December 11, 2020 – Volume 19, Issue 47

Child care and early education settings can reduce their COVID-19 transmission risk by following recommended mitigation strategies, according to research published this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The findings arise from a mixed-methods study at Head Start programs in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. The programs implemented mitigation strategies that prescribe everyday prevention actions, actions when someone becomes ill, and staff communication and support.
Interviews with Head Start program directors in five states identified two common themes: staffing and operations flexibility, and “ongoing communications among program administrators, parents and caregivers and teachers and other staff members…”
“Implementing and monitoring adherence to CDC-recommended mitigation strategies could play a crucial role in reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in child care settings,” according to the researchers.
The article is authored by Fátima Coronado, MD, Sara Blough, MPH, Krista Proia, MPH, Erin Sauber-Schatz, PhD, and Grant Baldwin, PhD, all of the CDC COVID-19 Response Team; Deborah Bergeron, PhD, Marco Beltran, DrPH, Katherine Troy Rau, MSW and MPP, Andria McMichael, EdD, Mark Lackey, and Jovanna Rohs, PhD, all of the Office of Head Start in Washington, D.C.; and Tracye Fortin, MA, and Tracey Sparrow, EdD, of both the Office of Head Start and the Educare Learning Network in Chicago, Illinois.
In her Preschool Matters blog article, NIEER’s Dr. Milagros Nores explains how time diaries can help answer a seemingly simple question: When not attending classrooms in person due to the pandemic, how are young children spending their time?
“Time diaries allow us to observe the timing and nature of children´s learning engagement, and the degree to which children engaged in learning were meaningfully engaged across a mix of activities,” says Nores. “Time diaries tell who is or isn’t engaged with different learning activity types and content, to what degree they are alone or supported by an adult in learning activities, and how long they remain engaged.”
Nores surveyed 30 parents of preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders to collect detailed time diaries that describe how those children were spending their time. Learn what she discovered and how time diaries could be more widely used to inform policy and practice in Preschool Matters.
Kesha N. Hudson, Haley M. Ballou, and Michael T. Willoughby of RTI International’s Education and Workforce Development in North Carolina investigated whether there is a causal relationship between participating in cognitively challenging motor skills activities and improvements in motor skills, executive function (EF), and early numeracy skills. They found significant effects of these activities on motor, EF, and numeracy skills using waitlist controls.
Maha Bdeir, Rima Bahous, and Mona Nabhani of the Lebanese University in Beirut investigated the effects of the systematic teaching of phonological awareness (PA) skills for 12 weeks on children’s pre-reading skills when English is taught as Second Language. This small scale study found significant improvement in PA skills. The researchers suggest the study contributes to the understanding and promotion of PA skills in preschool.
George C. Hough Jr. and Vivien W. Chen of the Education Research & Data Center in Olympia, Washington, address “some of the developments of state longitudinal data system for education and workforce in Washington state as well as discuss some of the limitations conducting statistical research with these data.” Additionally, they provide examples of six key uses of longitudinal data.
Samantha Reaves of the University of Maryland–Baltimore, Cecilia Martinez-Torteya of the Universidad de Monterrey, and David S. Kosson of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science examined the relationship of family engagement in education with young children’s socioemotional and behavioral functioning in a small (n= 69) study of urban, predominantly Latinx, preschoolers and their mothers. They found that “initial home-school conferencing predicted lower levels of child socioemotional and behavioral difficulties about 8 months later” (β = −.20, p < .05). Additionally, “initial child socioemotional and behavioral difficulties predicted higher levels of later home-based involvement (β = .23, p < .05).”
Orestes P. Hasting of Colorado State University and Daniel Schneider of Harvard’s Kennedy School examined differences in parents’ financial investments in children based on family structure. Using data on 44,930 households, the study compared married, cohabiting, and single parents. They found that “single and cohabiting parents made smaller financial investments in children than married parents. Income explained the entire difference for single parents but about 60% of the gap for cohabiting parents. These gaps in expenditures by family structure were smallest among Hispanic households and largest among highly educated households.” Implications for policy are discussed.
The week’s key stories on early childhood education.
NJ Spotlight News Virtual Roundtable: Child Care in New Jersey: A Key to the State’s Economic Recovery, on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 4 p.m. ET. Register here.
Nurturing Curious Scientists with PBS KIDS Elinor Wonders Why: Anytime, Anywhere!, on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m. ET. Register here.
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, conducts independent research to inform early childhood education policy. ITC@NIEER, the Infant and Toddler Policy Research Center at NIEER, focuses on informing policies that enhance the learning and development of infants and toddlers.