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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

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Screenshot for the video “Our New Normal: Reading and Discussion”

A newly released book helps young children cope with any anxiety they may feel as the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The book — “Our New Normal: A Children’s Social Story for Post-Pandemic Lives” – is a social story that was written by Emilee Johnson, the educational coordinator at the Boston Children’s Hospital Child Care Center.

The book’s pictures are drawn by preschool children for preschool children. In a video, Johnson reads the book out loud, and Children’s Hospital staff discuss the mental health challenges children are coping with.

For example: “As the world begins to move back into a pre-pandemic state,” the book’s Amazon.com page explains, “children are beginning to show anxiety about the things us adults consider normal! Children are worried about being in large groups, taking off their masks, or seeing family or friends that they have not been around in-person over the past year!”

(more…)

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Kristina DiMaria

“My mother was the secretary of the K-to-4 principal at the Malden public schools, so I was always around education,” Kristina DiMaria says of her childhood. “It was amazing. My mother knew the children, their families, their grandparents on a first name basis. And she wouldn’t leave for the day until the last child left.” 

“But what really made me an early educator was when I was at Pope John for high school. I had to do community service my senior year, so I volunteered in the kindergarten classroom.” 

DiMaria fell in love with the volunteer job, but at age 18, she didn’t think she could make a career out of working with children. 

So DiMaria went to Bay State College and earned a two-year degree in fashion merchandising. But she also kept her connection to her mother’s school, volunteering and working in summer programs. And she continued her own education, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she majored in English, minored in psychology, and took several early education classes.

Earning this degree was bittersweet, a personal achievement and something DiMaria did to honor her father who had passed away, but always emphasized the importance of going to college. 

Eventually, DiMaria took a job as a kindergarten teacher at a private school, Independence Route. The curriculum included STEM activities and “purposeful play.” 

“It became my passion, and I learned so much about teaching.”  (more…)

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As they steer Massachusetts through the pandemic, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito have released a new report on the future of work. It’s an economic blueprint for rebuilding the economy that includes new plans for child care.

Before the pandemic, Massachusetts had a thriving economy with a conventional “look” that included commuters traveling by car or public transportation to offices in busy commercial areas.

But now — in the wake of layoffs, less business travel, and more Zoom meetings – Massachusetts could see less demand for office spaces, shifts in employment, and the worsening of pre-existing social inequities.

To address these challenges, the report explores “what work could look like… in both the near term (to 2025) and the longer term (to 2030),” across the state’s “regions, economic sectors, commercial centers, local downtowns, transportation, and public spaces.”

Among the top eight insights in the report: (more…)

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

 
Massachusetts child care providers – get ready to apply for a federal COVID-19 relief fund grant!

The funds are coming soon, and they will help providers emerge from the pandemic and rebuild.

Based on feedback from the field, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is committed to creating an “accessible application process.”
 

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Strategies for Children

 
There are a number of ways that you can learn more about these grants before the application is released. (more…)

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“Child care is a workforce issue, and prioritizing investment in the following ways will help to overcome this barrier:

• Investments in the child care workforce. In the short term, states can offer incentives such as signing bonuses for child care workers to return to work, and retention bonuses for established early childhood educators. In the long term, continued education grants and apprenticeship programs to support early childhood educators can meet the incredible demand for quality child care.

• Supporting working parents. States can and should invest in their data infrastructure. By creating databases that monitor the type and supply of child care available to communities, families and child care providers both benefit.

• Investing in the business side of child care. Stabilizing and growing the child care industry is a must. Grant and loan programs to stabilize existing child care programs and launch new, quality options will prevent child care deserts from growing, promote innovation from providers, and increase options for families.

“Many states are already leading by example.

“Arizona channeled $300 million in federal resources into return-to-work incentive programs that include $2,000 bonuses for those who return to the workforce, three months of child care assistance for people with children who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits, and housing assistance.”
 

