Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Language development’ Category

This blog was originally published on September 13, 2012. 

The folks at the First Five Years Fund – who brought us the fabulous “Early Learning Matters” video – have another terrific animated video in their toolkit for advocates of high-quality early education. This time it’s “Brain Builders,” narrated by Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. In the more recent video, Shonkoff uses layman’s terms to explain the complex neurological and molecular interaction between children’s early experiences and the developing architecture of their young brains.

“The healthy development of young children in the early years of life literally does provide a foundation for just about all of the challenging social problems that our society and other societies face,” Shonkoff says. “What we’re learning through exciting developments in neuroscience and molecular biology is how much early experience from birth – in fact, even before birth – how much this experience literally gets into our bodies and shapes our learning capacities and behaviors and physical and mental health. The brain is basically built from the bottom up. First, the brain builds basic circuits and more complex circuits are built on top of those basic circuits as we develop more complex skills. Biologically the brain is prepared to be shaped by experience. It is expecting the experiences that a young child has to literally influence the formation of its circuitry.”

Read Full Post »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

On Thursday, 9:30 a.m., March 27, 2014, at the Boston Children’s Museum, Strategies for Children is hosting the third event in its “Leading the Conversation” series on improving children’s literacy skills. It’s a panel discussion on “Designing and Implementing Effective Volunteer Efforts Focused on Literacy.”

Although Massachusetts is a national leader in education, 43% of our third grade students score below proficient in reading. Even more alarming, the commonwealth has a wide achievement gap, and third grade scores have been stagnant for 13 years.

Communities are addressing this crisis in a variety of ways, including engaging volunteers to support children’s early literacy and language development. In fact, in the U.S., volunteers gave 7.9 billion hours of service in 2012, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Despite this significant effort, too many of our services are not substantial enough or coordinated enough to result in reading improvements. If recruited, utilized, and managed effectively, however, volunteers can have a real impact on children’s literacy outcomes.

About the Volunteer Event

In a moderated discussion, panelists will highlight and showcase the volunteer research and current best practices for maximizing volunteers’ impact on children’s (more…)

Read Full Post »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

A new report published by the Society for Research in Child Development — “Multilingual Children: Beyond Myths and Toward Best Practices” — focuses on “the strength of being multilingual and its benefit for children’s later outcomes and well-being.”

Endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the report draws on more than 100 studies. “The qualitative review concludes that multilingualism is an advantage to be nurtured and maintained rather than a risk factor to be eradicated early in a child’s life,” Education Week explains in a recent review of the report.

In the Education Week piece, Allyssa McCabe, a lead author and a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, debunks two myths covered in the report. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

It’s no wonder that constantly moving infants and toddlers wear out their parents. As Conor P. Williams, the dad of a baby and a toddler, writes at Ed Central, a New America Foundation blog: These busy babies have even busier brains that are forming 700 new neural pathways per second.

“Like most young parents of very young children, my wife and I are only barely keeping up with these two creatures that have a combined age that is still younger than most of the T-shirts in my dresser,” Williams writes.

“This is the paradox of young children,” Williams explains. On the one hand “they are weak, incomplete beings just learning the basics of being alive.” But on the other hand, developing infants and toddlers “display patience, resilience and flexibility well beyond adults’ capacities.”

The good news about these mile-a-minute children is that they’re teaching neuroscientists and policymakers about the importance of early brain development — and how crucial it is for children to get needed stimulation before the age of four. (more…)

Read Full Post »

“The advice I give mothers is to have conversations with your babies… Children can hear lots of talk that goes over their head in terms of the meaning, and they still benefit from it.”

Erika Hoff, psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University, in “More Talking to Babies Helps Their Brains,” an Associated Press story in the Washington Post, February 13, 2014

Read Full Post »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

National Public Radio reported on the “word gap” last month. The story is a potent reminder of how research on young children’s development can be used to shape public discourse and inform policy solutions. Click here to listen.

In its report, NPR retold the research story that started in the early 1990s when Betty Hart and Todd Risley found that by age 3, lower income children hear 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers. “Today, despite years of focus and effort, the word gap is just as wide,” NPR’s Jennifer Ludden said in the broadcast story.

How does the word gap play out in everyday settings? At the Apple Tree Early Learning Public Charter School in Washington, DC, NPR interviewed principal Ryan Tauriainen who explained that some children use the word “dog” to refer to all animals because they don’t know the words for other animals. Tauriainen added that some children only speak in one-word answers, while others speak in paragraphs. Jack McCarthy, Apple Tree’s president, echoes the Hart and Risley research, telling NPR that children with smaller vocabularies invariably come from lower income homes.

