Building a Strong Village to Promote Black Children’s Excellence: Early Childhood Education and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans

The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” recognizes the importance of supports for parents in raising healthy well-educated children who will succeed in school and life. The two most pressing education and health problems facing Blacks are the achievement gap and the “weathering effect.”

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Formative Assessment: Points to Consider for Policy Makers, Teachers, and Researchers

Formative assessment is one area in early childhood education where policy is moving at lightning speed. There’s been a lot of support for the appropriateness of this approach to assessment for young learners. Many policy makers and data users have “talked the talk,” perfecting the lingo and pushing the implementation of policies for this approach. Yet there are essential questions to consider when rolling out a plan or process for a state. In the brief released by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), I outline several considerations for policy makers in moving such initiatives. They’re briefly outlined below, along with considerations for teachers and researchers.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Children and Poverty: the Role of Preschool

High quality preschool generates measurable, long-term impacts on children. Many of us have known this for a long time, and have heard it or have said it ourselves many times. This is vital, valuable information for policymakers and for families. And for early childhood professionals, on days when boisterous 3-year olds are testing their teacher’s patience, and stressed parents are showing up late for pick-up, and policy advocates are explaining the graph to Congress one more time, it means that our career choice to focus on young children and their families, and our daily struggle to produce our best work, is truly worth every effort.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

What the new OCR early childhood data do and do not tell us

Recently released to great interest is the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Early Childhood Data Snapshot. I want to call additional attention to this document and the survey behind it for two reasons. First, these new data identify serious educational problems that deserve more than one day in the sun. Second, these OCR data have significant limitations that policy makers, the media, and others should understand when using them. Public preschool education is delivered by a complex, interagency, mixed-delivery system that makes it more difficult to measure than K-12.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

The Empire State Leads the Way

Two of New York’s most distinguished leaders who shared a family name (Roosevelt) were strong advocates for the 99 percent, long before that term was common with their campaigns for the “Square Deal” and the “New Deal.” Today’s leaders are poised to echo their efforts with what might be called the “Real Deal.” A key element of the real deal is to give every child access to a world class 21st Century education, beginning with high quality pre-K for all.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Play and Mathematics: An Equation that Works

Often, the resistance to teaching by advocates of play is based on an image of “instruction” as drill-and-kill activities which, in addition to being boring, do not help children develop deep understanding of discipline-based knowledge and skills (although they may produce better performance on traditional tests of a limited set of skills). Because this image comes to many preschool teachers’ minds when you mention teaching, they resist. But basic skill drills are not the only alternative to play. Teachers who resist instruction might change their minds if they had an image of the teaching strategies that most experts advocate.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Reflections on Play: A Resource Guide

In the last two weeks, we’ve considered play from a number of different perspectives from experts in the field, looking both at what the research says about play’s importance in the classroom, and at how play-based learning can be used on the ground. These posts focus on key issues in the field and serve as valuable resources as parents, teachers, and policymakers strive to ensure play has its place in pre-K.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Teacher-led? Child-guided? Find the Balance in Preschool Classrooms

“Stick to the rules that I say.” It’s a refrain from my childhood, uttered by my next-door neighbor to make clear that while we were playing at her house, she got to choose what we did and how we did it and to change her mind any time she pleased. I’m sometimes reminded of these backyard days when I read the debates on play in early childhood classrooms. It’s almost as if some believe that a teacher who plans and leads learning experiences is telling children to “stick to the rules that she says.”

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Playful learning: Where a rich curriculum meets a playful pedagogy

The Capulets and Montagues of early childhood have long battled over their vision for a perfect preschool education. Should young children be immersed in a core curriculum replete with numbers and letters or in a playful context that stimulates creative discovery? The ‘preschool war’ leaves educators torn and embattled politicians in deadlock. Playful learning offers one way to reframe the debate by nesting a rich core curriculum within a playful pedagogy.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Reflections on Play: Engaging Children, Building Skills

Learning through play is an effective (and fun!) tool to help children reach positive outcomes. I believe this not only because of the evidence from research, but also from having used it in my own preschool classroom.  However, it was my own recent experience at a training session on using yoga with young children that convinced me beyond a doubt that play is effective.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.