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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

What would make the transition from pre-K to kindergarten easier?

Four states are trying to find out, according to a recent report from New America called, “Connecting the Steps: State Strategies to Ease the Transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten.”

The path from pre-K to kindergarten can be “fraught with stress and uncertainty for many children and their parents,” New America says in a policy paper. Kindergarten’s days are often longer, and the curriculum can focus more on academics.

“This transition is significant for parents as well. Contact with teachers is often more formalized and less frequent than in a pre-K classroom. There is often less emphasis on parent-teacher and parent-parent contact than before. This can leave parents feeling out of the loop… and can lead to less parental involvement in the classroom.”

While schools and districts have to ease the transition, “states can actively encourage intentional, local efforts to smooth transitions to kindergarten.”

To show what states can do, (more…)

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“We don’t have to talk anymore about the value of early childhood education: everyone agrees it’s critical. We do, however, have to talk about affordability, logistics and policy. With preschool tuition running $10,000-$30,000 per year, the cost of sending one child to preschool can be more than a family’s rent or mortgage. Early childhood education is not just a child development issue, it’s an economic one…”

“To address this issue, the city convened an Early Childhood Task Force in 2014. Its 2015 report articulates the admirable vision that “all children in Cambridge [will] receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade,” and recommends initial steps toward that goal…”

“To start this process, the council and committee will have a joint roundtable discussion this fall. One of the main tasks of the roundtable should be to set a deadline by which a comprehensive system of early childhood education will be in place. A deadline will force us to answer, sooner rather than later, the questions related to policy, financing, and logistics.

“Some of those questions are: (more…)

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A guest post by Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children

Jason Sachs and Chris Martes testifying at the State House

Tuesday was a sunny June day, so you may have missed the State House hearing on a range of early education and care bills.

Amy O’Leary and I — along with our colleagues from cities and towns and other organizations — testified in support of “An Act ensuring high quality early education,” H.2874 filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and S.240 filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

We shared our goals with the Joint Committee on Education, chaired by Representative Peisch and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain).

Budgetwise, it’s a tough time to ask for more funding. Massachusetts’ revenue forecast can best be described as partly sunny with a chance of car-denting hail. Look for “modest growth” of 3.9 percent.

Fortunately, our bill is an ideal fit for these economic times. (more…)

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How can parents change their children’s lives?

One answer is to go back to basics – specifically, the Boston Basics – “five fun, simple, and powerful ways that every family can give every child a great start in life.”

The five Boston Basics are:

• maximize love, manage stress

• talk, sing, and point

• count, group, and compare

• explore through movement and play, and

• read and discuss stories

These basics are backed by evidence and “encompass much of what experts find is important for children from birth to age three,” the Boston Basics website says. (more…)

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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.

Children in one of our PEG classrooms. Eligibility requirements for PEG ensure that children in the program have not received previous educational opportunities and, presumably, would have started Kindergarten with no preschool experience

Lawrence is one of five Massachusetts communities implementing the federal Preschool Expansion Grant. This high-quality model funds 10 preschool classrooms for 130 of Lawrence’s children. The community also has a three-year strategic plan for further preschool expansion. Beyond serving more children, the plan includes cataloguing all local early education programs, engaging families in program planning, and creating a data sharing platform to help programs and agencies collaborate to serve children and families.

In Lawrence, the key components of school readiness for our 1,500 preschool and kindergarten children include connecting with families positively and early on; collaborating with community agencies in order to support children and teachers, as well as building systems for transitioning into the public schools; and supporting the whole child as well as the whole family so that we can improve stability for our families. (more…)

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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.

Literacy and music

Holyoke is one of five Massachusetts communities implementing the federal Preschool Expansion Grant. This high-quality model funds four preschool classrooms for 76 of Holyoke’s children. The city also has an ambitious preschool expansion plan: Holyoke wants to have a universal Pre-K program that would serve 300 more children, have an additional 19 more classrooms, and add 65 more teachers with bachelor’s degrees by the year 2020. Holyoke is ready for new public investments in early education.

The Staff at the Valley Opportunity Council’s (VOC) Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) Program in Holyoke works hard to create an interest based curriculum that engages our youngest learners in exciting and educational interactive activities.

A hands-on approach to learning provides children with the tools and techniques to guide their own investigation and exploration. Our teachers become support systems for expanding the learning process and give autonomy to the children. We engage expansion of literacy skills by using “big words” and providing definitions for concepts that children are learning. No word is too big, no question is too small. No matter the topic we explore it all! (more…)

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Matt Deninger speaks about the Every Student Succeeds Act. Photo: Amy O’Leary for Strategies for Children

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is in the news, and education officials are seeking public comments on how this law should be implemented.

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Strategies for Children convened a group of early childhood practitioners, advocates, and policy makers to discuss ESSA. Matthew Deninger from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was on hand to provide background on the law. He shared details about the evolving Massachusetts plan and spoke about opportunities to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum in the state plan and in local district plans.

Several themes emerged from this discussion:  (more…)

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