Early Education in the News
Research shows that high-quality pre-kindergarten yields academic benefits for children and economic savings for communities. We know that children who have quality early-learning experiences are less likely to need special education placements, grade retention or remedial services.
After videotaping and carefully analyzing the children's reactions, researchers found that kids watched the TV only in snippets but that it modestly shortened their playtime. TV decreased play's intensity and cut by half the amount of time children focused on a given toy.
Well, the new science of brain development is forging a path that is both illuminating and frightening. It's pushing the frontiers of early childhood practice (that's where parents and child care providers come in) and policy (that's where legislators and business leaders come in). In ways never before understood, we now know that an infant's early circuits of the brain cannot be rewired later in life; optimal flexibility and plasticity of the brain occurs very early, during the first three years of life.
Even among low-income families, mothers with greater social and economic resources were more supportive in parenting their children than those with fewer resources, which in turn influenced the children's cognitive performance. That's the main finding of a new study that considers how economic factors and parenting quality jointly influence children's development.
Research shows that the earlier a child is exposed to violence, the greater the impact that violence will have on their development. A review of such research compiled in the province over the last 12 years is the basis of a new Justice Canada and Saskatchewan Justice jointly funded study led by Dr. Leslie Tutty. One of the recommendations the study makes is the need for more intervention for preschool-aged children.
Finding a preschool that fits parents' needs, budgets, and schedules can be challenging, and parents need to know what to look for to ensure their child is receiving top-quality instruction and care. The National Institute Early for Education Research has compiled a List of Top 10 Pre-K Questions designed to assist parents as they search for the best setting for their children.
One study even put a dollar figure to the savings: for every dollar invested in the preschool program, more than $8 in benefits were returned to society as a whole. Oregon would be crazy to turn down such a payoff.
Interesting, and it raises this fundamental question: Do boys show up for kindergarten less prepared for school work than girls? For the answer, I went to one of the nation's top experts, Steven Barnett, executive director of the National Institute for Early Education at Rutgers University.
Hawaii is on its way now to having a comprehensive early childhood learning program, despite Gov. Linda Lingle's attempt Tuesday to kill the bill -- lawmakers over-rode her veto. The new law creates a State Early Learning Council which, over 10 years, aims to create the states first comprehensive early-education system.
Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed Senate Bill 222 on July 8, establishing the Delaware Stars for Early Success program, a voluntary quality rating and improvement plan to assist families in selecting early childhood services for their children and to improve the quality of early childhood programs in the state. Under Senate Bill 222, sponsored by Senator Patricia Blevins, the Delaware Stars for Early Success is a five-level system that builds on licensing rules, setting increasingly higher standards at each star level in the following areas:
• Qualifications and Professional Development;
• Learning Environment and Curriculum;
• Family and Community Partnerships; and
• Management and Administration.
The huge difference in readiness skills is evident in schools across Northeast Ohio. In many cases, the results mirror what decades of research show: The chance of a child being well-prepared for kindergarten rises right along with the parents' income and education level and the use of high-quality preschool programs.
Pumping $30 million into the program would have more than tripled the number of children enrolled in state-funded programs this school year, but it didn't happen. The state Legislature instead doubled pre-school funding with a $20 million appropriation during its last session.
The overall expansion was aimed at boosting Head Start coverage to 75 percent of all eligible children, short of the 80 percent mark that is considered full funding. As it is, because of an increased number of eligible children, the budgeted expansion will reach about 70 percent.
The recently released recommendations of Gov. Deval Patrick and his Job Readiness Task Force provide a reform-oriented vision for education in the 21st century that will help meet this need [for a skilled workforce]. With a strong emphasis on early education, the plan strategically focuses resources where they will generate the greatest return on investment for taxpayers, providing the double benefit of training tomorrow's leaders while helping meet the needs of today's parents.
In the past few months, both the Governor's Committee on Education Excellence and the Superintendent of Public Instruction's P-16 Council have offered comprehensive blueprints for education reform. Both recommend phasing in universal preschool, starting with children from low-income families and those entering low-performing elementary schools. Over the next three to five years, business leaders should work with educators and policy-makers to realize this vision and ensure, at the very least, that the children who need it most have access to a high-quality preschool.
Learning a new language can be a daunting task for anyone. Combine that task with learning a new social system and arriving on time for the first day of school, and it seems like more than a five-year-old should endure.
Because money is always tight, budget writers need to listen to the research about how to wrench the most impact from our tax dollars. A recent study by the Bush School for Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University found that the state stands to save at least $3.50 for every dollar it spends on high quality pre-kindergarten.
Moss Point could become the second city in Jackson County to start up the same kind of early childhood learning program that launched in Pascagoula last year. The program, an initiative of Mississippi State University's Early Childhood Institute, offers support to parents of children up to 5 years old with the goal of improving the overall well-being of children up to 5 years old and preparing them for kindergarten.
The Office of Early Childhood Development is responsible for services that include the Virginia Preschool Initiative, Head Start, child care subsidies and other initiatives for children 5 and younger.
But beginning in September, New Jersey's preschool program will expand: Eighty-seven more school districts will be required to offer universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. All children in the state who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches will also be offered free full-day preschool; that income limit is about $37,000 for a family of four.