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Archive for the ‘Standards and curriculum’ Category

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.

*     *     *

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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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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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 Source: WIDA Store

Photo Source: WIDA Store

Tomorrow and Thursday, the Department of Early Education and Care — in partnership with WIDA Early Years — is hosting a two-day institute on the WIDA Early English Language Development (E-ELD) Standards Framework.

“Participants will gain a deeper understanding of the WIDA Early English Language Development (E-ELD) Standards Framework, and how to apply that understanding to their daily work with children,” according to a program announcement.

We recently blogged about E-ELD here.

Participants who attend the institute will be able to:

• “Identify the foundational principles and components of the WIDA E-ELD Standards Framework”  (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Here in Massachusetts, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants your opinion.

EEC is holding two public hearings on its adoption of the WIDA Early English Language Development Standards (E-ELD) for children who are 2.5 to 5.5 years old.

As EEC says on its website, the E-ELD Standards are designed to:

• “help guide lesson planning to ensure that the different linguistic needs of dual language learners [DLLs] are being met”

• support dual language learners as they reach their next level of English Language Development

• inform decisions about class composition, staffing, curriculum, and assessment in programs that serve dual language learners, and

• help programs that serve dual language learners to make better use of EEC’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

The E-ELD Standards are aligned with K-12 English Language Development Standards, and as WIDA explains:

“Specific consideration has been given to the nature of early language and cognitive development, family and community-based socio-cultural contexts for language learning, and the psycholinguistic nature of second language acquisition in preschoolers who are still developing the foundational structures and rules of language.”  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Principals can strengthen the pre-K-to-third-Grade pipeline.

Rhian Evans Allvin was reminded of this a number of years ago at a conference. Allvin — executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) — recalls hearing a principal at the conference who “spoke of how he sent out letters to parents of newborns in his district, welcoming them into the learning community and offering a list of available early childhood resources and opportunities.”

Allvin’s experience is part of an article, “Strategies for Aligning Pre-K -3,” in the January/February 2015 edition of Principal Magazine.

The article highlights the release of “Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice.”

The guide helps principals “create and support connections between the worlds of birth-to-five and K-12 and… implement developmentally-appropriate teaching and learning practices to ensure successful Pre-K-3 continuums in their schools,” the executive summary explains.

Published by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), the full guide can be ordered on the NAESP website(more…)

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