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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

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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“When it comes to children’s brains, Rahil Briggs describes them as … sticky.

“ ‘Whatever we throw, [it] sticks. That’s why they can learn Spanish in six months when it takes us six years,’ says the New York City based child psychologist, ‘but also why if they’re exposed to community violence, or domestic violence, it really sticks.’

“Briggs works at the Healthy Steps program at the Montefiore Comprehensive Health Care Center in the South Bronx, screening children as young as 6 months for mental health issues.

“That may sound young, too young maybe, but that’s when some experts believe it’s important to catch the first signs that something may be wrong. Many say waiting until kindergarten is too late.”

 

“Screening Mental Health In Kindergarten Is Way Too Late, Experts Say,” NPR, September 9, 2016

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“Research shows that kindergarten mostly is a mathematical wasteland right now for kids. In other words, kids knew that stuff before they walked into the kindergarten door. What are they learning? Almost nothing.”

“Early math is surprisingly important. What kids know in their preschool or entering kindergarten year about mathematics predicts their later school success. In mathematics, sure, that makes sense, but it even predicts later reading success, as well as early literacy skills do.

“Early math is cognitively fundamental. It’s not just about number and shapes. There’s reasoning and thinking embedded in what we do in early mathematics that forms a foundation for years to come.”

Doug Clements, early learning expert at the University of Denver, “Counting the benefits of teaching math to 3-year-olds,” PBS NewsHour, September 6, 2016

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The Committee for Economic Development (CED) has posted a series of early education podcasts on its website featuring leaders in business, the nonprofit world, and philanthropy.

CED was founded “in 1942 during World War II by a group of business leaders who were concerned about the future of the global economy…” The organization continues “to bridge the gap between the business community and policy leaders,” in part by focusing on early education.

In one of the series’ podcasts, philanthropist and businessman J.B. Pritzker talks about “The Role of Philanthropy in Early Learning.”

Photo Source: The University of Chicago News Office.

Irving B. Harris. Photo Source: The University of Chicago News Office.

“I ran across a philanthropist named Irving Harris,” Pritzker says, explaining that Harris, a businessman, spent years working to meet the needs of young children and their families. Harris founded the Ounce of Prevention Fund and he “was a catalyst for opening the Erikson Institute, a graduate school that trains teachers in early childhood development…”

Harris, who died in 2004, was, according to a death announcement in the New York Times, “A courageous champion of young children and families, an articulate and uncompromising social critic, a compassionate pragmatist. His convictions inspired the work of four generations of practitioners and researchers in the field of child development and early care and education. He made of his life a quest to repair the world.”  (more…)

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“What does it mean to be ready for kindergarten? To me it’s the basics of academics, getting ready for reading and math, but it’s also social, learning how to be around different kinds of people, and how to deal with conflict. Playing with other kids. Academics and social skills are equally important—that helps not just in school but in life. And those are the skills that our daughter learned in pre-K.”

“I’ve worked as a teacher’s aide before, helping out in the [pre-K] classroom, so I’ve seen what a teacher goes through and how important a good teacher is. It’s hard work. These are the people who are molding and shaping your kid—everything they do matters. Our teachers were awesome. They did trainings, so they were always getting better. They kept us involved and told us everything we wanted to know without having to be asked, and they met us at flexible times because most of the parents work. It felt like a community. Our teachers made every family feel special.”

“Ready for Kindergarten,” by Allegra Myers, posted on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists website, August 19, 2016

 

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Image: New America

Image: New America

 

It’s too late to take technology away from young children. They’re already pros at using cell phones and tablets. So instead of asking if technology should be used in early education, a report from the national think tank New America looks at how best to use technology to promote early literacy.

Children do still need human interactions. Positive relationships with adults help them develop strong language and learning skills. However: “Digital tools can be used to help support these positive interactions,” according to New America’s recent report, “Integrating Technology in Early Literacy: A Snapshot of Community Innovation in Family Engagement.”

“Programs across the country are beginning to use technology to engage families,” the report’s author, Shayna Cook, told us in an email. “Over the past year and a half, we analyzed how early learning and family engagement programs have begun to experiment with innovative tools to reach families and help young children develop early language and literacy skills.” (more…)

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Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

A message from Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children (SFC).

“As September starts, children and families across Massachusetts are heading back to school. Even programs that run for a full calendar year are enrolling new children and families and supporting these children as they make this transition. Some children are starting kindergarten and entering an elementary school for the first time. Some children are also entering a classroom for the first time because they’ve had no prior preschool experience. Indeed, national, state, and local data confirm that there is great variation in young children’s experiences during their first five years, and this is, unfortunately, where achievement gaps take root.

“There has been great interest in expanding high-quality early education opportunities for children in the commonwealth. Legislators filed several bills to do this work, however comprehensive pre-K expansion did not become state law this past legislative session. The state’s revenue picture remains challenging, and without additional revenue expanding access to high-quality early education and care will be difficult. (more…)

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