“There is curriculum in the kindergarten classroom, even though to the naked eye you wouldn’t think so. There’s a lot of learning going on, but it’s also through structured play.”
Carolyn Lyons, Strategies for Children, “So You’re Going to Kindergarten” video, August 2012
Read Full Post »
What does a 5-year-old really need to know before walking through the schoolhouse door for the start of the 2012-13 school year? That there will be cubbies, labeled with their names, for all children. Not to mention books and songs, sand tables and easels, new friends and a playground – and lots of fun ways to learn. This is how a lovely new video from Milton – “So You’re Going to Kindergarten” – presents a friendly child’s-eye guide to kindergarten.
The video offers equally friendly guidance for parents, welcoming them as partners in their children’s school experience and letting them, too, know what to expect. “There is curriculum in the kindergarten classroom, even though to the naked eye you wouldn’t think so. There’s a lot of learning going on, but it’s also through structured play,” says veteran kindergarten parent Carolyn Lyons, who’s CEO here at Strategies for Children. “Parents and families are a child’s first teachers, so really being able to align what they’re learning at home with what they’re doing at home is critical. So I think parent engagement in the classroom is the most important thing.”
(Post script. Producer and director Ada Rosmarin is a member of our Early Education for All Campaign Advisory Committee and Policy Committee.)
Read Full Post »
Commissioner Sherri Killins
Another school year is about to begin, and Commissioner Sherri Killins of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care offered a back-to-school message on NECN (New England Cable News) for families seeking ways to help their children succeed in school.
“We really want Mom and Dad to know that children are learning all the time, and everything they’ve done all summer really extends the learning they have during the year. Museums. Libraries. As we get closer to school we need to be more organized. We need to have a schedule. We need to be extending conversations, talking about what children want to learn about and what they don’t want to learn about. How to build relationships with their teachers because one of the critical parts is having a relationship between the student and the teacher, between the parent and the teacher and the student and the parent,” Killins told The Morning Show co-host Steve Aveson.
“Mom and Dad should really be trying to extend the conversation,” she added. “Watch news with their children. It’s a great political season. They just had a piece about that. Having children talk about how they understand that. Going to the grocery store. Using the math skills that they’re learning…. If we buy two boxes of cereal and you buy one and get 50% off how much would the other box cost? There are lots of games you can play in the grocery store to make it fun and to make it applicable. That’s what’s going to help our children extend their learning.”
Commissioner Killins also encouraged parents to read aloud to their children and discuss the text or illustrations. She encouraged families and children to set goals – to read more, watch television less and use libraries, museums and other community resources.
Commissioner Killins shared several resources, including the Brain Building in Progress website, the state’s five Early Childhood Resource Centers located in public libraries, and tips and information on the Parent Engagement and Family Support section of EEC’s website.
“Parents, families and communities play a very important role in supporting children’s learning in the out-of- school hours, so that learning is continuous,” Killins said. “Children’s learning is fostered through engaging and enriching experiences that support children’s communication and critical thinking. When children can apply skills and concepts in real life it reinforces their understanding, helps to retain the information they learned, and makes learning come alive. It also therefore helps children become excited about school.”
Read Full Post »
The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care, which has been reviewing its transportation policies since August, voted on June 12 to increase reiumbursement rates, subject to additional appropriations, and to implement transportation safety training.
The policy approved at its last meeting of the 2011-12 year would:
- Increase the transportation reiumbursement rate for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children to $16.51 per round trip and $11.11 for one-way transportation and require an adult monitor to be present in all vehicles transporting these young children. The increase is subject to a supplemental budget appropriation. Neither the rate increase nor the adult monitor requirement would go into effect unless the Legislature approves the additional funds.
- Leave the reiumbursement rate for the transportation of school-age children unchanged, at $9 per round trip and $6 per one-way trip.
- Require transportation providers receiving funds from the Department of Education and Care (EEC) to submit a plan for administrative oversight of their programs.
- Require drivers to participate in annual safety training and enroll in EEC’s Professional Qualifications Registry.
(See Transportation – Discussion and Potential Vote.)
In other news from the June meeting of the EEC board, Commissioner Killins noted that 13 early educators from around the commonwealth received Early Education and Care Exceptional Educator and Instructional Leader Awards. They were recognized at EEC’s Brain Building and Early Literacy and Early Numeracy Conference in Worcester last month.
A panel updated the board on the Museums and Libraries Partnership for Parent, Family and Community Engagement, an initiative funded through the federal Early Learning Challenge grant that Massachusetts was awarded in December. The partnership will focus on early literacy, school readiness, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and the department’s Brain Building in Progress awareness campaign. Jeri Robinson, vice president for education and family learning at the Boston Children’s Museum; Kim DeWall, coordinator of early childhood resource centers in Massachusetts libraries; and Shelly Quezada of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners made the presentation to the board. (See Museums and Libraries Partnership for Parent, Family and Community Engagement – Panel Discussion / Panelist Bios.)
