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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.” Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

Oceanside

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The blog is on vacation. We’ll be back on Wednesday, September 7, 2016.

Enjoy the final days of summer.

“ ‘We believe that preschool is an integral part of the public school system and public school should be universally available because every child can benefit from it,’ said Josh Wallack, Deputy Chancellor of New York City’s Department of Education. ‘Therefore, preschool should be universal.’ ”

“ ‘Trying to do something this quickly presents a lot of challenges,’ Wallack said. But so far, he said, the push for universal preschool here has proven to be ‘a great example of what a municipal government can do when focused on a really ambitious goal.’ ”

“ ‘I feel like children are learning so much more now,’ said [Lauren] Kendall, who was inspired to leave a communications job at Lehman Brothers, the now-defunct investment bank, and become a teacher after Sept. 11, 2001. When she got her first preschool classroom in 2003 though, she said she had to write her own curriculum and figure out what her kids needed.

“Now, Kendall gets support from the district, including a curriculum that helps her plan classroom activities and personal coaching that helps her understand how to best engage young learners.”

“ ‘What’s perplexing to me is: How come we haven’t moved?’ [Marcy Whitebook] said. ‘There were all these excuses you could make 40 years ago about why we were stuck. But now, there’s no excuse.’ ”

“What it will take to create quality preschool for all,” by Lillian Mongeau, The Hechinger Report, via PBS NewsHour, August 16, 2016

This past spring at an Educare Learning Network Meeting, one panel focused on getting men involved in early education. The vast majority of early educators are female – as high as 98% according to the recent national report “Transforming the Workforce.”

“Studies find that children achieve more when they have both female and male role models. Yet most teachers, especially in early childhood education, are women,” an Educare article explains.

The issue is important for Educare — a national system of high-quality, comprehensive, early education schools — because Educare is determined to use every tool it can to level the playing field for young children living in poverty.

The panel on men and early education was moderated by Steve White, senior director of school leadership for Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Centers, which is Educare Atlanta’s parent organization.

“When kids learn nurturing at a young age it makes a difference,” White says in the article. “So how impactful is it for this male teacher to show it? You can’t put a price on it.”  Continue Reading »

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Image: Taly Foundation website

 

Launched last year in Framingham, Mass., the Taly Foundation is a new philanthropic effort that’s devoted to early education. The foundation got its start when two parents faced the stark reality of how much money matters, even in pre-K.

Up until Jill Dixon and her husband Phil began looking for preschool programs for their own children, they “had been blissfully unaware of the complexities associated with early childhood education and access to a quality preschool program,” Jill Dixon told us in a recent interview.

Once they began to look, the Dixons learned what for them were “new concepts” such as lottery systems and lack of slots for children — the same scarcity that new crops of parents discover every year as they consider preschool options.

After the Dixons enrolled their son in a local, public preschool, “it dawned on us that it was so expensive that there may be a time when parents are unable to afford that for their children even though they may want to for their child.”

“So we asked the director, ‘is there ever a time when families can’t afford to put their children in preschool?’ And she said, ‘Oh yeah, honey, every year for the 28 years that I’ve been here.’  Continue Reading »

 

“ ‘How would another teacher handle this situation?’ is one of the hardest questions to answer. It’s also one of the most frequently asked. For teachers working with DLLs [dual language learners], answers to this question are especially rare. There is a national shortage of bilingual teachers, ESL support staff, and other linguistic resources. And since there are not enough teachers and not enough hours dedicated to the 4.5 millions DLLs in the country, observations of other teachers and learning from them often take a backseat.

“Recent videos produced by Teaching At The Beginning, a nonprofit organization that supports educators of young DLLs, are attempting to overcome these limits.”

“Approximately 100 children are featured in the videos. All the children, between 3–5 years old, are shown interacting with one of the three teachers or with one another. Some of the highlights from the videos include Chinese students teaching a monolingual teacher words from their native language, Spanish-speaking students reading and singing “Five Little Monkeys” while using a toy phone, and parents writing letters — in their home languages — to children who later opens them during class time.”

 

From “The Young Dual Language Learner Video Series: A Peek into High-Quality Early Childhood Education for DLLs,” New America’s EdCentral Blog, July 28, 2016

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