Children

Helping parents find the best preschools in Massachusetts

Updated 10.31.2013

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Why Preschool Can Save The World (audio)

“We revisit decades-long studies that found preschool made a huge difference in the lives of poor children. And we talk to a Nobel prize-winning economist who says that spending public money on preschool produces a huge return on investment.“

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K

“The new research by Anne Fernald, a psychologist at Stanford University, which was published in Developmental Science this year, showed that at 18 months children from wealthier homes could identify pictures of simple words they knew — “dog“ or “ball“ — much faster than children from low-income families. By age 2, the study found, affluent children had learned 30 percent more words in the intervening months than the children from low-income homes.“

11 Virtual Tools for the Math Classroom

“More and more classrooms are gaining access to technology that can be used with students. Whether you're modeling a lesson, creating stations or working in a one-to-one classroom, virtual tools can promote student engagement while increasing academic success.“

Too Much Evidence to Ignore on Preschool

“This afternoon, the New America Foundation hosted an event highlighting a new paper titled Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education with primary authors Hirokazu Yoshikawa and Christina Weiland. The research brief provides a comprehensive review of current research on preschool and finds that preschool has very positive results for children.“

Give Children a Chance to Lose — and Win

“By age 4 or 5, children aren’t fooled by all the trophies. They are surprisingly accurate in identifying who excels and who struggles. Those who are outperformed know it and give up, while those who do well feel cheated when they aren’t recognized for their accomplishments. They, too, may give up.“

Teach Preschoolers How To Code With a Board Game

“There is no shortage of books and online programs teaching you how to code once you can use a computer. But how would you learn to code if you can’t even read? How could 3-year-olds begin to learn the basics of computer programming?“

As preschool obesity rates dip, Boston Children’s expert suggests feds step to the plate

“The scales may not be tipping quite so precipitously for some low-income preschoolers. So says a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nineteen states saw small decreases in obesity rates among preschoolers between 2008 and 2011, while rates held steady in another 20 states. Is this cause for celebration, cautious optimism or concern?“

How We Can Actually Create Lifelong Learners

“A quick Google search of the phrase student centered learning provides volumes of information on the benefits of this learning model. However, to me the most important benefit of student centered learning is that it is truly the road to follow for realizing that most popular and often overstated school mission of developing life-long learners.“

Empathy: The Most Important Back-to-School Supply

“My most important back-to-school supply doesn't fit in a backpack, and it can't be ordered online. It's as essential as a pencil, but unlike a pencil, no technology can replace it. In a sense, like a fresh box of crayons, it can come in many colors. Better than the latest gadget, it's possible to equip every student with it, and even better, when we do, it can transform our world. It's actually a 'muscle' I've been working on all summer. It's empathy.“

How to Trigger Students’ Inquiry Through Projects

“When students engage in quality projects, they develop knowledge, skills, and dispositions that serve them in the moment and in the long term. Unfortunately, not all projects live up to their potential. Sometimes the problem lies in the design process. It’s easy to jump directly into planning the activities students will engage in without addressing important elements that will affect the overall quality of the project.“

Pre-K for Every Child: A Matter of Fairness (pdf)

“Children who attend high-quality pre-K are more successful in elementary school and beyond because some of the most important learning takes place in the years before kindergarten. Every child in America should have the opportunity to attend high-quality pre-K, but with a limited supply of publicly funded pre-K and the high cost of high-quality private pre-K, many children are being left out. This paper examines the limited supply of publicly funded pre-K, how the cost of high-quality private pre-K fits into the budget of low-income, working families, and what this means for pre-K participation.“

Too many psychiatric diagnoses for children: an epidemic of labels

“If ever diagnosis should be conservative, it should be in kids. Instead, we have experienced an unprecedented diagnostic exuberance encouraged in part by DSM-IV, but mostly stimulated by the powerful external forces of drug company marketing and the close coupling of school services to a diagnosis of mental disorder.“

Can we please stop talking about stay-at-home vs. working mothers?

