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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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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

How are our kids doing? That’s the question New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) has been asking in a series called “The First Decade: Early Childhood Disparities and the Future of N.H.’s Kids.”

So we’re taking a look at our New England neighbor to get a sense of how some of this region’s children are doing.

“When it comes to kids’ well-being, New Hampshire ranks high overall in survey after survey. But the real picture of how kids are faring goes deeper than that,” NHPR’s website explains. “Children in poor families continue to lose ground in everything from access to health care to quality education to opportunities to play sports.”

Worse, the opportunity gap between children from lower and higher ends of the income spectrum is likely to grow.

“On the whole, we’ve found that while children in New Hampshire are somewhat better off than those across the nation,” the website notes, “New Hampshire still has a growing trend in inequality in terms of poverty and family income, where low-income children and poor children are on the rise after decades of decline and income is pretty much all but stagnated for those in lower income groups in the past 50 years, but it has actually increased for families in higher income groups. This means that more and more, there is this likely growing gap in outcomes between worse- and better-off children in New Hampshire.”  (more…)

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Last Week, Fort Worth, Tx., hosted a statewide summit on early learning, and public radio station KERA conducted an interview of three of the summit’s experts: a pediatrician, an economist, and a business leader, about “how early childhood programs and elementary educators can better prepare kids for academic success.”

The three interviewees are:

Dr. Neal Halfon, a pediatrics professor and director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities

James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning, University of Chicago professor of economics, and

Robert H. Dugger, Chairman of the ReadyNation Advisory Board and Invest in Kids Working Group

The conversation covers achievement gaps, parent engagement, kindergarten readiness, and the importance of being able to play well with others.

Of these crucial social and emotional skills, Dugger says, “From the business community, we think of these more as executive skills. These are the skills that enable a person to work effectively in a team.”

“If these skills are not in place by age 5 — kindergarten entry — they frequently don’t appear. We know that addressing them before age 5 works.”

To hear more, listen to the interview. It’s posted on KERA’s website and can also be downloaded.

And consider making a comment on the interview’s webpage to stir up the conversation on the importance of high-quality early education and care.

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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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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Looking for insights on how to improve K-12 education? Consider the lessons offered by the early childhood education field, Joan Wasser Gish advises in a recently published Education Week commentary called “Four Lessons from Early Education.”

Wasser Gish is a member of the Board of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care as well as the principal at Policy Progress, a public-policy consulting firm based in Newton, Mass. And from 2005 to 2006, she was Strategies for Children’s director of policy and research.

There are “four lessons that elementary and secondary education could draw from the early-childhood sector as leaders seek to build P-16 systems and re-imagine schools capable of helping all children attain the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy and society,” Wasser Gish writes. These lessons are:

 1. Expand the mission by engaging families.

“In high-quality early-childhood-education settings, the mission is to serve children and their families. This mission takes different forms in each community, but the federal Head Start program, which serves low-income, at-risk children across the nation, is illustrative: Head Start emphasizes developing relationships with families to support parents as their child’s first teacher and promote positive parent-child interactions.” (more…)

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14359821987_be01fd4731_mYesterday, The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 25th edition of its KIDS COUNT Data Book, a statistical look at children’s well-being.

The report shows that, “Children have a greater opportunity to thrive and succeed in Massachusetts than in any other state,” according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget), the home of KIDS COUNT here in the commonwealth.

This is exciting news for Massachusetts, but it comes with an important caveat: There is still much more work to do.

The Massachusetts KIDS COUNT data profile reports that 15 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2012. And despite being first in the nation in education and fourth grade reading, 53 percent of this state’s fourth graders cannot read proficiently. Thirty percent of children have parents who don’t have secure jobs. And while an impressive 99 percent of Massachusetts’s children have health insurance, it’s also true that this state’s children are as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as children across the country.

MassBudget released the new data yesterday at an event hosted by Nurtury (formerly Associated Early Care and Education) in its brand new Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain where Governor Deval Patrick spoke, along with state legislators, local leaders, and Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s new president and CEO. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell For Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell For Strategies for Children

Early childhood is getting new attention from the 4th Annual Healthy People/Healthy Economy Report Card.

“The annual report card examines progress in 12 issue areas that can be linked to improvements in public health,” according to a news release from the Boston Foundation, a member of the Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition, which released the report.

“Research continues to show that high quality early childhood care and education not only prepare children for success in school, they create a foundation for good health over the course of a lifetime,” the report says, adding, “Children who receive good care and education in their preschool years gain as much as a full year of development and educational growth compared to children entering school without the benefit of early services.”

“Expanding early childhood education has been a key piece of education discussions this year, but we know its impact isn’t limited to academics,” Paul Grogan, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation, said in the news release. Grogan is also co-chair of the Healthy People/Healthy Economy Coalition. (more…)

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