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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Researchers know that talking to babies helps their vocabularies grow. The more words infants hear the better. But studies show that in addition to more words, babies benefit from hearing more complex words. And as children grow, parents can help by having more “abstract” conversations.

Meredith Rowe, a Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) professor, explains her findings on language development in an interview posted on HGSE’s “Usable Knowledge” website.

“We’ve known for a while that the quantity of input matters. I think the shift to a focus on quality rather than quantity was a natural next step in the field,” Rowe explains, adding:

“It is much easier to send a message about quantity, but if we know that quality trumps quantity, statistically, then perhaps we can really try and change the message to be more about having high-quality conversations with children rather than just ‘talking a lot.’”  Continue Reading »

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Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

“How are we going to make engineering work in an infant space?” asked Monica Dolan, an early educator who works with infants at The Children’s Center, Caltech’s child-care center.

Featured in a news story from Marketplace called “Caltech’s Little Engineers that Could,” Dolan is an early educator who was meeting with “a group of educators gathered to plan their big teaching initiative for the year ahead.”

“The center has always focused on teaching through science and math principles – after all, it is attached to Caltech – but diving into engineering curriculum for little ones was new,” the story says.

At the center, infants build with big, soft blocks.

Toddlers construct a train: “They scour the yard for materials to make carriages and find empty crates… Then a classic engineering problem strikes: resource scarcity. The crates run out and there are still 2-year-olds without a seat on the train. The toddlers solve it by finding chairs to create the needed train carriages.”

Later these students go inside and listen to a story called “Iggy Peck, Architect,” by Andrea Beaty. Iggy is a fictional architect who, at age 2, built a tower in under an hour using diapers that weren’t entirely clean.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

What should the certification process be for early childhood teachers?

A process that reflects the specialized work these teachers do. It’s up to policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure that this happens.

“During the first eight years of child development and learning, the educator’s role is different in many ways than the role a teacher plays later in a child’s life. Policies and practices should reflect this reality,” the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) explains on its website.

How are states doing at setting up distinctive certification processes that focus on early education?

Last month, NAEYC released new state profiles that reveal strengths and weaknesses.

“Using each state’s terminology, the profiles provide a snapshot of the certificates/licenses and endorsements for birth through third grade teachers in public schools; the cycle, if any, by which states review their certification policies; and other information noted by the state respondents as appropriate. We did not include academic content-specific or disability-specific certifications and endorsements.”

The Massachusetts profile is posted hereContinue Reading »

“Central to a healthy economy, now and in the future is an educated workforce. Building on the achievements of the Ed Reform law, now more than two decades old, there’s still work to be done.

“We have long recognized that education doesn’t start in elementary school and end at high school graduation: To that, I’m proud of our ongoing efforts to help make higher education more affordable for Massachusetts’ students and their families including our community colleges which are playing an ever increasing role in training the workers of tomorrow.

“In addition, we know the benefit of helping our youngest children. This session, we will devise our own plan to further provide early access to high quality programming for our youngest children. Not only is a renewed commitment to early education and care vital to the current economy by helping working parents– it’s vital to our children’s future.”

Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House, in his address to the House of Representatives, February 11, 2015 (emphasis ours)

Jay Gonzalez, Chair of the Board of the Department of  Early Education and Care

Jay Gonzalez

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is asking the Legislature for an additional $45 million for fiscal year 2016. This investment would position Massachusetts to improve the ways that it helps young children succeed in school and life.

Please contact your elected state officials and let them know that you support this request and the progress it seeks to make.

EEC’s FY 2016 proposal is based on a vision of eventually providing high-quality, affordable programs that are available to every young child in the state. These programs would be staffed with well-qualified and well-trained teachers and providers.

“After a long process of evaluating the state of early education and care in Massachusetts and soliciting feedback from stakeholders and the public, the Board of Early Education and Care developed and approved a comprehensive proposal for systemic reform and investment,” Jay Gonzalez, chair of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care, said in a statement. “The Board’s vote establishes a multi-year framework for taking our system of early education and care to the next level.”  Continue Reading »

Photo Source: Charlie Baker's Facebook page.

Photo Source: Charlie Baker’s Facebook page.

Once they were elected, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito asked a bipartisan transition committee to look at state operations.

Now the transition committee has released a report that summarizes their findings and recommendations in five areas:

- economic growth and jobs

- a great education for every child

- a healthcare system that works

- safer, stronger communities, and,

- a better state government we can be proud of

The report provides guidance for the Baker-Polito administration. So take a look and let the governor and lieutenant governor know what you think.

Strategies for Children’s Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign, served on the transition committee’s education policy advisory group.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to serve on the committee.” O’Leary said. “It is critical that early education and care be represented in these ‘big picture’ discussions about the state’s priorities in the years ahead.”  Continue Reading »

The Building on What Works Coalition. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The Building on What Works Coalition

A new coalition held an event at the State House last week and asked legislators to create powerful new educational opportunities for children.

The Building on What Works Coalition unites educators, business leaders, and elected officials who want to root out educational inequality and give all the state’s children the educational experiences they will need to thrive in our 21st century economy.

The coalition is calling for the state’s fiscal year 2016 budget to invest $75 million in a fund that communities could use to take one or more of the following steps:

• expand access to high-quality, birth-to-age-5 early learning opportunities

• expand K-12 learning time by making school days or school years longer, and,

• design innovative learning systems that draw on educators’ talents as well as on technology and public resources

The fund would be made available to communities where more than 50 percent of the students served are high-need.  Continue Reading »

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