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: Continue Reading »

Happy Holidays

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

The blog is taking a winter break. We’ll be back in January. Enjoy the holidays.

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. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children


“What we’ve done is shown the benefits across two generations of the study of these enriched early child care programs,” Nobel-prize winning economist James Heckman said in an interview with NPR. “Not only providing child care for working mothers — allowing them to get more education — but primarily to get more work experience, higher earnings gains through participating in the workforce, but also getting high-quality child care environments that turn out to be developmentally rich. It promotes social mobility within — and across — generations. That I think is an important finding of this study.”

Heckman and his colleagues have just released these findings in a paper called “The Life-Cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program.”

A two-page summary is posted here.

Continue Reading »


Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Massachusetts parents face a big-ticket item: child care.

The Boston Globe recently looked at this challenge in its series “The Cutting Edge of the Common Good.”

“About 70,000 babies will be born in Massachusetts next year. Their parents are probably already fretting about how to pay for college. But finding affordable child care over the next four years will prove far more daunting and — for far too many — more expensive,” the Globe writes.

“The Commonwealth has the most expensive child care in the country. Parents of infants pay, on average, about $17,000 a year for a spot at a day-care center — in other words, $6,000 more than in-state college tuition, according to a new report by the advocacy group Child Care Aware. For single parents, this represents 61 percent of their income.” Continue Reading »

“Turns out one of the most effective ingredients for these early child care programs is interacting with the child. What I mean by interacting is a give-and-take. The term that’s used by the child development specialist is scaffolding, like building a sculpture — in this case of a human being. Staying with the child, taking the child to the next step, challenging the child. In that sense it’s very personalized education.

“It’s very time-intensive education, but it’s education that stays with the child. It also has another effect, which is that it engages, through the enhanced stimulation of the child, the parent. Parents themselves visit the center, so that there is also stimulation of the parent-child relationship that lasts long after the program itself is formally ended at age 5.”

James Heckman, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, “How Investing in Preschool Beats the Stock Market, Hands Down,” NPR, December 12, 2016

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Here at Strategies for Children, we’re paying close attention to locally-led efforts to expand preschool and support children’s early learning. As local momentum grows for supporting young children and families, we are keeping track of best practices, success stories, and research. Our colleague David Jacobson at the P-3 Learning Hub blog shares a recent example of community action from Washington State.

Jacobson, a senior project director at the Education Development Center, has written about how strong community partnerships in Washington State echo and support the P-3 (prenatal through third grade) partnerships that can help children thrive.

In Washington, a state-wide Family Policy Council was created “to address a spike in youth violence. The Council in turn funded local community networks to develop integrated approaches to violence prevention,” Jacobson writes.

“Over time the Family Policy Council began sharing research with the community networks regarding the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on young children. ACEs refer to 10 types of abuse, neglect, and family exposure to toxic stress.” Continue Reading »

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