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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Massachusetts is working hard to meet the needs of preschool age children who have special education needs. The goal is inclusion: preparing all children for success in school no matter what challenges or disabilities they have. Ongoing efforts in this area and an upcoming conference are fueling real progress for children.

For parents, trying to find the right services and programs for children with special needs can be daunting. Some help came in 2015, when the federal government issued guidelines about how high-quality programs can be more inclusive.

“States, school districts, local organizations, communities and families must work together so that children with disabilities have access to programs that offer individualized and appropriate help in meeting high expectations,” former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the time. Continue Reading »

Efrain Ponce

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

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My name is Efrain Ponce and I work at the Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy. I have been in the field of early education for 10 years.

The job that I do is important because we are teaching the foundations of education. Not only are we teaching academics, but we also teach children how to be respectful, good citizens. We help parents by coaching them on what advocating for their child means and how to do it. Personally, I want to make sure that when children and their families leave my classroom, they are prepared for the public school system and know what resources are available to them.

One of my proudest moments was working with a child who was in my care a few years back. He was 4 years old when he came into the program, and I worked with him and his mom for the next year. By the end of the program when it was time for him to graduate, mom thanked me for being a strong male role model for him because he didn’t have one. The child even came back for two more years for after-school care and only wanted to come into my room. This experience made me realize how much of an impact an educator can have on children and their families. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Last week Boston hosted HUBweek, an annual festival of ideas that attracts “innovators from all around the world” who come together to talk about art, education, science, and technology. And this year, early education was on the agenda.

A session titled “Build Baby Build! Finding Solutions for Affordable Childcare,” was a hackathon – a brainstorming session — about how to change negative perceptions of early education and of early educators.

“I opened the session by talking about widespread views of early educators that aren’t necessarily flattering such as thinking of them as babysitters and how this devalues the field overall,” Anne Douglass says. “We then invited participants to break up into smaller groups and think of ways to change this prevailing mindset.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Child care can be expensive for working parents, but it’s even more of a financial burden for parents who are in college. To ease this burden, the U.S. Department of Education awards grants to help low-income college students.

It’s a vivid example of how helping parents manage the high cost of child care also helps them — and their children — succeed in school and in life.

Among the challenges that parent/students face is “time poverty,” according to an Inside Higher Ed article, which cites a study that says: “Students with preschool-age children had only about 10 hours per day to dedicate to schoolwork, sleeping, eating and leisure activities, compared to the 21 hours that childless students had.”

The article adds:

“Congress increased federal investment in financial aid for student parents in 2016 by upping the funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program (CCAMPIS), a federal aid program for student parents, from $15 million to $50 million annually.” Continue Reading »

 

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

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My name is Lesley Byrne, and I work as a pre-K teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. I had worked in early childhood education for seven years when, in 1993, the Lowell initiated the first pre-K programs in its schools. I knew this was where I wanted to be, as I have always believed that providing a positive, first-school experience for families can lead to future school success. I was excited to work toward offering these experiences for children and families. 

For a few years, I was involved in The Family Literacy Program, a collaboration between the Lowell Adult Education program and the Early Childhood Education program. Imagine you’re a parent who is new to this country. You don’t understand English or American culture. Now imagine sending your child to a “foreign” school! The Family Literacy Program aimed to support these families. The program offered classes in English as a Second Language to parents of pre-K children. As one of the pre-K teachers at this time, I got to use my skills not only to educate and support the children in my class, but also to work with parents on how to support their child’s learning at home. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

California is trying to lower the number of preschool expulsions by giving these programs a way to fund more access to mental health services. As Education Week reports, this is the result of a new state law that was enacted last month.

Specifically, the law increases the reimbursement rate by 5 percent for each low-income child, age 0 to 5, who receive services. As Education Week explains, “…if a classroom has 20 children and 10 of them are subsidized, the program would be reimbursed at a rate of 10.5 children.”

This law builds on a 2017 California law that makes it harder for preschool programs that receive state funding to expel students.

On the website State of Reform, Sarah Neville-Morgan, the director of the Early Education and Support Division at the California Department of Education, says “Expulsion works against everything that is best practice for children, families and child care programs. This law creates the support system necessary to keep young children in preschool and child care facilities.” Continue Reading »

Melissa Perry

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

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My name is Melissa Perry. I currently reside in Salem, Mass., and I am newly employed at the Salem YMCA. I’ve been in early childcare education for just a little over 12 years.

To ensure any level of job satisfaction, this field requires a love of children. The most important benefit of being a childcare worker is the satisfaction of knowing I am providing quality care in the preschool setting where children can learn and practice the language and skills they will need to develop and grow.

I am proud to be a part of a group of individuals who do what they do because they love the job and the students, not because of the desire for a dollar. I am proud to be in a position where I am a mentor for those who need it, or a much-needed, positive authority figure to help guide the way. I like being part of something that people can’t possibly understand until they set foot in a classroom and teach. Continue Reading »

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