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NIEER's weekly newsletter for the latest in early education news

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 22

June 1, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Windy City, Therapeutic Clowning and ECS

Hot Topics

Winds of Change

This week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced long-term plans to offer free, full-day preschool to all 4-year-olds in the city, starting this fall with 3,700 children in low-income households.

The initial cost will be about $20 million to be covered by existing Chicago Public Schools funds. Access to full-day pre-K will expand annually so that by the fall of 2021, pre-kindergarten will be universal for all 4-year-olds in Chicago. By then, costs are expected to be about $175 million annually, including capital improvements and program changes, and would depend on additional state funding.

Mayor Emanuel (who is running for reelection in 2019) called the expense an investment that “will help level the playing field, further close the achievement gap and build stronger communities across Chicago for generations to come.”

The proposal won praise from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who successfully campaigned on a promise to provide universal preschool. NYC launched Pre-K for All in 2014 providing free, full-day high-quality preschool to all city 4-year-olds and last year expanded with 3-K for All.

City officials recently announced offers to more than 66,750 children to attend its free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K for All program this fall, including nearly half of students living in temporary housing. Officials also plan to expand the new 3-K for All programs to more communities, hoping to serve about 5,000 3-year-olds across six school districts this fall—up from 1,500 children this year.

A new national report assessing how the largest U.S. cities address health and well-being including quality preschool awarded medals based on policy analysis by NIEER faculty. Gold medals for high-quality preschool programs went to Boston, Charlotte, Nashville, New York City and San Antonio; Chicago earned silver.

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter @PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

CEELO Update

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently published its May newsletter featuring an essay by Deborah Adams, Workforce Specialist, Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, on early childhood workforce issues, a Q & A with Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright sharing advice for getting policymakers to support pre-K and news about the Legacy 2030 project.


Weekday-Weekend Variations in Mother-/Father-Child Physical Activity and Screen Time Relationship

In a new article published by the European Journal of Sport Science, researchers examined weekday-weekend variations in mother-/father-child physical activity and screen time with a random sample of Czech families with preschool- and school-aged children. Researchers utilized a nationally representative sample comprised of 185 families with preschool children and 649 families with school-aged children.

Researchers found that high levels of parents’ physical activity were related to the achievement of the recommended daily physical activity of children on weekdays and weekends. Excessive weekend screen time of parents reduced the likelihood of their children achieving the recommended daily physical activity. Researchers suggest, however, that in this study the relationship between parents’ physical activity and their children’s achieving the recommended daily physical activity is stronger than the inhibitory relationship of screen time.

Cardiac Vagal Regulation in Infancy Predicts Executive Function and Social Competence in Preschool: Indirect Effects Through Language

Previous research has suggested that parasympathetic nervous system functioning in infancy may be related to the development of cognitive and socioemotional skills. This new article in Developmental Psychobiology  explores the potential indirect effects of cardiac vagal regulation in infancy on children’s executive functioning and social competence in preschool through the path of expressive and receptive language in toddlerhood.

Children’s vocabulary sizes were positively related to their executive function and social competence in preschool. Further, indirect effects from vagal regulation on 4‐year outcomes were significant. Researchers suggest that early advances in language may represent a mechanism through which biological functioning in infancy impacts social and cognitive functioning in childhood.

Interventions for Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption in Children Aged Five Years and Under

In a new release in the Cochran Database of Systematic Reviews, reviewers set out to assessed the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and associated adverse events of interventions designed to increase the consumption of fruit, vegetables or both among children aged five years and younger. Authors conclude that there is very low-quality evidence that child-feeding practices may have a small positive effect on child vegetable consumption.  Further, they suggest insufficient data were available to assess long-term effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and unintended adverse consequences of interventions.

Future research will likely change authors’ estimates and conclusions. Therefore, the authors suggest this review will be a living systematic review, which represents a new approach to review updating, in which the review is continually updated, incorporating relevant new evidence as it becomes available.

The Effect of Therapeutic Clowning on Handwashing Technique and Microbial Colonization In Preschool Children

A new paper released in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship examines the effect of therapeutic clowning on handwashing technique and microbial colonization. The study is a randomized control trial that included 195 children attending Kindergarten in Turkey.

Researchers report that the hygienic handwashing technique taught to the intervention group reduced the bacterial colonization on the children’s hands by 50% and was effective in reducing the growth rate of coliform bacteria that indicate undesirable, poor hygiene of the hands. Researchers recommend that pediatric healthcare professionals consider using entertaining methods to teach and guide children regarding hygienic handwashing techniques.

Boosting School Readiness: Should Preschool Teachers Target Skills or the Whole Child?

In a new Economics of Education Review article, researchers estimated impacts on achievement test scores at the end of the preschool year of different kinds of preschool curricula by aggregating data from a multi-site experimental study of preschool curricula. Researchers report that they found that widely-used “whole-child” curricula produced higher classroom process quality than did locally-developed curricula, but did not improve test scores.

A curriculum focused on building mathematics skills increased both classroom math activities and children’s math achievement compared to the whole-child curricula, without improving scores on a measured process quality. Likewise, they found that curricula focused on literacy skills increased literacy achievement compared to whole-child curricula, though researchers found no impact on process quality measures.  The study did not address whether test score advantages persist beyond the end of preschool or measure impacts on such other outcomes as social and emotional development, creativity, and motivation.


Fulbright Specialist Early Childhood Education Centers Project

The Fulbright Specialist Program (FSP) is seeking a highly qualified professional to serve as a Specialist for the five-week project “Supporting and Improving Early Childhood Centers” to take place in Montevideo, Uruguay in Summer/Fall 2018.

FSP is part of the larger Fulbright Program and was established in 2001 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Applicants must be U.S. citizens and the deadline to apply is June 8, 2018. Further details and application instructions are included in the attached announcement. Send CV/resume and personal statement here. For more information, visit program website.


ECS National Forum on Education Policy 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 – Friday, June 29, 2018
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
Washington D.C.

Education Commission of the States’ conference speakers include John B. King, former US Secy of Education now CEO of The Education Trust and Michelle Weis, senior vice president of workforce strategies at Strada Education, as well as Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Secretary Jeana Ross and Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright discussing alignment of early education pre-K to third grade. Register here

Early Education News Roundup

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.

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