“It’s not easy to find really good childcare unless you have ample resources—and like the lack of paid maternity leave, this forces many parents to make choices that aren’t always the best ones for their children. We need to raise the bar for child care when it comes to training and licensing—and we need to subsidize it, so everyone can afford it.“

Cracking a Secret Code to Learning: Hand Gestures

The thoughts expressed by hand motions are often our newest and most advanced ideas about the problem we’re working on; we can’t yet assimilate these notions into language, but we can capture them in movement. When a child employs gesture, Goldin-Meadow notes, “the information about the child’s cognitive state is conveyed sub rosa—below the surface of ordinary conversation.” Such gesture-speech mismatches have been found in toddlers going through a vocabulary spurt, in elementary-school children describing why the seasons change, and in adults attempting to explain how a machine works

Patty Murray Pre-K Push Planned In Tuesday Speech

Research has shown profound neural developmental benefits of high-quality preschools. Still, Murray said the U.S. hasn't done much to expand preschools. “We have no national strategy to increase participation in early childhood education,“ she said “Our country ranks 28th in the proportion of 4-year-olds enrolled in prekindergarten, and 25th in public funding for early learning.“

How To Prevent Summer Learning Loss Through Quality Programming

School is out for many area public school students and the concept known as Summer Learning Loss says some of those students will lose week’s worth of skills over the next few months. Plus, studies show the losses are even greater for at-risk students, who may lose as much as two to three months of reading skills during the summer. Most students lose two to three months in math skills, studies show.

G.O.P. Bill on Schools Would Set Fewer Rules

The Alexander bill is described in its introduction as restoring “freedom to parents, teachers, principals, governors and local communities so that they can improve their local public schools.”

Ready, Set, Read! Summer Fiction Ideas for Kids of All Ages

Prevent summer brain drain: that’s the reason many backpacks — most likely laying in the same places they were joyfully dropped on the last day of school — contain a rumpled, but hopefully not forgotten, summer reading list from school. Teachers and experts have long suggested that reading over summer break helps kids from losing everything they’ve learned over the school year. And new research shows that reading fiction especially might do more than serve kids academically – it may even make them better people.

The Best Education Apps (iOS)

Education apps are everywhere. But when it comes to apps, you can’t go wrong if you start with iOS. So that’s what we’ve done. Below is our curated list of hand-picked iOS education apps.

Pediatricians and prevention of toxic stress

If those who care for children and families on the front lines have the time to develop these relationships, if there is a strong system of mental health care to support families who are struggling and a medical education system that encourages clinicians to listen to parents’ stories, we will be well on our way. The image comes to mind of a set of Russian dolls. When the health care system allows the primary care clinician time to listen to the whole of parents’ experience and to support their inherent wisdom and intuition, parents are enabled to be fully present with their child. In other words, the system holds the clinician, who holds the parents, who hold the children.

Open Letter from Business Leaders to President Obama and Members of Congress

"Overwhelming amounts of research and evidence show the return on investment from giving young children a good start in life. We have examined the research and drawn our own conclusions: quality early childhood programs have a significant and positive impact on the skilled workforce, customer base, economy and nation we need. Behavioral skills highly valued by employers, such as self-discipline, persistence and cooperation, start in the youngest years and last a lifetime."

The Path to Lifelong Success Begins with P-3 (pdf)

Students’ early education experiences set the tone for future success as they transition through the learning continuum. Standards- and assessment-based reforms have helped to identify which children exhibit more success in third grade and beyond; but to date these efforts have failed to meaningfully close achievement gaps. The lesser known “P-3” reform approaches, however, are gaining traction because they focus on the crucial early childhood years from preschool through third grade.

Teaching Respect and Responsibility — Even to Digital Natives

Parents sometimes say that today’s students are so far ahead in the technological realm, that the older generations can turn to them for help, writes education journalist John Merrow, author of The Influence of Teachers. He worries that this kind of thinking will resign adult responsibility. “But being a ‘digital native’ is not the same as being a ‘digital citizen.’ Young people have always needed ethical guidance and the security of rules and boundaries.”

