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Archive for the ‘Pre-K to 3’ Category

Stephanie Sanchez, of Stand for Children, and Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Stephanie Sanchez, of Stand for Children, and Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

This isn’t just the season for holiday shopping. Now that Election Day has passed, it’s also a great time for advocates to reach out to policymakers – including the newly elected officials who will be sworn in next month — and make the case for prioritizing birth-through-third-grade learning.

“Start now and lay a foundation,” Amy O’Leary, the director of our Early Education for All Campaign, said at a post-election strategy meeting that Strategies for Children (SFC) held on Tuesday. Attended by 30 local leaders in early education and care, the meeting took place at the Nurtury Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain.

What to Say: Crafting a Message 

Write to local leaders — or call, email, and Tweet. Congratulate them on winning their elections, O’Leary advised, and encourage them to focus on expanding and improving education for the commonwealth’s youngest children. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Somerville has a cool new early childhood website: SomervilleHub.org.

Produced by the Somerville Early Education Steering Committee, the website helps “connect local families with young children to the full range of information and resources they need to raise healthy, active children from birth to age 8,” a press release explains.

The wide range of information and insights include: facts on growth and development; good ideas about free craft activities offered by local businesses; kids’ programs run by local nonprofit organizations such as Eagle Eye Institute; and information on childcare and school options, social services, family events, and local parks.

Somerville’s goal is to provide a central hub for parents “especially in the early childhood years, to help their children develop kindergarten-readiness and then thrive and reach their full potential once enrolled in school.”

In an impressive nod to Somerville’s diversity, the website’s content can be translated into some 80 languages that range from Afrikaans and Albanian to Mongolian and Nepali to Yiddish and Zulu. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

David Jacobson — one of our favorite bloggers over at “The Birth Through Third Grade Learning Hub” — has a new article out in Phi Delta Kappan, “the professional magazine for anyone who cares about K-12 education.”

The article, “The primary years agenda: Strategies to guide district action,” points out that the growing momentum around early education is creating powerful opportunities for schools and districts.

“School districts on the leading edge of the Birth through Third Grade movement have demonstrated unprecedented success raising the achievement of low-income students by developing coherent strategies focused on the early years of learning and development,” Jacobson explains.

These leading edge communities — among them Boston, Montgomery County, Md., and Union City, N.J. — aren’t just improving preschool. They’re “building aligned, high-quality early education systems.”

The Birth through Third Grade Strategy

Why birth through third grade? Because high-quality early education programs prepare children to succeed.

“Gaps between low-income and middle-class children appear early and increase over time,” Jacobson writes. “Such gaps in social-emotional and academic (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Mississippi recently received troubling news about its youngest children.

A report released last month “revealed that two-thirds of the state’s youngest students enter school unprepared to learn and are, in fact, well below where they should be in terms of literacy,” according to the Cabinet Report article, “Crisis Brewing Among Early Learners.”

Mississippi’s Superintendent Carey Wright “is a staunch advocate of early childhood education but her mission to improve these programs for Mississippi kids has taken on new urgency in the wake of the state’s first assessment of kindergarten readiness,” the article says.

“More than 40,000 kindergarteners from 144 districts throughout the state took the STAR Early Literacy exam during the first month of this school year, according to the Mississippi Department of Education. More than 65 percent of those students scored below the 530 benchmark score that indicates a student has mastered at least 70 percent of early reading skills.

“The state average score was 501.

“The assessment evaluated skills such as the ability to recognize letters and match letters to their sounds and a student’s recognition that print flows from left to right. The exam produced reports for parents and teachers that detail each child’s early reading skills. Teacher reports also include diagnostic information and instructional plans for every student.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Parents, mayors, governors, and President Obama are all talking about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and about how they can help children become proficient third grade readers.

But with all this energy and action, it can be easy to lose sight of how, specifically, policymakers can have a positive impact in these areas.

That’s why the Education Commission of the States has put together a guide for policymaker’s, an A to Z primer on early education called “Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade.”

It’s a “reference guide for policymakers and their staffs on the most commonly requested topics from preschool to third grade,” according to the guide’s executive summary.

The guide says, “the primary programs and strategies policymakers have inquired about include: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Reading, writing, arithmetic – and computer coding?

Coding is a crucial part of being literate, according to educators and employers who say that America’s students should learn how to code so they can participate in the high-tech economy.

When should children start? They’re already getting started in kindergarten. So we decided to take a look at news stories about how this trend is playing out in classrooms.

When adults code, they use a coding language such as Java or Python to write instructions for computers. Now researchers have come up with an easier way for children to code using images.

In the eSchool News article, “Coding with the Kindergarten Crowd,” Laura Devaney writes, “Introducing coding to kindergarten students helps them reflect on their own learning as they develop 21st-century skills such as problem solving and creativity, experts say.”

(more…)

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In Quotes

“Creating successful PreK-3rd grade approaches is no easy feat. And, there’s not just one way to do it. It’s clear, though, that helping children sustain gains made early on takes numerous, coordinated policies and a dedicated group of stakeholders birth-through-third grade.”

Abbie Lieberman, program associate, New America’s Early Education Initiative, in her article, “School Year Begins, States Enhance PreK-3rd Continuum with Race to the Top Funds,” September 23, 2014

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