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Archive for the ‘Social-emotional development’ Category

Donna Servideo

Donna Servideo

This is a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Donna Servideo and I work at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. I am a preschool teacher for children who are 2.9 to 5 years of age. I have been in this position for the past eight years. That is also the same amount of time I have been in this field. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Development and Human Services from Anna Maria College and started my teaching career at the YWCA.

I love this job so much and cannot see myself working in any other field.

The work that I do with preschool age children is very important. I work with the children to get them ready socially and academically for kindergarten. I work closely with the parents so that we can work together to get the children where they need to be. The field of Early Childhood Education is so important. We set the stepping stones for each of these children. Without the hard work we as educators do, there would not be as many children who are ready for kindergarten.  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The state has a new mental health guide that focuses on young children called “Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Resources and Services: A Guide for Early Education and Care Professionals.”

It’s a road map that’s packed with information as well as phone numbers and Internet links that early educators can use to connect children and their families to a wide array of resources and organizations.

Early education professionals will find “descriptions of services and supports for families with young children, as well as resources that can benefit your program, whether you work in an early education and care center or family child care setting.”

And: “To support staff conversations with families about their children’s social-emotional development, the guide also includes advice on how early childhood professionals can share their concerns with parents.”

The guide is published by the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), “an interagency initiative of the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.” CBHI worked with the state’s Department of Mental Health and its Department of Early Education and Care.

Some of the funding for this project came from the federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant that was awarded to Massachusetts in 2011.

(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: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“We must set children up to do well in the classroom and beyond,” a new Strategies for Children policy brief explains, adding that it is crucial, “to invest in early education and care programs that will promote social-emotional skill development…”

Written by Sophie Barnes, who is enrolled in the Child Advocacy strand of the Human Development and Psychology program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the brief adds:

“Research shows that high-quality early education and care has many benefits. Chief among these is the impact on young children’s social-emotional development, which may be as important or more so than traditional pre-academic skill development (e.g., number and letter recognition).”

What is social-emotional learning?  (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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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Ready for school? It’s a personal question for children and families, and a policy question for educators and elected officials. Here in Massachusetts, there is no statewide definition or measure of “kindergarten readiness”, but in recent years local communities — including Somerville and New Bedford — have been grappling with this issue.

Now researchers from Harvard are offering advice and examples that can help communities think about defining and achieving school readiness.

In its March issue, the FINE Newsletter (the Family Involvement Network of Educators) shines a spotlight on how children make the transition to school.

“Although the first day of kindergarten is still a few months off, the time to start thinking about transition is now,” the newsletter says, adding, “a smooth transition to school makes a difference for student outcomes… Research shows that children from homes with increased social and economic risk benefit the most from transition activities; yet these are the children least likely to receive them.”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

National data show that different groups of children enroll in preschool at different rates. For example, children who are Hispanic, immigrants or dual language learners (DLLs) are less likely to participate in center-based early education and care programs than white non-Hispanic children, according to NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research).

Because this difference can trigger achievement gaps, NIEER is also proposing ways to enroll more children in center-based care.

How important are formal preschool programs for children? A recent study from the University of California Center Sacramento found “a predominance of positive effects for children in immigrant families attending formal prekindergarten care on both academic and socioemotional school readiness measures.”

And as we’ve blogged before, early education programs can meet the needs of young dual language learners.

Immigrant and DLL Demographics

NIEER and CEELO (the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes) held a webinar on the needs of immigrant and DLL children late last year, and NIEER covered the issue last month in a Preschool Matters blog written by Milagros Nores, NIEER’s Associate Director of Research. (more…)

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