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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

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“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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Mariama Grimes

Mariama Grimes

Born and raised in Sacramento, Calif., Mariama Grimes has spent the last few years in Cambridge braving the cold and attending the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed. L.D.) program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE).

Now Mariama has joined Strategies for Children for the next ten months to lead a project in support of SFC’s strategic plan implementation and local community work. This year-long residency is an experience that culminates with a dissertation. We’re happy to welcome her aboard, and we look forward to the outreach work she’ll be doing in various communities.

“I’ve always been interested in politics,” Mariama said in a recent interview, explaining that as a kid she had playing cards that featured politicians rather than baseball stars. In addition, Mariama’s father, Roy Grimes, was involved in educational policy in California, serving as president of the Sacramento County School Board and of the Sacramento City Unified School District. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

The action never seems to stop in preschool classrooms. But appearances can be deceiving. Researchers from the University of Washington report that children are not always getting enough opportunities for active play.

“Parents feel as if their young children are constantly in motion. But new research suggests that children in preschool have few opportunities for active play and are often sedentary,” a blog on the New York Times’ Motherlode website says.

To conduct this study — “Active Play Opportunities at Child Care” — researchers observed 98 children attending 10 preschools in Seattle. Each preschool was observed for four full days.

The study found that children’s activity was 73 percent sedentary, 13 percent light, and 14 percent of what researchers call “moderate-vigorous physical activity.”

The study found “that for 88 percent of child care time, children were not presented opportunities for active play, so the finding that more than 70 percent of children’s time was sedentary is not surprising.”  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Last December, Massachusetts was awarded a $15 million federal Pre-K Expansion grant for five communities: Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield.

Now that six months have passed, we decided to check in with Anita Moeller to see how this grant-funded work is going. Moeller is the director of the expansion grant program at the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC).

It’s a busy season of laying groundwork, Moeller explained. The five communities are working on budgets, identifying teachers, outfitting new spaces, and submitting their final plans to federal authorities.

As EEC Commissioner Tom Weber wrote last fall in the state’s application for this funding, “The Federal Preschool Expansion Grant has inspired Massachusetts to think boldly and to offer a plan that engages and leverages the strengths of the Massachusetts mixed-delivery system to reach more children and advances our goal of achieving a universally-accessible, high-quality system of early education and care.”  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Across the country, schools are welcoming growing numbers of young dual language learners: children who are in the process of learning English as well as their native language.

They will grow up to play a vital role in the social and economic fabric of the country, so it’s crucial to provide them with high-quality educational experiences, as the New America Foundation notes in a 10-week series on its EdCentral blog.

The series looks at “research, policies, and practices pertaining to the education of dual language learners (DLLs) in U.S. public schools.” It is designed to help educators and policymakers understand how best to serve these students.

“Dual language learners are the fastest-growing group of U.S. school children. However, these students rarely garner enough attention when it comes to considering how changing policies impact their education,” the inaugural blog post says. “When DLLs are mentioned in research, policy, and practice, it is often to compare them to monolingual peers. In such instances, DLLs’ language differences are often framed as deficits to be overcome rather than strengths to be leveraged.”  (more…)

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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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