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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Read all about preschool in several articles in the recent issue of Boston Magazine.

The theme for this issue is education, with a special look at early education.

One article – “Whatever Happened to Universal Pre-K in Boston?” – looks at what “universal” has meant under Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

As the article explains, universal preschool does not, in Boston, mean more preschool spots; it means more quality.

“In fact,” the article says, “when you tally up Boston’s public school classrooms, charters, parochials, and community-based programs, plus federal Head Start, there has been more than enough free or subsidized pre-K to go around for Boston’s 6,000 four-year-olds since Walsh first set foot in City Hall. It’s just that not all of it was created equal. ‘Most of the country wants to get universal access,’ says Rahn Dorsey, the city’s chief of education, ‘but access without quality doesn’t close the achievement gap.’ ” (more…)

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TeeAra Dias at a “Wonder of Learning” event held at Boston University / Wheelock College.

“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

When TeeAra Dias was 18 and working for Bright Horizons, a corporate child care provider, she asked herself a career question:

“Do I want to live in a birthday bear suit?”

Dias had been dressing up as a bear to provide entertainment at the children’s parties that were held at Bright Horizons.

She knew she had a passion for serving children. A Boston native, she had worked as one of the city’s summer youth employment “Red Shirts” at the Little People’s Playhouse in Roslindale. But was life in the bear suit satisfying enough?

To answer this question, Dias decided to get more education. She continued to work at Bright Horizons and attended Mt. Ida College where she met Eunice Perry, who ran Mt. Ida’s Longfellow Preschool Program.

Perry was “a mentor and really helped me better understand that early education was more than just playing with children, that I was actually a child’s first (more…)

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What do families, teachers, administrators, and Boston Mayors Tom Menino and Marty Walsh all have in common?

High-quality early education.

This story — of how a big city educates some of its smallest residents — is told in a newly published book, “Children at the Center: Transforming Early Childhood Education in the Boston Public Schools.”

“More than a decade ago,” the book explains, “Boston made a daring bet – that it could build and sustain a high-quality, whole-child focused, intellectually engaging early education program that would significantly lower the city’s persistent achievement gaps by locating that program within its public school system.”

The good news?

“That bet is clearly paying off.”

“Children at the Center” has three expert authors: Betty Bardige, a psychologist and an early childhood author and advocate; Megina Baker, a researcher at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Boston University early childhood education faculty member; and Ben Mardell, a principal investigator at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero.  (more…)

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The second of a three-part series on summer learning.

 

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Summer is a great time to learn.

But as we blogged last week, summer learning loss — all the things that students forget when they are not in school — can help fuel the achievement gap.

A National Summer Learning Association report says that high-quality programs can address learning loss, but only “about one-third of young people nationally are enrolled in a summer learning program.”

Fortunately, in Massachusetts, cities are closing the summertime gap in creative ways.

Action at the city level is crucial according to a 2016 report on a workshop’s proceedings. Published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the report notes:  (more…)

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A child scribbles a spiral on a piece of paper. What should a teacher say in response?

One answer: “Lovely.”

Why? To encourage the child to keep drawing, because it’s by doing more drawing that a child gets to explore art and the horizons of his or her talent.

That’s one of the many stories, insights, and ideas that educators will find at the multimedia exhibit “Wonder of Learning,” which is being hosted by the recently merged Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

Wonder of Learning shares the Reggio Emilia approach, a philosophy of early learning — named after the Italian town Reggio Emilia — that challenges educators to understand how their “image of a child” affects how they teach and interact with that child.

“It’s necessary that we believe that the child is very intelligent, that the child is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests,” Reggio Emilia’s founder, Loris Malaguzzi, said at a 1993 seminar. “This is the image of the child that we need to hold.” (more…)

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Now that more and more people are talking about high-quality preschool programs, it’s important to make sure that they know what high-quality means.

One way to share that message is to educate journalists who write about preschool programs. If they understand more about preschool, they’ll do a better job of informing their audiences.

So, the next time you talk to a journalist, be sure to talk about what quality is — and what it isn’t — and be sure to share resources that illustrate your point.

One resource is a recent New York Times Magazine story about Kejo Kelly, an early educator in Springfield, Mass. As we’ve blogged, this story delves deeply into quality.

Another resource is “The Most Important Year: Pre-kindergarten and the Future of Our Children,” a book by Massachusetts-based writer Suzanne Bouffard.

Bouffard’s book is featured in another useful resource, an article on the Education Writers Association’s website called, “What Reporters Should Look for in Early Learning Settings: Lectures don’t work well for young children. Look instead for child-directed fun.” (more…)

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

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My name is Susan Irene Rogers, and I work at Commonwealth Children’s Center (CCC) in Boston where I am the executive director. I have been in the early education field for 29 years! I started as a homework tutor at the age of 13.

In addition to working with children at a very young age, I was actually studying to become a firefighter. I was a senior in high school, and I was determined to accomplish both professions! At some point, my mother expressed her concerns regarding my safety as a female firefighter and said she would spend the rest of her life waiting to be informed that her child was fatally harmed. So, I enrolled at Northeastern University to study Early Childhood Education and Sociology. Less than a year later, I returned to NU to study American Sign Language.

The importance of my work as an early educator cannot be measured, but should certainly be valued. I truly love working with children and families and feel honored to experience this time in their lives. Assuring parents, especially first-time parents, that investing in their child’s early education experiences is one of the best choices they could ever make is THE most important part of my job.  (more…)

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