“I recognized that we need to really start in the cradle,” Angel Taveras, the mayor of Providence, R.I. told NPR. As we’ve written, Taveras is about to launch Providence Talks, a program funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies that builds off of the seminal Hart Risley research to impact the early language development of young children throughout the community.

The word gap has been getting lots of attention in recent months, from the New York Times, Atlantic Cities, Stanford University, and Hillary Clinton to name a few.

The recent increase in high-profile conversation about early language development is a welcome one. In an upcoming blog post, we will further explore the research behind the word gap and take a look at various policy and programmatic strategies that are emerging to address it.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

“The time is now to redesign this country’s approach to language and literacy instruction, and governors who choose to can lead the charge,” according to the National Governors Association (NGA) report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting all Students Reading by Third Grade.

Acknowledging the fact that only one-third of America’s fourth graders are reading proficiently, the report points out that America’s governors can help address this challenge. They can build a bridge between knowledge and action, connecting what researchers know to what policymakers do.

What the Research Says

To provide the research background on the literacy issue, the report points to three widely accepted research findings:

1.  “Starting at kindergarten is too late.” Because literacy skills start developing at birth and because achievement gaps show up early, infants, toddlers and preschoolers need effective, high-quality early education and care programs that introduce early literacy concepts.
(more…)

Read Full Post »

Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

More than 200 people came to the Boston Children’s Museum last Thursday night to attend “Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates – Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps.”  Strategies for Children, Boston Children’s Museum, Thrive in 5 and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley cosponsored the event along with 31 other organizations.

Both candidates – City Councilor John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh — participated, each on stage separately. Candidates answered questions posed by the night’s moderator, WBZ political reporter Jon Keller, and from the audience, which included early educators, providers, pediatricians, college students, professors of higher education, teachers, advocates, and citizens.

As Carolyn Lyons, the president and CEO of Strategies for Children, explained to the audience in her introduction, the forum builds on the momentum that has been fueled by early education proposals from Governor Deval Patrick and other governors,  the Massachusetts legislature and President Obama’s bold proposal to expand preschool programs nationally.

The candidates were asked to come prepared to articulate their vision for Boston’s children and families and discuss what they would do for children and families should they become mayor. They responded by (more…)

Read Full Post »

Christopher Martes, interim superintendent of the Wrentham Public Schools, and Carolyn Lyons, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, submitted an op-ed to CommonWealth Magazine recently. The op-ed was published online yesterday, October 23. Here’s a sample of their commentary:

“Last month’s release of 2013 MCAS results generated some good news. Concealed in the results, however, is a hidden story that is cause for concern: 43 percent of the state’s third graders are not proficient readers – compared to 39 percent last year.  Among children from low-income families, a shocking 65 percent lag in reading.  Disturbingly, these scores have remained stagnant for more than a decade.

“The numbers are especially troubling in our 26 Gateway Cities – the large and midsize cities that serve as economic engines. In these cities, an average of 58 percent of third graders are not able to read proficiently, including 72 percent of children in Chelsea and 87 percent in Holyoke.  In Boston, 68 percent of third graders are not proficient readers.

“Behind the statistics are too many children that show up for school already behind and too many that never catch up.”

Continue reading the full article at CommonWealth Magazine online.

Read Full Post »

Mayor Logo

This Thursday, October 24, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., the Boston Children’s Museum hosts a Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates. Jon Keller, WBZ-TV News’ Political Analyst will moderate the conversation.

To retain Boston’s status as an economic leader and hub of innovation in the years ahead, the next Mayor must improve educational outcomes for the city’s children. The achievement gap is evident long before children enter school, and we will not succeed in closing it unless we target resources to improve early learning and healthy child development.

Join us for a conversation with the two candidates running for Mayor and hear more about their vision for children and families in Boston.

This event is sponsored by: Boston Children’s Museum, Strategies for Children, Thrive in 5, and United Way of MA Bay and Merrimack Valley.

Co-sponsors to date include:  ABCD ● Associated Early Care and Education ● BOSTnet  ● Boston After School and Beyond ● Boston Association for the Education of Young Children ● Boston Children’s Hospital  ● Boston Opportunity Agenda ● Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester ● Catholic Charities of Boston  ● Cradles to Crayons ● The Children’s Trust ● Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative ● Ellis Memorial & Eldredge House, Inc ● Families First Parenting Programs ● Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts   ● Family Service of Greater Boston ● Friends of the Children – Boston ● Generations Incorporated ● Horizons for Homeless Children ● Jumpstart ● MA Afterschool Partnership ● MA Association for Early Education and Care ● Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics ● MA Kids Count ● MA Head Start Association ● Raising A Reader MA ● Reach Out and Read ● Room to Grow ● United South End Settlements ● Wheelock College

For more information, please contact tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,958 other followers

%d bloggers like this: