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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Early education policies are all over the map — literally and figuratively. While some states are making big investments in very young children, others lag behind.

How are specific states doing? The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a national advocacy organization, takes a look in its August 2016 State Policy Update. It’s a “mini-update” that “provides a snapshot of early childhood care and education budget and policy changes in states during the 2016 legislative sessions as of July 2016.”

This year, “numerous states across the country made major policy changes and investments that advanced access to high-quality early learning programs,” The Ounce says, pointing to:

• Rhode Island, where “codified key elements of the state’s home visiting system” became law “through the passage of The Rhode Island Family Home Visiting Act. The state’s Department of Health is required to work with other state agencies to identify vulnerable families and offer them the opportunity to enroll in evidence-based home visiting programs.”

• In Nebraska, tax credits abound. “The School Readiness Tax Credit Act will create two new state tax credits… for early childhood programs and individual early childhood professionals in 2017.” Continue Reading »

“When it comes to children’s brains, Rahil Briggs describes them as … sticky.

“ ‘Whatever we throw, [it] sticks. That’s why they can learn Spanish in six months when it takes us six years,’ says the New York City based child psychologist, ‘but also why if they’re exposed to community violence, or domestic violence, it really sticks.’

“Briggs works at the Healthy Steps program at the Montefiore Comprehensive Health Care Center in the South Bronx, screening children as young as 6 months for mental health issues.

“That may sound young, too young maybe, but that’s when some experts believe it’s important to catch the first signs that something may be wrong. Many say waiting until kindergarten is too late.”

 

“Screening Mental Health In Kindergarten Is Way Too Late, Experts Say,” NPR, September 9, 2016

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Want to spread early literacy? Send in a parent. Moms and dads who talk, sing, and read out loud can fill their children’s worlds with engaging, enriching language.

But the challenge for Springfield, Mass., and other cities is figuring out how to reach parents and engage them in sharing a love of language and learning with their children.

To find good ideas on family engagement, the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative (RS4G), which is backed by The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, did a simple thing: It asked parents.

“Focus groups of parents, and largely moms who participated in one of our three sessions, revealed what we knew: that parents have clearly moved into the digital age,” Sally Fuller writes in a blog post on the Davis Foundation’s Read by Fourth Grade website. “Email, for anyone who has children, is almost recognized as a thing of the past. Moms told us almost universally that their primary engagement with the world comes through social media and texting. The smartphone serves as the communications tool of choice.” Continue Reading »

Building State P-3 Systems

 

How can states build strong P-3 systems — the educational pipelines that start before birth and carry babies through to the third grade?

David Jacobson tackles this question in a new report — “Building State P–3 Systems: Learning from Leading States” — that was recently released by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO).

The report looks at the P-3 (prenatal to third grade) work being done in “three case study states,” Massachusetts, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, which “were chosen based on their experience implementing P–3 state policies and developing significant grant programs to fund regional and local P–3 partnerships.”

“I think the biggest overall take-away is that there is a great deal states can do to improve quality and provide continuity for children throughout the first 8-9 years of children’s lives,” Jacobson told us in an email. “We are learning how to go about this through the lessons provided by these leading states.” Continue Reading »

In Quotes: Early Math

“Research shows that kindergarten mostly is a mathematical wasteland right now for kids. In other words, kids knew that stuff before they walked into the kindergarten door. What are they learning? Almost nothing.”

“Early math is surprisingly important. What kids know in their preschool or entering kindergarten year about mathematics predicts their later school success. In mathematics, sure, that makes sense, but it even predicts later reading success, as well as early literacy skills do.

“Early math is cognitively fundamental. It’s not just about number and shapes. There’s reasoning and thinking embedded in what we do in early mathematics that forms a foundation for years to come.”

Doug Clements, early learning expert at the University of Denver, “Counting the benefits of teaching math to 3-year-olds,” PBS NewsHour, September 6, 2016

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The Committee for Economic Development (CED) has posted a series of early education podcasts on its website featuring leaders in business, the nonprofit world, and philanthropy.

CED was founded “in 1942 during World War II by a group of business leaders who were concerned about the future of the global economy…” The organization continues “to bridge the gap between the business community and policy leaders,” in part by focusing on early education.

In one of the series’ podcasts, philanthropist and businessman J.B. Pritzker talks about “The Role of Philanthropy in Early Learning.”

Photo Source: The University of Chicago News Office.

Irving B. Harris. Photo Source: The University of Chicago News Office.

“I ran across a philanthropist named Irving Harris,” Pritzker says, explaining that Harris, a businessman, spent years working to meet the needs of young children and their families. Harris founded the Ounce of Prevention Fund and he “was a catalyst for opening the Erikson Institute, a graduate school that trains teachers in early childhood development…”

Harris, who died in 2004, was, according to a death announcement in the New York Times, “A courageous champion of young children and families, an articulate and uncompromising social critic, a compassionate pragmatist. His convictions inspired the work of four generations of practitioners and researchers in the field of child development and early care and education. He made of his life a quest to repair the world.”  Continue Reading »

By guest blogger Titus DosRemedios

A child’s transition to kindergarten is an important educational milestone. Making that transition a success requires a team effort from teachers, principals, community partners, and families.

One inspiring example of such a team effort took place on August 4, 2016, at the Buttonwood Park Zoo where the New Bedford Public Schools in partnership with P.A.C.E. Inc. held a “Smooth Sailing into Kindergarten” event for entering kindergarten students and their families. The event was designed so that children could meet their new teachers and principals, and so that families could learn more about their child’s school and other resources available in the community.

Sunshine, fun activities, and a welcoming atmosphere helped make this event compelling and fun. The Standard-Times reports, “At the zoo, the children enjoyed various activities the principals and teachers set up, among them bubble-blowing, photo-taking, a train ride and a guest-reader appearance by author Laura Vaughn.”

To highlight the event and create lasting memories each student received a family portrait from Lifetouch, marking their journey into the New Bedford Public Schools. Continue Reading »

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