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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson from the White House Blog

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson from the White House Blog

Last week, federal child care law got an important overhaul: Congress passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG). And President Obama signed it into law.

In a rare show of political unity, both Democrats and Republicans supported the bill. According to the news website Syracuse.com, “Congress reauthorized the $5.3 billion per year program on Monday with strong bipartisan support for a deal crafted by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.”

Due for reauthorization since 2002, the new law reflects “input from parents, childcare providers, and early learning and development experts,” this Congressional summary explains.

The law emphasizes “training, professional development, and improvements to health and safety requirements,” the summary says. In addition, the law “focuses on giving families more stability in the CCDBG program by ensuring that children who initially qualify for a subsidy get care for at least a year.” (more…)

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“We Americans love children.

“Indeed, we love them so much that, on average, child care workers earn almost as much per hour ($10.33) as workers who care for animals ($10.82), according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.

“We love them so much that only 38 percent of American 3-year-olds are enrolled in education programs. The average is 70 percent among the 34 industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“So if politicians are genuinely looking for a bipartisan issue to break through the Washington gridlock, here’s a suggestion: invest in early education.”

“Do Politicians Love Kids?” by New York Times Op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, November 19, 2014

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Governors have an important job to do: They can promote early math skills among young children. A new policy brief from the National Governors Association (NGA) called, “Unlocking Young Children’s Potential: Governors’ Role in Strengthening Early Mathematics Learning,” explains why.

“Studies find that the mathematics knowledge acquired in early childhood and early elementary grades is a critical foundation for long-term student success. A child’s math ability when he or she enters school has proved a better predictor of academic achievement, high school graduation, and college attendance than any other early childhood skill.”

In fact, the brief adds: “Early mathematics competency even predicts later reading achievement better than early literacy skills.”

Here in Massachusetts, JD Chesloff, a champion of early math, adds context to the report, explaining, “This is not to say that math should replace reading as a priority, but it is to say that there should be a focus on both literacy and numeracy.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

How can preschool programs best serve children who are new to this country or whose first language is not English? A training session is providing answers.

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Office of Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) are offering a session called “New Start: Supporting Multilingual Young Children and Immigrant and Refugee Families.”

The next one is this Friday, November 21, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tufts University’s Cabot Asean Auditorium – Building M151 at 160 Packard Avenue in Medford. Click here to register.

The training session is run by MIRA and the Multilingual Action Council (MAC) at the Aspire Institute in Wheelock College.

The one-day session addresses a substantial need.

“In Massachusetts more than one in four children under the age of six live in a multi-lingual household, so focusing on meaningfully engaging these families in their children’s development will help to ensure the best outcomes for our young learners,” according to Jennifer Amaya-Thompson, the Head Start State Collaboration Office Director at EEC. (more…)

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Photo Source: Charlie Baker's Facebook page.

Photo from Charlie Baker’s Facebook page.

On January 8, 2015, Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito will be sworn in as the next governor and lieutenant governor of the commonwealth.

To prepare, Baker has been assembling a transition team to review the state’s public policy needs. So it’s a great time for early educators, program leaders, advocates and parents to talk to this emerging mix of bi-partisan leaders about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and early literacy.

Polito, a former state representative, will chair the transition team. And Jim Peyser will lead the transition team. Peyser served as the former chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and as a special adviser to Governor William Weld.

A State House News article posted on WBUR’s website reports that Baker has created the following committees:

• Schools
• Jobs and the Economy
• State of the State
• Better Government
• Community
• Human Resources, and
• Healthcare

The schools committee will be co-chaired by: (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on November 25, 2013.

“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…)

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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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