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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

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

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Jennie Fitzkee

Jennie Fitzkee

 

My name is Jennie Fitzkee. I am an Early Childhood Educator teaching the Full Day, multi-age class preschool class at Groton Community School in Groton, Mass. This my 33rd year of teaching preschool. Lucky me!

“Back in the day,” women were encouraged to become a nurse, secretary, or a teacher. Fortunately, I decided to become a teacher. I made a good career choice! I use the word “career” because teaching young children is far more than a job. It shapes the lives of children and educates parents. That is powerful; both a responsibility and a thrilling challenge. (more…)

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Equipped with big dreams, generous hearts, and strategic funding, the Worcester Child Development Head Start program has been building a STEAM curriculum to immerse preschool-age children in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. It’s been a dynamic process that shows how important it is to have partnerships, federal investments, and lots of local action.

Inspired by the STEAM work being done by a Head Start program in Lawrence, Mass., staff in Worcester decided to form a STEAM committee and create their own STEAM rooms.

 

millswanmural

 

(more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) had just released a report on child care — “Red Light Green Light: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2016” — that paints a picture of parents struggling to find affordable, appealing options for their children.

What families and the economy need is high-quality, reasonably priced child care that enables parents to work without worrying and that enrolls children in programs that are engaging and enriching.

Instead, the NWLC report describes a patchwork of child care policies and parents who don’t have enough help paying for high child care bills.

“The average fee for full-time care ranges from nearly $3,700 to over $17,000 a year, depending on the age of the child, the type of care, and where the family lives,” the report says.

“The implications are serious,” NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell explains in a press release. “Too many parents are forced to patch together makeshift arrangements for their children. Too many children are denied the high-quality child care they need to put them on a path to success. It’s past time to bring the country’s policies in line with the reality of American women’s lives and make high-quality child care accessible and affordable.” (more…)

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“In 2013, the year before New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, there were about 20,000 free, full-day pre-K seats available to children. Three years later, the city’s preschool landscape looks vastly different. For the 2016-2017 school year, the city had free, full-day seats for more than 70,000 students.

“Now New York is trying to share what it has learned from this expansion with cities across the country.

“On Thursday, New York will host a daylong learning lab with leaders from 12 other cities, including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle. During the event, early learning leaders plan to discuss topics like family outreach and sustainable quality programming, and share insights and challenges from their own cities’ initiatives.

“The leaders hope to create a unified network dedicated to sharing best practices for pre-K implementation. The long-term goal of the event, Pre-K for All, is to promote access to free, high-quality preschool across the country.”

“These Cities Want The Country To Focus More On Access To Preschool,” by Rebecca Klein, the Huffington Post, October 6, 2016

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Early education policies are all over the map — literally and figuratively. While some states are making big investments in very young children, others lag behind.

How are specific states doing? The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a national advocacy organization, takes a look in its August 2016 State Policy Update. It’s a “mini-update” that “provides a snapshot of early childhood care and education budget and policy changes in states during the 2016 legislative sessions as of July 2016.”

This year, “numerous states across the country made major policy changes and investments that advanced access to high-quality early learning programs,” The Ounce says, pointing to:

• Rhode Island, where “codified key elements of the state’s home visiting system” became law “through the passage of The Rhode Island Family Home Visiting Act. The state’s Department of Health is required to work with other state agencies to identify vulnerable families and offer them the opportunity to enroll in evidence-based home visiting programs.”

• In Nebraska, tax credits abound. “The School Readiness Tax Credit Act will create two new state tax credits… for early childhood programs and individual early childhood professionals in 2017.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Want to spread early literacy? Send in a parent. Moms and dads who talk, sing, and read out loud can fill their children’s worlds with engaging, enriching language.

But the challenge for Springfield, Mass., and other cities is figuring out how to reach parents and engage them in sharing a love of language and learning with their children.

To find good ideas on family engagement, the Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative (RS4G), which is backed by The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, did a simple thing: It asked parents.

“Focus groups of parents, and largely moms who participated in one of our three sessions, revealed what we knew: that parents have clearly moved into the digital age,” Sally Fuller writes in a blog post on the Davis Foundation’s Read by Fourth Grade website. “Email, for anyone who has children, is almost recognized as a thing of the past. Moms told us almost universally that their primary engagement with the world comes through social media and texting. The smartphone serves as the communications tool of choice.” (more…)

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By guest blogger Titus DosRemedios

A child’s transition to kindergarten is an important educational milestone. Making that transition a success requires a team effort from teachers, principals, community partners, and families.

One inspiring example of such a team effort took place on August 4, 2016, at the Buttonwood Park Zoo where the New Bedford Public Schools in partnership with P.A.C.E. Inc. held a “Smooth Sailing into Kindergarten” event for entering kindergarten students and their families. The event was designed so that children could meet their new teachers and principals, and so that families could learn more about their child’s school and other resources available in the community.

Sunshine, fun activities, and a welcoming atmosphere helped make this event compelling and fun. The Standard-Times reports, “At the zoo, the children enjoyed various activities the principals and teachers set up, among them bubble-blowing, photo-taking, a train ride and a guest-reader appearance by author Laura Vaughn.”

To highlight the event and create lasting memories each student received a family portrait from Lifetouch, marking their journey into the New Bedford Public Schools. (more…)

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