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Archive for the ‘Professional development & preparation’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What should President-elect Trump know about early education?

Overhauling the country’s early childhood system will take hard work and a significant investment of funds – but it will be worth it.

That’s the message in a memo released last month by the think tank Brookings. The memo – “Building a cohesive, high-quality early childhood system” — is part of a series called “Memos to the President on the Future of Education Policy.” It was written by Daphna Bassok, Katherine Magnuson, and Christina Weiland.

The next president, the memo says, “must lead the way by (1) ensuring low-income and middle class families are not forced to make decisions between high-quality and affordable care, (2) supporting efforts to transform the early childhood workforce, and (3) building cohesion within a highly fragmented system.”

Among the memo’s recommendations: (more…)

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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts. This one was written by Lisa Plotkin.

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Lisa Plotkin

Lisa Plotkin

When I graduated high school, I spent the summer as a preschool camp counselor. I came home every afternoon exhausted and took a nap. “Childcare – definitely NOT for me,” I said.

In college, I pursued architecture and then business. My first job out of college was managing an architectural office. I left that job to re-calibrate and found myself surrounded by children again as a substitute then a classroom teacher at the JCC preschool in Washington, DC. Following this role, I moved to my hometown Richmond, Virginia, where my path crossed a year later with a little boy waiting for his sister’s dance class to end as I was waiting for my exercise class to begin. It was 2007.

We’ve all heard about those “light bulb moments,” right? I had one. Something in his conversation with me, how easy it was for us to chat, made it a moment I’d always remember. A joyful readiness hit me: I wanted to pursue a degree in the field of early childhood. So, I moved to Boston and earned my Master of Early Childhood Education at Lesley University. (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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Jennie Fitzkee

Jennie Fitzkee

 

My name is Jennie Fitzkee. I am an Early Childhood Educator teaching the Full Day, multi-age class preschool class at Groton Community School in Groton, Mass. This my 33rd year of teaching preschool. Lucky me!

“Back in the day,” women were encouraged to become a nurse, secretary, or a teacher. Fortunately, I decided to become a teacher. I made a good career choice! I use the word “career” because teaching young children is far more than a job. It shapes the lives of children and educates parents. That is powerful; both a responsibility and a thrilling challenge. (more…)

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screenshot_2016-10-25-13-19-47

 

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.

 

millswanmural

 

(more…)

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Why teach math to 3-year-old children?

“Early math is surprisingly important,” Doug Clements, an early learning expert at the University of Denver, explains in a PBS NewsHour report.

“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.”

In essence, why wouldn’t you teach math to 3-year-olds given how high the payoff is.

Clements is one of the creators of Building Blocks, a project — funded by the National Science Foundation — that designs math curricula for young children.

“Our basic approach is finding the mathematics in, and developing mathematics from, children’s activity,” the Building Blocks website explains. “We wish to help children extend and mathematize their everyday activities, from building blocks to art to songs to puzzles…”

(more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Preschool expulsions are a troubling reality for too many young children, particularly African-American boys.

To learn more about the possible role of teachers’ bias in these expulsions, Yale University researchers recruited 135 study participants from “the exhibit hall at a large annual conference of early care and education professionals…”

The study looked at implicit bias, which “refers to the automatic and unconscious stereotypes that drive people to behave and make decisions in certain ways,” according to the study’s research brief.

Children’s behavior also matters, however, “implicit biases about sex and race may influence how those behaviors are perceived and how they are addressed, creating a vicious cycle over time exacerbating inequalities.”

Among the findings: “Preschool teachers and staff show signs of implicit bias in administering discipline, but the race of the teacher plays a big role in the outcome,” a Yale news release explains(more…)

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Average cost of child care across the states. Screenshot: New America's website

Average cost of child care across the states. Image: New America’s website

What’s the state of child care in today’s America, which is no longer the land of the “Leave it to Beaver” breadwinner-homemaker family?

To find out, the newly released Care Report and the accompanying Care Index look at all 50 states and the district of Columbia to assess three categories: cost, quality, and availability.

The bad news: “no single state does well in all three categories. Instead, families, providers, and policymakers in every state make difficult compromises that often shape family decisions and can determine the course of children’s futures.”

That’s a problem in today’s America where “in a majority of families with children under 18, all parents work for pay outside the home. That means, on any given day, about 12 million children under the age of five will need a safe place to go and someone loving to care for them.”

The report and the index were produced by the think tank New America and by Care.com, the website that links families to care providers, in conjunction with other organizations. (more…)

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