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Archive for the ‘Early Childhood Education’ Category

I often reference Zero to Three in my posts on early childhood education.  They are a wonderful resource for parents and professionals interested the health and development of infants and toddlers. zero to threeZero to Three is also one of the main sponsors behind an early learning movement called Rally4Babies, which kicked off last July with a virtual rally that can still be viewed on their website.

In January, CAP was proud to recognize Kari Alley-Melchior, a lead teacher at Sand Springs Early Childhood Center, for co-authoring an article for Zero to Three’s bi-monthly journal. The article, titled “Common Themes Impacting Quality of Early Care and Education Environments for Toddlers,” explored six themes aimed enhancing the quality of education in toddler classrooms:

(1) Developing language throughout the day;

(2) Implementing alternatives to whole-group time;

(3) Following through with behavior guidance;

(4) Scaffolding all areas of development;

(5) Using encouragement in multiple and appropriate ways; and

(6) Integrating various types of data.

The journal itself requires a subscription, but their digital only option provides substantial savings over the print edition. Zero to Three is currently offering a free look at the digital version of (more…)

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I’m sure many readers remember my CAP co-worker, Elizabeth, the former writer for this blog. A few weeks ago, Elizabeth forwarded me a link to “Five Numbers to Remember About Early Child Development.” It is a quick multimedia guide put together by Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child in order to drive home the importance of early learning.

All of the information on Harvard’s site is worth discussing. However, it was the second fact on their list that really stuck with me, because it highlights how disparities in children’s vocabulary begin to appear at 18 months of age. After I visited the Harvard site, I seemed to keep running across new studies and initiatives based on this language gap.

Harvard Center Developing Child 18 months vocab

Researchers have long known about this gap in a child’s language skills and its connection to a family’s socio-economic status. In 1995, Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley published a well-known study showing children in low-income families heard 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their peers in higher income families with more education.

Their study is detailed in the book Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children. The authors conclude that the amount of talk going on between infants and their caregivers plays a crucial part (more…)

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Health and education are more related than some may think. Researchers have long noted the connection between a person’s level of education and health outcomes. Generally, more education leads to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to the National Poverty Center.SmartHealthyKids_cover_300dpi

However, the link between education and health outcomes is complicated, with a host of factors causing mortality rates to differ depending on the highest grade or degree a person completes. Still, there are proactive steps we can take to address both issues. Through public policy, we can link education and health in a way that clearly benefits both causes.

The idea that has policymakers and advocacy groups buzzing is the possibility of connecting early childhood education to strategies that reduce tobacco use. These two goals were brought together in the President’s 2014 Budget proposal, which seeks to expand access to high quality preschool programs and fund the initiative with an additional tax on tobacco products.

Nine organizations focusing on early learning or public health have come together to release a report supporting the proposal, Raising Smart, Healthy Kids in Every State. Organizations behind this effort include the American Heart Association, Save the Children (more…)

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Not long ago, I was talking about early learning with a cousin who teaches Pre-K here in Oklahoma. Our state’s publically funded Pre-K program, although universally available to children, is not mandatory. However, my cousin Jane said we still need to stress to parents that regular attendance for enrolled students is important, even if the program itself is voluntary. This is a familiar theme in my world; because attendance is something we are mindful of here at CAP Tulsa as well.

preschool attendance in chicago public schoolsAnd we’re not alone in our concern, either. Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that preschool students do, in fact, miss a lot of school. Their recent report, Preschool Attendance in Chicago Public Schools, states almost half of three-year-olds and more than one-third of four-year-olds are chronically absent from school. To put Chicago’s rate of preschool absenteeism into perspective, only 11% of kindergartners across the country are chronically absent.

But what does chronically absent mean? And why is regular attendance important at such an early age?

“Chronic absenteeism,” for the purposes of the Chicago report, was defined as having an absence rate of 10% or higher. The “absence rate” is determined by taking the number of days a student missed school and dividing it by the total number of days he or she was enrolled. As they put it – if a typical student was enrolled for 150 days, he or she would be chronically absent if 15 or more days were missed over the course of the school year.

Researchers determined, among other things, that chronic absenteeism is higher among students who live in high-poverty areas. This is troubling because (more…)

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In case you missed it last month, on July 8th Rally4Babies hosted a virtual rally on Google+. Rally4Babies is a partnership sponsored by Zero to Three (The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families). The event, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, featured guests Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education, and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department Health and Human Services.

O’Brien and her guests talked about the success of Head Start, Early Head Start, Home Visiting Programs and other programs offering early childhood education.  Secretary Sebelius described how babies are learning every day, and emphasized that a safe, secure and stimulating environment both inside and outside the home can “make a world of difference” in language development and other fundamental skills.  Along those same lines, Secretary Duncan is concerned because low-income children who do not have the advantage of quality early learning experiences can start Kindergarten a year, to a year and a half, behind their peers.

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Backed up by research from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, we know babies begin developing the skills necessary for lifelong learning shortly after birth. The Center’s InBrief report, Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning, tells us the optimal window for dramatic growth occurring between ages 3 to 5. (more…)

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It bothers me to read recent reports implying the budget sequestration has not been all that bad. While some dire consequences, such as furloughing federal prison guards, air traffic controllers and border patrol agents, have been avoided, one thing is now perfectly clear: poor and at-risk Americans are bearing the brunt of the funding cuts and there is no relief in sight. I want to link readers to a few resources that drive that point home.

Congress moved quickly to end furloughs causing delays at our nation’s airports, but there are still lines of people waiting for housing assistance, job training, or a slot for their child in a Head Start program. All of these programs offer critical services, and all suffered funding cuts due to sequestration.

SequesterMar2013

Greg Kaufman, poverty correspondent for The Nation, and Moyers & Company,  has kept a close eye on how low-income families are faring under budget cuts. Through a series called Sequester Watch, Moyers & Company has tracked the effects federal cuts are having on housing assistance, food programs for seniors, Head Start and job training programs.

I’ll list the articles and some of the interesting issues from the series here:

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Since the State of the Union in February, there has been a spotlight on Early Childhood Education. Here at CAP Tulsa, this is a subject dear to our hearts.  We understand how development during a child’s early years forms a foundation for later academic achievement.

We take an intergenerational approach to fighting poverty, meaning we serve both parents and their children. However, CAP is especially committed to providing quality Early Childhood Programs.  We do this because scientific research shows that healthy brain development requires that infants and toddlers have “stable, caring and interactive relationships with adults,” including both parents and other caregivers. (See InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development.)  Quality center based programs for infants and toddlers is one proven method to provide the environment necessary for early learning.

Source: Sesame Workshop 
Source: Sesame Workshop

Academic achievement among children who participated in quality early childcare programs is greater with regards to reading and math, and their cognitive test scores are also higher, according to findings from the Carolina Abecedarian Project.

Furthermore, studies of children who received quality early education found that as adults these individuals had higher incomes, greater job retention, and higher educational attainment compared to individuals who did not attend preschool. Not surprisingly, this evidence is why the importance of early childhood education resonates with people across occupations and garners support among scientists, educators, business leaders and policymakers.

As the studies cited above help to show, quality preschool programs provide children with (more…)

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