Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The city of Cambridge, Mass., has released its “Early Childhood Task Force Report 2015.” It’s a comprehensive look at how the city can build an early childhood system that improves the lives of its youngest children.

“We should be breaking open bottles of champagne. This is fulfilling hopes and dreams of so many people in Cambridge,” school committee member Fred Fantini said, according to a Wicked Local Cambridge article, which adds:

“The task force [has] developed a three-year-plan to improve early childhood education that would require an intended budget of $190,000 in 2016, $1.3 million in 2017, and $2.3 million in 2018. In the first year of the plan, the money would go towards affordability of early childhood services, program quality, and governance. In 2017 and 2018, family engagement and health care will be included in the budget costs as well.”

In a memo, City Manager Richard C. Rossi explains that the task force did its work with this powerful vision in mind:

“All children in Cambridge receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade. As a result, all children enter school ready to thrive academically, socially, emotionally and continue to do so through third grade and beyond.” (more…)

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“One no-cost activity in which fathers can engage with their children that has been consistently linked with higher student achievement is reading. Based on this premise, the Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) program was developed to encourage fathers to become active in their children’s early literacy development.

“FRED is a family literacy program designed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service designed to improve the early literacy development of children, specifically targeted to fathers and other male caregivers. During the FRED program, male participants are given research-based, yet user-friendly, guides that enable them to begin daily reading activities with their children. Since the FRED program began 2002, over 20,000 fathers and children all over the world have participated.”

“Storytime with dad: Why fathers should read with their children,” a Mass Literacy blog post, November 2, 2015



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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is weighing in on preschool with an article about the challenges of creating programs that maximize best outcomes for children.

Called “Preschool is for Real,” the article starts by noting that children and teachers are doing a lot of hard work.

“Imagine yourself as a preschooler. Everything’s an adventure, from pretending you’re a superhero to chasing a butterfly to painting a self-portrait. There is so much to explore, discover and learn at preschool, and it all feels like play—hours and hours of play,” the article says.

“But behind all the fun and games, preschool teachers have one very serious goal: To prepare children for kindergarten and future academic success. To achieve that, they have the daunting task of helping young children learn specific social, emotional, physical, linguistic, cognitive, literacy and math skills, which are defined in state learning guidelines or standards. All this sounds very much like school, although preschool teachers make it all feel like play.” (more…)

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“Story time is drawing capacity crowds at public libraries across New York and across the country at a time when, more than ever, educators are emphasizing the importance of early literacy in preparing children for school and for developing critical thinking skills. The demand crosses economic lines, with parents at all income levels vying to get in.”

“Long a library staple, story time has typically been an informal reading to a small group of boys and girls sitting in a circle. Today’s story times involve carefully planned lessons by specially trained librarians that emphasize education as much as entertainment, and often include suggestions for parents and caregivers about how to reinforce what children have learned, library officials said.”

“Long Line at the Library? It’s Story Time Again,” by Winnie Hu, the New York Times, November 1, 2015

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Early education programs have many community partners. Among the key players are housing authorities. And when education and housing officials join forces, children and families stand to benefit.

“From Massachusetts to California and Florida to Washington State, housing authorities are joining a nationwide movement to promote early reading and put young children on the path to success,” according to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s (GLR) website.

“More than 1,000,000 children from birth to age 8 are housed in the nation’s 3,200 housing authorities, many attending local public schools that are severely underperforming. These children often start school with such a reading deficit that they have little hope of attaining grade-level proficiency by the end of third grade, a key predictor of high school graduation.

“By embracing grade-level reading as an important goal of the supportive services they provide, housing authorities are demonstrating that they can break the cycle of hopelessness. (more…)

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SSIK Cover

By guest blogger: Titus DosRemedios

By now, regular readers of this blog are well aware that learning begins at birth and that the process of getting children ready for kindergarten begins long before their first day of school. That’s why New Bedford’s community-based early education programs are collaborating with public school leaders, human services providers, and many other partners to improve kindergarten readiness.

To reinforce the importance of kindergarten readiness throughout the provider community, the New Bedford Birth to Third Alignment Partnership held a kick-off event at Keith Middle School on October 13, offering both an a.m. and p.m. session and drawing more than 50 attendees.

Superintendent Pia Durkin was on hand to reinforce the importance of early childhood from the district’s perspective and to applaud the collaboration happening in the community. “Our motto is ‘We’re building an excellent school system,’ but we know we can’t do it alone,” Durkin told attendees. “We need partners.” (more…)

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“Your heart and lungs come out fully developed when you are born, but the brain is completely dependent on what it encounters on its ride to full development, and especially in the first three years there’s a huge amount of brain development that occurs: 80 to 85 percent of the physical brain will be developed in that time. And that brain is absolutely dependent on the language input, parent talk, and interaction, which is the key catalyst for creating those neural connections. A lot of people think of parent talk as just a way to build children’s vocabulary. But in truth, because it has such a fundamental impact on all the brain wiring, parent talk impacts all of brain function, from memory, emotion, to stability, [self-regulation], [to] spatial and math [skills].”

“Going back to our research program and our curriculum development, we’ve culled it down to what we call the Three T’s, which is Tune in, Talk More, and Take Turns. So Tune In is really following your child’s lead, seeing what your child is interested in. Talking More is talking more about it using rich vocabulary, narrating your child’s day. Taking Turns is really viewing your child as a conversational partner and having a conversation back and forth.”

“We need to really think about what education in this country looks like. We need to align our policy with our science. And science is pretty clear that learning begins on day one, not the first day of school. The only way we’re going to ever move this needle is starting from day one.”

Dr. Dana Suskind, a pediatric neurosurgeon and cochlear implant specialist at the University of Chicago, in a Boston Globe interview, “Thirty million little words for a lifetime of difference,” October 9, 2015

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