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Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

Photo: Courtesy of the City of Boston

Photo: Courtesy of the City of Boston

Here’s an exciting birth announcement from The City of Boston, the Boston Housing Authority, and Nurtury (formerly known as Associated Early Care and Education):

It’s a brand new building!

The Nurtury Learning Lab at Bromley-Heath

Serving children ages 0 to 8

20,000 square feet of classroom space

14,000 square feet of outdoor learning and play areas

LEED Gold Certification

Click here for the Facebook Pictures!

The new building had its ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday. And Boston Mayor Marty Walsh helped out with the ceremonial scissors.

“The Nurtury Learning Lab, located at the Boston Housing Authority’s (BHA) Bromley-Heath public housing development in Jamaica Plain, will anchor a campus of services for children and families,” according to a press release. The building “integrates early education, family and community learning opportunities and support, and professional development activities for early educators throughout Boston and eastern Massachusetts.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As we wrote last week in Part One of this blog, the Ninth Annual Wheelock Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care called on the field to: unite; develop an agenda; and tell a compelling story that will inspire policymakers — especially the next governor of Massachusetts — to commit to a grand plan for improving the commonwealth’s early education and care system.

Interactive Dialogue Groups

After the keynote speakers, the audience broke into smaller interactive dialogue groups that covered a range of topics, including:

- family engagement

- assessments

- infants and toddlers

- play

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last week, NIEER — the National Institute for Early Education Research — wrapped up a two-week blog forum on the importance of play in early childhood education.

In these blog posts, experts consider the tension that can arise between academics and play. NIEER’s inaugural post explains, “Concerns about whether preschool and kindergarten have become too stressful and regimented are met head on with concerns that they are academically weak and fail to cognitively challenge children.”

The posts are meant to be “valuable resources as parents, teachers, and policymakers strive to ensure play has its place in pre-K.”

In addition to the blogs, NIEER has posted a recommended reading list “to keep the conversation going.”

What the Blogs Say

In a blog post titled “Play, Mathematics, and False Dichotomies,” University of Denver professors Douglas H. Clements and Julie Sarama write, “Let’s stop the cycle of ‘abuse’—or at least confusion—that stems from false dichotomies in early education. ‘Play vs. academics’ is arguably the main one. Of course children should play. But this does not mean they should not learn, and even play, with mathematics.” (more…)

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Jeri Robinson (Photo: Lok Wah Li, Boston Children’s Museum)

This blog about the Boston Children’s Museum was originally published on March 19, 2012. Next week is school vacation week, a great time to visit the museum. Go on Tuesday to meet NAO the robot — and learn about robotics. 

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The Boston Children’s Museum on Fort Point Channel is teeming with children and parents during school vacation week. So it’s a good time for Jeri Robinson, vice president for education and family learning, to lead me on a guided tour of some of the museum’s early learning spaces. On the way, we pass children scrambling up and down the multi-story climbing maze. We pass children and parents sitting on colorful “musical” chairs that each emit a different sound and together can create a symphony. We pass children checking out the blocks and Bobcat in the Construction Zone, all in what is essentially a giant indoor playground for children of all ages. Prompts on the walls and parent tip sheets provide ideas for adults to engage children.

“Our critical message is there’s a lot of learning in play,” Robinson says. “In everything we do, we have a hidden or overt learning activity. Play has gotten a bad rap that it’s a waste of time. It’s not.”

In fact, research tells us that play is how young children learn. Science tells us that the kind of language-rich, playful adult-child interactions that the museum encourages enhance the actual wiring of the young brain. (more…)

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This blog was originally published on May 7, 2012

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

We often say that young children learn through play. We say that play is children’s work. What does research tell us young children gain through play? A recent article in Psychology Today and results of a 15-year longitudinal study, published in Family Science, provide some answers.

As the Psychology Today article notes, there is more to play than swings, jungle gyms and games of tag on the recess playground. Imaginative play – make-believe and pretend – is important for young children’s healthy development.

