Early Education in the News
The preschool, which is referred to as the "L," is West Virginia's first auditory-oral preschool for the hearing impaired. With the help of Cochlear Implants, these children are taught to hear noises for the first time.
Offered through the Roseville Adult School, the weekly sensory enrichment class is based on occupational therapy research that shows children do better in school when exposed to a variety of sensory experiences. That's the theory behind a new parent education program aimed at helping boost preschool-aged children's motor skills and coordination through fun activities that stress movement, sensation and play.
The South, having dragged behind the rest of the nation in education for decades, is actually leading the country on one critically important piece of the education continuum. That piece is the offering of state-funded pre-kindergarten to 3- and 4-year-old children.
[Geoffrey] Canada's idea: Instead of offering discrete programs to ameliorate certain aspects of poverty, he would do it all. He would create a safety net so tightly knit and widely spread that not only would it prevent an entire community of kids from falling through, it would actually propel them out of poverty. In fact, the net would be a continuous series of integrated interventions beginning with pre-natal parenting classes and intensive early childhood programs up to college.
The movement toward pre-K may prove to be a wise investment because it reduces the costs of students who are poorly prepared for school. But if pre-K programs become universal in Maine, a 14th year of public education will essentially have been added to the state and local tab without a comprehensive discussion on the issue.
Pre-K programs seem to be a good cause, and there are far worse ways to spend taxpayer dollars than on than education. But lawmakers must proceed cautiously in determining whether to boost spending.
The Early Care and Education programs at Piedmont Technical College and at eight other technical colleges have received accreditation through the NAEYC, an organization dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. NAEYC has granted accreditation to only 51 associate degree programs nationwide since 2006.
Many working parents rely on state subsidized child care to meet their needs, but in 2007 the statewide waiting list for subsidized care rose from 17,000 in January to 46,000 by October. Under these conditions, working parents sometimes make the tough decision to turn to unregulated child care.
An early-childhood curriculum that aims to help youngsters control their impulses, recall and use what they've learned, and adjust when circumstances change—skills known as executive function—has been getting attention in the research world of late. But researchers aren't coming to the same conclusions about the effectiveness of the program, called Tools of the Mind, at preparing children for school.
The North Dakota Commission on Education Improvement is pondering whether to fund a preschool program. The commission also discussed whether a state preschool program should be open to all children or just to at-risk populations.
The state is among those that despite a poor economy is still investing additional dollars in preschool, according to a recent report by Pre-K Now, a Washington D.C-based advocacy organization. The Michigan Legislature has invested $5 million more in pre-k for fiscal year 2009, increasing funding for the state's Great Start Readiness Program to $103.5 million, the report said.
Starting next fall, any school district that voluntarily holds a pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds must provide transportation to and from school for those children, even if their parents choose not to have them ride. The result could be millions of dollars in additional costs to Maine schools and bus companies.
Today, Louisiana is one of only eight states with legislation to provide pre-K for all children, one of only 15 states with a quality rating system for child care centers, and is among the top states in ensuring health coverage for low income children. In other states, the economic development leaders are blazing the trail in support of their young children.
More and more Michigan preschools are infusing age-appropriate academics in their curriculums, in part because the state curriculum for preschool and kindergarten demands it, said Jan Ellis, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Education. Some experts say such experiences, especially when introduced through play, are beneficial for toddlers, who are capable of grasping the foundation subjects they'll tackle later.
A state study released in July showed a teacher shortage in bilingual education in grades prekindergarten through 12. About 40 percent of the vacancies remained open, including 21 bilingual education positions and 43 Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
How much do four-year-olds know about science? It's a question researchers at the University of Texas Center for Science and Math Education are pondering thanks to a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will help fund Building BLOCKS for Science, a program launched in September that seeks to determine what young people should know about science by the time they enter kindergarten.
The Gem State is one of only 12 states in the United States that does not provide state funding for pre-kindergarten classes, according to a 2007 study completed by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. While federal dollars are available for pre-kindergarten classes with special needs children, there's nothing in place for all youngsters under 5 years old.
Pennsylvania children perform better in elementary school if they have attended full-day kindergarten, according to a report released Wednesday by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. Schools with students attending full-day kindergarten in 2004-05 improved their third-grade reading scores on the 2007-08 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests twice as much as schools where students did not attend full-day programs, according to the report.
Advocates say investing money in children early will pay dividends later in reduced remediation costs and a better educated population. Throughout the week, 24 different cities and towns are having events to encourage a focus on early childhood education.
Academics from three universities in 2004 and again in 2007 concluded, in a research project called the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) that, in pre-school settings with a high proportion of teachers, children made better progress in intellectual development and sociability. They found this was particularly true in those from deprived backgrounds.