Playgroups offer rural families a head start on school (Hechinger Report)

“On a June morning in this rural eastern North Carolina community, about a dozen families grabbed the edges of a rainbow parachute, making plastic balls bounce in its ripples. Grandparents, parents and children switched between water games, parachute activities and swing-sets spread across a playground.

The fun and games are serious business to the group that runs them, the Down East Partnership for Children, a 25-year-old nonprofit that provides educational and health resources to families of young children in rural Nash and Edgecombe counties. The goal of these meetings is to highlight the importance of basic interactions between parents and their kids.

Playgroups are held at least twice a month for families with children from birth to 5 years old. The meetings are a way for families to meet other families, get connected with resources and prepare children for kindergarten. Families often need support in this part of the state, an area struggling to keep up with the economic growth of the high-tech Triangle region, the metropolitan home of the state capital, Raleigh, about an hour away.

‘The ultimate goal of Play and Learn groups is to strengthen [the] parent-child bond,” said Cornelia Singletary, Down East’s family services program manager. “For families who are hesitant about putting their child in a formal child care setting, this is kind of like a little preschool, but you get to be with your child.’”

For the full story, see https://go.edc.org/dwe4.

 

In Some Cities, Closing Achievement Gaps Is Not for Schools to Fix Alone (Ed Week)

“Weaving a seamless and tailored web of services for children and families inside and outside of school has been the central tenet of an experiment underway in Salem and five other communities over the past two years.

The cities—Somerville and Newton, Mass.; Louisville, Ky.; Providence, R.I.; and Oakland, Calif.—set off in 2016 on an experimental endeavor with the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to rethink how they support children and families, in some cases from birth through college. (Newton dropped out of the program before the pilot ended earlier this year.)

The program, now in its second phase, encourages city and district teams to craft customized education plans for students, focus on students’ health and social-emotional well-being, and create a governance structure—a “children’s cabinet”—comprised of officials from K-12, government, philanthropy, higher education, business, and nonprofits to work on a kind of social compact for children.”

https://go.edc.org/yj2s

Pianta to Policymakers: Build a System, Include K-5

Early childhood expert and UVA dean, Robert Pianta, in The Hill:

“There is precious little evidence that boosts from pre-k are then followed by boosts in kindergarten, first, and second grades – the kind of cumulative impact that produces lasting increases in academic achievement.

More to the point, focusing so intently on universal pre-K obscures the fact that most pre-K (and K-2) programs still require a lot of improvements when it comes to curriculum, assessment, and effective instruction. And perhaps more importantly, there is abundant evidence that the experiences provided to children across these years are poorly aligned, resulting in repetition of instruction that hold some of our children back.

So let’s stop thinking that pre-k, universal or targeted, is the silver bullet answer.  And for every argument about expanding or improving pre-k, let’s add a focus on strengthening and aligning curricula across the early grades, which spans from pre-K through third grade. Young students need a consistent trajectory of educational experiences that builds on the preceding years—and informs what follows.”

For the full article, see Running on a New Promise for Pre-K.

Job Opening: Early Childhood Portfolio Lead

EDC is looking for a Portfolio Lead (i.e., Director) for its Early Childhood Portfolio. EDC is a fantastic organization to work for, and we have a very strong portfolio with a terrific group of colleagues. This is a great opportunity for a senior EC leader. I’m attaching the announcement. An excerpt is below. This came out earlier in the summer, so don’t delay if you are interested. dlj

Early Childhood Portfolio Lead job description

From the job description:

“The Early Childhood Portfolio has an opening for a Portfolio Lead, reporting to the Senior Vice President of the U.S. Division.

The Early Childhood Portfolio at EDC builds the capacity of individuals, practitioners/intermediaries, and systems to improve outcomes for children prenatal to age 8. Our work is based on the belief that early childhood is the foundation for all that follows across a person’s life span. By attending to programs, systems, and policies designed to meet children’s needs, and supporting the full range of caregivers who nourish and nurture young children—parents, teachers, home visitors, community leaders, and health care providers—we secure strong, productive, equitable futures for all. We focus in particular on building the capacity of educators, agencies and communities to sustain improvements, supporting children who are dual language learners, meeting the needs of children from disadvantaged communities, engaging and supporting families. and addressing issues related to children’s health and mental health.

This portfolio includes more than 60 early childhood content experts, researchers, training and technical assistance (TTA) providers, and materials developers who lead and work on dozens of projects, with an annual revenue of about $12.5M. Current lines of work include: federally funded TTA centers that support state leaders; federal and state initiatives that support education and health practitioners; R&D efforts that result in high-visibility products, such as curricula, hands-on materials and policy briefs; and influential research and evaluation studies on behalf of partners and clients. The content focus within the portfolio is diverse, including home visiting, infant and early childhood mental health, early literacy, STEM learning, two-generation supports, child care, Head Start, and prenatal through grade three systems.”

Initiative aimed at helping children get a better start in life offers real promise

A strong editorial statement on P-3 by the Lancaster County newspaper, the Lancaster LNP:

“It’s devastating to think that as early as infancy, a child might be deemed to be “at-risk” — that is, at risk of failing in school, of being trapped in poverty, of even facing a diminished life expectancy.

‘The achievement gap exists in kindergarten,’ Andrea Heberlein, a United Way of Lancaster County staffer and P-3 advocate who oversees an education task force for the Coalition to Combat Poverty, told Hawkes.

And that achievement gap opens up very early in a child’s life.

As a National Association of Elementary School Principals publication noted in 2013, ‘Data from a nationally representative sample of children, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study — Birth Cohort 2001, reveal that gaps in what children know and are able to do appear as early as 9 months of age. Not surprisingly, these gaps only grow over time.’

And sadly, those gaps — if not addressed — can doom a child’s lifelong opportunities before he learns to tie his shoes.

It is a monumental challenge, but it is critical to free children from the life sentence that the ‘at-risk’ designation can be. So we laud those who are working to launch prenatal-to-third-grade, or P-3, programs in Lancaster County.

We’ve repeatedly advocated for quality prekindergarten education, which also is championed by everyone from district attorneys to academics to military leaders because it benefits all of us when children are prepared for school and lifelong learning. It benefits employers (who need skilled workers), the armed forces (which need educated recruits) and taxpayers (prekindergarten education is far cheaper than building prisons).

Now, we are excited by the prospects for P-3 education in Lancaster County. We hope state lawmakers and county officials are excited, too, by this promising new front in the quest to stem intergenerational poverty.”

You can find the article here.

Why focus on Lancaster County’s youngest kids could break cycle of poverty

lancaster article

Last week I posted Thomas Friedman’s article about civic renewal in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On Sunday Lancaster’s newspaper published an article about the county’s new P-3 initiative (which I’ve been supporting). Reporter Jeff Hawkes does a nice job using local examples to introduce P-3 improvement. See in particular:

  • How Hawkes follows a family receiving home visiting services to discuss the importance of P-3.
  • The important roles played by the United Way and the Community Action Partnership (CAP) as intermediary/backbone organizations.
  • How Jill Koser, a former elementary school principal and the current head of education and child development at the CAP, is able to use her experience to help bridge early childhood and elementary school education.
  • The connection between P-3 and 2 Generation programs as Anna Rodriguez participates in Parents as Teachers and a GED program.

You can find the article here.