“Over the last 75 years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the values of such imaginative play as a vital component to the normal development of a child,” Psychology Today reports. “Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about 2½ through ages 6 or 7.Actual studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and adjectives. The important concept of ‘theory of mind,’ an awareness that one’s thoughts may differ from those of other persons and that there are a variety of perspectives of which each of us is capable, is closely related to imaginative play…. Pretend play allows the expression of both positive and negative feelings, and the modulation of affect, the ability to integrate emotion with cognition.”

(more…)

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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…)

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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

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

“Four year olds are citizens, not potential citizens, not citizens in training, but citizens, with rights and obligations like all citizens,” Ben Mardell and his co-authors write in a 2010 paper called, – “The Rights of Children: Policies to Best Serve Three, Four and Five Year Olds in Public Schools.”

“Children must be recognized not just as growing unfinished beings,” the report says, “but also as true thinkers and doers, as active participants in their education”.

“We have to see children as more than cute,” Mardell, a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University, explained in a recent interview. They are cute, he quickly adds, but more importantly, they are citizens of their classrooms, their schools, and of the larger community.

As citizens, children have rights – not only to health care, food and protection from abuse, but also the right to participate in decisions that affect them. They can’t vote or serve or juries, Mardell notes, but ask children about parks or classroom rules, and they have interesting things to say.

“Kids are researchers with hypotheses,” Mardell says. They have powerful thoughts and ideas that they are constantly testing. “I see them as part of the research team.” (more…)

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Photo: Strategies for Children

Photo: Strategies for Children

Here are some recent tweets from the early education Twittersphere. Follow us @EarlyEd4All.

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The National Women’s Law Center’s take on how President Obama’s preschool plan could work.

NWLC ‏@nwlc
Our new report: the President’s plan would provide #earlyed for millions of children & reduce smoking. http://ow.ly/pcpQq #smarthealthy

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Bad federal budget news for preschool programs.

NAEYC ‏@NAEYC
“MT @TheAtlantic : Preschoolers, sequestered: How budget cuts affect #earlyed funding http://theatln.tc/19xwjt4 ” #ece

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What are the best books to read to children? Here’s a list of 50 choices.

PragmaticMom ‏@pragmaticmom
50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child http://www.sulia.com/c/kid-lit/f/1a2077fb-afbe-44a1-999f-581ab2c118fa/?source=twitter

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Addressing diversity in preschool programs.

Early Edge CA ‏@EarlyEdgeCA
White House Summit Addresses Lack of Hispanics in Preschool via @EarlyYearsEW http://bit.ly/19oMjMI #earlyed

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A collection of early childhood education stories from parents, teachers and community leaders around the country.

NAEYC ‏@NAEYC
You sent in your #ece stories and here they are! Thanks to all that participated. http://bit.ly/1evImgu #earlyed

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How often do you get to see members of Congress play a giant game of Chutes and Ladders? #importanceofplay

NCFL ‏@NCFLiteracy
Over life-sized game of chutes & ladders, parents talked to Congress members on need for #earlychildhood #education http://ow.ly/p27gH

Early Edge CA ‏@EarlyEdgeCA
Check out @MomsRising’s photo album from today’s #EarlyEd Chutes & Ladders game with Congressmembers and families! http://fb.me/2kKBjuGnU

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Photo: Strategies for Children

Photo: Strategies for Children

Here are some recent tweets from the early education Twittersphere. Follow us @EarlyEd4All 

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California organizations urge Congress to meet the needs of dual language learners.

Early Edge CA ‏@EarlyEdgeCA 27 orgs & researchers sent Congress this letter on Dual Language Learner standards as part of an #earlyed plan http://bit.ly/1aZcnEs  @NCLR

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Classroom assessment advice for infant and toddler teachers from Head Start.

 Office of Head Start ‏@HeadStartgov Use these 3 methods for recording infant & toddler observations to inform your assessments: http://1.usa.gov/14d2PQa

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