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Archive for the ‘Family engagement’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

There isn’t a lot of new state funding for early education and care for fiscal year 2017, but Massachusetts is holding steady, keeping existing funds flowing to provide high-quality learning experiences for young children.

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced “$42 million in grant awards” for a number of initiatives to “support the quality and availability of early education and care programs” across the Commonwealth.

“High-quality early education and care programs provide children with a strong foundation for learning, academic success, and positive outcomes overall,” Baker said in a press release.

“We thank our early education providers and agency partners who work hard every day to provide our youngest learners with the tools they need to succeed in school and life,” Polito added. (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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JennieMy name is Jennie Antunes, and I have worked in the early education field for 30 years. This past October marked my 29th year with NorthStar Learning Centers in New Bedford, Mass. I am presently a lead teacher in one of our toddler/preschool classrooms. I also have the responsibility of acting as designated administrator when the center director is out of the building.

Through the help of a scholarship program, I earned my bachelor’s degree in 2014. Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.

However, early educators’ pay continues to be a challenge. The goal to have teachers become better educated to better serve children and their families is fantastic and important. Guiding the development and learning of young minds is incredibly difficult and highly skilled work.  (more…)

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Image: Zero to Three

Image: Zero to Three

 

Zero to Three, the national nonprofit, decided to tune in to parents by going largely “to Millennials and Generation X mothers and fathers—to learn more about the challenges they face, the help they seek and how satisfied they are with the parenting support and information they receive.”

It was “a comprehensive research effort” that included “a series of in-home discussions and a large national parent survey” of a diverse range of parents whose children were ages 0 to 5.

One goal: to help parents put the powerful science of early childhood brain development into action.

“I want to be the catcher,” one father says about the role he plays for his children, explaining that when he was young, his father wasn’t there to play football with him.

“I just thought it was going to be like this TV show and it was great and everything was wonderful,” one mom says. “I read the books. I felt super prepared and then reality hits. You are like, what the hell happened? None of that stuff is as it was planned. Things go wrong and things change.”

These are some of the responses in the report, “Tuning In: Parents of Young Children Tell Us What They Think, Know and Need,” which comes with infographics and videos of parents sharing their thoughts.

Specifically, Zero to Three asked parents:

• “What they understand about brain development and the impact that early experiences have on children’s long-term development”

• “Whether they believe that parenting skills can be learned”

• “What they struggle with most when it comes to childrearing”

• “How their own childhood experiences affect how they approach parenting,” and

• “What kind of information they want to receive, where they go for parenting help, whether it’s serving their needs”

Common themes emerged in parents’ answers, including:

• “When it comes to attitudes, aspirations and parenting challenges, there is more that unites than divides parents.”

• “Parents universally believe that parenting can be learned and that if they had more positive parenting strategies they would use them.”

• “Dads are more than babysitters. They love being involved fathers, and want—and deserve—more credit.”

• “There is a ‘missing’ first year,” because parents don’t realize “how young babies are when they can begin to feel complex emotions, and how deeply they can be affected by the way parents interact with them in the first months of life.”

• “There is an expectation gap when it comes to understanding children’s capabilities.” Parents sometimes “overestimate the age at which children master some important developmental skills,”

• “Parents face a discipline dilemma.” They “want to use effective approaches, but many say that finding the right way to discipline is hard,” and

• There’s also a trust gap: “Parents want advice, but are overwhelmed by sources of help and underwhelmed by the quality of what they’re getting.” In addition: “Half of parents aren’t getting the support they need when they feel overwhelmed or stressed—the time when help is most important.”

To address these challenges, the report issues a multi-step call to action that asks professionals who work with families to:

• provide parents with clear “science-based information about early development” and ways they can use this information to nurture their children”

• Use “the voices and experiences of real parents in any efforts to support parents of young children.”

• “Help parents find positive disciplinary strategies that work.”

• “Celebrate and harness fathers’ commitment to be involved in raising their young children.”

• Develop media that presents child-rearing advice in “relatable ways,” and

• “Create opportunities for parents to learn from each other—to share challenges, brainstorm solutions, and offer support.”

The need for creative, engaging, community-based opportunities to learn more about parenting can be summed up by one father’s comment about his son.

“Teach me now. You show me. And at the same time, I’ll teach him, and we’ll teach each other. I want that.”

To join the discussion on social media, use #ParentForward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

“What does it take to get preschool right?” NPR asks in this article.

Answers can be found in a new report from The Learning Policy Institute (LPI) called, “The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States.”

The institute “conducts and communicates independent, high-quality research to improve education policy and practice.”

“Although many studies show that high-quality preschool returns $7 to $10 for every dollar invested, the research shows that it is not so easy to create high-quality preschool at scale, and not all programs reap these benefits,” Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the LPI says in a press release. “This study looks deeply at how governments can design and implement programs that pay off for their children and their state.”

NPR says the report “helps balance the preschool debate by highlighting a handful of states that appear to be getting pre-K right: Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina.” (more…)

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Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 9.32.09 AMHow do children get to kindergarten? They might take a bus or walk with a parent.

But for policymakers the more pressing question is: How do children get from birth to kindergarten?

Have they been read to? Have they been hungry? Have they been homeless or learned to live with toothaches? Have their parents struggled with depression or addiction?

The answers are crucial and can affect whether or not a child is kindergarten-ready. The Annenberg Institute for School Reform tackles this challenge in the latest issue of VUE, its Voices in Urban Education magazine.

Part of Brown University, Annenberg is “a national policy-research and reform support organization that promotes quality education for all children, especially in urban communities.”

The guest editor for this issue is Michael Grady, the Annenberg Institute’s deputy director and an assistant professor of practice in the Urban Education Policy master’s program at Brown University.

Grady sets the stage in the lead article writing:

“With widespread support for the expansion of early education programs, there is an increased need for collaboration across systems to support the critical transition from pre-K to elementary school in order to ensure positive educational outcomes for all.” (more…)

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Paul Tucker

Photo from Rep. Paul Tucker’s Facebook page

Each year for five years, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has run an Early Learning Fellows program: a dynamic effort that’s designed for emerging leaders – legislators and legislative staff members.

“The program is geared toward those chairing or serving on human services, education or appropriations committees who want to expand their knowledge and learn from other legislators and experts across the country,” NCSL explains on its website.

The training is important because, “States have been leading efforts to improve the quality of child care, implementing preschool and innovative ways to support families with young children across the age spectrum from birth to kindergarten and into the early grades. They are also addressing challenges with governance, financing, data systems and teacher training/professional development.”

This year’s class includes State Representative Paul Tucker (D-Salem), as well state legislators from California, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wyoming. (more…)

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Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough's website

Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough’s website

“What is it about growing up in poverty that leads to so many troubling outcomes? Or to put the question another way: What is it that growing up in affluence provides to children that growing up in poverty does not?”

These are the questions that Paul Tough asks in his new book “Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why.”

Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough's website

Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough’s website

Tough — a journalist and the author of the 2012 book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” — has seen programs that help children succeed. But he’s not out to promote perfect programs. Instead he’s highlighting the guiding principles that make these programs effective.

“The principle that I take from the programs that I find most impressive in early childhood is that the way that we can help kids succeed, and especially in the beginning in those early years, is through shaping their environment,” Tough told us during an interview last week.

He says that one of the most under-appreciated factors in children’s environments is stress, which is particularly harmful if a child doesn’t have a close, protective relationship with a parent or another caregiver. (more…)

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