Read Full Post »
Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children
A recent analysis of international data from the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) offers more evidence of the link between oral language development and reading. The new analysis finds that children whose parents regularly read aloud with them in the first year of primary school performed substantially better in reading at age 15 than children whose parents rarely, if ever, read to them. The results underscore the need for effective family engagement strategies as part of any plan to improve children’s language and literacy development.
“It does not require a PhD or unlimited hours for parents to make a difference,” notes the OECD brief (What Can Parents Do to Help Their Children Succeed in School). “In fact, many parent-child activities that are associated with better reading performance among students involve relatively little time and no specialized knowledge. What these activities do demand, though, is genuine interest and active engagement.”
Researchers examined data from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), (more…)
Read Full Post »
Brain Building in Progress Week is underway! Across Massachusetts early education and care programs and others are celebrating the national Week of the Young Child by highlighting the critical role that high-quality early learning settings play in the healthy development of young children’s brains. See the video above for a message from Commissioner Sherri Killins of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).
On Thursday, state officials and education leaders will read books with children from Associated Early Care and Education in an event at the State House. Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray will attend and present a state proclamation designating April 22-28 Brain Building in Progress Week.
“I commend our parents, educators, families, and communities for the incredibly important work they do each and every day to foster our youngest citizens’ healthy brain development,” Lieutenant Governor Murray said in an EEC news release. “Everyone can play a role to collectively enrich and support a child’s positive growth and learning. I look forward to seeing this exciting momentum continue in the months and years to come.”
Activities planned around the state include parades, community celebrations with activities for families of young children, visits from local leaders to early education and care programs, concerts and a community baby shower.
The week is part of a larger Brain Building in Progress public awareness campaign launched last year by EEC and the United Way.
“I commend the Brain Building in Progress Campaign for bringing awareness to the importance of investing in quality early education and care, as this plays a critical role in closing the achievement gap,” Representative Alice H. Peisch, co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education, said in the news release. “The public and private sector must work together to ensure that quality early learning opportunities be made affordable and available to all children throughout the commonwealth.”
The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration of early learning that the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has sponsored since 1971.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Family engagement on March 13, 2012 |
2 Comments »
One major theme contained in the technology position statement discussed yesterday is that technology can be used to enhance playful, creative and engaging activities between adults and young children. What about parents who are tethered to their smart phones and lap tops? The Boston Globe looked at always-texting, always-phoning, always-emailing, always-Web-surfing parents and the children competing for their attention.
The newspaper describes a pair of Natick siblings, ages 3 and 4, who “pound on [their father’s] laptop keyboard to get his attention, stick their heads between him and the screen, and even fabricate potty-training accidents.”
Young children, research tells us, thrive on loving, supportive back-and-forth conversations and interactions with their parents and other caregivers. It’s the basis of social-emotional development, the oral language skills and vocabulary building that form the basis of literacy, and the parent-child bond. Now the use and misuse of “screen time” is proving to be an issue for adults as well as children.
“Kids have always fought household rivals for their parents’ attention, of course,” the Globe reports. “But competing against a phone attached to a kitchen wall or a newspaper is nothing compared with going head-to-head with Facebook or Angry Birds. (more…)
Read Full Post »
The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care last week unanimously approved a measure to align the Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) grant program with the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) that the commonwealth launched in January 2011. (See UPK-QRIS PowerPoint.)
The board also approved the annual report to the Legislature from the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), discussed progress toward creating a Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment, and reviewed the goals and priorities of the Coordinated Family and Community Engagement network.
UPK grants, which were established in 2005, are designed to support and sustain quality in early education settings for preschool-aged children. The grant program currently serves about 6,400 children in almost 400 classrooms across the state. The QRIS defines tiers of quality in early education and care and out-of-school-time programs for children from birth to school age.
In public testimony before the board vote, Amy O’Leary, director of Early Education for All, a campaign of Strategies for Children, supported the proposal but sounded a few cautionary notes. (more…)
Read Full Post »
Posted in Family engagement on December 1, 2011 |
4 Comments »
Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children
Children whose families are involved in their education perform better. They earn better grades, are absent less often, have better social skills, and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. This is the well-established rationale for encouraging family engagement. Yet what does effective family engagement mean?
A recent report – “Back to School: How Parent Involvement Affects Student Achievement” — from the Center for Public Education (CPE) summarizes the data. “Do all the PTA meetings, take-home flyers and Back to School nights actually generate increases in student achievement?” the report asks.
First an overview of the different types of parental involvement, from sociologist Joyce Epstein, a nationally recognized expert on the subject, known for redefining parental and family engagement and finding new ways to reach more families. (more…)
Read Full Post »