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Archive for the ‘Science & math’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Tomorrow is National Summer Learning Day, so break out the sunscreen and some engaging educational activities that will help stop the “summer slide” of learning losses that some children experience during the warm, out-of-school months.

An annual day of national advocacy, National Summer Learning Day is led by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), which seeks “to elevate the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer,” according to the association’s website.

“Research shows that summers without quality learning opportunities put our nation’s youth at risk for falling behind – year after year – in core subjects like math and reading. The math and reading skills low-income students lose each summer are cumulative and contribute significantly to the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income kids,” the website adds.

That’s why this year, “NSLA is asking everyone — programs, families, schools, educators, policymakers, businesses — to make summer a season of learning by pledging to #KeepKidsLearning on our interactive map.” (more…)

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Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, speaking at the launch of Pre-K for MA.  Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, speaking at the launch of Pre-K for MA. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Launched this spring, the Pre-K for MA coalition has been growing, and we’re inviting you to join us by becoming a Voice of Support.

As we blogged in the spring, Pre-K for MA is an effort to expand access to high-quality early education programs. This effort is being led by Strategies for Children and Stand for Children Massachusetts.

As the Pre-K for MA website says, “High-quality early education has been shown to have a significant short- and long-term impact on children’s educational, health, social, and economic outcomes. Yet in Massachusetts, we have not invested enough in Pre-K, leaving the ‘kindergarten readiness’ challenge up to parents to figure out on their own.”

That’s why Pre-K for MA supports a bill filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) called “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education.”

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,” as this fact sheet explains (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

From magnifying glasses and computers to blocks and counting, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) can be a powerful part of early education settings. To capitalize on this potential, Massachusetts has invested in STEM programs, and it is sharing the resulting resources.

In fiscal year 2014, the state budget included $250,000 to develop innovative preschool curriculum with a STEM focus. The Department of Early Education and Care used the money to award five grants to providers and community partners statewide, including the Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, MA, which enrolled 40 students in a new STEM preschool located at the museum.

The resulting resources — curriculum guides and other materials — are published online in English, Spanish, and other languages on the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s STEM Nexus webpage.

The investment in STEM comes at an important time in children’s life. As a Strategies for Children research brief notes:

“Young children are naturally inquisitive learners who ask an average of 76 questions per hour. Young children are also natural scientists—they make sense of the world around them by making predictions, checking them, and using evidence to make inductions and deductions.”  (more…)

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eng crop

Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

“How are we going to make engineering work in an infant space?” asked Monica Dolan, an early educator who works with infants at The Children’s Center, Caltech’s child-care center.

Featured in a news story from Marketplace called “Caltech’s Little Engineers that Could,” Dolan is an early educator who was meeting with “a group of educators gathered to plan their big teaching initiative for the year ahead.”

“The center has always focused on teaching through science and math principles – after all, it is attached to Caltech – but diving into engineering curriculum for little ones was new,” the story says.

At the center, infants build with big, soft blocks.

Toddlers construct a train: “They scour the yard for materials to make carriages and find empty crates… Then a classic engineering problem strikes: resource scarcity. The crates run out and there are still 2-year-olds without a seat on the train. The toddlers solve it by finding chairs to create the needed train carriages.”

Later these students go inside and listen to a story called “Iggy Peck, Architect,” by Andrea Beaty. Iggy is a fictional architect who, at age 2, built a tower in under an hour using diapers that weren’t entirely clean.  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Full-day preschool programs just got some good news. A new research study found that children who attend full-day programs are more school-ready than those who attend half-day programs.

“This is the first study to comprehensively examine the results of lengthening the preschool day and it has national implications, when only half of students who enter kindergarten each year are fully prepared,” study co-author Arthur Reynolds says in a University of Minnesota news release. Reynolds is a professor at the university’s Institute of Child Development.

According to the news release, “Reynolds says that early childhood education programs have long been known to be key to preparing children for later school success. Now, however, he sees the bigger question to be the effect of increased learning time in early childhood education programs.”

The study — published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association — looked at children in 11 Chicago schools during the 2012-2013 school year. The children were a “nonrandomized, matched-group cohort of predominantly low-income, ethnic minority children.” Of these, 409 were enrolled in the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) for a full, seven-hour day. And 573 were enrolled in part-day programs that ran on average for three hours.  (more…)

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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

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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