Building Social and Emotional Skills in Elementary Students: Share Your Gifts

We're excited to present this final post of the nine-part series from the Project Happiness elementary school curriculum. Within this series, we've taught important factors that have been proven to enhance the happiness and social and emotional learning of elementary school age children, giving them a significant advantage for life. Each blog has featured one letter of the acronym HAPPINESS:

  • H = Happiness
  • A = Appreciation
  • P = Passions and Strengths
  • P = Perspective
  • I = Inner Meanie/Inner Friend
  • N = Ninja Mastery
  • E = Empathy
  • S = So Similar
  • S = Share Your Gifts

An Ocean of Unknowns: Risks and Opportunities in Using Student Achievement Data to Evaluate PreK-3rd Grade Teachers

What is the best way to use data to measure teacher impact on student learning? States and school districts are attempting to navigate these uncharted waters. As of 2012, 20 states and DC require evidence of student learning to play a role in evaluating teacher performance. As a result, better information on student learning is in high demand, and no grade level is immune. Historically, most states have required standardized testing only in grades three through eight. But now those 21 states, with likely more to follow, must figure out comparable ways to measure student learning in the “untested grades,” as well, including pre-K, kindergarten, and grades one and two. And even with testing in grade three, a lack of baseline data has implications for those teachers too.

Read full report (pdf) here: An Ocean of Unknowns: Risks and Opportunities in Using Student Achievement Data to Evaluate PreK-3rd Grade Teachers

Could preschool drop-off anxiety be related to kindergarten next year? I'm betting.

May is prime time for a child's fears to surface, as preschool teachers (mistakenly, in my opinion) spend too much time talking about “getting ready for kindergarten“ and saying things like, “You can't do that in kindergarten!“ Even seemingly innocuous comments from the postman or grandma -- “You're so grown up! You're going to be in kindergarten!“ -- can be ominous to a child who has no concrete idea what it means to be “grown up“ or to “be in kindergarten.“

Writing Undergoes Renaissance in Curricula

Teachers are focusing on writing instruction like never before. More and more, they're asking students to write about what they read, helping them think through and craft their work, and using such exercises as tools not only to build better writers, but to help students understand what they're studying.

24 iPad Apps to Support Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy, introduced in the 1950s as a system of organizing learning objectives into a pyramid, traditionally has started with creating at the top, followed by evaluating, analyzing, applying, understanding, and remembering. Some educators today are flipping the triangle so that remembering is on top, followed by understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating on the bottom. During an edWeb.net webinar, educational technologist Kathy Schrock presented a variety of apps for iPads that can boost student engagement and collaboration, and that can be used for teaching and learning according to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Kids and Adults: How To Avert Communication Breakdown

Schools, meanwhile, serve as the point of intersection for kids and adults, who are often trapped in the cross hairs of different modes and patterns of communication. Frustration invariably surfaces as kids and adults struggle to figure out how to co-exist in schools where technology is being introduced and integrated, especially through the very devices they use for social interaction.

Building Social and Emotional Skills in Elementary Students: Empathy

Why is it important to “walk in someone else's shoes?“ According to a study by the Brookings Institution, “Higher curriculum standards don't correlate to higher student achievement; empathy does.“ Empathy is also gaining attention as an important component of emotional intelligence and as a way to reduce bullying. When a person learns to understand and share the feelings of another, the pro-social behavior that results shows up in better relationships, closer friendships and stronger communities -- it's that important!

Leave Family Playtime Alone

Nearly every parent can name half a dozen or more “shoulds” that she should be squeezing in with her children daily: talking about math concepts, cooking healthy nutritious meals while conveying a positive body image, reading aloud, promoting physical activity …

How Parents Around the World Describe Their Children, in Charts

The biggest difference between American parents and their counterparts in Europe might be that they are far more relaxed about enrichment than we are, according to a study released this week by Sara Harkness and Charles M. Super at the School of Family Studies at the University of Connecticut. Not only are Americans far more likely to focus on their children's intelligence and cognitive skills, they are also far less likely to describe them as “happy“ or “easy“ children to parent.

