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Archive for the ‘Social-emotional development’ Category

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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Laura Polanco

Laura Polanco

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

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My name is Laura Polanco, and I work full-time for Worcester Child Development Head Start as a Family Service Associate. I also work part-time for Worcester Family Partnership, helping to facilitate literacy-based playgroups and as a home visitor for the Parent Child Home Program. I have been in the early education and care field for 11 years. During these years, I have held several different positions: a parent volunteer, assistant teacher, teacher, and coach/mentor.

I am still working on my own education. I am blessed to be involved in two programs as I work towards my master’s degree. The first program is a partnership between Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University that grants a Leadership Certificate. The other program is Worcester State University’s Improving Teacher Quality Grant. Without these options, I would not be able to financially acquire my Master’s degree. Programs like these help make us stronger educators so that we can provide a high-quality early education to children.

Early childhood sets the foundation for a child’s learning. Just like a house needs a strong foundation to be able to stay up, so does a child. I feel these early years are very crucial in setting the stage for each child to be an immersed learner as they grow. We empower these children to believe and accomplish anything they set out for. These are the most important years of a child’s life. We need to make sure their foundation can endure anything that life may bring their way and that they come out stronger than ever. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Play is making a comeback in kindergarten classes located in the Maryland suburb of Pasadena, according to a recent New York Times article, “Kindergartens Ringing the Bell for Play Inside the Classroom.”

But support for play varies based on class-related ideas about what children need most: more play or more academics.

Describing Pasadena’s new approach to play, the Times writes:

“Mucking around with sand and water. Playing Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. Cooking pretend meals in a child-size kitchen. Dancing on the rug, building with blocks and painting on easels.

“Call it Kindergarten 2.0.”

“Concerned that kindergarten has become overly academic in recent years, this suburban school district south of Baltimore is introducing a new curriculum in the fall for 5-year-olds. Chief among its features is a most old-fashioned concept: play.”

Some teachers are excited about the new approach.

“But educators in low-income districts say a balance is critical,” the Times notes. “They warn that unlike students from affluent families, poorer children may not learn the basics of reading and math at home and may fall behind if play dominates so much that academics wither.” (more…)

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Nair Alabachian and Erika Stephenson

Nair Alabachian and Erika Stephenson

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

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My name is Nair Alabachian. I have been working in the field as a family childcare (FCC) educator in Lynn, Mass., since 2006. The most important part of my job is helping children learn and develop mentally, emotionally, and socially. I support them by giving them a solid foundation. I’ve benefited so much from the courses I took at Merrimack College because I apply the knowledge I have learned. My curriculum, lessons, and instruction are more structured, grounded in theory, and relevant to my students’ lives.

I was a science and math teacher for 20 years in my home country of Bolivia, but there is still so much to learn. My education from Merrimack has helped me to be able to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses. One of the most gratifying (more…)

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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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