“States taking the boldest actions on child care should be national models,” by Cheryl Oldham, Opinion Contributor, The Hill, July 15, 2021

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Photo: Eren Li from Pexels

 

In a new article, David Jacobson praises federal investments in early education and care. But, he writes, one “critically important” issue that receives less attention is partnerships.

Specifically, he asks, “how can elementary schools, early childhood programs, and health and social service agencies work together to improve quality and coordination across entire neighborhoods and communities and thus create the most positive overall environments possible for children and families?”

The article — “A game-changing opportunity: Rethinking how communities serve children and families” – appears on the website of Yale Medical School’s Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER).

Jacobson has been a longtime advocate of partnerships. He is the Principal Technical Advisor, Education Development Center, Inc., (EDC). And he also leads “EDC’s First 10 initiative, which supports school-early childhood-community partnerships to improve outcomes for children ages birth through 10 and their families.”

As he writes in the article: (more…)

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“School districts across the United States are hiring additional teachers in anticipation of what will be one of the largest kindergarten classes ever as enrollment rebounds following the coronavirus pandemic.

“As they await the arrival next fall of students who sat out the current school year, educators are also bracing for many students to be less prepared than usual due to lower preschool attendance rates.

“ ‘The job of the kindergarten teacher just got a lot harder,’ said Steven Barnett, senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. He coauthored a report that found that the number of 4-year-olds participating in preschool fell from 71 percent before the pandemic to 54% during the pandemic, with poor children much less likely to attend in-person.”

“Schools across U.S. brace for post-pandemic surge of kindergartners in fall,” the Associated Press, June 13, 2021

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Melissa Charles

Melissa Charles

I am a student at Bunker Hill Community College pursuing my associate degree. However, this fall I will transfer to Smith College and study economics.

I was born in Geneva Switzerland and left the country at age three. By the time I started kindergarten in the United States, French and Haitian Creole were my first languages. As a child. I was not celebrated for my multilingual abilities. In fact, compared to my peers, I was seen as having a deficit. Fortunately, I learned English quickly, and within a few months, I had completely adapted.

During my internship at Strategies for Children (SFC), I have been carrying my early childhood experience with me. I am interested in early education and care that includes a focus on emerging multi-language learners and on families who rely heavily on assistance programs and would benefit from supportive, grassroots policies.

In my policy and advocacy work, I hope to grow SFC’s social media presence through outreach and campaigns, drawing on my experience as a marketing intern for my hometown of Stoneham, Mass. Through my work with the SFC team, I hope to advance budget and policy ideas that may have not been prioritized in the past. (more…)

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Hilary Peak

Hilary Peak

Hilary Peak graduated from Wilson College with a degree in environmental studies. But her original major was equestrian studies.

Peak loved horses.

Horses, however, didn’t seem like enough to build a career on, and after Peak graduated, jobs related to her environmental studies major were hard to come by, so, following a stint as a Five Guys manager, Peak decided to work with children.

Which led her back to horses.

Peak volunteered at therapeutic riding centers, including Shepard Meadows Equestrian Center in Bristol, Conn., where volunteers work with children and adults who have special needs, including autism, depression, and multiple sclerosis.

From there, Peak took a job with a private company as a play therapist. She traveled to different sites to work with children. And what she saw in this job were teachers who didn’t have enough knowledge about children with special needs. It was a gap that Peak believed she could fill. (more…)

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“California will expand the state’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program to all four-year-olds if a current placeholder budget is enacted on July 1st. If approved, the state would phase in the program incrementally over three years starting in the 2022-23 school year.

“TK was started in 2010 as a new grade level in California’s public schools for four-year-olds with fall birthdays. California had one of the youngest kindergarten entry dates in the nation at the time, which meant children started kindergarten as young as age four. The new grade level was meant to rectify that problem, but it also created new inequities because it was only available to a small number of children.

“Now it looks like that’s about to change.”

“California Moves Toward Universal Pre-K,” by Sarah Jackson, New America blog post, June 21, 2021

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