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Archive for the ‘Social-emotional development’ Category

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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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

On a recent broadcast, NPR noted that early education is making news — thanks in large part to President Obama’s $75 billion proposal to expand preschool for 4-year-olds.

“The problem,” NPR quotes Obama saying, “is that we’re still not reaching enough kids.” According to NPR, state-run preschool programs only reach 30 percent of eligible children.

Congress isn’t listening to the president, NPR’s Claudio Sanchez saidd, but states are. Many have expanded their preschool programs, and others are planning to grow. This raises a key question: What is high-quality preschool program? What, specifically, is it about the best programs that make a difference in children’s lives?

For answers, NPR turns to Deborah Phillips, a developmental psychologist and professor at Georgetown University, who studies early education.

“What you’re going to look for,” Phillips told NPR, “is a teacher who knows how to instruct children in pre-math, pre-literacy, who gets down on the child’s level when talking to them, who’s respectful towards them.”

Phillips found that kind of excellence in Tulsa, Okla., where she and her academic team spent seven months observing teachers across the city. Phillips found “four pillars of quality:” strong curriculum, strong funding, balanced teacher-student ratios, and highly qualified teachers. (more…)

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This blog was originally published on September 13, 2012. 

The folks at the First Five Years Fund – who brought us the fabulous “Early Learning Matters” video – have another terrific animated video in their toolkit for advocates of high-quality early education. This time it’s “Brain Builders,” narrated by Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. In the more recent video, Shonkoff uses layman’s terms to explain the complex neurological and molecular interaction between children’s early experiences and the developing architecture of their young brains.

“The healthy development of young children in the early years of life literally does provide a foundation for just about all of the challenging social problems that our society and other societies face,” Shonkoff says. “What we’re learning through exciting developments in neuroscience and molecular biology is how much early experience from birth – in fact, even before birth – how much this experience literally gets into our bodies and shapes our learning capacities and behaviors and physical and mental health. The brain is basically built from the bottom up. First, the brain builds basic circuits and more complex circuits are built on top of those basic circuits as we develop more complex skills. Biologically the brain is prepared to be shaped by experience. It is expecting the experiences that a young child has to literally influence the formation of its circuitry.”

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

“When Luke gets angry, he tries to remember to look at his bracelet. It reminds him of what he can do to calm himself: stop, take a deep breath, count to four, give yourself a hug and, if necessary, ask an adult for help,” David Bornstein wrote in the recent New York Times blog “Teaching Children to Calm Themselves.”

Only 5 years old, “Luke’s difficulties stem from his earliest experiences. Before and after his birth, his parents regularly used drugs. His mother was unable to attend to him and his father was sent to prison shortly after his first birthday.”

What has helped “Luke” (Bornstein agreed not to use his real name) is a program called Head Start-Trauma Smart “that currently serves some 3,300 children annually in 26 counties in Kansas and Missouri.” The program was developed by the Crittenton Children’s Center, in Kansas City, Mo., which provides psychiatric services to children, adolescents and their families.

(more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

All children should be able to enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed. However the path to kindergarten readiness begins long before the pre-kindergarten year.

A new report commissioned by Somerville’s schools, the City and the School Committee recognizes this and recommends going beyond providing early education for four-year-olds to “establish an innovative early childhood system for pre-kindergarteners of all ages,” a system that would support “universal kindergarten readiness,” according to a city press release published in the Somerville Times.

The report — “SomerReady: Creating a Citywide, Universal Kindergarten Readiness System” — calls for a creating a provider network that would include Somerville Public Schools, Head Start, nonprofit and private early childhood care providers, and faith-based organizations.

The report says that Somerville should have a strong early education and care system that includes:

- home visits by health or child development specialists

- parent education

- early intervention and special education services

- child care

- pre-kindergarten, and

- physical and mental health services

(more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Last month, six states heard great news from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont learned that they would receive a combined $281 million in grant awards from the 2013 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) fund “to improve access to high-quality early learning and development programs throughout their states,” according to a press release.

“By investing in high-quality early learning through programs like Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, we are able to close achievement gaps, provide life-transforming opportunities for children, and strengthen and build a thriving middle class,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in the press release.

Duncan thanked “governors, state officials, and education advocates” for their leadership, adding, “This investment is a down payment to support and implement high-quality early learning programs across the country. There is still a lot more work for us to do.”

“This administration is committed to ensuring all children have a chance to succeed,” Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in the press release. “An investment in our children is an investment in our nation’s future.” (more…)

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