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Preschool and Child Care

Literacy app improves school readiness in at-risk preschoolers

Neuman, S.B., New York University (April 19, 2015). Literacy app improves school readiness in at-risk preschoolers. Science Daily.

Using mobile apps in preschool classrooms may help improve early literacy skills and boost school readiness for low-income children. "Guided use of an educational app may be a source of motivation and engagement for children in their early years," said the study's author. "The purpose of our study was to examine if a motivating app could accelerate children's learning, which it did."

Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation

Institute of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies of Science (April 2015) Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington, DC

Children are already learning at birth, and they develop and learn at a rapid pace in their early years. This provides a critical foundation for lifelong progress, and the adults who provide for the care and education of young children bear a great responsibility for these children’s health, development, and learning. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) were commissioned to explore the implications of the science of child development for the professionals who work with children birth through age 8. In this report, the committee finds that much is known about what professionals who pro­vide care and education for children need to know and be able to do and what professional learning supports they need. However, that knowledge is not fully reflected in the current capacities and practices of the workforce, the settings in which they work, the policies and infrastructure that set qualifications and provide professional learning, and the government and other funders who support and oversee these systems. The report offers recommendations to build a workforce that is unified by the foundation of the science of child development and early learning and the shared knowledge and competencies that are needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age 8.

Emergent Literacy Intervention for Prekindergarteners at Risk for Reading Failure: Years 2 and 3 of a Multiyear Study

Bailet, L.L., Repper, K., Murphy, S., Piasta, S., Zettler-Greeley, C. (2013) Emergent Literacy Intervention for Prekindergarteners at Risk for Reading Failure: Years 2 and 3 of a Multiyear Study, Journal of Learning Disabilities March/April 2013 vol. 46 no. 2 133-153.

This study examined the effectiveness of an emergent literacy intervention for prekindergarten children at risk for reading failure, to replicate and improve on significant findings from Year 1 of the study. Lessons targeted critical emergent literacy skills through explicit, developmentally appropriate activities for prekindergarteners. Hierarchical linear models were used to nest children within center and measure treatment effects on phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and vocabulary skills. Results indicated significant treatment effects on multiple measures in Years 2 and 3. This study replicated and strengthened findings from Year 1 in demonstrating a positive impact of this intervention for prekindergarteners at risk for reading failure.

Association of a Full-Day vs Part-Day Preschool Intervention With School Readiness, Attendance, and Parent Involvement

Reynolds AJ, Richardson BA, Hayakawa M, et al. Association of a Full-Day vs Part-Day Preschool Intervention With School Readiness, Attendance, and Parent Involvement. Journal of the American Medical Association 2014; 312 (20): 2126-2134.

In an expansion of the Child-Parent Center Education Program (CPC) in Chicago, a full-day preschool intervention was associated with increased school readiness skills CPC is a school-based public program with strong evidence of benefits. Implemented in the Chicago Public Schools since 1967, the program provides comprehensive education and family services beginning in preschool. Cohort studies have found that participation has helped eliminate the achievement gap in school readiness and performance; reduced rates of child maltreatment, remedial education, and crime; and increased rates of high school graduation and economic well-being. Benefits exceed costs by a ratio of 7 to 1. A scale-up of the CPC program began in 2012 in more diverse communities. The model was revised to incorporate advances in teaching practices and family services and included the opening of full-day preschool classrooms in some sites.

Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology for Use in Early Childhood Education

Lindsay Daugherty, Rafiq Dossani, Erin-Elizabeth Johnson, and Cameron Wright (October 2014) Moving Beyond Screen Time: Redefining Developmentally Appropriate Technology for Use in Early Childhood Education. Rand Corporation: Arlington, VA.

Conversations about what constitutes "developmentally appropriate" use of technology in early childhood education have, to date, focused largely on a single, blunt measure — screen time — that fails to capture important nuances, such as what type of media a child is accessing and whether technology use is taking place solo or with peers. Using screen time as the primary measure of developmentally appropriate use has become increasingly inappropriate as new technologies are ever more rapidly introduced and integrated into all aspects of life, and as we learn more about the potential benefits of technology. The authors challenge the traditional emphasis on screen time and discuss how to move toward a more comprehensive definition of developmentally appropriate technology use for young children.

Kindergartners' Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K

Sara Bernstein, Jerry West, Rebecca Newsham, and Maya Reid (July 15, 2014) Kindergartners' Skills at School Entry: An Analysis of the ECLS-K Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research.

Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 data set, this brief examines the school readiness and abilities of beginning kindergartners across several academic and behavioral areas and highlights those areas where attention before kindergarten might benefit all children, as well as help close the gaps between more- and less-advantaged children. The brief reports that 44 percent of children enter kindergarten with one or more risk factors based on their home environment; these risk factors are incrementally associated with lower school readiness scores for children than for those with no such circumstances; and despite an increase in programs to level the playing field by giving disadvantaged children opportunities for preschool education, these gaps persist.

Beyond "Subprime Learning": Accelerating Progress in Early Education

Laura Bornfreund, Clare McCann, Conor Williams, and Lisa Guernsey (July 2015). Beyond "Subprime Learning": Accelerating Progress in Early Education. Washington, D.C.: New America Foundation.

This report urges education policymakers to put more focus on teaching and learning in the early years and continue that work up through third grade. States and the federal government must do more to foster real teaching and learning, which means structuring policies to put a priority on promoting language-rich interactions between children and adults. The authors also proposes new policies related to Head Start, dual-language learners, elementary school principals, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

The Magic of Words

Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright (Summer 2014) American Educator, Vol. 38, No. 2, American Federation of Teachers.

From the beginning of schooling, children from various socioeconomic groups differ greatly in their vocabulary knowledge; those from high-income families tend to know many more words than those from low-income ones. Research shows that certain practices for teaching vocabulary — an important building block for learning — such as making connections among words and repeatedly exposing students to content-related words, can accelerate young children's oral vocabulary development, regardless of family income.

Talking to Children Matters: Early Language Experience Strengthens Processing and Builds Vocabulary

Weisleder, A. & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to children matters: Early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary. Psychological Science, November 2013 24: 2143-2152.

In this study, researchers explored how the amount of speech directed to infants in Spanish-speaking families low in socioeconomic status influenced the development of children’s skill in real-time language processing and vocabulary learning. Results showed that children who had experienced more child-directed speech were more efficient at processing language. The analyses revealed a cascade of effects — those toddlers who heard more child-directed talk became faster and more reliable in interpreting speech, and it was their superior skill in processing language that then increased their success in vocabulary learning. An important finding was that even within a low-SES group there were substantial differences among parents in verbal engagement with their children and in children's language outcomes.

Same, Different and Diverse: Understanding Children Who Are English Language Learners

Bank Street College and Education Development Center, Inc. (2014) Same, Different and Diverse: Understanding Children Who Are English Language Learners, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, National Center on
Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness.

One third of the children enrolled in Early Head Start and Head Start are Dual Language Learners (DLLs). They are a diverse group who have different languages, experiences, strengths, and gifts. Recent research points out the similarities among ALL young children — those who are leaning one or several languages (e.g., children are born with natural capabilities for language and for learning); differences between children growing up with one language (monolinguals) and children who are DLLs (e.g., children may learn some ideas such as counting, in one of their languages but not the other); and diversity among children who are DLLs (e.g., individual differences of temperament, interests,etc.). Early Head Start and Head Start programs can best support the school readiness for Dual Language Learners when they understand each child's unique characteristics and needs.

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"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx