Early Education in the News
The education system typically separates language skills into distinct teaching units: reading, writing, listening and speaking, but in the real world inhabited by children, those things are integrated communication methods most often combining naturally, according to Harlan Hansen. Hansen, professor emeritus of early childhood education at the University of Minnesota and an expert in elementary school classroom management and discipline, spoke Friday at Carthage College, urging an audience of parents, grandparents, caregivers, school administrators and teachers of young children to keep that reality in mind when helping to get children ready for pre-school, kindergarten and first grade.
In Mississippi, where politics is the state sport and comparisons are often made with football, I was heartened to see Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and others at least beginning to study the concept of a public pre-kindergarten program in the Magnolia State. Studies show children grasp the basic building blocks of lifelong learning much earlier than previously thought, and there is a narrow window of opportunity to spark imaginations and set children on that lifelong path.
Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
Cash to help parents pay for child care provides the cornerstone for self-sufficiency, not government dependency, according to numerous studies and child care advocates. Simply put, government investments in child care assistance can keep parents working and off a host of other costly social welfare programs such as cash assistance, food stamps and housing vouchers.
Tennessee's prekindergarten program launched in 2005 and quickly earned recognition for its quality and success. But the program is a constant source of debate, in part because of studies that show the benefits are greatest for children in poverty but don't give an advantage after early elementary school.
Thanks to the Alabama Reading Initiative and our state's First Class pre-k program that helps children get ready for kindergarten and beyond, Alabama is now leading many of our neighboring states in improving our children's reading skills. According to the Early Warning study Alabama ranks 37th in overall reading proficiency for fourth grade students.
Like any building, student careers need a sound foundation, and a federal grant program called Project Beyond has strived to lay down the ABCs for some local children before moving on to kindergarten. The program focuses on phonetics, alphabet knowledge, oral language and the concept of print, Project Beyond Site Director Stella Gales said.
A new partnership between the University of Arizona College of Education and the Helios Education Foundation will change the way early childhood teachers are prepared. In the collaborative project, family and community members will be included as educators of future teachers.
But a powerful array of economists, scientists, celebrities, businessmen and diverse others are also among a growing worldwide movement for early education. Five Latin American heads of state (from Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Panama) openly endorsed their proposal to ensure that all children under 6 in Latin America have access to early childhood development programs by 2020.
In a scene that is likely to be repeated in school districts throughout California in coming weeks, teachers and staff at the Helen Turner Children’s Center in Hayward spent last week packing boxes, hugging their colleagues and students goodbye—and collecting their last paychecks. In May, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would slash spending on extended-care programs by 40 percent, forcing districts to make deep cuts and working parents—most of whom have very limited options—to scramble for new childcare arrangements.
More and more West Virginia children will have access to quality pre-kindergarten programs starting next year. Office of School Readiness Assistant Director Clayton Burch says, as of right now, 15 county school systems have pre-K programs the state Department of Education has already approved.
Led by one of Montana's most successful industrialists, a group of nonprofits has launched a drive to bring large private donations to Montana's cash-strapped early childhood educational system — where the average teacher makes less than $17,000 a year.
Supporters of early childhood education worry about the impact of cuts Gov. Pat Quinn has announced to education. Though preschool and early learning programs are supposed to receive the same $342 million they did last year, many of them haven't yet been paid for last year and had to dip into reserves to keep going.
Believed to be the first study of its kind in Los Angeles County, the LAUP study followed more than 400 of its preschoolers, assessing their skills in the fall of 2008 in 24 categories of skills and behaviors like self-care, motor skills, self-regulation, social expression and general knowledge.
Planned cuts to a program that helps special-needs children assimilate into early childhood education have been delayed because a state department failed to draft the necessary administrative rules to legally make the changes. The cuts to the state Department of Health's early intervention program, also known as the Part C program, were scheduled to take effect July 1.
Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant says he's appointing a panel of business and education experts to study a privately funded early childhood development program with hopes of establishing a statewide model. Mississippi is the only state in the South and among only a handful nationwide without a state-funded prekindergarten program, according the state Department of Education.
The precursor to reading success is exposure to a lot of language and literacy from birth to 5 years of age: at home, in child care, in preschool or Head Start. It is also the best time to intervene when a child has not been exposed to high-quality language and literacy environments.
The West Virginia Board of Education has approved 40 counties' plans for implementing universal prekindergarten programs.
Another good year for the Georgia Lottery meant more money for the state's pre-kindergarten and HOPE college scholarship programs, but it isn't enough to keep state officials from worrying about HOPE's future.
Commonly called "quality improvement systems," these programs use stars or other benchmarks to help parents identify the best and worst day cares. Holly Robinson, commissioner of the state Department of Early Care and Learning (also called Bright from the Start), said the state plans to pilot a quality improvement program this summer.