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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 35

August 31, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Power of Play, Talking Math, Latino Outreach

Hot Topics

Play It Again

A recent American Academy of Pediatrics report highlighted the important role of play in a child’s life, even encouraging doctors to regularly write a “prescription for play” for children up to age 2.

The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children follows up the 2007 AAP Clinical Reports on the importance of play, noting new research demonstrating developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers promotes social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that help build executive function in young children.

The report states, “pediatricians can play an important role in emphasizing the role of a balanced curriculum that includes the importance of playful learning for the promotion of healthy child development.”

Research has identified a link between physical activity and children’s cognitive performance, social-emotional skills such as self-regulation. In addition, lack of physical activity for young children is a concern due to high rates of childhood obesity.

NIEER soon will begin the second year of a multi-year study engaging more than 1,000 children across New Jersey to see how preschool policies and practices at school district, school, and classroom levels influence child development and health.

NIEER has been collecting health-related data, measuring children’s height and weight, collecting saliva from children and teachers to monitor cortisol levels as a gauge of stress levels and distributing activity trackers to measure children’s activity and sleep patterns. Learn more about this research.

NIEER, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, hopes to use test results to identify which pre-K program characteristics are least stressful for children and teachers.

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

NIEER Activities

Jim Squires, Senior Fellow at NIEER/CEELO, recently delivered a three-day professional learning and capacity building event on Social and Emotional Learning at the Guam Department of Education for more than 50 B-Third Grade educators, early interventionists, school counselors, administrators, and leaders. See presentations here.

GDOE and their state board of education are prioritizing SEL in their strategic efforts to support all students and families. In 2017, Guam was recognized by NIEER in its State of Preschool Yearbook for being the first U.S. territory to offer state funded pre-K.

CEELO Update

CEELO is partnering with New America on a new blog series focused on how states are implementing early childhood policies and programs in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans. (See CEELO’s ESSA implementation presentation from QRIS National Meeting)

The series, kicking off in September, will assess progress one year into ESSA in five areas: school quality indicators, school improvement, data and transparency, educator support, and family engagement and transitions. See previous blog series on preparing for ESSA.

State, national and local education leaders are invited to share blogs discussing ESSA implementation, emerging obstacles and solutions, and early success. To participate, please contact Lori Connors-Tadros at CEELO or Laura Bornfreund at New America​.


A Critical Calculation: Supporting the Inclusion of Math in Early Childhood Degree Programs

A new brief from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley highlights findings related to preparing early educators to support mathematical development in young children, drawing on studies of early childhood higher education degree programs conducted across eight states between 2012 and 2017. The studies explored how institutions of higher education and their degree programs were situated to educate and support early childhood teachers in this content area.

Relations Between Preschoolers’ Mathematical Language Understanding and Specific Numeracy Skills

In a new paper released in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, researchers examined relationships between preschoolers’ mathematical language and specific numeracy skills. The participants were 124 preschoolers. Children were assessed on a battery of early numeracy skills and mathematical language, as well as expressive vocabulary.

Results indicated that mathematical language was significantly related to most numeracy skills, including verbal counting, one-to-one correspondence, numeral identification, cardinality, comparisons of sets and numerals, ordering numerals, and story problems. Researchers suggest  their findings provide direction for future research, in particular for development of more precise measures to identify children at risk for mathematics difficulties and incorporating focused mathematical language instruction within early mathematics interventions.

Expanding Latino Parents’ Access to Child Development Research through the News Media

A new research brief released by Child Trends highlights findings from the pilot year of the Child Trends News Service project. It explores what was learned regarding best practices for communicating with and engaging Latino parents through short messages on research-informed parenting practices. Researchers conducted focus groups with Latino parents in three geographic areas. These focus groups explored how parents interact with child development research information to inform various stages of their learning that lead to behavioral decisions.

The authors report that producing short news stories on research-based parenting practices that engage Latino audiences are promising. This brief provides communicators with six practical recommendations for engaging parents regarding social science child development research and suggests that communicators who adhere to practices described can successfully engage parents. Authors report that their findings are grounded both in research that substantiates the need to amplify access to child development research, particularly among low-income Latino families and in communication science research that demonstrates the value of the news media as an information source for child development research.

A Meta-Analysis of Parenting Practices and Child Psychosocial Outcomes in Trauma-Informed Parenting Interventions after Violence Exposure

In a new paper released in Prevention Science, researchers conducted six meta-analyses to assess intervention effects on positive parenting practices, negative parenting practices, parenting stress, children’s internalizing problems, children’s externalizing problems, and trauma symptoms, respectively. They note that over half of all youth are exposed to violence, which a growing body of literature suggests is associated with a broad range of negative developmental outcomes over the life course.

Researchers found moderate to large effect sizes for positive parenting practices as well as child internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and trauma symptoms.  Findings indicate the value of evidence-based parenting interventions for violence-related trauma. Researchers suggest support models of trauma-informed care that situate treatment in the broader social context, particularly the family. Researchers discuss which parenting practices hold the most promise for supporting children exposed to violence-related trauma.

Parental Physical Activity is Associated with Objectively Measured Physical Activity in Young Children in A Sex-Specific Manner: The GECKO Drenthe cohort

In a new study released in BMC Public Health, researchers examined whether the time spent at different intensities of physical activity (PA) and the type of parental PA are associated with the PA of children aged 4–7 years and whether the associations between child-parent pairs were sex-specific.

Researchers found that leisure time PA in mothers was associated with more time spent in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) in children. Maternal PA was significantly related to PA in girls, but not boys. More time spent in vigorous maternal PA, in sports activity, and leisure-time PA, were all related to higher MVPA in girls.

In fathers, PA levels were predominantly related to PA in sons. MVPA in fathers was also related to high MVPA in sons. Spending more time in light PA was related to more sedentary time and less time in MVPA in sons. Researchers suggest that to support PA in young children, interventions could focus on the PA of the parent of the same sex as the child. Special attention may be needed for families where the parents have sedentary jobs, as children from these families seem to adopt more sedentary behavior.

Children’s Evaluation of Verified and Unverified Claims

In a new study in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, researchers conducted two experiments evaluating 3- to 7-year-old children’s understanding that factual claims based on verified evidence are more acceptable than claims that have not been sufficiently verified. Authors note that critical to children’s learning is the ability to judiciously select what information to accept and to use as the basis for learning and inference and what information to reject.

Researchers found that found that even at preschool age, children evaluated verified claims as more acceptable than insufficiently verified claims. Further, the extent to which they did so was related to their explicit understanding, as evident in their explanations of why those claims were more or less acceptable. Researchers note that skepticism against unverified claims is a key critical thinking skill. They suggest that their research can lay the groundwork for an important line of research studying the roots and development of this foundational critical thinking skill.


Fordham University Graduate School of Education

The Division of Curriculum & Teaching invites candidates for the tenure track assistant professor position in Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education (EC/ECSE) to begin in August 2019. The position requires active scholarship and productive teaching and mentoring in the Division’s Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education and Early Childhood/Childhood Education programs. Doctoral degree in Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education or related field and at least three years of teaching experience in P-12 education required.

Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education is committed to urban education and to increasing faculty of diversity. Applications should be completed by October 31, 2018 with materials provided electronically. Job description and details here.


National Center for Families Learning Conference

September 24 – 26, 2018
Marriott Harbor Beach Resort
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The ​Families ​Learning ​Conference focuses ​on ​innovative ​strategies ​and ​practices ​in ​family ​literacy ​and ​learning, ​two-generation ​education ​solutions, ​and ​parent ​and ​family ​engagement.  The Conference will feature content in six educational strands: Adult Education, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Early Childhood Education, English Learners, Research and Policy, and Two-Generation Learning. See the website for more information on speakers and registration.

Early Education News Roundup

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

Subscribe to NIEER Weekly

Click here to subscribe or unsubscribe from our weekly newsletter.