Ramping Up Early-Childhood Programs Should Be Done With Care

It's important to offer early-childhood education programs but if President Barack Obama's proposed expansion of Head Start comes to fruition, policymakers must be careful to ensure the quality of teachers in the rush to hire them, warns RAND Corporation Associate Director of Education Brian Stecher. Simply put, programs without such educators won't make nearly the intended impact, he wrote in a new RAND commentary.

Distance to Mars

Fun little demonstration of the distance to Mars - perfect for discussing scale with young science students.

Replacing Teachers with Emotion

After all, you're here, aren't you -- looking for resources to become a better teacher or administrator? And you're in education to begin with -- that's a selfless and Sisyphean pursuit in itself. You want what's best for the future of mankind, so you decided to teach. Went to college, learned about Vygotsky and Piaget, and here you are on Edutopia, finding out what makes learners tick.

Should School Discipline Take Gender Into Account?

In an Education Week chat earlier today, Kelley King, the author of Writing the Playbook: A Practitioner's Guide to Creating a Boy-Friendly School, discussed how schools can address the gender gap in both achievement and discipline. (The chat was thus appropriately named "Strategies for Addressing School Gender Gaps.")

Report: State Kindergarten Policies Show Inequities

In 11 states and the District of Columbia, full-day kindergarten is a requirement, but in five states, the decision to offer kindergarten is left up to individual districts. A "full day" of kindergarten ranges from four to seven hours, depending on where a child lives. And in 35 states, kindergarten attendance is not mandated even if kindergarten is available.

4 Ways To Encourage Learning Outside The Classroom

The school bell rings and students are practically climbing over one another trying to get out the door; they’re off to spend time on any number of activities, gadgetry, and entertainment. Education has expanded beyond the classroom but it’s often too difficult to encourage your students to spend the extra hour working on their knowledge, let alone convince them it’s just as rewarding as spending their time on Facebook and video games.

Think of the Children

Imposing austerity on our youngest citizens is unfair. It’s also bad economics. About 70,000 children are likely to lose access to Head Start on our current fiscal course.

Three-District Collaboration on Early Learning in Washington State

Three of the largest school districts in Washington state – Edmonds, Everett and Seattle – have pulled together in a spirit full of collaboration and innovation and formed a three-district coalition to work together on key pieces of early learning/early elementary alignment. In doing so, they’re showing other school districts in Washington, and across the country, what’s possible.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has released the full report (pdf) evaluating this collaborative model. Its available here.

New Federal Research Project on Building a Strong Early Ed Workforce

What knowledge and skills do teachers of young children, from preschool through third grade, need to best serve their students? Through a new, 18-month study of the pre-K-3rd teaching force, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services are working with the National Academy of Sciences, to answer this big question.

link to a related older report (pdf)
Getting in Sync: Revamping Licensure and Preparation for Teachers in Pre-K, Kindergarten and the Early Grades

What is children's mental health care?

"Patricia Wen's front page story Children's Access to Mental Health Care is Growing, in which she describes the 'co-location' of mental health care services in pediatric practices, brought me back to the summer of 2011 when I attended a meeting of a working group of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of
Pediatrics (MCAAP.) The task of this working group, a subgroup of the MCAAP task force on mental health care in pediatrics, was to address the need for collaboration between pediatricians and mental health professionals in caring for children. At the meeting individuals described different models.

"

Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says

Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says. Dr. Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination.

Doing the Math: The Cost of Publicly Funded ‘Universal’ Pre-K

"During the media frenzy that followed President Obama’s unprecedented call for expanding pre-K to all four-year-olds in the United States, we estimated that the additional cost to states and the federal government, combined, to be somewhere between $10-15 billion per year. We estimate that the feds and the states currently spend about $9 billion on pre-K for four-year-olds. We wanted to explain exactly how we came to that conclusion."

Building Social and Emotional Skills in Elementary Students: Emotional Management

"In this nine-part series, we will look at important factors that influence the happiness and social and emotional learning of elementary school age children. These are very useful in helping students learn, manage emotions better and increase empathy. Each blog features one letter of the acronym HAPPINESS:

  1. H = Happiness
  2. A = Appreciation
  3. P = Passions and Strengths
  4. P = Perspective
  5. I = Inner Meanie/Inner Friend
  6. N = Ninja Mastery
  7. E = Empathy
  8. S = So Similar
  9. S = Share Your Gifts

In this post, we will explore Ninja Mastery, a.k.a. learning emotional management."

