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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

“Preschool is founded on play; experts say it’s how children learn best. But not all play is the same.

“How, then, should parents decide what school is right for their child? They can readily compare cost and location, but quality is tougher to discern…”

“Jane Lannak, director of the Early Childhood Learning Lab at Boston University and a clinical associate professor, said children need to develop a love of learning as they play, and to feel respected and part of the classroom community.

“One good way to foster those ideals is to help them follow their interests, she said. Parents should look for a program with structure in which children make some choices about what activities they do.”

From “How to pick the right preschool for your child,” by Jennette Barnes, the Boston Globe, July 30, 2015

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released its 2015 KIDS Count Data Book, an annual report on how children are doing nationally and in individual states.

Among the key findings: despite some positive economic changes, childhood poverty stubbornly persists.

“About 1.7 million more children live in low-income working families today than during the Great Recession,” the foundation explains on its website. “In 2013, one in four children, 18.7 million, lived in a low-income working family in the United States. Nearly a third of children are living in families where no parent has full-time employment. And even when parents are working full time, wages and benefits are often not sufficient to adequately support a family.”

The Data Book “showed some signs of slight improvement, including high school graduation rates at an all-time high and a falling percentage of uninsured children. But the bright spots weren’t enough to offset a picture that many children have been left behind amid the nation’s economic recovery,” according to a news story from the Associated Press. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Federal officials have come up with promising, new plans for improving Head Start — including longer program days and years — but this growth can only happen if Congress provides the necessary funding.

Back in 2007, Congress asked the Office of Head Start to update its performance standards.

The result is a newly released proposal, the “Head Start Performance Standards,” from the Administration for Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“This is the first comprehensive overhaul of the standards since they were first published in 1975,” according to EdCentral, a New America Foundation blog. “Both the early education landscape and our knowledge of the science of early learning have changed dramatically in the last 40 years, and understandably, many of the performance standards were in need of an update.”

EdCentral adds: “These new standards give Head Start a much-needed makeover without changing the core purpose and function of the program. The proposed standards are up for public comment until August 18, 2015.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Understanding the importance of the birth-to-third-grade continuum, school districts are leading efforts to strengthen programming and create better alignment between preschool and grade school programs.

One example is California where some school districts are reaching beyond their K-12 responsibilities to “to meet the needs of the youngest low-income children who live within their district boundaries – infants and toddlers,” according to an Edsource article.

These efforts are happening against a backdrop of state support. Last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed a fiscal year 2016 budget that “includes over $300 million in increased investments and important policy developments for early care and education,” according to the nonprofit advocacy organization Early Edge California.

But there’s still a lot of work for to be done, and not enough funding to do it.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“Every week in the United States, child care providers care for nearly 11 million children younger than age 5 whose mothers are working,” according to a new report.

Given those numbers, the United States has to “recognize the value of child care as an investment in early childhood education and as a support system for working families,” if we want to “remain competitive in the 21st-century global economy…”

This annual report — the “2015 State Fact Sheets,” — was just released by the nonprofit organization Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA).

Founded in 1987, CCAoA is “a national membership-based nonprofit organization working to advance affordability, accessibility, development and learning of children in child care.”

The report provides data on “America’s working families and the circumstances they face,” making it a “critical tool for child care advocates, policymakers and program administrators to guide decision-making about child care programs and costs.” (more…)

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Laura Polanco

Laura Polanco

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

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My name is Laura Polanco, and I work full-time for Worcester Child Development Head Start as a Family Service Associate. I also work part-time for Worcester Family Partnership, helping to facilitate literacy-based playgroups and as a home visitor for the Parent Child Home Program. I have been in the early education and care field for 11 years. During these years, I have held several different positions: a parent volunteer, assistant teacher, teacher, and coach/mentor.

I am still working on my own education. I am blessed to be involved in two programs as I work towards my master’s degree. The first program is a partnership between Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University that grants a Leadership Certificate. The other program is Worcester State University’s Improving Teacher Quality Grant. Without these options, I would not be able to financially acquire my Master’s degree. Programs like these help make us stronger educators so that we can provide a high-quality early education to children.

Early childhood sets the foundation for a child’s learning. Just like a house needs a strong foundation to be able to stay up, so does a child. I feel these early years are very crucial in setting the stage for each child to be an immersed learner as they grow. We empower these children to believe and accomplish anything they set out for. These are the most important years of a child’s life. We need to make sure their foundation can endure anything that life may bring their way and that they come out stronger than ever. (more…)

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Erin Butts

Erin Butts

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

*     *     *

My name is Erin Butts and I am the teacher/director of the Haggerty Preschool in Cambridge, Mass. The Haggerty Preschool is a 10-month, school-year program that serves children ages 2.9 to 5 years old.

I have been working in the field of early education for the past 14 years. I was a classroom teacher for seven years before moving into the teacher/director role in 2008.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a teacher. Much of that desire came from my experience as a preschooler in a Head Start Program and from wanting to give that experience to other children and their families. It was when I had my first student teaching experience in Head Start that I realized I had found my calling and early education was where I needed to be.

I truly do not feel there is any job more rewarding than being a teacher, and there is no greater feeling than the one you get when watching a child learn and grow before your eyes. Creating a classroom culture that evokes kindness and acceptance has been the underlying theme of my teaching philosophy for many years. Helping others see the good in one another is an amazing feat, and to be able to support young children in doing this from an early age is really gratifying. (more…)

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