Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Researchers know that child care isn’t just about children. It also has a huge impact on parents and on the economy.

A recent report — “Child Care in State Economics” — says that the strategic use of child care could could help local economies grow.

“Child care can allow parents to participate in the labor force or pursue education or training,” the report’s executive summary says; and “the organized child care industry itself is an integral part of state economies.”

“By providing regular care for 10.7 million children, the organized child care sector continues to serve its traditional role of helping working parents enter and remain in the workforce. Paid care allows one third of U.S. families with a working mother to participate in the labor force. (more…)

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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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“The implications of the study’s findings are far-reaching… First, there’s a message to educators that social and emotional learning can be just as important as cognitive skills.”

“The new study, a comprehensive 20-year examination of 800 children from kindergarten through their mid-20s published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, found a link between a child’s social skills in kindergarten and how well they were doing in early adulthood.”

“Study: Behavior in kindergarten linked to adult success,” by Kelly Wallace, CNN, July 16, 2015

*     *     *

“A couple of interesting things here, though – it’s amazing that something that you’re measuring in kindergarten can predict anything at all 15 to 20 years down the road.

“But the second thing that’s important is that not all social skills might matter to the same extent. Teachers also rated these kindergarten students on their aggressiveness, but researchers find that these ratings do not predict whether kids will get in trouble with the police 15 to 20 years later. Again, it’s the pro-social skills – the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – this is what shapes the likelihood that you’ll stay out of trouble later on.”

Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s social science correspondent, speaking in “Nice Kids Finish First: Study Finds Social Skills Can Predict Future Success,” July 16, 2015

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

For all its fun, Summer is also a time when children might experience the “summer slide” of losing ground academically. This problem is particularly acute for children from low-income families, many of whom have been shown to lose two to three months in reading achievement during the summer.

But now cities across Massachusetts are creating opportunities for students to keep learning and growing through activities that are engaging, fun, and educational.

As we blogged last month, many cities kicked off this season by celebrating National Summer Learning Day, a day of advocacy promoted in part by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This summertime work continues in Boston, Holyoke, New Bedford, Springfield, and other communities.

“Research shows that low-income children experience summer learning loss at a much higher rate than their middle-class peers, who typically benefit from enriching summer programs, learning experiences, and homes filled with books and reading,” according to the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Over the course of one summer vacation, this summer learning loss creates an approximate three-month achievement gap in reading skills between the two groups of children. By middle school, the cumulative effect adds up to a gap equal to two full years of achievement.” (more…)

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