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Archive for the ‘Language development’ Category

“Our message is a broad, universal one. We can raise overall achievement in the United States if we get into preschool and take advantage of the magic and power of music.”

Maria Runfola, associate professor of music education in the Department of Learning and Instruction at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, in the news release, “Music curriculum aims to nurture preschoolers’ language skills,” July 29, 2014

 

 

 

 

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This post was originally published on May 2, 2013.

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

As someone who has been writing for a long time, I’m well aware how hard it is to write about something you only partially understand. Now, Education Week reports, there’s an increased focus on teaching writing as a way to improve students’ reading skills. The trend also responds to concerns among employers and college professors about young people’s writing and analytical skills. The article is part of Ed Week’s Rethinking Literacy series. (See “Writing Undergoes Renaissance in Curricula.”)

“The shift is still nascent, but people in the field are taking notice. It marks a departure from recent practice, which often includes little or no explicit writing instruction and only a modest amount of writing, typically in the form of stories, short summaries, or personal reflections, rather than essays or research projects on topics being studied,” Ed Week reports.

“On a literacy landscape that rarely features explicit writing instruction, and where the writing that does take place is often unconnected to reading, experts say, these kinds of projects are unusual for the way they connect writing and reading. Attention to reading has persistently been high, they say, but a focus on writing has waxed and waned in the past few decades. ‘Now we’re seeing a lot more attention to the idea that writing about a text can improve reading about that text,’ said literacy expert Timothy Shanahan, the chairman of the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago.”

In one first grade class in Vermont, for instance, children read “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss, first for fun and finally to hunt for ways the protagonist protects the earth. They write a paragraph about the story’s theme supported by these examples.

Research supports the emphasis on writing. “’Writing to Read,’ a 2010 meta-analysis of 93 studies of writing interventions, found that writing had consistently positive effects on students’ reading skills and comprehension,” Ed Week reports. “Writing about what they read was particularly helpful to students’ comprehension, but so were taking notes on what they read, answering questions about it, and simply writing more.”

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Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Babies who babble are actually rehearsing, according to a new study. As early as seven months, those vocalizing babies are practicing the movements they will need to start forming words, Patricia Kuhl explained recently in an interview on NPR.

Kuhl is the co-direcor of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

To do this research, Kuhl and her research team used a magnetoencephalography, a brain scanner also called MEG. Babies sat in the brain scanner, which “resembles an egg-shaped vintage hair dryer and is completely safe for infants,” according to a University of Washington news release, which adds, “The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences was the first in the world to use such a tool to study babies while they engaged in a task.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This blog was originally published on July 24, 2013.

Libraries and museums can engage, teach and delight children. But too often these institutions are not part of the policy conversation about early education.

A new report – “Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners” – calls for tapping and investing in more of the strengths and knowledge of these vibrant institutions.

“Libraries and museums can play a stronger role in early learning for all children,” the report says. “As our nation commits to early learning as a national priority essential to our economic and civic future, it is time to become more intentional about deploying these vital community resources to this challenge.”

The report comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

The nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums have 10 key strengths, according to the report, among them:

- Museums and libraries provide high-quality, easily accessed early education programs that engage and support parents in being their children’s first teachers. (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: Courtesy of Brain Building in Progress

Illustration: Courtesy of Brain Building in Progress

Don’t settle for just commuting on the T’s buses and trains. If you’re traveling with a child, use the trip to help build that child’s brain.

“When you ride the T this summer, you may see this ‘I am a Brain Builder’ ad highlighting teachable moments for parents and children while they ride public transit,” according to the Brain Building on the T website.

That ad is part of a campaign that was launched on Monday by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley – both leaders of the state’s Brain Building in Progress effort.

Brain Building in Progress is a public/private partnership “to raise awareness of the critical importance of fostering the cognitive, social, and emotional development of young children by emphasizing its future impact on the economic prosperity of everyone in Massachusetts.”

Commuters can see the brain building ads on Orange and Red Line trains as well as on several bus routes. They are scheduled to run through the summer. (more…)

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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.”

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