Early Education in the News
At first, the children in Sandra Davis' prekindergarten class look like they're having a good time, surrounding the teacher as she reads them a story and playfully calling out answers to her questions about the story. Real learning is going on here, however. Proof of that is in results of standardized tests administered to second-graders who were in the district's first all-day prekindergarten class in 2004-05.
Hawai'i is about to take the first step toward greater state involvement in the education of preschool children. With milestone legislation poised for passage, Hawai'i is expected to join a growing list of states that have established some form of an early childhood education system.
Colchester's organized collaboration between home day-care centers, private nursery schools and town-run preschools has some state educators looking at the school system as a model for early childhood education and intervention in a community that once would not have been considered for such assistance.
A tide of recent research on early childhood development is inspiring prominent scientists and politicians to argue for an unprecedented investment in schooling that begins virtually at birth. But as decades of academic studies on brain development start to land in the real world, experts are divided on whether to focus new funding on infants and toddlers, or conventional preschool.
The Early Childhood Education Program is one of the more important areas to develop. Mississippi is one of a dozen states that did not fund a pre-kindergarten program in the 2006-07 school year, according to a report by The National Institute for Early Childhood Research.
New Jersey allocates an average of $10,494 in state funding for each child enrolled in pre-kindergarten. That's 33.6 percent more than the second-highest-spending state, Oregon.
The founder of a nonprofit group seeking to break down barriers to early childhood education said Wednesday that the next statewide school construction bond must include funding for new preschool classrooms. Molly Munger, a First 5 California state commissioner and founder of the Advancement Project Los Angeles, said the Inland region is not accessing all the funding it could be for early-childhood programs because there is a shortage of places to house them.
Preschool is the time to learn your ABCs — and your números uno, dos y tres. Spanish and even American Sign Language are making their way into the preschool curriculum. Children are learning not just to communicate, but to do so in a multicultural society.
Without these early lessons, Pedro and Cassandra may have started kindergarten already behind their peers — the beginning of a long achievement gap. North Central Washington Readiness for Kindergarten is a grant project that offers parents three group classes and follow-up home visits with literacy specialists.
Alabama is facing a massive $375 million deficit in its education budget for Fiscal Year 2009, but Gov. Bob Riley says he's confident the looming cuts feared by colleges and the K-12 system won't affect the state's youngest students.
Early education gets a boost as experts from three other states join Hawaii to improve policies. A four day conference is underway to strategize on early childhood development and education. And the idea is to learn from others by sharing policies that have worked best. Experts from Washington, Florida, and Mississippi have joined in.
Fewer than 700 kids are enrolled in a voter-approved Denver Preschool Program that was supposed to handle 4,000. But enrollment numbers are expected to grow to 3,800 by August and possibly 6,600 in the future.
Since the advent of federal mandates such as No Child Left Behind and the prevalence of computers in classrooms, curriculums have changed nationwide as well as here in Oklahoma. Schools that once used the pre-K years primarily to socialize children are now making use of those early years to lay the foundation for not only reading, but math and science, as well.
Studies show the experiences -- both positive and negative -- that these children have before they turn 5 will affect their learning and social development, and economic contribution for life. Young children learn best when they have activities that stimulate creativity, curiosity and all the skills they need to succeed, proper health and nutrition, and a safe and stable family/home life.
While Brownsville educators can attempt to provide incentives to students at the high school and university level, experts at United Way of Southern Cameron County emphasize that early childhood development is key in forging intellectual abilities that will benefit community children for life. Unlike tutors, summer school, and special educational tools that a child may need as they get older, a young child can reap exponential benefits from the cost-free stimulation of a parent's company.
Just by playing with each other, Corrie Fitzgerald with the Topeka Lutheran School for Young children said the young minds are learning the social skills necessary to have an enjoyable educational experience. But for more than 1,300 Topeka 3-to-4-year-olds, pre-school isn't an option.
The reason, there just isn't enough room.
For many years, parents and teachers assumed that teaching a foreign tongue to young children might be too difficult. But language teachers who work with younger children say you need only hear the children of immigrants to understand how learning more than one language is not only possible, but beneficial.
A statewide task force soon will begin exploring how Missouri might move toward building a more extensive system of publicly funded pre-kindergarten education. The Missouri Panel on School Readiness: Focus on Pre-Kindergarten Education will meet three times during the summer with the aim of producing a report in November.
The Mankato Area School District has already identified a population boom among its preschool-aged children and has projected large enrollment increases in the coming years. The Waseca School District will welcome its largest kindergarten class in years next fall while the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial School District is trying to expand early childhood education services to meet population increases.
In Louisiana, more than 15,000 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-K programs from the state called LA4. It's a large number compared to the 1,000 that were enrolled six years ago. Funding has continued to grow for the program that demands a certain level of quality when it comes to curriculum and teachers.