Archive for the ‘Language development’ Category

“Since 2004, Tennessee has offered state-subsidized prekindergarten, enrolling more than 18,000 of the state’s neediest 4-year-olds. An early evaluation showed that, as you’d expect, youngsters who attended pre-K made substantial gains in math, language and reading. But, startlingly, the gains had evaporated by the end of kindergarten…”

“Have the claims made for early education been overblown? Not necessarily. Consider what’s happening in Boston. A randomized study showed that prekindergartners there gained between four and seven months’ progress in reading and math, and those gains persisted: 27 percent more of Boston’s preschool children scored ‘proficient’ or better on the state’s rigorous third-grade exams.

“What’s the difference between Boston and Tennessee? In a word, quality.”

“Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?” a New York Times opinion piece by David Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, October 3, 2015


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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Talk to your baby, and you’ll improve public health.

That’s the goal in Georgia where officials have launched an initiative called “Talk With Me Baby,” to motivate parents to have conversations that could improve their children’s lifetime outcomes.

Georgia is out to close the word gap that researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley wrote about in the 1990s. They estimated that affluent children hear some 30 million more words than their less affluent peers. The two tried to close this gap by working with 4-year-olds. But they realized that their efforts were coming too late in children’s lives.

To close the word gap, researchers increasingly say, start with babies.

“Right now, Georgia is the only state taking such a coordinated, widespread, public-health-focused approach to reducing the word gap,” according to an online Atlantic article called, “Why Boosting Poor Children’s Vocabulary Is Important for Public Health.”

“There are more isolated efforts in places like Chicago and Providence, Rhode Island, but they operate on a much smaller scale.” Nonetheless, this growing awareness and action shows how communities with targeted public policies and programs can help close the word gap.  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Families are vital to children’s success, especially children who are dual language learners (DLLs), according to a recent brief from Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty. The brief looks at how early education and care programs can better engage the parents of linguistically diverse families.

In “Supporting Parent Engagement in Linguistically Diverse Families to Promote Young Children’s Learning: Implications for Early Care and Education Policy,” the authors point to a large body of research showing “that varied forms of parent engagement have a positive influence on children’s learning and development.”

“Currently, of the approximately 23 million children in the United States under the age of six years, 8% live in households where no one over the age of 14 is proficient in English,” the brief says. “Young children of immigrants comprise 25 percent of all children under nine years, and 47 percent of foreign born parents of children in this age range report limited English proficiency.”

The brief adds: “Fostering parent engagement in linguistically diverse families during the early childhood period can promote school readiness among children who face higher educational risks, including family poverty and linguistic isolation, while also leveraging key family strengths.” (more…)

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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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Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, speaking at the launch of Pre-K for MA.  Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, speaking at the launch of Pre-K for MA. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Launched this spring, the Pre-K for MA coalition has been growing, and we’re inviting you to join us by becoming a Voice of Support.

As we blogged in the spring, Pre-K for MA is an effort to expand access to high-quality early education programs. This effort is being led by Strategies for Children and Stand for Children Massachusetts.

As the Pre-K for MA website says, “High-quality early education has been shown to have a significant short- and long-term impact on children’s educational, health, social, and economic outcomes. Yet in Massachusetts, we have not invested enough in Pre-K, leaving the ‘kindergarten readiness’ challenge up to parents to figure out on their own.”

That’s why Pre-K for MA supports a bill filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) called “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education.”

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,” as this fact sheet explains (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Play is making a comeback in kindergarten classes located in the Maryland suburb of Pasadena, according to a recent New York Times article, “Kindergartens Ringing the Bell for Play Inside the Classroom.”

But support for play varies based on class-related ideas about what children need most: more play or more academics.

Describing Pasadena’s new approach to play, the Times writes:

“Mucking around with sand and water. Playing Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. Cooking pretend meals in a child-size kitchen. Dancing on the rug, building with blocks and painting on easels.

“Call it Kindergarten 2.0.”

“Concerned that kindergarten has become overly academic in recent years, this suburban school district south of Baltimore is introducing a new curriculum in the fall for 5-year-olds. Chief among its features is a most old-fashioned concept: play.”

Some teachers are excited about the new approach.

“But educators in low-income districts say a balance is critical,” the Times notes. “They warn that unlike students from affluent families, poorer children may not learn the basics of reading and math at home and may fall behind if play dominates so much that academics wither.” (more…)

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