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Archive for the ‘Social-emotional development’ Category

(Warning: Parts of this video can be distressing to watch.)

Posted on YouTube in 2009, the “Still Face Experiment” video makes its point bluntly.

“Babies this young are extremely responsive to the emotions and the reactivity and the social interaction that they get from the world around them,” Edward Tronick explains in the video.

To illustrate this, Tronick, a UMass Boston psychology professor and child development expert, has a mother interact with her baby using a playful, happy voice.

The experiment? After a moment, the mom turns away from the baby, turns back, and holds her face still: no smiles, no conversation, just stone-faced eye contact. The baby tries but fails to reestablish the happy connection. The longer the baby struggles to engage the mom, the more distressed the baby becomes.

It’s excruciating to watch. But the video shows the power of warm, engaging, and responsive relationships between babies and adults. It also shows how harmful abuse and neglect can be for infants. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Last week, NPR Ed — which explores how learning happens — ran a series called Playing to Learn, a multimedia look at “why people play and how play relates to learning.” It’s a delightful summertime look at how play engages and educates children — and adults.

Here’s a sample of the Playing to Learn reports.

Where the Wild Things Play

“Free and unstructured play: It’s vital for children,” NPR host Melissa Block says in the introduction to this report. “Research shows a connection between play and kids’ social, emotional, and cognitive development. But playtime in America’s cities is in decline.”

Fortunately, NPR reporter Eric Westervelt finds a stronghold of play at an adventure playground in Berkeley. It’s a “free-range, public playground” where “kids have to talk to each other, problem solve — and they get messy together.”

But as this report explains, “play is in trouble.” Recess has been trimmed. And play is increasingly more structured and controlled. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Looking for insights on how to improve K-12 education? Consider the lessons offered by the early childhood education field, Joan Wasser Gish advises in a recently published Education Week commentary called “Four Lessons from Early Education.”

Wasser Gish is a member of the Board of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care as well as the principal at Policy Progress, a public-policy consulting firm based in Newton, Mass. And from 2005 to 2006, she was Strategies for Children’s director of policy and research.

There are “four lessons that elementary and secondary education could draw from the early-childhood sector as leaders seek to build P-16 systems and re-imagine schools capable of helping all children attain the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy and society,” Wasser Gish writes. These lessons are:

 1. Expand the mission by engaging families.

“In high-quality early-childhood-education settings, the mission is to serve children and their families. This mission takes different forms in each community, but the federal Head Start program, which serves low-income, at-risk children across the nation, is illustrative: Head Start emphasizes developing relationships with families to support parents as their child’s first teacher and promote positive parent-child interactions.” (more…)

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“Reading with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships and stimulate early language development… The benefits are so compelling that encouraging reading at check-ups has become an essential part of care.”

Dr. Pamela High, a pediatrician and professor at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, “Pediatricians Call For Parents To Read Aloud To Their Children Every Day,” The Huffington Post, June 24, 2014

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Kindergarten is changing, according to a recent Education Week article called “The Case for the New Kindergarten: Challenging and Playful.”

Not only are more children enrolled in kindergarten — nationally, 56 percent of children attended full-day kindergarten in 1998, compared to 80 percent today (and 88% in Massachusetts) — but kindergarten classrooms “are also far more academically oriented.”

“Our research shows that most kindergarten teachers now think academic instruction should begin in preschool and indicate that it’s important for incoming kindergartners to already know their letters and numbers. Today’s kindergarten teachers are spending much more time on literacy and expect their students to learn to read before first grade.”

The article was written by Daphna Bassok, an assistant professor of education and public policy at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Amy Claessens, an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, and Mimi Engel, an assistant professor of public policy and education at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have released the first three entries in a new series of one-page briefs called “Lead Early Educators for Success.”

The goal of the series is to provide early educators with the support they need to create high-quality learning environments for the children they teach.

The central theme of the series: Revisit assumptions. To this end, the briefs look at current polices and practices; outline common pitfalls; and present strategies for effective implementation of high-quality learning experiences.

The series — which will include a total of ten briefs — is being produced by Harvard’s Language Diversity and Literacy Development Research Group, headed by Nonie Lesaux, a Harvard education professor.

Brief 1: A New Era for Early Education and Care

This brief introduces both the challenges and the opportunities that currently exist in the complex landscape of early childhood education. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Need help engaging an infant, toddler or preschool-aged child? Check out “Resources for Early Learning,” a website produced by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care and the WGBH Educational Foundation, with support from federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funds. 

“This site provides exciting, engaging media-rich learning opportunities for educators, parents, and caregivers of children. From detailed lesson plans to simple, everyday activities, you will find everything you need to help your children succeed,” the website explains.

The goal is to empower adults — parents and early education and care providers — by giving them the “skills, training, knowledge, and understanding needed to help young children grow and learn.” The website was developed by a team of experts, educators, and parents.

 The site has three main sections:

In the section for educators, there is a nine-unit curriculum for children ages 3 to 5 that uses a media-based approach to cover STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as well as English Language Arts. The curriculum includes activities and recommended books to read out loud. This approach is designed to help children develop academic and social and emotional skills. Educators will also find a search feature that finds activities. And there’s a link to a range of best practices in professional development.

(more…)

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