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Archive for the ‘Developmentally appropriate practice’ Category

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Early educators can be on the front lines of promoting social equity.

To show how, the Foundation for Child Development has gathered resources on equity and justice from a number of national organizations.

“Creating a coherent and equitable system that works for young children, their families, and the educators who serve them requires the ECE field to be explicit about the realities of poverty, racism, discrimination, and prejudice,” the foundation says.

The foundation hopes to “foster a shared understanding” of how to move forward.

Among the resources is a report from Arizona State University’s Center for Child and Family Success, which notes:

“The United States is at a crossroads. We can spend the next several years trying to get back to the broken, ineffective status quo in our learning systems, where children were falling—or being pushed—through the cracks at astonishing rates. Or, we can choose to address the core, structural inequities that have held generations of children, especially Black, Latinx, and Native American children, back. For the sake of our country, we hope policymakers respond to the multiple crises facing our nation, with the latter. The policy agenda presented here can help us get there.” (more…)

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A new policy roadmap charts a course for how states can help children thrive in their first three years of life.

The Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap 2020 was just released by the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

The roadmap is “a guide state leaders can use to develop and implement the most effective policies to strengthen their state’s prenatal-to-3 (PN-3) system of care,” the roadmap’s executive summary explains.

“The science of the developing child is clear: Infants and toddlers need loving, stimulating, stable, and secure care environments with limited exposure to adversity. However, to date states have lacked clear guidance on how to effectively promote the environments in which children thrive.”

The roadmap calls on states to:

• prioritize science-based policy goals to promote infants’ and toddlers’ optimal health and development

• adopt and implement effective policies and strategies to improve prenatal-to-3 goals and outcomes

• monitor the progress being made toward adoption & implementation of effective solutions, and

track outcomes to measure impact on optimal health and development of infants and toddlers

The roadmap says states should have 11 effective policies and strategies in place.

The policies are: (more…)

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This Thursday, the Massachusetts Head Start Association (MHSA) will launch its virtual fall conference, “Adapting to Change: Head Start in 2020 and Beyond.”

“2020 is a time for change and adaptation for early educators,” Michelle Haimowitz, MHSA’s executive director, says. “Our conference offers short professional development opportunities throughout October to help address our changing environment.”

The conference features eight virtual workshops that will take place from October 1, 2020, to Tuesday, October 20, 2020, and touch on the challenging issues of the day.

Kristin Tenney-Blackwell, a psychologist will kick things off with a workshop called, “Wellness: Taking Care of Yourself.” This workshop will “focus on understanding the importance of health and wellness of adults in a child’s life. Educators and program leaders will explore strategies and approaches to enhancing adult resilience,” the conference website explains.

Another workshop, “Supporting Children to Embrace Race: How we can & why we must,” led by Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas, two parents who co-founded the organization Embrace Race, will feature a “presentation and Q & A that considers some of the evidence for racial bias and steps we can take to push back against it – in our children and ourselves.” (more…)

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“The message is essentially to read the right books at the right time. So when you are reading to infants when they are younger, and you name characters in a book with a proper level name like Betty, they tend to pay more attention to those characters, and they learn more about those characters. It seems they are a little bit more engaged when the characters have names.”

— Lisa Scott, psychology professor at the University of Florida, “Read The Right Books At The Right Time: A Learning Sciences Exchange Fellows’ Project,” New America, August 26, 2020

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

One of the most powerful ways to help children succeed is through evidence-based family engagement efforts.

The challenge is how to do this work well, which is why a newly released state resource — “Strengthening Partnerships: A Framework for Prenatal through Young Adulthood Family Engagement in Massachusetts – is so important.

As this framework explains:

“Family engagement is crucial for healthy growth of children and youth in all domains of health and development.”

To help children achieve this healthy growth, the framework points to five guidelines:

• “Each family is unique, and all families represent diverse structures.”

• “Acknowledging and accepting the need to engage all families is essential for successful engagement of diverse families and includes recognizing the strengths that come from their diverse backgrounds.”

• “Building a respectful, trusting, and reciprocal relationship is a shared responsibility of families, practitioners, organizations, and systems.”

• “Families are their child’s first and best advocate,” and

• “Family engagement must be equitable.” (more…)

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“At the family child care center she runs out of her Dorchester home, Dottie Williams has started asking parents to send teddy bears along with their kids.

“Ms. Dottie’s NeighborSchool serves children between five months and four years old, an age range for which Williams said touch is an important way of bonding. To translate the ritual of a hug to the COVID-19 era, she now asks the kids to hug their own teddy bear while she hugs hers.

