The human brain grows most rapidly in the first three years of life, and an individual’s health and wellbeing during that period has lifelong consequences. “Why Do We Focus on the Prenatal-to-3 Age Period?: Understanding the Importance of the Earliest Years” provides a comprehensive, easy-to-read overview of the science of the developing child, and what it means for parents, caregivers, and society to ensure children get a strong and equitable start.
“Although children are incredibly resilient, exposure to chronic stressors early in life charts a course for physical, cognitive, and emotional health problems that can be costly for families and society to navigate,” according to the brief by the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
The report delves into the problems of poverty, racial inequality, and insufficient child care options. It notes that less than a quarter of infants and toddlers are in child care deemed high quality, and urges new research into measuring and providing high-quality child care. Read the brief here.
Maria Gayatri of the National Population and Family Planning Board in Indonesia conducted a systematic review of literature to examine the implementation of early childhood education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gayatri found that most young children were doing online learning at home, and that it presented challenges related to their self-regulation and readiness to use technology and online learning materials. Parents’ attitudes and knowledge about online learning, as well as their time constraints, also posed difficulties, according to the abstract.
“It is important to have good communication between parents and teachers to support early childhood online learning during the outbreak,” she suggested. Read more here.
Supreeya Chamnanuea Muimongkol of Khon Kaen University in Thailand, and Karthigeyan Subramaniam and Carol D. Wickstrom of the University of North Texas investigated how prospective early childhood teachers approached teaching science to identify their strategies for empowering students’ science learning in pre-K through grade 3.
The researchers evaluated drawings and narratives 100 prospective early childhood teachers used to teach science. Fifty-four of them promoted active learning that involved students making discoveries and collaborating to construct their own science content knowledge, the researchers wrote. The other 46 used passive instruction, transmitting “defined bodies of science content knowledge.”
The study suggested that early childhood teacher preparation programs incorporate frameworks early on in the curricula so prospective teachers can “reflect on and document their prior knowledge of science instruction.” The abstract is available here.
Christina Weiland and Anna Shapiro at the University of Michigan and Rebecca Unterman at MDRC examined the “convergence in kindergarten through third grade literacy outcomes of pre-K enrollees and nonenrollees.” Consistent with other studies, they found most of the convergence in K‐3 literacy occurred in kindergarten. They suggested that more detailed investigations into kindergarten teaching and learning might yield insights that could help sustain gains through kindergarten. The abstract is available here.
Studies have found children have better learning outcomes when their teachers use evidence-based curricula as intended. Using the Theoretical Domains Framework, researchers studied 175 pre-K and kindergarten teachers to identify what prevented them from implementing a supplemental language curricula with higher fidelity. Competing priorities for instructional time, and limited teacher knowledge and skills were among the most noted barriers. Others were teachers’ difficulty changing habits and challenges with memory and attention processes.
Tricia A. Zucker and Erin Jacbos of the University of Texas, and Sonia Q. Cabell of Florida State University also offer advice for other education researchers who may want to use to the TDF to study implementation. Read the abstract here.
Mary E. Haskett, Sarah C. Neal, and Kate E. Norwalk of North Carolina State University sought “to identify unique profiles among preschool-aged children who were unstably housed and determine whether family-level and classroom-level factors predicted children’s profiles,” according to the abstract. The study involved 314 4-year-olds drawn from the national Head Start CARES study. Analyses “revealed a four-profile structure with four subgroups of unstably housed children that were distinct in their functioning.” They also found “the quality of the student–teacher relationship was a significant predictor of children’s profile membership.” The researchers offer practice and policy implications. Read the abstract here.
Community Reinvestment Act and Early Care and Education: Connections and Context for the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Tuesday, Jan. 19, noon-1:15 p.m. CST. Register.