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Working play into early childhood education boosts students’ learning experience

Phys ORG – Jim Carlson

“Incorporating play into early childhood education can lead to better schoolwork among preschool and primary-level students, research by a pair of Penn State professors has shown, and instructing prospective teaching candidates to follow that path should be a constant. Play has been an important part of teacher preparation in early childhood education because preschool and primary children learn through play and it is necessary for their development, according to Jim Johnson, professor of education in curriculum and instruction and program director for early childhood education in the College of Education.”(more)

Is universal preschool the answer? Britain says ‘yes’

The Hechinger Report – Lillian Mongeau

“Any child in England who has turned 3 by Sept. 1 is guaranteed 15 hours a week of free child-care or preschool for 38 weeks a year, or 570 hours total, paid for by the national government. “We don’t think of it as socialism at all,” said Oxford University professor Edward Melhuish, who studies child development and was instrumental in conducting the research that largely led to England’s current policies. “We think of it as common sense.” Apparently, so do most parents, 94 percent of whom take the government up on its offer of free education starting at age 3, according to government data. At age 4, 99 percent of children have started “reception,” the English version of kindergarten. Most 4-year-olds attend reception at their local primary school, but parents can choose to send their 3-year-old to a private center, a publicly funded nursery, a state-funded primary school or a home-based day care provider.”(more)

Teachers want more support in early education communication

E-School News – Laura Devaney

“Few educators report having tools in place to communicate with parents of students before they enter school. While almost all educators feel support of parents with children younger than school age is important, only 23 percent of educators have sufficient tools to do so, according to a survey from Office Depot. The nonprofit Center for College & Career Readiness and Office Depot’s “Committed to Learning” initiative surveyed thousands of teachers to understand their perceptions of early education preparation.”(more)

STEM Seeds Planted Early

The Huffington Post – Matthew Randazzo

“At a recent event hosted by the Brookings Institution, NASA Chief Administrator Charles Bolden noted that in order for the U.S. to reach Mars by the 2030s, our kids need to develop a mindset for embracing and understanding science right now — in elementary school. Think about that for a moment: If we are to reach for the stars, and if we are to secure our nation’s future as a global leader in innovation and economic prosperity, our investment lies not only in our workforce development and the strength of our engineering and space programs, but also in our youngest learners. Sadly, despite our progress expanding math and science learning opportunities for high school and college students, we are still starting too late.”(more)

Babies’ spatial reasoning predicts later math skills

Medical X-Press – Carol Clark

“Spatial reasoning measured in infancy predicts how children do at math at four years of age, finds a new study published in Psychological Science. “We’ve provided the earliest documented evidence for a relationship between spatial reasoning and math ability,” says Emory University psychologist Stella Lourenco, whose lab conducted the research. “We’ve shown that spatial reasoning beginning early in life, as young as six months of age, predicts both the continuity of this ability and mathematical development.” Emory graduate student Jillian Lauer is co-author of the study. The researchers controlled the longitudinal study for general cognitive abilities of the children, including measures such as vocabulary, working memory, short-term spatial memory and processing speed.”(more)

What do preschool teachers need to do a better job?

The Hechinger Report – Lillian Mongeau

“There are, New York City public school principal Kristina Beecher discovered, an awful lot of types of play blocks. There are wooden blocks, cardboard blocks, magnetic blocks, clear plastic blocks, number blocks, letter blocks, and fish-shaped blocks, to name a few. And all of them are advertised as the best possible blocks for outfitting a preschool classroom. Such choices have been faced by principals like Beecher across the city in the last two years as New York has moved to accommodate all of the city’s public school 4-year-olds in high quality preschool classrooms. Between the 2013-14 school year and the 2015-16 school year, the city converted thousands of preschool seats from half-day to full-day and also added thousands of brand new seats for a total new enrollment of 49,360 full-day seats.* They also added 2,000 teachers.”(more)