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Archive for the ‘Head Start’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Fall is coming and it’s going to be a busy season for early education and care advocates. There’ll be hearings on important legislation and the crucial work of drafting the budget for fiscal year 2017.

To make the advocacy case, try this useful tool: the 2013 policy brief “Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education.”

As we blogged earlier this week, the brief is a “review of the current science and evidence base on early childhood education.” Yesterday, we looked at the impact on children’s academic skills and on their socio-emotional development.

In today’s blog, we’ll look at what the brief says about early education’s quality, its long-term outcomes, and its effect on diverse subgroups.

 

Quality Matters

“Children show larger gains in higher-quality preschool programs,” the brief says, summing up the research. “Higher-quality preschool programs have larger impacts on children’s development while children are enrolled in the program and are more likely to create gains that are sustained after the child leaves preschool.”

“The most important aspects of quality in preschool education are stimulating and supportive interactions between teachers and children and effective use of curricula.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Get ready for the fall. It’s going to be a busy public policy season for early education and care. It’s also going to be a great time for advocates to remind policymakers that the evidence for high-quality early education is strong and growing.

Among the highlights of the coming months, five Massachusetts communities will be expanding pre-K enrollment with the help of a federal Preschool Expansion Grant.

In addition, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing for all bills related to early education and care on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.

Several Pre-K bills will be presented, including one filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) called “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education.”

As we’ve blogged, “The bill calls on Massachusetts to follow New Jersey by providing ‘access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for 3-and 4-year-olds living in underperforming school districts.’”

To help make the case for increased investments in early learning, it’s always helpful to draw on existing research. A terrific summary of recent research can be found in the 2013 policy brief, “Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education.” The brief was published by the Society for Research in Child Development and the Foundation for Child Development. (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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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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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

The action never seems to stop in preschool classrooms. But appearances can be deceiving. Researchers from the University of Washington report that children are not always getting enough opportunities for active play.

“Parents feel as if their young children are constantly in motion. But new research suggests that children in preschool have few opportunities for active play and are often sedentary,” a blog on the New York Times’ Motherlode website says.

To conduct this study — “Active Play Opportunities at Child Care” — researchers observed 98 children attending 10 preschools in Seattle. Each preschool was observed for four full days.

The study found that children’s activity was 73 percent sedentary, 13 percent light, and 14 percent of what researchers call “moderate-vigorous physical activity.”

The study found “that for 88 percent of child care time, children were not presented opportunities for active play, so the finding that more than 70 percent of children’s time was sedentary is not surprising.”  (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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