“ ‘Children are very, very creative, and when you’re creative with them, they can adjust,’ Williams told lawmakers Tuesday.

“As advocates and child care providers continue to call for an infusion of public funds to help the industry cope with added costs and lost revenue associated with providing care during a pandemic, stuffed animal-facilitated hugs are among several short-term adjustments speakers highlighted during the Education Committee’s virtual oversight hearing.”

 

“COVID-19 forcing innovation at child care centers: Ripple effects linger as key industry is strained,” by Katie Lannan, State House News Service story in The Salem News, Jul 7, 2020

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“The critical role that childcare plays in society has never been more apparent. But as decisions get made about reopening guidelines and adult-child ratios, are we forgetting the rights of children and of those who care for them? (more…)

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Karen Fabian teaching a yoga class for children. Photo courtesy of Karen Fabian

 

“I began to practice yoga for the first time ever in 1999. And after taking my first teacher training in 2002, I knew I wanted to teach full time,” Karen Fabian says. So she shifted out of her corporate career in health care administration, and started teaching in 2003.

“Over time, I started my own brand, Bare Bones Yoga. And I’ve been doing that ever since.”

These days, Fabian’s work includes teaching yoga to preschoolers, which she’s been doing for 13 years. She ran a program at the South Boston Neighborhood House for two years. And she currently teaches at two programs in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood that are part of Partners Healthcare system.

It’s easy to stereotype yoga as a silent practice done in a quiet room. But that’s not the way Fabian teaches it.

She engages children on multiple levels, mixing yoga poses with language and literacy. It’s familiar territory for Fabian: her mother was a preschool teacher for 35 years.

“Toddlers and four-year-olds, they really like Tree pose,” Fabian says of her youngest yoga students. “Kids, as young as two-and-a-half will do downward dog; it’s a universal pose that kids of all ages will do, even little ones.” (more…)

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Parents and caregivers can’t always know what to expect from their children. But thanks to a terrific video called “1, 2, 3 Grow,” they can learn more early childhood’s milestones.

The video features doctors and parents discussing milestones in four areas: movement, social relationships, communication, and thinking.

The goal is to give parents and caregivers a sense of what to expect – and what to ask pediatricians about – as their children grow.

The videos were produced by University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and by members of the Massachusetts Act Early state team. (more…)

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New research on racial segregation in early education has revealed a troubling trend.

“Nationwide, early childhood education is more segregated than kindergarten and first grade, even while enrolling a similar number of students,” according to the an Urban Institute report, “Segregated from the Start Comparing Segregation in Early Childhood and K–12 Education.”

“Early childhood programs are twice as likely to be nearly 100 percent black or Hispanic, and they are less likely to be somewhat integrated (with a 10 to 20 percent black or Hispanic enrollment share).”

Among the reasons this segregation is harmful:

“Research shows that the early years are the best time for children to learn tolerance and respect for kids from other races, cultures and backgrounds,” the Hechinger Report explains.

Halley Potter, a senior researcher at The Century Foundation, tells Education Dive, “Studies show that children learn more, in academic and social measures, when they have the chance to interact with peers who have different backgrounds and experiences. And these peer effects may be especially strong for young children in early education settings, for whom much of the day is spent in play and exploration alongside their peers.” (more…)

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“It is too often that young children, families, and early childhood educators are being forced to grapple with the consequences of historic and systemic oppression. As issues of equity and social justice continue to remain at the forefront of American political and cultural discourse, high-quality early childhood education has emerged as a viable agent of change. The impact of racial disparities in educational opportunity, family separations as a reaction to immigration, and the disproportionate prevalence of poverty are a wake up call. Communities and systems must recognize the need to deeply consider identity development of young children, the norming of discussing and celebrating human difference, and the importance of working against bias and injustice in all of its forms throughout society.”

“Centering Equity: Local Progress and Innovation,” by Lindsey Allard Agnamba, New America, October 7, 2019, part of a new blog series on equity in early childhood education

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“Children with immigrant parents and those exposed to a language other than English in the home (known as Dual Language Learners, or DLLs) are important target populations for such early childhood programs. As of 2013–17, one-fourth of U.S. children ages 5 and under were children of immigrants, and nearly one-third were DLLs. Young children of immigrants are also more likely than their peers to live in low-income households—a priority service population for many home visiting initiatives.

“Yet studies show that DLLs and children in immigrant families are underserved by home visiting services.”

“Leveraging the Potential of Home Visiting Programs to Serve Immigrant and Dual Language Learner Families,” by Maki Park and Caitlin Katsiaficas, the Migration Policy Institute, August 2019

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