Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Beat the Summer Slump

How to Incorporate Learning into Summer Play 

It's summer, which means kids are home all day, and parents are looking for ways to keep kids entertained. It's also important though to keep kids motivated to learn and read over the summer along with enjoying their free time. During a "summer slump" kids may not want to sit down and read a book or practice their numbers or colors. Here are some tips to fight the summer slump, and incorporate some learning and reading into your kids' summer play time. 

1. Make Reading a Challenge
It's no secret that kids love a good competition. To get your kids to read more, challenge them to a reading competition. If your child can read more books than you by the end of the summer, then he or she gets a prize! 

2. Make Learning an Adventure
Send your child on a nature scavenger hunt, where they have to find things in nature according to a set of rules. For example, find something red, find a flower with more than four petals, etc. This allows children to learn and spend some quality outdoor time! 

3. Incorporate Learning into Sports
For example, when playing basketball, choose more challenging words than "Pig". Your child won't even realize he or she is practicing spelling!

4. Make Learning Hands On
Crafts are always a sure-fire way to maintain attention and interest. Practice geometry with cut and paste projects, practice numbers and fractions with baking, etc. Here are some more great hands on learning activities to try. 

5. Take Advantage of Car Time
Since you'll likely be spending a lot of time this summer in the car, driving to and from practices and vacations, take advantage of time in the car to practice learning states from license plates or colors from other cars. 

6. Take Advantage of Activities and Events for Kids
Museums, libraries, bookstores and many other places have excellent activities available for free (or very inexpensive) for kids in the summer. These activities tend to do a great job of incorporating education into fun play time. 

Resources such as Time Out New York Kids and Red Tricycle have some great events for kids and families. 

Have a safe, fun and educational summer! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Snapshot of Early Childhood Education 2014-2015

Slow Progress with a Silver Lining

A recent look at the status of early childhood education in this country demonstrates a lot of good intentions, but poor follow-through.

Since 2014, a total of 924 early childhood education bills were introduced by state legislatures. Of these bills proposed, most of them represented small moves towards public preschool and more childcare availability to a larger range of students.

These small steps and slow progress in early childhood education is consistent with history. At the pace at which we've been moving continues, "it would take about 75 years for states to reach 50% enrollment at age 4, and 150 years to reach 70% enrollment" (Ed Week).  The opposition to proposed bills has been due to costs of starting new programs and concerns over the government's involvement in the lives of young children.

While there has been hesitation to fund and build new programs, there is a silver lining, as many states have made efforts to expand pre-existing early education and childcare programs. The most progress has been made in Indiana, Mississippi and NYC, but there are many states that have made notable progress.

  • Massachusetts: Increased spending on ECE by $14.7 million
  • Alabama: Increased spending on ECE by $27.5 million 
  • Washington: Increased spending on ECE by $98 million 
  • California: Increased spending on ECE by $220 million 
  • Minnesota: Increased spending on ECE by $279 million 
The most significant move though made in the area of early childhood education came from North Dakota. The state created new programs to provide vouchers for preschool for low-income four-year-olds. North Dakota remains the only state to implement an entirely new program, allowing for over 3,000 children to attend preschool. 

While there are some good things happening, we still need more. We still have a ways to go until every child has the opportunity to get their education off on the right foot. With 924 bills proposed, the future of early education is looking brighter, but "if all the legislative proposals to expand early-childhood-care and early-education programs...had passed, the nation would be entering a new era of near-universal preschool for young children" (Ed Week). 

Read more about the current state of early childhood education in Ed Week and Education DIVE