The hashtag “#PreKForAll” was trending on Twitter nationwide less than 30 minutes into the National Women’s Law Center’s “Tweetchat,” which encouraged conversation about the importance of high-quality early learning opportunities. The chat was held as part of this week’s national Early Learning Day of Action, which aimed to generate support for increased investments in these programs.
Senators Patty Murray, Dick Durbin and Kirsten Gillibrand, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Paulette Aniskoff all joined the conversation that would continue for hours beyond its allotted one-hour time slot. Read more »
At a recent forum held by the Center for American Progress, New York Times columnist Gail Collins said, “If there was going to be a cause that would hook the general needs of society with the most pressing needs of women with something that virtually everyone in the universe agrees with….it would be early childhood education.” Collins noted that early education addresses numerous challenges, from income inequality to parents’ need for child care while they work. Yet she also said that early education isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Read more »
I am a proud aunt to a very precocious kindergartener. I remember when she was three and she shocked the whole family with her grasp of complex verb tenses. And over Memorial Day, she astonished me with her adept reading of Amelia Bedelia.
Her language and reading skills are extremely impressive and so are her pre-math, writing, and interpersonal skills. I’d like to think it’s solely because she shares some of my genetic material, but I know her wonderful prekindergarten experiences deserve credit too.
Starting as an infant, my niece was exposed to rich early childhood experiences, with her parents and extended family, at her family child care home, and then at preschool. She listened to stories, sang songs, played games, colored pictures, and the list goes on.
Young children love a good time and clamor to go to the local carnival. They are eager to ride the merry-go-round and hop on the ferris wheel. They want to eat their fill of cotton candy and candy corn, and have their parents play games to win them a stuffed teddy bear.
Today we are holding a different kind of carnival for our children. Adults across the country who care about a better future for our children are blogging to help give them more opportunities for high-quality early education. I am excited to join this “blog carnival” with so many others who understand that high-quality early learning is a key to keeping the smile on these young children’s sweet faces. Read more »
“This is a jet. It is a tin jet. The tin jet is big.”
I know, it sounds pretty boring, right? But to me, these are VERY exciting words. These are words that my son just started reading. On his own. My son, who is 5 years old and has not been to kindergarten yet (he will start in the fall), is now reading and loving it. And I love watching his unbridled joy as he figures out, all by himself, what the words on the page say.
Now, I cannot taking credit for teaching him how to read (who has time?), and I am not saying he’s a child prodigy. Sure, we have been reading to him since he was a baby, but what makes all the difference is that he went to preschool. Read more »
Yesterday morning’s breakfast forum, hosted by the Washington Post, brought together governors and education commissioners from several states to raise awareness of the importance of reading well by the third grade. Multiple studies show that high-quality early education programs lead to higher reading achievement, in addition to numerous other benefits (Carolina Abecedarian Project, Chicago Child-Parent Centers [PDF], and High/Scope Perry Preschool [PDF]). Several of the participants, including Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn, and Maryland State Superintendent Lillian Lowry, acknowledged this powerful evidence and the important role that early learning opportunities play in providing for successful literacy growth. High-quality early childhood education was referred to as a “game changer,” an “effective effort to improve reading,” and a way to “success[fully] narrow the achievement gap.” Read more »
Growing up with an Asian family background, I was very fond of the legend of Mencius’ mother, who moved three times to find a good place to raise her child. Her strategy clearly was successful, because Mencius went on to become a great philosopher. The story underlines the importance of the environment in which a child develops. President Obama, recognizing the essential role of children’s environments in their learning and growth, has proposed a significant investment in early learning to ensure children have positive experiences in their first years of life, both in and out of the home.
I know how critical the early years are for learning from my own experiences learning different languages. I was born to a mixed nationality family (Vietnamese and Chinese) and later studied abroad in New Zealand and now in America. According to my grandmother, at the age of three, I spoke Chinese so well that the neighbors thought that I was born and raised in China. I continued to speak Chinese at home while speaking Vietnamese at school without any struggle. Having learned both languages early in life, I did not have any difficulty in shifting back and forth between the two. In contrast, learning English in secondary school was not a piece of cake for me.
Even now, while I am sitting here and writing this blog, I am still struggling. Read more »
When I was teaching, I taught a brilliant student named Aiya. I had lots of brilliant students, but Aiya was one of those incredibly rare nine-year-olds who reads at least a novel a day and remembers everything you tell her. Every afternoon she would take a book home and read it aloud to her 4-year-old sister Amani. Amani was in Ms. McClure’s Prekindergarten class (which was just down the hall) and she loved to stop by our classroom to tell us what the letter of the day was, or sing us whatever number song she had learned that morning.
Then one day Aiya and Amani stopped coming to school. I called home – no answer. Eventually I found out that they had been in danger. Without going into too many details, their mother needed to urgently withdraw the girls from school and take them out of state. About 2 months later they were back! When I saw those two little smiling ladies get off of bus 77 I thought my heart would burst with happiness.
Yesterday, the National Institute for Early Education Research released the latest version of its annual report, The State of Preschool 2012, and it contained very discouraging news. Between the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, total state prekindergarten funding fell by $548 million and spending per child dropped by $442 (after adjusting for inflation). Enrollment in state prekindergarten had virtually stalled; as in the previous year, just 28 percent of four-year-olds and 4 percent of three-year-olds were served in state prekindergarten programs in 2011-2012. Only five states (Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Rhode Island) had prekindergarten programs that met all ten of NIEER’s quality standards benchmarks. Ten states—Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming—had no prekindergarten program in 2011-2012 (although just this month, Mississippi approved legislation establishing a prekindergarten program).
Given the importance of prekindergarten in giving children a strong start, clearly more needs to be done to ensure that adequate resources are provided to support prekindergarten, that strong standards are in place to provide children with high-quality learning experiences, and that prekindergarten is widely accessible to children who need it—particularly low- and moderate-income children. Read more »
“So tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.”
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, the President called for making prekindergarten available to all children through a federal-state partnership. He made a compelling case for this investment in early education, noting the benefits for children, parents, and our nation’s economy. He explained how early education could help children succeed in school and in life. He talked about the importance of helping parents struggling with the high costs of preschool. And he discussed his proposal as a key part of building the strong workforce we need for our future economic prosperity.
The President demonstrated his commitment to early education not only by mentioning it in his State of the Union address, but also by inviting Susan Bumgarner, an early childhood educator from Oklahoma—a state that makes prekindergarten available to all four-year-olds—to be a guest of the First Lady during the address. Susan Bumgarner is one of the many early education teachers (most of whom are women) across our country who are helping our children grow and learn so they are ready for school.
We are excited about this proposal and about working to make it a reality for children and families. We look forward to hearing more details, as there are many questions about exactly what form it will take and how it will work. For example: What role will states play in making prekindergarten available? Read more »