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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Karen Fabian teaching a yoga class for children. Photo courtesy of Karen Fabian

 

“I began to practice yoga for the first time ever in 1999. And after taking my first teacher training in 2002, I knew I wanted to teach full time,” Karen Fabian says. So she shifted out of her corporate career in health care administration, and started teaching in 2003.

“Over time, I started my own brand, Bare Bones Yoga. And I’ve been doing that ever since.”

These days, Fabian’s work includes teaching yoga to preschoolers, which she’s been doing for 13 years. She ran a program at the South Boston Neighborhood House for two years. And she currently teaches at two programs in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood that are part of Partners Healthcare system.

It’s easy to stereotype yoga as a silent practice done in a quiet room. But that’s not the way Fabian teaches it.

She engages children on multiple levels, mixing yoga poses with language and literacy. It’s familiar territory for Fabian: her mother was a preschool teacher for 35 years.

“Toddlers and four-year-olds, they really like Tree pose,” Fabian says of her youngest yoga students. “Kids, as young as two-and-a-half will do downward dog; it’s a universal pose that kids of all ages will do, even little ones.” (more…)

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Massachusetts has received great news.

The state’s federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) program “had a powerful impact on children’s early academic skills. The program proved effective for all children on average,” Yahoo Finance reports.

The analysis of the PEG grant was conducted by Abt Associates.

Among Abt’s findings, according to a press release:

“PEG improved children’s readiness for kindergarten by providing:

• a sizable positive impact on children’s early literacy and math skills, and

• a smaller positive impact on vocabulary skills.”

“PEG had an even bigger impact on children from homes where English was not the primary language and for children with no prior formal child care experience,” Education Dive adds. (more…)

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“I am a product of early education and care; and my daughter is a product of it as well,” Nikki Burnett told us recently. Burnett’s daughter is currently a student at Howard University.

As for Burnett herself she has come full circle. Born and raised in Massachusetts, in Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood, Burnett worked for over a decade as a senior administrator at the American Heart Association. Now she’s back in Mason Square working as the executive director of the new Educare Springfield center, which just opened this month and is already at full enrollment.

Educare is an evidence-based national network of 25 early education programs with the sweeping goal of figuring out “the most effective and the most promising ways to work with each individual child and each individual family, and we do that with excitement and passion for the work,” according to Charlotte Brantley, the president and CEO of the Clayton Early Learning, Educare Denver.

Burnett echoes this ambition, explaining, “We may only have 141 children enrolled, but we are beholden to the education of all children.” Educare’s approach is to innovate and share its work on preparing young children to succeed in school. Burnett wants to ensure that all the children whose lives she touches aren’t struggling to catch up in kindergarten – as well as in first, second, and third grade. (more…)

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What do businesses and parents have in common?

They both benefit from affordable, high-quality child care.

That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released a report – “Building Bridges Creating Strong Partnerships for Early Childhood Education” – that calls on the business community and early education advocates to find more opportunities to work together to develop “shared solutions.”

The need for solutions is clear. As the report explains, research shows that “the U.S. economy loses an astounding $57 billion per year in revenue, wages, and productivity as a result of issues related to childcare.”

To understand the ingredients of successful business/early education partnerships, the Chamber Foundation asked more than 150 business community members and early education advocates for their insights.

The result, JD Chesloff explains is that, “The report provides valuable guidance on how business leaders and advocates can work together to create more high-quality, affordable child care.” Chesloff is the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and he served for ten years on the board of Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care.

“The report acknowledges up front that business leaders and advocates often have different agendas,” Chesloff adds. “That’s why they have to do the work to understand each other, communicate with each other, and share resources. That’s the formula for forming successful partnerships. And that’s why this report is a must read for anyone looking to make change in early childhood education.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Across the country, K-12 schools are spreading their wings by working in the early education space. It’s an approach that promises to help more young children succeed as they transition into elementary school.

One example in the suburbs of Omaha, Neb., is Belleaire Elementary School, where providing a good education includes working with families before children are old enough to go to school.

“Belleaire is one of 10 schools in the Omaha metropolitan area that are rethinking the scope of early childhood education,” an EdSurge article says. “Traditionally, early childhood education focuses on serving children before they reach kindergarten. But more recently, researchers have begun to think about early childhood education as encompassing the first eight years—years that are critical for neural development and where early interventions can have a profound impact in later years.”

This is all part of Omaha’s Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan, a $2.5 million per year initiative that’s funded by a tax measure. (more…)

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Facing a “crisis-level” shortage of child care, Colorado’s Senate has released the “Infant and Family Child Care Action Plan: A strategic action plan to address infant and family child care home shortages in Colorado.”

Colorado’s leadership in addressing this problem sets an example for states like Massachusetts where child care spots are also declining.

The plan notes in part:

“To maintain the momentum of our booming economy we need to support our working families. When that support comes in the form of access to safe, licensed child care, it in turn supports the healthy growth and development of Colorado’s next generation of thinkers, innovators, and workers.”

However, “licensed infant care has been decreasing since 2010. Additionally, family child care homes, sometimes the only accessible care option for families, have been declining for years. The loss of family child care homes also means the loss of significant numbers of licensed infant care. Although the decrease in family child care homes is consistent with national trends, Colorado currently exceeds the national average in the rate of overall decline. The impact of these decreases in licensed capacity is reflected in the fact that 25% of centers and 42% of homes reported having a wait list for infants.”

“To create a Colorado child care landscape where families can afford and access the care they need and want, Colorado must add at least 7000 infant slots in centers and over 200 family child care home providers.” (more…)

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Amy O’Leary and Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy

 

What a year it has been at Strategies for Children! Here are some of our highlights:

• Looking back to look forward

In December of 2018, we gathered at the State House to celebrate the tenth anniversary of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care, which became law in 2008. “It’s like getting the band back together,” Pat Haddad (D-Somerset), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, said of the many colleagues who joined us. At the event, Amy O’Leary moderated, and we heard from a lineup of speakers including Haddad, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop), other state officials, and local early education program directors. Many of the speakers remarked that though they have had different roles over the last ten years, their commitment to high-quality early education for all remains strong.

It was also a year of transition at the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). In June we thanked Commissioner Tom Weber for his six successful years of leadership. We then welcomed new EEC Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy back to Massachusetts with a “meet-and-greet” co-hosted by the early education field. We look forward to working with Commissioner Sam on a shared vision for her department’s future. (more…)

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