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Archive for the ‘Social-emotional development’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Every year, thousands of young children enter foster care just as they’re getting old enough to enter school — and they face challenges in achieving success.

“On any given day upwards of 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system are living in the care of someone other than their biological parents,” the American Institutes for Research says on its Education Policy Center InformED Blog.

The post is the first in a series “examining educational challenges facing youth in foster care—early childhood into college—and some promising solutions.”

Children in foster care creates considerable instability.

“One-third of these children enter the foster care system before age five, just as they should be making the transition from preschool to kindergarten. Seventy-five percent must change schools when they enter the foster care system, and during their first year in foster care, they experience an average of three different home placements—often changing schools again and again.” (more…)

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Image: Zero to Three

Image: Zero to Three

 

Zero to Three, the national nonprofit, decided to tune in to parents by going largely “to Millennials and Generation X mothers and fathers—to learn more about the challenges they face, the help they seek and how satisfied they are with the parenting support and information they receive.”

It was “a comprehensive research effort” that included “a series of in-home discussions and a large national parent survey” of a diverse range of parents whose children were ages 0 to 5.

One goal: to help parents put the powerful science of early childhood brain development into action.

“I want to be the catcher,” one father says about the role he plays for his children, explaining that when he was young, his father wasn’t there to play football with him.

“I just thought it was going to be like this TV show and it was great and everything was wonderful,” one mom says. “I read the books. I felt super prepared and then reality hits. You are like, what the hell happened? None of that stuff is as it was planned. Things go wrong and things change.”

These are some of the responses in the report, “Tuning In: Parents of Young Children Tell Us What They Think, Know and Need,” which comes with infographics and videos of parents sharing their thoughts.

Specifically, Zero to Three asked parents:

• “What they understand about brain development and the impact that early experiences have on children’s long-term development”

• “Whether they believe that parenting skills can be learned”

• “What they struggle with most when it comes to childrearing”

• “How their own childhood experiences affect how they approach parenting,” and

• “What kind of information they want to receive, where they go for parenting help, whether it’s serving their needs”

Common themes emerged in parents’ answers, including:

• “When it comes to attitudes, aspirations and parenting challenges, there is more that unites than divides parents.”

• “Parents universally believe that parenting can be learned and that if they had more positive parenting strategies they would use them.”

• “Dads are more than babysitters. They love being involved fathers, and want—and deserve—more credit.”

• “There is a ‘missing’ first year,” because parents don’t realize “how young babies are when they can begin to feel complex emotions, and how deeply they can be affected by the way parents interact with them in the first months of life.”

• “There is an expectation gap when it comes to understanding children’s capabilities.” Parents sometimes “overestimate the age at which children master some important developmental skills,”

• “Parents face a discipline dilemma.” They “want to use effective approaches, but many say that finding the right way to discipline is hard,” and

• There’s also a trust gap: “Parents want advice, but are overwhelmed by sources of help and underwhelmed by the quality of what they’re getting.” In addition: “Half of parents aren’t getting the support they need when they feel overwhelmed or stressed—the time when help is most important.”

To address these challenges, the report issues a multi-step call to action that asks professionals who work with families to:

• provide parents with clear “science-based information about early development” and ways they can use this information to nurture their children”

• Use “the voices and experiences of real parents in any efforts to support parents of young children.”

• “Help parents find positive disciplinary strategies that work.”

• “Celebrate and harness fathers’ commitment to be involved in raising their young children.”

• Develop media that presents child-rearing advice in “relatable ways,” and

• “Create opportunities for parents to learn from each other—to share challenges, brainstorm solutions, and offer support.”

The need for creative, engaging, community-based opportunities to learn more about parenting can be summed up by one father’s comment about his son.

“Teach me now. You show me. And at the same time, I’ll teach him, and we’ll teach each other. I want that.”

To join the discussion on social media, use #ParentForward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough's website

Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough’s website

“What is it about growing up in poverty that leads to so many troubling outcomes? Or to put the question another way: What is it that growing up in affluence provides to children that growing up in poverty does not?”

These are the questions that Paul Tough asks in his new book “Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why.”

Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough's website

Image: Screenshot from Paul Tough’s website

Tough — a journalist and the author of the 2012 book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” — has seen programs that help children succeed. But he’s not out to promote perfect programs. Instead he’s highlighting the guiding principles that make these programs effective.

“The principle that I take from the programs that I find most impressive in early childhood is that the way that we can help kids succeed, and especially in the beginning in those early years, is through shaping their environment,” Tough told us during an interview last week.

He says that one of the most under-appreciated factors in children’s environments is stress, which is particularly harmful if a child doesn’t have a close, protective relationship with a parent or another caregiver. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Robert Putnam was back on WGBH several weeks ago talking about the hurdles that many children from poorer families can face.

As we blogged last year, Putnam’s book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” looks at “the inequality gap in the United States, drawing on both Putnam’s personal experiences and his academic research.” Putnam is a professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

For his book, Putnam returned to his hometown of Port Clinton, Ohio. What he found was a local example of national trend: Wealth matters much now than it did when Putnam was young. Poorer children are struggling more.

“… all of these kids in this book are heart-rending stories because they – through no fault of their own – find themselves in circumstances in which they don’t have a chance in life, honestly. And they did nothing to cause that problem,” Putnam tells WGBH radio hosts Margery Eagan and Jim Braude.

Putnam spoke of Andrew and Kayla, two children in his book who live several miles apart, but exist in different universes. Andrew’ world is wealthy and stable, while Kayla faces poverty and greater vulnerability to upheaval. (Putnam’s section of the radio show runs from 1:18:49 to roughly 1:45:53.) (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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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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TKMy name is Teddy Kokoros, and for the past 13 years I’ve had the pleasure of working as a preschool and pre-K teacher at the Transportation Children’s Center (TCC) in Boston. I first started working at TCC after completing my associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Bay State College’s now defunct Early Childhood Education program. Under the tutelage of my professor Linda Small, I got both the academic knowledge and the field experience via internships that I needed to be a competent early educator.

Initially, after completing my associate’s degree, I transferred to Wheelock College to continue my education but quickly had to drop out to work full-time when my family experienced financial and other hardships. I needed a full-time job to help out. Luckily, TCC, where I had completed an internship, was hiring and gave me a job as a preschool teacher. (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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Caitlin Gontarz - South Shore Stars

Caitlin Gontarz – South Shore Stars

When I meet new people and they ask me what I do for a living I love hearing the different reactions when I tell them that I am a preschool teacher.

While many will say “You are so brave,” or “I could never do that,” I more often than not hear, “Wow that must be so fun,” and “You must get to play all day.” Sure I get to play and be silly but I have many jobs. I am a singer, a dancer, a mathematician, a scientist, a writer, an artist, and a referee. More importantly though, I am a keeper of dreams for futures to come, the holder of hands, the wiper of tears, a listener for both kiddos and their families, and most importantly, I am the open arms always ready for times of joy, sadness, anger, and anxiety. I’d be lying if I told you that it has always been easy, but it has definitely been worth it.

My name is Caitlin Gontarz, and I am a lead teacher at South Shore Stars Weymouth Preschool. I have been with the agency since October of 2008. When I was hired, I was a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire. I had a degree in English and hadn’t taken any Early Childhood classes nor had I had any formal experience outside of babysitting and being a nanny. I had answered a Craig’s List post for the preschool, and I was hired as a floating teaching assistant. I never dreamed that when I walked through the door of Weymouth Preschool Stars on my first day at 22 years old that I would be starting a career that today I could never imagine leaving. (more…)

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