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Archive for the ‘Boston’ Category

“As Boston officials seek to create a universal pre-kindergarten system, they must take into account a host of considerations, and one of the key questions is defining the very recipe for high quality.

“Are schools with hundreds of students up to eighth grade appropriate for 4-year-olds? How will the nurturing environment of small child care centers be reproduced in classrooms with nearly two dozen students? What will be the financial impact on private providers if a big source of revenue is taken? Will going to a private preschool keep families from getting into their favorite public kindergarten class?”

“City officials say the goal is to create a public/private system that would guarantee a free, full day of learning, allow community organizations to maintain their individuality, and have an agreed-upon set of standards for what constitutes a high-quality pre-K education.”

“Early education experts say other ingredients to consider include class and facility size, location, the relationship between teachers and administrators, and culture and language.”

“Boston pre-K programs that make the grade,” by Akilah Johnson, The Boston Globe, March 10, 2017

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

In 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education (EEC) was awarded a federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG grant), funds that officials are using to expand high-quality preschool in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield.

Now, a new report says the first year of PEG grant activity has produced strong benefits – with room for targeted improvements.

“While there remains room for growth and consistency as the program continues into its second year of implementation, both children and parents are clearly benefitting from the program,” said Principal Investigator Barbara Goodson.

“The five participating cities are making significant progress toward supporting our goal of helping all children achieve math and reading proficiency by third grade,” Governor Charlie Baker said earlier this month in a press release. (more…)

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Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

 

“We now know there are more kids in more programs, but clearly not enough, clearly not enough,” Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, told the 100 participants at a meeting that was held last month in downtown Boston for the community teams from across Massachusetts that are focused on expanding preschool opportunities for children and families.

We’re including audio clips and photos from the event in this blog post.

 

Strategies for Children’s Amy O’Leary presents a brief history of state policy for early education and care.

 

Each team had received either federal Preschool Expansion Grant funds to add high-quality preschool seats (5 communities); state-funded preschool planning grants (13 communities); or both. Combined, these communities are Athol, Boston, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. (more…)

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Mayor Martin Walsh delivers remarks at the State of the City event at Boston Symphony Hall. (Mayor’s Office Photo by Isabel Leon)

“We’re making great progress. But there’s plenty of room for improvement. The gaps that remain come in the shape of race, language, and need. Equity demands bold solutions.

“That’s why, this week, I will file legislation to finally eliminate the opportunity gap in early education, and, for the first time in Boston’s history, offer free, high-quality prekindergarten to every single 4-year-old in our city. Our proposal is funded by tourism taxes, already paid in Boston, that produce the annual surplus in the Convention Center Fund. It’s only fair that Boston’s success benefits all Boston’s children.”

Mayor Marty Walsh’s 2017 State of the City Address, January 17, 2017

The press release about the State of the City Address is posted here.

The Boston Globe’s article on the pre-K plan is here

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Photo courtesy of WGBH

Photo courtesy of WGBH

“Want to help create a new parenting app?”

First 8 Labs at WGBH wants to know because on November 18th and 19th, the lab will host “The First 8 Years: A Public Media Hackathon,” at WGBH’s home, 1 Guest Street in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood.

Parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals are invited to join designers and coders to “brainstorm and build media solutions that promote healthy child development.”

The event promises “a weekend of creative problem solving.” Participants will get to work in teams to brainstorm ideas, collaborate on solutions, and prototype new designs.

First 8 Labs, a research development unit, started in 2014 to help parents, caregivers and educators who “struggle with how to integrate technology and media into their children’s lives amidst concerns that uninterrupted passive screen time can be detrimental to a child’s development.”

Since then, First 8 Labs has developed a number of apps. Now it’s time to grow.

As First 8 Labs explains on its blog, photographers and videographers will record the events, because, “A big component of our hackathon is documenting the process from start to finish.”

The event is free, and meals and snacks will be provided.

To learn more, check out the First 8 Labs blog.

To see the schedule and register for this fun, 21st century event, click here.

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Why teach math to 3-year-old children?

“Early math is surprisingly important,” Doug Clements, an early learning expert at the University of Denver, explains in a PBS NewsHour report.

“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.”

In essence, why wouldn’t you teach math to 3-year-olds given how high the payoff is.

Clements is one of the creators of Building Blocks, a project — funded by the National Science Foundation — that designs math curricula for young children.

“Our basic approach is finding the mathematics in, and developing mathematics from, children’s activity,” the Building Blocks website explains. “We wish to help children extend and mathematize their everyday activities, from building blocks to art to songs to puzzles…”

(more…)

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Mayor Marty Walsh. Photo: City of Boston Mayor's Office Flickr page

Mayor Marty Walsh. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office Flickr page

“The impact of prekindergarten on a student’s education is undeniable. It has a major impact on academic, social, and emotional development. BPS data shows that children who go to K1 outperform their peers in subsequent years—regardless of race or poverty. Research also shows us that early children programs with trained teachers, as well as smaller teacher-to-student ratios, result in higher MCAS achievement. On a broader scale, pre-kindergarten has led to improved behavior, both inside and outside the classroom, as well as the prevention of illegal and criminal behavior and success in the overall labor market and economy.

“We know families face challenges in sending their children to pre-kindergarten, whether it being an affordability, quality, or accessibility issue. That’s why we formed the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee. They are taking a close look on strategies to increase access to full-day pre-kindergarten, with a certified teacher, in a Boston Public School or community-based program.”

“Mayor Walsh: The Importance of Early Education,” by Mayor Martin Walsh, Jamaica Plain News, September 22, 2016

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