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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“Access to preschool programs — and their quality — varies widely across Texas,” according to a Houston Chronicle article, “Broad coalition pushes anew for expanded pre-K.”

These variations play out within and across school districts. Some schools offer full-day programs, others only run for a half a day. So children in programs that are only 10 miles apart can have vastly different experiences.

“Currently, Texas only pays for half day pre-kindergarten for at-risk 4 year-olds. There are no limits on those class sizes. And child-care providers don’t have to have a college degree,” an article on Houston Public Media’s website says.

The Chronicle says that NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) estimates that “52 percent of 4-year-olds in Texas were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs last year, and another 9 percent attended federal Head Start pre-K. Enrollment in private programs isn’t tracked.”

“According to data from the Texas Education Agency, 690 districts offered full-day pre-K programs – lasting four or more hours – and 347 districts had only half-day classes. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As preschool programs around the country grow, parents need to know how to pick the best program for their children.

Take the case of New York:

“Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that this year’s free pre-K classes would all be ‘high quality.’ But what does that look like?” Amy Zimmer asks in a DNAinfo NewYork article, “9 Signs of a Good Pre-K Program.” 

DNAinfo New York consulted with experts, “including those who’ve spent years in classrooms teaching 4-year-olds as well as professional development experts responsible for training pre-K teachers…”

Here’s the resulting nine-item list of what to look for. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last spring, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh launched the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee to help the city plan how to double the number of 4-year-olds in high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten programs by 2018.

Now the committee is inviting Boston parents who have young children to help by filling out a Universal Pre-K survey about “their experiences and hopes” and their opinions about the city’s preschool programs, according to the Boston Public Schools’ Early Childhood website.

Supporting this effort, Thrive in 5 — a partnership between the Mayor’s Office and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley — is working with other community partners to “conduct a series of stakeholder focus groups across Boston, and offer online surveys to gather input about the strengths and needs of all of the City’s neighborhoods for high-quality pre-kindergarten.”

Please help spread the word by sharing the link to the survey via email and social media. There are thousands of parents who could fill out the survey, and their input could help shape early education in Boston. (more…)

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The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has an engaging video series on its website called “8 x 8” that gives viewers access to the latest thinking on education policy.

“As part of the Bold Ideas & Critical Conversations event on September 19, eight HGSE faculty members were each given eight minutes to discuss research-based ideas that will have a big impact on the field,” the website explains.

It’s like a mini collection of TED talks on education.

The eight faculty members who speak are:

- Karen Brennan, whose research looks at how learning communities can support young people as designers of interactive media

- Howard Gardner – senior director of Harvard’s Project Zero

- Tom Kane – faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research

- Nonie Lesaux, author of “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” a report commissioned by Strategies for Children

(more…)

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“For many years, early childhood programs focused on what the children need—building their literacy, building their ability to get along with peers, and so forth. More recently, the emphasis has shifted to building the caregiver’s capacity with the idea that if you can address these underlying issues with the caregivers, it’s going to have a cascading effect to the children and impact their development in similar areas as well.”

Philip A. Fisher, psychology professor at the University of Oregon, in the video “FIND: Using Science to Coach Caregivers,” part of the “Innovation in Action” series featured on the website of Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

 

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Image: Raising of America

Image: Courtesy of the Raising of America project

A new documentary is being released this fall: “The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation.” The project, which also includes a multimedia series, “will reframe the way we look at early child health and development,” according to the temporary website.

The project “explores how a strong start for all our kids leads not only to better individual life course outcomes (learning, earning and physical and mental health) but also to a healthier, safer, better educated, more prosperous, and more equitable America.”

In a preview of the documentary, Judith Lichtman, senior advisor for the National Partnership for Women and Families, outlines the national challenge of supporting family. “We talk a good game in this country about being family friendly. But in providing for the economic and social needs of families we are woefully behind other countries.” (more…)

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Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Next year, the federal Head Start program will turn 50 years old. But the celebration and the reflection are starting now, creating an opportunity to revisit the program’s past and consider the changes it will undergo in the future.

Education Week Looks at Head Start

“Few other federal programs so fully embody the heady optimism and charge-ahead spirit of the War on Poverty as Head Start, envisioned 50 years ago as part of that sweeping presidential initiative and brought to life in the summer of 1965,” Christina A. Samuels writes in the Education Week article, “Head Start Endures, Evolves as 50-Year Milestone Nears.”

The article continues with this quote from President Johnson about the birth of Head Start: “Five- and 6-year-old children are inheritors of poverty’s curse and not its creators.” Johnson was announcing the creation of the Head Start Project in a May 1965 speech in the White House Rose Garden. He added: “Unless we act, these children will pass it on to the next generation, like a family birthmark.”

But as the article notes, “the seeds of questions that Head Start has faced throughout its history were in many ways contained in its ambitious beginning.” (more…)

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