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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

How are our kids doing? That’s the question New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) has been asking in a series called “The First Decade: Early Childhood Disparities and the Future of N.H.’s Kids.”

So we’re taking a look at our New England neighbor to get a sense of how some of this region’s children are doing.

“When it comes to kids’ well-being, New Hampshire ranks high overall in survey after survey. But the real picture of how kids are faring goes deeper than that,” NHPR’s website explains. “Children in poor families continue to lose ground in everything from access to health care to quality education to opportunities to play sports.”

Worse, the opportunity gap between children from lower and higher ends of the income spectrum is likely to grow.

“On the whole, we’ve found that while children in New Hampshire are somewhat better off than those across the nation,” the website notes, “New Hampshire still has a growing trend in inequality in terms of poverty and family income, where low-income children and poor children are on the rise after decades of decline and income is pretty much all but stagnated for those in lower income groups in the past 50 years, but it has actually increased for families in higher income groups. This means that more and more, there is this likely growing gap in outcomes between worse- and better-off children in New Hampshire.”  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Racial segregation can start in preschool, according to a new report from Columbia University’s Teachers College that spotlights this disturbing trend.

The report — “A Better Start: Why Classroom Diversity Matters in Early Education” — points to “racial, ethnic, and economic disparities in preschool classrooms across America,” according to a press release, “prompting calls for policymakers to focus on the value of diversity in early education classrooms as a means to increase equity and quality for America’s youngest learners.”

“If every child could be in a high-quality program, we could all go home and not worry about it,” Jeanne Reid told the Washington Post. Reid is a co-author of the report, which was funded by The Century Foundation and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council. “But a lot of programs are not high quality, and low-income children are most likely to be in low-quality programs.”

Instead of letting children from low-income families congregate in inadequate programs, the country should promote equal access to high-quality, research-backed early education programs, the report says.  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Startegies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Startegies for Children

Across the country, the population of children is growing more diverse. There are more children from different countries who speak numerous languages. And as they enter preschool settings, they need culturally diverse early educators.

A recent report — “Immigrant and Refugee Workers in the Early Childhood Field: Taking a Closer Look” — looks at the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce and how it could better meet children’s needs.

Released by MPI, the Migration Policy Institute, the report says:

“Just as the number and share of children of immigrants have grown substantially in recent decades across the nation, the foreign-born share of ECEC workers has also risen. Today, immigrants account for nearly one-fifth of the overall ECEC workforce. However, these immigrant workers—and the linguistic and cultural diversity that they bring to the field—are highly over-represented in lower-skilled and lower-paying sectors of the profession such as family-based child-care.”  (more…)

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Why do some children who endure traumatic experiences develop in healthy ways while others are harmed?

One answer is resilience. And in a new collection of videos and working papers, Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child looks at what resilience is; how to build resilience in children; and how public policy can help promote resilience.

“We define resilience as a good outcome in the face of adversity,” Jack Shonkoff, the director of the center, says in an introductory video. That adversity can include having a mentally ill parent, living in a poor community, attending a weak school, or being exposed to violence.

“It’s tempting to think about children as either having this resilient quality — or not. But resilience is built over time; just as and in parallel with how the architecture of the brain is built over time,” Philip A. Fisher, a University of Oregon psychology professor, says in the video.

“It’s not just in the person,” Shonkoff explains about resilience. “It’s in the interaction between the person and the environment.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

While the state waits for new revenue to significantly expand early education and care opportunities for young children, it’s important to ensure that the existing subsidy system is operating as effectively as possible.

This was the intention of state legislators in FY14 when they approved $500,000 in funding to conduct a two-year, independent study of The Department of Early Education and Care’s (EEC) child care access accounts. These accounts are commonly referred to as Income Eligible, TANF, and Supportive Child Care. They consist of federal funds and required state matches, and they make up the majority of EEC’s budget.

Now, two years have passed and the research results are in.

The Urban Institute, a D.C.-based policy research organization, has released its findings in a series of policy reports that look at:

• improving the efficiency of the system

• analyzing gaps in the availability of subsidies, and,

• assessing the balance between providing quality early education for children and providing workforce support for guardians

Massachusetts wins praise for its strengths and gets feedback on ways to improve its vision and its delivery of services.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This blog was originally published on May 9, 2013.

Children’s vocabulary is a key ingredient of learning to read with comprehension, but recent research finds limited instruction in vocabulary in kindergarten – and too little to enable children with small vocabularies to close the vocabulary gap that is evident long before they begin school.

Susan B. Neuman, a professor in educational studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Tanya S. Wright, an assistant professor of teacher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing, analyzed observations of 55 kindergarten teachers’ instruction in a variety of school districts. They found limited instruction in vocabulary in most settings, but low-income children were least likely to be taught the kind of sophisticated, academic words that will help them succeed in school

“Vocabulary is a deceptively simple literacy skill that researchers and educators agree is critical to students’ academic success, but which has proved frustratingly difficult to address,” Education Week reports. “By age 3, when many children enter early preschool, youngsters from well-to-do families have a working vocabulary of 1,116 words, compared to 749 words for children in working-class families and 525 words for children on welfare, according to a seminal 2003 longitudinal study by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, authors of the 1995 book ‘Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children.’

“The consensus among researchers and educators has been that students must close such vocabulary gaps to succeed academically and deal with rigorous content. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Imagine a citywide approach to helping young children prepare for school.

That’s the city New Bedford is striving to be. The city’s public school system is working with local center-based preschool providers, as well as diverse stakeholders including the New Bedford Art Museum, the city’s housing authority, and the United Way of New Bedford to develop school readiness programs.

“We’ve never really had that alignment conversation,” Diane Sullivan said in a recent interview. Sullivan is the supervisor of Early Childhood Special Education for New Bedford Public Schools.

Sullivan helps lead the Birth through Third Grade Alignment Partnership effort, which has been underway in New Bedford since fall 2014. The work is funded by the Department of Early Education and Care, using federal Early Learning Challenge funds.

Taking what Sullivan calls a “good first step,” New Bedford has decided to focus on helping preschool-age children build strong social and emotional skills.  (more…)

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