April 29, 2022 – Volume 21, Issue 17


Pandemic Erased a Decade of Progress for Public Pre-K Programs

We now have data on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on state-funded preschool — and it is dire. A decade of progress was lost and existing inequality within the early-childhood education system was exacerbated. Due to issues such as health risks, closed classrooms and remote pre-K during the 2020-21 school year, the first to be fully affected by the pandemic, nearly 300,000 fewer children enrolled in state-funded preschool programs — the first decline in enrollment in 20 years.

States served less than 30 percent of 4-year-olds and less than 5 percent of 3-year-olds, and the number of children enrolled in preschool special education dropped by 16 percent. Not surprisingly, state funding for pre-K also dropped — the largest decline since the Great Recession.

The pandemic confirmed that providing quality preschool programs that benefit children and families is not easy. Programs that support children’s physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and linguistic development, particularly amid challenges like a pandemic, require well-prepared teachers.

Read the rest of this op-ed in the Washington Post by NIEER Senior co-Director Steven Barnett here, and read the entire State of Preschool 2021 Yearbook here.


Young Scholars Program, Foundation for Child Development

The Foundation for Child Development is accepting nominations of early-career researchers for its Young Scholars Program (YSP). YSP funds policy and practice-relevant research for early-career professionals focused on strengthening the early care and education (ECE) workforce. Proposed studies should include a primary research question relevant to the ECE workforce, and support scientific inquiry into the implementation of specific ECE policies, programs, or practices.

Read the YSP 2023 guidelines here. Interested scholars can register for a May 3 webinar about the letter of intent requirements and process here.   


Early Intervention’s Role in Young Children’s Development

As part of Early Intervention Awareness Month, The Hunt Institute will host a webinar showcasing the importance of early intervention programs. Early Intervention’s Role in Young Children’s Development takes place on Tuesday, May 3 at 2 p.m. EDT. National experts and program providers will discuss the family-centered approach used in early intervention.

Panelists include: Kamilar Moore, board member and parent representative at Easterseals Chicagoland and Rockford; Christina Kasprzak, senior technical assistance specialist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Mary Beth Bruder, director of the University of Connecticut A.J. Pappanikou Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service; and Mina Hong, director of Start Early Consulting. Register for the webinar here.



Engaging Girls in Math: The Unequal Effects of Text Messaging to Help Parents Support Early Math Development

Prekindergarten girls who struggled with math showed improved performance when their parents had access to a text-messaging program that cycled through literacy, mathematics and social-emotional skills facts and strategies, researchers found. However, a math-only text-messaging program had no effect.

The benefits for girls “are concentrated on those with weaker performance on mathematics assessments,” wrote Christopher Doss of the RAND Corporation in Virginia, Hans Fricke of Amazon.com, Inc. in Washington, and Susanna Loeb and Justin B. Doromal of Brown University in Rhode Island. Read the abstract here.

Efficacy of the Fast Track Friendship Group Program for Peer-rejected Children: A Randomized-Controlled Trial

A social skills intervention used with elementary school children who were identified as peer-rejected improved participants’ interpersonal relationships, among other benefits, researchers at Penn State found in a randomized-controlled trial.

The children assigned to the intervention group also showed improvements in cognitive skills, emotional recognition, problem solving, and social behavior. The program “proved feasible for high-fidelity implementation in school settings and produced significant improvements in the social adjustment of peer-rejected children,” concluded authors Karen L. Bierman, Janet A. Welsh, Cristin M. Hall, Linda N. Jacobson, David L. Lee and Damon E. Jones. Read the abstract here.

Screen Media are Associated with Fine Motor Skill Development in Preschool Children

Researchers in Germany found that more media usage negatively impacts fine motor skill development in early childhood.


They noted that relations were stronger for newer media usage (e.g., smartphone, computer, tablet, and game console) than for television viewing. The study was written by Philipp Martzog and Sebastian Paul Suggate of the University of Regensburg. Read the study here.


SKIPping With PALS: Exploring Parental Engagement in a Motor Intervention for Their Preschool Children

Preschoolers whose parents were more engaged in movement intervention training sessions showed greater change in gross motor skills and overall physical activity following the intervention, a study found.


Over six months, parents were offered monthly in-person training at school and weekly virtual training on implementing the movement intervention. Skills were measured after a one-year, Covid-19 related delay; children scored higher on locomotor and manipulative skills for each additional school-based session the parent attended, researchers noted. The results “provide insight into why some children learn and others do not within a parent-led intervention,” they wrote. Read the abstract here.