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Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

“In Florida, a coalition of parents known as ‘the recess moms’ has been fighting to pass legislation guaranteeing the state’s elementary-school students at least 20 minutes of daily free play. Similar legislation recently passed in New Jersey, only to be vetoed by the governor, who deemed it ‘stupid.’ ”

“The benefits of recess might seem obvious—time to run around helps kids stay fit. But a large body of research suggests that it also boosts cognition. Many studies have found that regular exercise improves mental function and academic performance. [3] And an analysis of studies that focused specifically on recess found positive associations between physical activity and the ability to concentrate in class. [4]

“Perhaps most important, recess allows children to design their own games, to test their abilities, to role-play, and to mediate their own conflicts—activities that are key to developing social skills and navigating complicated situations. [8] Preliminary results from an ongoing study in Texas suggest that elementary-school children who are given four 15-minute recesses a day are significantly more empathetic toward their peers than are kids who don’t get recess. [9]

“Why Kids Need Recess: And why it’s endangered,” The Atlantic, December, 2016

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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.

 

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Video Source: Tom Bedard’s Blog

 

A terrific article on the MenTeach website profiles preschool teacher Tom Bedard, a.k.a. “a sort of preschool MacGyver (that classic television character who made extraordinary things out of ordinary objects).”

“I go through the hardware stores and think, ‘Huh! What can I use this for?’” Bedard, a 65 year-old resident of St. Paul, Minn., says in the article. “I’m known for my sand and water tables. I build in and around the tables to make them unique spaces for the kids to play and learn.

One water table is “a wondrous contraption” that’s actually “two tables fashioned into one long one and stacked with accessories like swimming noodles and coffee filters.”

As he approached retirement, Bedard reflected on his career in early education.

“I thought I would get a science degree,” Bedard says. “But, my first semester, calculus and physics didn’t go so well. I started taking psychology classes instead and really liked them.” (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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Brittany McGovernMy name is Brittany McGovern.

I have been working in the field of early education and care for half my life. During my first couple of years in the field, I was finishing high school. As a senior in high school, I was granted the opportunity to intern in the Head Start preschool classroom that was located in my school. The position turned into a year-long one, and this opportunity convinced me that I was destined to teach.

I recently switched places of employment, leaving a wonderful mom-and-pop childcare center that I love. I had seen this center when it was an unfinished shell of a building, and I’ve watched it grow into a fully constructed center with a waiting list for children who want to enroll.

I currently work in an infant/toddler classroom, where part of our funding comes from Early Head Start. The reason I had to change jobs was purely financial. I needed to earn more money.

What is important about my work is that I am able to provide a loving, safe environment in which children can play and, in turn, learn. This anonymous quote perhaps best expresses my passion for teaching: “One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” (more…)

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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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Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a press conference and visits science and music programs in the pre-K center at Windsor Terrace’s Bishop Ford campus, where there are now over 20 free, full-day, high-quality pre-K classrooms serving nearly 300 children. Photographer/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a press conference and visits science and music programs in the pre-K center at Windsor Terrace’s Bishop Ford campus, where there are now over 20 free, full-day, high-quality pre-K classrooms serving nearly 300 children. Photo source: Mayor de Blasio’s Flickr page. Photographer/Mayoral Photography Office

 

Borscht — the red soup that’s made of beets — is the first word of David Kirp’s New York Times opinion piece, “How New York Made Pre-K a Success.”

Why soup? It’s an example of how New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has grown his city’s preschool program into a widespread, multicultural success – one that other cities and states can learn from.

“Borscht isn’t found on most prekindergarten menus, but it’s what the cooks were dishing up for the 35 children at Ira’s Daycare in Briarwood, Queens, on a recent school day,” Kirp writes. He’s a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “Many families in this neighborhood are Russian émigrés for whom borscht is a staple, but children from half a dozen countries, including a contingent from Bangladesh, are also enrolled here.

“These youngsters are among the 68,547 4-year-olds enrolled in one of the nation’s most ambitious experiments in education: New York City’s accelerated attempt to introduce preschool for all.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is weighing in on preschool with an article about the challenges of creating programs that maximize best outcomes for children.

Called “Preschool is for Real,” the article starts by noting that children and teachers are doing a lot of hard work.

“Imagine yourself as a preschooler. Everything’s an adventure, from pretending you’re a superhero to chasing a butterfly to painting a self-portrait. There is so much to explore, discover and learn at preschool, and it all feels like play—hours and hours of play,” the article says.

“But behind all the fun and games, preschool teachers have one very serious goal: To prepare children for kindergarten and future academic success. To achieve that, they have the daunting task of helping young children learn specific social, emotional, physical, linguistic, cognitive, literacy and math skills, which are defined in state learning guidelines or standards. All this sounds very much like school, although preschool teachers make it all feel like play.” (more…)

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