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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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Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

A new article in the Atlantic (courtesy of the Hechinger Report) — “What Boston’s Preschools Get Right” — looks at how Boston is building high-quality programs — and how some cities are pushing ahead on pre-K even though state and federal governments are lagging behind.

At Dorchester’s Russell Elementary School, a day in a pre-K classroom “could be a primer on what high-quality preschool is supposed to look like,” the article says. “Children had free time to play with friends in a stimulating environment, received literacy instruction that pushed beyond comprehension to critical thinking and communication, and were introduced to complex mathematics concepts in age-appropriate ways. All three practices have been shown to go beyond increasing what children know to actually improving how well they learn in kindergarten and beyond.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

How do you pay for preschool when there’s a shortage of state and federal funding? This is a question many local communities are wrestling with today, including several here in Massachusetts.

Across the country, local communities are reaching into their own pockets to “create programs tailored to suit the needs of their residents,” New America’s EdCentral blog explains.

This local action is crucial because “Nationwide, only four out of ten four-year-olds attend preschool each year, despite the widely accepted array of benefits an early start to education can provide a child.”

The blog reviews a new report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) that looks at pre-K in 10 cities, including Boston as well as Denver, Los Angeles (LAUP), New York City, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and West Sacramento.

Upon reviewing these local pre-K models, the report’s authors suggest “ten questions that any city or community working to expand pre-K opportunities for its residents should consider.” (more…)

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