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Archive for the ‘Developmentally appropriate practice’ Category

Karen Fabian teaching a yoga class for children. Photo courtesy of Karen Fabian

 

“I began to practice yoga for the first time ever in 1999. And after taking my first teacher training in 2002, I knew I wanted to teach full time,” Karen Fabian says. So she shifted out of her corporate career in health care administration, and started teaching in 2003.

“Over time, I started my own brand, Bare Bones Yoga. And I’ve been doing that ever since.”

These days, Fabian’s work includes teaching yoga to preschoolers, which she’s been doing for 13 years. She ran a program at the South Boston Neighborhood House for two years. And she currently teaches at two programs in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood that are part of Partners Healthcare system.

It’s easy to stereotype yoga as a silent practice done in a quiet room. But that’s not the way Fabian teaches it.

She engages children on multiple levels, mixing yoga poses with language and literacy. It’s familiar territory for Fabian: her mother was a preschool teacher for 35 years.

“Toddlers and four-year-olds, they really like Tree pose,” Fabian says of her youngest yoga students. “Kids, as young as two-and-a-half will do downward dog; it’s a universal pose that kids of all ages will do, even little ones.” (more…)

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Parents and caregivers can’t always know what to expect from their children. But thanks to a terrific video called “1, 2, 3 Grow,” they can learn more early childhood’s milestones.

The video features doctors and parents discussing milestones in four areas: movement, social relationships, communication, and thinking.

The goal is to give parents and caregivers a sense of what to expect – and what to ask pediatricians about – as their children grow.

The videos were produced by University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and by members of the Massachusetts Act Early state team. (more…)

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New research on racial segregation in early education has revealed a troubling trend.

“Nationwide, early childhood education is more segregated than kindergarten and first grade, even while enrolling a similar number of students,” according to the an Urban Institute report, “Segregated from the Start Comparing Segregation in Early Childhood and K–12 Education.”

“Early childhood programs are twice as likely to be nearly 100 percent black or Hispanic, and they are less likely to be somewhat integrated (with a 10 to 20 percent black or Hispanic enrollment share).”

Among the reasons this segregation is harmful:

“Research shows that the early years are the best time for children to learn tolerance and respect for kids from other races, cultures and backgrounds,” the Hechinger Report explains.

Halley Potter, a senior researcher at The Century Foundation, tells Education Dive, “Studies show that children learn more, in academic and social measures, when they have the chance to interact with peers who have different backgrounds and experiences. And these peer effects may be especially strong for young children in early education settings, for whom much of the day is spent in play and exploration alongside their peers.” (more…)

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“It is too often that young children, families, and early childhood educators are being forced to grapple with the consequences of historic and systemic oppression. As issues of equity and social justice continue to remain at the forefront of American political and cultural discourse, high-quality early childhood education has emerged as a viable agent of change. The impact of racial disparities in educational opportunity, family separations as a reaction to immigration, and the disproportionate prevalence of poverty are a wake up call. Communities and systems must recognize the need to deeply consider identity development of young children, the norming of discussing and celebrating human difference, and the importance of working against bias and injustice in all of its forms throughout society.”

“Centering Equity: Local Progress and Innovation,” by Lindsey Allard Agnamba, New America, October 7, 2019, part of a new blog series on equity in early childhood education

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“Children with immigrant parents and those exposed to a language other than English in the home (known as Dual Language Learners, or DLLs) are important target populations for such early childhood programs. As of 2013–17, one-fourth of U.S. children ages 5 and under were children of immigrants, and nearly one-third were DLLs. Young children of immigrants are also more likely than their peers to live in low-income households—a priority service population for many home visiting initiatives.

“Yet studies show that DLLs and children in immigrant families are underserved by home visiting services.”

“Leveraging the Potential of Home Visiting Programs to Serve Immigrant and Dual Language Learner Families,” by Maki Park and Caitlin Katsiaficas, the Migration Policy Institute, August 2019

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Clifford Kwong and Amy O’Leary. Photo courtesy of Amy O’Leary

“My mother is the one who tried to scare me around from education,” Clifford Kwong says.

“Every time I showed interest in education, she asked me not to do it.” His mother, who had worked in education for decades, warned that his student loans would be high and his salary would be low.

Her advice: choose business or science.

But as a student at Boston College High School, to fulfill his school’s community service requirement, Kwong chose to work at a child care center in Quincy. “They told me I was a natural,” he says of his time there.

He didn’t think much of this feedback at the time. He was on his way to college at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and he was taking his mother’s advice.

“I tried science,” Kwong says. “At the end of the day it didn’t feel like it was enough. Whereas at the end of a day doing community service, I felt great after working with kids.” (more…)

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Boston is getting its first outdoor preschool, a program that will expose children to the lessons of nature.

The Boston Outdoor Preschool Network (BOPN) will open this fall. Its classroom will be the Arnold Arboretum, a 281-acre “museum of living plants” owned by Harvard University.

“Most American kids don’t spend large chunks of their day catching salamanders and poking sticks into piles of fox poop,” an article in the Atlantic about a Maryland program notes. “But that’s precisely what students do at the Nature Preschool at Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. There, every day, dozens of children ages 3 to 5 come to have adventures on Irvine’s more than 200 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows.”

These outdoor programs have “all the same child development goals that more traditional schools have, but they also are committed to accomplishing those goals through experiences in and with nature,” according to the Natural Start Alliance, a network of individuals and organizations that’s part of the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Richard Louv, whose 2008 book, “Last Child in the Woods,” says many children are experiencing a nature deficit disorder, explains: (more…)

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Early education classrooms are bright and fun, but they’re not always open to young children with disabilities.

Massachusetts works hard to meet these children’s needs through its Early Intervention program, but a new paper – “Early Childhood Special Education in Massachusetts,” written by Strategies for Children interns Annapurna Ayyappan and Marisa Fear — points out that there’s room for the state to make improvements.

In 2014, the federal government addressed the problem with a policy statement jointly released by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that said in part:

“It is the Departments’ position that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.”

Getting this work done in Massachusetts, Ayyappan and Fear write, is essential:

“Early childhood education has the potential to provide children with the positive experiences that will establish a strong foundation upon which they can grow… Early intervention for children with developmental delays or disabilities targets the brain at a time when its services can have the greatest positive effects.” (more…)

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