivan calls a “good first step,” New Bedford has decided to focus on helping preschool-age children build strong social and emotional skills.  (more…)

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