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Archive for the ‘Developmentally appropriate practice’ Category

 

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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Sometimes helping children, means helping their parents.

That’s what Roca, Inc., does. A nonprofit organization founded in Chelsea in 1988, Roca disrupts “the cycle of incarceration and poverty.”

Its approach? Relentless outreach.

That used to include a home-visiting program. But in 2012, Roca decided to take a more intensive approach with young moms who, its website says, are “not ready, willing and able to participate in work, school and traditional parenting and home visiting programs.”

“They have a history of intergeneration trauma,” Sunindiya Bhalla says of these mothers. “They have high ACES,” adverse childhood experiences, “and their children have high ACES.” Bhalla is Roca’s chief of 2Gen Strategy & Programming.

The Moms and children that Roca helps may be dealing with violence, trauma, gang involvement, or drug and alcohol use. Some have dropped out of high school. Some have limited English skills or no work history. Often, Bhalla says, no one is teaching these mothers how to be parents. (more…)

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“ ‘I noticed the kids who did not understand English were just sitting off to the side, but the moment the assistant would come and speak their language, they blossomed, their eyes opened up,’ Ponce said.

“Ponce, now a coach for other Head Start teachers, is one of hundreds of preschool teachers and supervisors across California who are getting training this year on how to support children whose families speak a language other than English at home. These students account for 60 percent of children under 5 years old in the state and are often referred to as ‘dual-language learners’ because they are learning two languages as they grow — their home language and English.”

“ ‘These are very exciting times,’ said Patricia Lozano, executive director of Early Edge California, a nonprofit organization that advocates for young children and is helping the California Department of Education implement the grant. ‘We’ve come so far in recognizing the benefits of speaking more than one language. All kids benefit from learning two languages. Hopefully California will be a leader in implementing this everywhere.’ ”

 

“New training for California preschool teachers to help bilingual children prepare for kindergarten,” by Zaidee Stavely, EdSource, March 19, 2019

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Carla Duran Capellan. Photo source: Chad d’Entremont’s Twitter page

 

“…one voice that’s usually missing in discussions about how best to support student outcomes is the one that arguably matters the most: students themselves.”

– Condition of Education in the Commonwealth Report
“Student Voice: How Young People Can Shape the Future of Education”
The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy
January 24, 2019

 

Adding more students’ voices to educational policy debates was the theme of the Rennie Center’s annual Condition of Education event, which was held last week in Boston. At the event Rennie released an accompanying report, “Student Voice: How Young People Can Shape the Future of Education.”

Building on this theme, Rennie’s event featured older students who reflected on their past academic experiences. This year’s Condition of Education report also looks at how Worcester has incorporated the voices of preschool aged children.

“Believe in your students,” Carla Duran Capellan said at the event. “Trust that they have the ability to make change and let them lead.” As a high school student, Capellan participated in Generation Citizen, a program that lifts students’ voices. (more…)

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh meets with a young learner. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office’s Flickr page.

 

Boston has a long history of preschool progress. Starting under the administration of former Mayor Thomas Menino and continuing with Mayor Marty Walsh’s team, city officials have invested in quality, access, and innovation. Now, this work is featured in a new report — “A Focus on Teaching and Learning in Pre-K through 2nd Grade: Lessons from Boston” — from the think tank New America.

New America praises Boston for having a clear and lasting vision for expanding preschool, rather than “a series of priorities that shift every few years based on changes in district leadership.”

Thanks to a dynamic, public-private partnership, funding for this work came from the city and from funders like the Barr Foundation. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Massachusetts is working hard to meet the needs of preschool age children who have special education needs. The goal is inclusion: preparing all children for success in school no matter what challenges or disabilities they have. Ongoing efforts in this area and an upcoming conference are fueling real progress for children.

For parents, trying to find the right services and programs for children with special needs can be daunting. Some help came in 2015, when the federal government issued guidelines about how high-quality programs can be more inclusive.

“States, school districts, local organizations, communities and families must work together so that children with disabilities have access to programs that offer individualized and appropriate help in meeting high expectations,” former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the time. (more…)

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