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Guest opinion: Reading before age 5 makes all the difference

The Post-Independent – Rick Blauvelt

” Learning to read is an amazing achievement. Children enter the world with no knowledge of language, and within six or seven years, they are readers. For most children, the process begins long before kindergarten or primary school as they learn language, gain verbal skills, and build basic knowledge about words, sentences and the alphabet. A large body of research confirms positive correlations between language development during the first five years of life and reading success later in life. A recent study at Stanford found that toddlers with more vocabulary – those who could immediately point to the correct item when asked – developed brains that literally processed information faster. It is easy to imagine a compounding impact. When a child hears more language and recognizes more words, her brain begins to process information faster and her learning accelerates. Similar studies have shown that children in low-verbal households can enter school two years behind in their language development, and that this lack of language starts to harm the child’s IQ.”(more)

Major Harvard Gift Spurs Early Childhood Education Study

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“The Harvard Graduate School of Education has announced that it will be using a $35 million gift to launch a new early childhood program that will conduct one of the largest studies performed in decades on pre-K education. “It’s one of the most significant investments in early childhood education,” said the graduate school’s dean, James Ryan. “I think it will give us the capacity to tackle some of the most important issues and challenges in early childhood education, which are basically about how you create high quality pre-K for all kids.”…The study will focus on the key questions facing policymakers today, including those concerning scale, the long-term impacts of early education, and what is needed for a successful model.”(more)

California lags in national report on public preschool systems

Ed Surge – Jeremy Hay

“California’s publicly funded preschool system ranks low in program quality, state spending and access, according to a report released Thursday. The annual report by the National Institute for Early Education Research, The State of Preschool 2015, analyzed preschool funding and policy in 2015 for all 50 states. It found preschool quality and access have improved in many states since the 2008 recession. But for California, which during the recession cut nearly $1 billion from its California State Preschool Program for low-income families, the rankings have barely budged, the report found.”(more)

When Character, Flexibility and Laughter Are at the Center of Kindergarten

KQED News Mind/Shift – Elissa Nadworny

“When you enter Marissa McGee’s classroom, the first thing you notice is her connection with her students. They’re delighted by her enthusiasm, they pick up on her sarcasm, and they often double over with giggles when she makes a joke. And this is kindergarten. So McGee’s students — her audience — are 5-year-olds.”(more)

Bringing Brain Science to Early Childhood

The Atlantic – Emily Deruy

“A group of scholars at Harvard University is spearheading a campaign to make sure the early-childhood programs policymakers put in place to disrupt intergenerational poverty are backed by the latest science. The idea sounds entirely reasonable, but it’s all too rare in practice, says Jack P. Shonkoff, the director of the university’s Center on the Developing Child and the chair of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. That’s because program grants and policies are generally structured in ways that incentivize “positive” results…On Wednesday, the center will publish a report that calls for an online and in-person network that uses recent advances in scientists’ understanding of the way young brains grow to create and test early-childhood interventions…In short, the idea is to invest in different people and programs who understand the science behind child development and give them the ability to test different interventions.”(more)

In China, We Send Our 2-Year-Olds To Preschool — And It’s Amazing

Babble – Tatum Hawkins

“When our family relocated from California to Shanghai, China, my daughters were 2-and-a-half years old and 8 months old. I found it so interesting that one of the first questions people we’d meet would ask us is where our oldest would be attending preschool. Not when or if, but where…Outside the U.S., it’s not uncommon for preschool to start earlier than 3 or 4 years old, and the children often attend all day, four to five days a week. Sending kids off to preschool is a no-brainer for many international parents…So we decided to take the plunge…As a parent, I love the international way of sending kids to preschool at a younger age, and for a number of reasons that I would never have considered before. Here are five of them…”(more)