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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 17, Issue 43

October 26, 2018

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Child Care Pinch, Storytelling Tips and Earlier is Better?

Hot Topics

Pausing for Thought

The journal Child Development this week highlights a new study questioning the early childhood education mantra that “earlier is better.”

The Earlier the Better? Individual Participant Data and Traditional Meta-analysis of Age Effects of Parenting Interventions acknowledges strong arguments that early intervention for child problems is more effective, as the brain is more malleable, and costs can be lower—but counters “there is scant evidence from trials to support this.”

Based on two state‐of‐the‐art meta‐analyses of parenting programs focused on disruptive behavior, the study finds “no evidence that intervention earlier in childhood was more effective; (and that) programs targeted at a narrower age range were no more effective than general ones.”

An analysis of the study calls for more research assessing age variations in intervention effects and other developmental domains.

For example, neuroscientific studies on brain plasticity indicate “earlier” is the only option for some nutrition or developmental prenatal and early postnatal interventions. Likewise, the analysis states “economic evidence has shown that by adulthood, interventions for disadvantaged children offered early in development can show much higher rates of return to investment than ‘remedial’ interventions made later…”

It is too soon to determine whether these new findings constitute “a major challenge to the ‘early is better’ hypothesis,” according to the analysis. “But they must at least give us some pause for thought.”

If the findings do hold for other interventions and other domains, the upside may be a wider window than we thought for effective interventions.

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NEW on Preschool Matters Today blog

Child Care Workforce Crisis: An Insider Perspective

I have owned an accredited early learning center for the past 13 years, serving  150 children and employing approximately 30 people.  But this year, we—like many others in the childcare field—are struggling to hire teachers as early childhood centers confront a growing workforce crisis.

Centers are caught between increases in the minimum wage needed for child care workers to earn a living wage, and our need to hire qualified teachers.  We just can’t afford adequate wages to attract the high-quality early educators needed based on parent tuition alone. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education report was right: we need a shared responsibility to fund high-quality early care and education.

NIEER Activities

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) this week participated in the Early Care and Education Workforce 2.0 Cross State Convening hosted by the National Governors Association.

NIEER Associate Director for Communications Michelle Ruess and Lindsey Allard Agnamba, founder and executive director of School Readiness Consulting, discussed strategies early learning experts can use to communicate more effectively with a range of audiences, specifically on policy issues associated with a highly quality ECE workforce. Identifying an audience and sharing compelling stories bolstered by reliable data can help raise awareness, educate, persuade and lead to action. View presentation


Understanding Many Languages: Preparing Early Educators to Teach Dual Language Learners

A new brief from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment highlights key findings related to preparing early educators to support the development and education of the growing number of young children learning more than one language. The brief draws upon studies of early childhood higher education degree programs across 13 states between 2012 and 2017 that explore how institutions of higher education educate and support early childhood teachers to be able to work effectively with young children who are dual language learners.

Handwriting Acquisition and Intervention: A Systematic Review

The Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, & Early Intervention recently released an overview of the impact of early writing in preschoolers and the effectiveness of handwriting interventions between kindergarten and second grade.

Results suggest that writing letters in late preschool contributes to letter recognition and that elementary students benefit when handwriting is explicitly taught. Researchers suggest interventions underpinned by motor learning theory and cognitive learning strategies are effective in improving legibility. Implications for collaboration among teams and increased writing opportunities in pre-K are discussed.

Empowering Technology and Engineering for STEM Education through Programming Robots: A Systematic Literature Review

A new review in Early Child Development and Care synthesize findings from 23 studies that provided programming experiences through robotics for children between the ages of zero and eight and for pre- or in-service teachers of early childhood education. The review revealed that computer programming through robotics could be a promising educational tool and application for the integration of technology and engineering in early childhood STEM education.

Children’s Perspectives on Their Learning in School Spaces: What Can We Learn from Children in Brazil and Finland?

A new International Journal of Early Childhood article investigated children’s perceptions of their learning experiences in early childhood education and care using data from Brazil and Finland by sharing photographs with them.

Researchers report that children represented and conceived their learning experience in objects, actions, significant others, and cultural practices. By analyzing each of these categories, researchers suggest five core elements of children’s perceptions about their learning: relevance of peer interactions, recognition of learning through play, children’s acknowledgment of their own competence for learning, school spaces as places for learning actions, and present time as the time frame for learning.

Association of Night-Waking and Inattention/Hyperactivity Symptoms Trajectories in Preschool-Aged Children

A new study in Scientific Reports investigated longitudinal associations between inattention/hyperactivity symptoms and night-waking during preschool years, in light of their joint evolution over time. The study was based on analyses of data within the French birth-cohort study EDEN of 1,342 children’s night-waking and inattention/hyperactivity symptoms collected at age 2, 3 and 5–6.

Researchers found that both night-waking and inattention/hyperactivity trajectories showed the persistence of difficulties in preschool years. Factors associated with joint trajectories were parent’s education level and history of childhood behavioral problems, and the child’s gender, night-sleep duration and collective care at 2 years of age. Researchers suggest that children presenting behavioral difficulties would benefit from a systematic investigation of their sleep quality. And those experiencing poor sleep quality may benefit from a systematic evaluation of behavioral difficulties.

Parents’ Early Book Reading to Children: Relation to Children’s Later Language and Literacy Outcomes Controlling for Other Parent Language Input

A new article in Developmental Science investigated whether naturally occurring parent‐child book reading interactions between 1 and 2.5 years‐of‐age predicted elementary school language and literacy outcomes, controlling for a number of background characteristics, as well as other parent input.

Researchers found the quantity of parent‐child book reading interactions predicts children’s later receptive vocabulary, reading comprehension, and internal motivation to read. However, it did not predict decoding, external motivation to read, or math skill. Researchers suggest that an important finding was that parent language that occurs during book reading interactions is more sophisticated than parent language outside book reading interactions in terms of vocabulary diversity and syntactic complexity in this study.


The Nicholson Foundation

The Foundation is seeking an accomplished professional with a minimum of 5 years in a senior management role to help develop and expand the Foundation’s health and early childhood initiatives as a Senior Program Officer.

Click here to download the full position description and application instructions. A resume and a cover letter may be submitted to chief Fiscal Officer Michelle Fouks no later than November 15, 2018.


National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families

2 pm ET
Monday Oct. 29, 2018

The Early Care and Education (ECE) Access and Use among Low-Income Hispanic Families Webinar will feature presentations on ECE access and utilization among low-income Hispanic families, with panelists Sara Vecchiotti from the Foundation for Child Development will discuss the ECE workforce, Julia Henly from the University of Chicago will discuss ECE availability and flexibility, and Dionne Dobbins from Child Care Aware will discuss ECE cost and affordability.  Click here to register.

Early Education News Roundup

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

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