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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Last week, NPR Ed — which explores how learning happens — ran a series called Playing to Learn, a multimedia look at “why people play and how play relates to learning.” It’s a delightful summertime look at how play engages and educates children — and adults.

Here’s a sample of the Playing to Learn reports.

Where the Wild Things Play

“Free and unstructured play: It’s vital for children,” NPR host Melissa Block says in the introduction to this report. “Research shows a connection between play and kids’ social, emotional, and cognitive development. But playtime in America’s cities is in decline.”

Fortunately, NPR reporter Eric Westervelt finds a stronghold of play at an adventure playground in Berkeley. It’s a “free-range, public playground” where “kids have to talk to each other, problem solve — and they get messy together.”

But as this report explains, “play is in trouble.” Recess has been trimmed. And play is increasingly more structured and controlled. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Michigan and New York City have recently undertaken the exciting but daunting work of expanding their pre-K programs. These two early education expansion efforts are among the largest and most ambitious in the country.

How are they doing? To find out, the National Women’s Law Center hosted a conference call to discuss what’s underway in both places. The call covered a wide range of topics that provide important insight for other cities and states seeking to expand high-quality early education and care.

Moderated by Helen Blank, NWLC’s director of child care and early learning, the discussion featured the following speakers:

- Susan Broman, Deputy Superintendent for the Office of Great Start, Michigan Department of Education

- Betty Holcomb, Director of Public Policy, Center for Children’s Initiatives, New York City

- Nancy Kolben, Executive Director, Center for Children’s Initiatives, New York City, and

- Richard Lower, Supervisor for Preschool and Early Elementary Programs, Michigan Department of Education

A transcript of the call and a recording are available online. Continue Reading »

“It may sound strange to put the word ‘technology’ in the same sentence as home-visiting programs for mothers, infants, and toddlers, but over the past few years, many of these programs have started using multimedia and digital tools to engage parents. Their success could open up new ways of thinking about technology to promote the early cognitive and social skills in children that lead to reading proficiency and a host of other positive results.”

Lisa Guernsey, director of the Learning Technologies Project and director of the Early Education Initiative in New America’s Education Policy Program, in her article, “What New Technologies Could Mean for Home Visiting and Early Literacy,” EdCentral, August 5, 2014

 

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“There are only 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and when he or she will begin kindergarten. During that time brain architecture is forming, creating either a strong or weak foundation for all future learning,” according to the new First 2,000 Days website, an update and expansion of the website which was first launched in 2012.

The new website is designed to raise public awareness about how early childhood experiences have a “lasting impact on later learning, health and success.”

The website features information — facts, videos, and links to research — on young children’s brain development, lifelong health, and their acquisition of soft skills.

The site also showcases the state’s diverse support for early childhood investments, including North Carolina’s business and faith community leaders, and members of its law enforcement agencies.

Launched by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), whose mission is to “build a foundation of opportunity and success for every child by the end of third grade,” the website mixes web-based activities and with a call for people to take real-life action. Continue Reading »

Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Photo: Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Babies who babble are actually rehearsing, according to a new study. As early as seven months, those vocalizing babies are practicing the movements they will need to start forming words, Patricia Kuhl explained recently in an interview on NPR.

Kuhl is the co-direcor of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

To do this research, Kuhl and her research team used a magnetoencephalography, a brain scanner also called MEG. Babies sat in the brain scanner, which “resembles an egg-shaped vintage hair dryer and is completely safe for infants,” according to a University of Washington news release, which adds, “The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences was the first in the world to use such a tool to study babies while they engaged in a task.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

A recent article in the Washington Post calls for strengthening the economy by investing in workforce development — starting with high-quality early childhood education programs. Written by Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the piece builds on the Fed’s history of support for early childhood programs.

In the article — “Investing in people as an economic growth strategy”— Lacker focuses in part on the current and historically high long-term unemployment rate.

“Given the limitations of monetary policy, what can be done to improve labor market outcomes in the long run?” He asks.

“At the Richmond Fed, our research suggests that much of what we’re currently seeing in the labor market reflects structural trends rather than a primarily cyclical change in labor market behavior. That has prompted us to think about long-term strategies to prepare workers for the labor market.” Continue Reading »

“We can now make the audacious claim that Detroit is poised to become a city regarded as home to a model of early childhood education excellence.

“We can’t blame anyone for being skeptical. Headlines claim early intervention programs don’t produce lasting effects, and that nothing has changed in Detroit.

“But a new spirit of cooperation is emerging. People working together across sectors, organizations and neighborhoods is becoming the new business as usual. Replacing what was unsustainable and ineffective are new collaborative models that are breaking the cycle of poverty and ensuring children receive necessary support to achieve success. A pooling of resources from federal, state and local initiatives will help establish Detroit as a model of early intervention success.”

“Detroit Can Model Early Childhood Success,” a guest column in the Detroit Free Press about the Birth-to-Five pilot for Head Start and Early Head Start services, written by Robert Shaw, CEO of Development Centers; William Jones, CEO of Focus: HOPE; John Van Camp, CEO of Southwest Solutions; and Ann Kalass, CEO of Starfish Family Services, July 29, 2014

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