This week marks the annual Week of the Young Child celebration, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This year’s theme is “Early Years Are Learning Years,” a sentiment we fully endorse!
NAEYC’s website has a treasure trove of materials for the Week of the Young Child, particularly as associated with six focus areas. We encourage you to view their suggested activities and related materials, but we also include some additional relevant resources for each area below.
Raising Public Awareness
- To highlight the importance of and need for high-quality early learning opportunities, view and share videos succinctly telling the pre-K story. For starters, check out The State of Preschool 2011: On the Edge of a Crisis by NIEER, Early Learning Matters from First Five Years Fund, How Pre-K Levels the Playing Field from The Pew Charitable Trusts, Preschool: America’s Best Investment by NIEER, and One Window of Opportunity by the National Head Start Association. For examples of a broader view at the state level, take a look at some wonderful videos from advocates in Florida and Mississippi.
- Harness the power of social media and join the conversations about pre-K and early childhood education on popular sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
- Pre-K isn’t just in the realm of education and policy wonks – early childhood education advocates are also military leaders, members of the business community, and economists, to name a few. NAEYC recommends that promoting partnerships with business and other community leaders be a part of your public awareness campaign during the Week of the Young Child.
Public Policy and Advocacy
- Read the blog post “Human Capital Development: Why Pre-K Needs to be a Capitol Concern” for an explanation why taxpayers should invest in early childhood education.
- Another NIEER blog post lays out the early education aspects of President Obama’s federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.
- Peruse The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook to gain knowledge about state-level policies in your region and around the country.
- In this article NIEER’s Steven Barnett reviews the literature on the outcomes of pre-K investments and recommends that public policies support preschool education.
- Parents and other family members can be the biggest advocates for early learning opportunities, especially when they are fully engaged with their children’s education.
Reading and Writing
- NIEER’s policy brief on early literacy includes a review of the literature and recommendations.
- Dorothy Strickland, NIEER Distinguished Research Fellow, testified before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on early literacy learning experiences. Read her full testimony here.
- Dr. Strickland’s presentation for NAEYC on what makes a good book can be downloaded from NIEER’s website.
- This NIEER blog post includes additional information and resources on literacy.
Violence and Child Abuse Prevention
- Preschool interventions can have the greatest influence on reducing childhood aggression and preventing youth violence, as described in this report from the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.
- High-quality early childhood education can reduce future crime and victimization, as explained in this blog post from NIEER and the National Center for Victims of Crime.
- The Week of the Young Child also corresponds this year with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this important observance.
- Fight Crime: Invest in Kids has been highlighting child abuse prevention in their 1560 Campaign.
- This week is also World Immunization Week; find out more about state policies on pre-K immunizations in this blog post.
- Children’s health is inextricably linked with their diets. Find our more about the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in these blog posts.
- Because of the connection between children’s nutrition and their ability to function in a classroom setting, many state programs have policies related to meals in pre-K.
- Early childhood education has been proven to provide better outcomes not only on children’s health while enrolled in preschool programs, but also on their health later in adulthood.
- For a global perspective, become familiar with advocacy organizations that support child health initiatives and early learning opportunities, such as Shakira’s Barefoot Foundation or UNICEF.
Creativity and Play
- Arts education can help preschoolers develop in other domains including math, language, critical thinking, and social-emotional, as explained by NIEER’s own Judi Stevenson-Boyd and a group of experts on Caucus: New Jersey.
- NIEER’s Kim Brenneman provides ideas on how science-based lessons could be delivered through everyday life activities, such as playing with Mr. Potato Head or engaging in a game of golf.
- The Ultimate Block Party is an event that highlights the importance of play-based learning for young children.
- NIEER examines the role of technology in children’s play in this blog post and the interaction between play, intelligence, and learning in another post.
- Learn more about the best ways to use technology to benefit young learners in this position statement from NAEYC and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College.
- This presentation from NIEER’s Shannon Ayers and Ellen Frede discusses the importance of learning through play against the backdrop of preschool assessments.
For the Week of the Young Child, we’ll be working on NIEER’s pre-K research, listening to the voices of early childhood and education advocates, and spending time with the young children in our lives. How will you observe this important week?
– Jen Fitzgerald, Public Information Officer, NIEER
– Megan Carolan, Policy Research Coordinator, NIEER