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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A recent study shows that home visiting programs can dramatically improve children’s school readiness.

The study report — “Long-Term Academic Outcomes of Participation in the Parent-Child Home Program in King County, WA,” — explains:

“The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) is an intensive two-year home-visiting program aimed at increasing school readiness among young children from families who face multiple obstacles to educational and economic success, such as poverty, low literacy, limited education, and language barriers.”

Families enroll “when children are about two years old and receive two 30-minute visits per week for 23 weeks in each year of the program, for a total of 92 visits.”

The home visitor “shares a language and cultural background with the family” and “uses a non-directive approach and a high-quality toy or book, which is left as a gift for the family, to model behaviors for parents that enhance children’s development.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

“Americans do not know that up to a million childcare teachers today are at-risk for functional illiteracy,” Elizabeth Gilbert explains in a recent Washington Post blog.

These adults can end up “mirroring” their social disadvantages to the children they work with, according to Gilbert, who is the coordinator of the “Learn at Work Early Childhood Educator Program Labor” in the Labor Management Workplace Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

As we blogged last year, Gilbert is calling for dynamic change.

“After working for nearly two decades in community-based childcare settings in disadvantaged communities in Massachusetts, mirrors became a way for me to comprehend what I was seeing, and to capture and reveal this world in a way that others could understand,” Gilbert writes in the Post blog. (more…)

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“Our bottom line is a sense of urgency and we know that you all feel it,” Elizabeth Burke Bryant, the executive director of Rhode Island KIDS Count, said last week at the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s (CGLR) New England Regional meeting. “The sense of urgency is greater than ever.”

The problem: too many children cannot read proficiently.

As CGLR says on its website, the country faces a challenge: “Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet every year, more than 80 percent of low-income children miss this crucial milestone.”

The good news: “We’re starting to see communities produce results,” Ron Fairchild, a senior consultant at CGLR, said at the meeting.

Indeed, the issue of early reading proficiency is compelling more and more communities to join the effort – 232 local communities are now members of CGLR’s national network, up from an initial cohort of 124 when the campaign launched in 2011.

Held at Worcester Technical High School, the meeting was an opportunity for 70 participants from four states to share the effective work that’s being done around the country to boost children’s reading skills. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Library story times are getting well-deserved media attention for helping young children build early literacy skills and develop social skills.

A recent New York Times article on story time, says:

“Forty strollers were double- and triple-parked on the main floor of the Fort Washington Library in Upper Manhattan. As another one came through the door, Velda Asbury waved toward a spot beside a book stack.

“Officially, Ms. Asbury is a library clerk, checking books in and out. But every Wednesday she doubles as a parking attendant during one of the New York Public Library’s most popular programs: story time.”

The Times explains that story time, like a hot Broadway show, is drawing huge crowds because “more than ever, educators are emphasizing the importance of early literacy in preparing children for school and for developing critical thinking skills. The demand crosses economic lines, with parents at all income levels vying to get in.” (more…)

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“Your heart and lungs come out fully developed when you are born, but the brain is completely dependent on what it encounters on its ride to full development, and especially in the first three years there’s a huge amount of brain development that occurs: 80 to 85 percent of the physical brain will be developed in that time. And that brain is absolutely dependent on the language input, parent talk, and interaction, which is the key catalyst for creating those neural connections. A lot of people think of parent talk as just a way to build children’s vocabulary. But in truth, because it has such a fundamental impact on all the brain wiring, parent talk impacts all of brain function, from memory, emotion, to stability, [self-regulation], [to] spatial and math [skills].”

“Going back to our research program and our curriculum development, we’ve culled it down to what we call the Three T’s, which is Tune in, Talk More, and Take Turns. So Tune In is really following your child’s lead, seeing what your child is interested in. Talking More is talking more about it using rich vocabulary, narrating your child’s day. Taking Turns is really viewing your child as a conversational partner and having a conversation back and forth.”

“We need to really think about what education in this country looks like. We need to align our policy with our science. And science is pretty clear that learning begins on day one, not the first day of school. The only way we’re going to ever move this needle is starting from day one.”

Dr. Dana Suskind, a pediatric neurosurgeon and cochlear implant specialist at the University of Chicago, in a Boston Globe interview, “Thirty million little words for a lifetime of difference,” October 9, 2015

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“Since 2004, Tennessee has offered state-subsidized prekindergarten, enrolling more than 18,000 of the state’s neediest 4-year-olds. An early evaluation showed that, as you’d expect, youngsters who attended pre-K made substantial gains in math, language and reading. But, startlingly, the gains had evaporated by the end of kindergarten…”

“Have the claims made for early education been overblown? Not necessarily. Consider what’s happening in Boston. A randomized study showed that prekindergartners there gained between four and seven months’ progress in reading and math, and those gains persisted: 27 percent more of Boston’s preschool children scored ‘proficient’ or better on the state’s rigorous third-grade exams.

“What’s the difference between Boston and Tennessee? In a word, quality.”

“Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?” a New York Times opinion piece by David Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, October 3, 2015

 

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Talk to your baby, and you’ll improve public health.

That’s the goal in Georgia where officials have launched an initiative called “Talk With Me Baby,” to motivate parents to have conversations that could improve their children’s lifetime outcomes.

Georgia is out to close the word gap that researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley wrote about in the 1990s. They estimated that affluent children hear some 30 million more words than their less affluent peers. The two tried to close this gap by working with 4-year-olds. But they realized that their efforts were coming too late in children’s lives.

To close the word gap, researchers increasingly say, start with babies.

“Right now, Georgia is the only state taking such a coordinated, widespread, public-health-focused approach to reducing the word gap,” according to an online Atlantic article called, “Why Boosting Poor Children’s Vocabulary Is Important for Public Health.”

“There are more isolated efforts in places like Chicago and Providence, Rhode Island, but they operate on a much smaller scale.” Nonetheless, this growing awareness and action shows how communities with targeted public policies and programs can help close the word gap.  (more…)

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