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Archive for the ‘Head Start’ Category

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.

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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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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Last December, Massachusetts was awarded a $15 million federal Pre-K Expansion grant for five communities: Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield.

Now that six months have passed, we decided to check in with Anita Moeller to see how this grant-funded work is going. Moeller is the director of the expansion grant program at the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

It’s a busy season of laying groundwork, Moeller explained. The five communities are working on budgets, identifying teachers, outfitting new spaces, and submitting their final plans to federal authorities.

As EEC Commissioner Tom Weber wrote last fall in the state’s application for this funding, “The Federal Preschool Expansion Grant has inspired Massachusetts to think boldly and to offer a plan that engages and leverages the strengths of the Massachusetts mixed-delivery system to reach more children and advances our goal of achieving a universally-accessible, high-quality system of early education and care.”  (more…)

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State Senator Sal DiDomenico. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

State Senator Sal DiDomenico. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

When it comes to preschool, Sal DiDomenico has a lot of credentials. He’s a product of Head Start, he proudly explained in a recent interview. His two sons went to preschool in Everett’s public school system. And now as a state senator (D-Everett), he’s an elected champion of early education and care.

“Some people think it’s babysitting,” DiDomenico says of early education and care programs. “I get frustrated when I hear people say that.”

Because if you’ve seen high-quality early education in action, he explains, you know how important it is. DiDomenico sees this in his personal history. He went from Head Start, to being second in his class in high school, and on to the State Legislature, where he is vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. He also sees how well-prepared his sons and other preschool graduates are now that they are in grade school.

What’s ironic, he says, is that when he was young, Head Start officials had to convince people to enroll. Now there isn’t enough room in Head Start and other preschool programs. Even in his hometown of Everett, DiDomenico says there’s a waiting list to access the public school preschool program.

So DiDomenico is pushing Massachusetts to increase access to preschool programs, while maintaining quality.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Head Start turns 50 this year. It’s time to celebrate, reflect on the past, and invest in an even stronger future.

“In May of 1965, the first Head Start summer programs began,” Ann Linehan, the former acting director of the federal Office of Head Start, wrote in January. “These programs provided the most vulnerable preschool children and their families with comprehensive services to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and mental health needs.”

Now Head Start has a new director, Blanca Estela Enriquez, who writes in a blog post, “Head Start was built by visionaries who sought to open avenues of opportunity for families most in need. We must continue with this endeavor and hold ourselves to the highest of standards so that those we serve become successful.”

Blanca Estela Enriquez. Photo source: Office of Head Start

Blanca Estela Enriquez. Photo source: Office of Head Start

Enriquez’s goal is to “position Head Start as a valuable, highly respected, and accepted program for young children where grantees are high-performing organizations, where every child receives a comprehensive high-quality preschool education, and where their families increase their quality of life.”

Enriquez has been “an administrator and supervisor of Head Start programs since 1987,” according to the federal Head Start website, and she has been “active in early childhood education for more than 40 years.” She has a master’s of education degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and a doctorate of philosophy in education administration from New Mexico State University.  (more…)

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