Some preschools' seats empty after freeze on state aid

These are critical years in a child’s life, a time when achievement gaps emerge, and the prime moment to intervene. But in Massachusetts, 30,000 children from low-income families linger on preschool waiting lists, unable to obtain the state voucher that will pay for their care. The backlog has nearly doubled since 2011, when state budget problems led to a freeze in issuing new vouchers.

Capitalists for Preschool

"In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for making preschool available to every 4-year-old in America, opening a welcome discussion on whether and how to make the investments needed to realize this vision.

As two longtime corporate executives who have been engaged in education for decades, we have no doubt about the answer to this question. Children who attend high-quality preschool do much better when they arrive in kindergarten, and this makes an enormous difference for their later success. The data on preschool is overwhelmingly positive. Although some studies suggest that the positive impact decreases over time, this is mainly attributable to differences in the quality of preschool and of the schooling that follows — not a deficiency in preschool itself.
"

Early Education leaders hoping Mass. budget passes, making wish-lists of needs

"Massachusetts early child-care educators say that Patrick’s proposal would help restore balance to a system thrown out of whack by the voucher freeze. Slots open up as children age out or move out of early child-care programs, but new children cannot enroll because their families cannot access needed subsidies, said William Eddy, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care."

Great Read-Alouds From The New York Times

Categorized suggestions, from the Learning Network staff and from teacher-friends around the country, for great Times essays, articles, Op-Eds and humor pieces on a range of topics to read aloud to your students — no matter what their ages. (Bonus: Nearly everything here falls under the definition of “informational text” emphasized by the Common Core Standards.)

Beyond Q+A: Six Strategies That Motivate ALL Students to Participate

How can we get our shiest students, or even our student with her head down in the back of our class, participating? While cold calling, randomizers or pulling a Popsicle stick will ensure students are equally called upon, some students find that approach frightening or annoying.

Build the Quality Pre-K Pipeline

Current preschool, nursery school, and center-based care settings (including both parent-paid and publicly funded options) serve a bit less than 70% of all 4-year-olds, meaning that, in order to offer universal pre-k access, we'd need to expand the total number of pre-k seats by at least 40%. The need is even greater in some metro areas, where parents often find limited space, long waiting lists, or complex selection processes to get into any preschool program at all, and even more so in some rural areas, where there just aren't any preschool centers.

Why Preschool Isn't Enough

What holds us back? One factor is "fade-out" -- the concern that preschool's ability to help disadvantaged children may fade over time, not lasting beyond kindergarten or first grade. A big sticking point in today's debates revolves around a recent study tracking children who attended a year of Head Start, the federal government's pre-K program for children in poverty.

Commission: Pre-K for all poor students within decade

An Education Department commission is recommending pre-kindergarten programs for every poor student within 10 years, adding a timeframe to President Barack Obama’s similar call to help the least advantaged arrive for their first day of classes as prepared as their counterparts from more affluent homes.

Research: A ‘Media Diet’ Can Lead to Less Aggressive Behavior in Children

When researchers helped parents choose a better "media diet" for 3- to 5-year-olds, the results were encouraging. In a randomized trial, the children who watched less violent programs and whose parents paid closer attention to what the children were watching were less aggressive than those in a control group, and they scored higher on "measures of social competence" as much as a year later.

Reactions to the President’s Pre-K Speech and Proposal

The early childhood education (ECE) field is a-twitter with responses following President Obama’s announcement of federal investments in preschool for all during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Many have questions about how administration’s plan will approach preschool education. Will programs truly be of high quality? Will programs strike a balance between academics and play? What about programs for children younger than age 4? NIEER offered recommendations on the key components of a federal plan last week, but the White House plan is still surrounded by many more questions

Fact Sheet President Obama’s Plan for Early Education for all Americans

The beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in life. Leading economists agree that high-quality early learning programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades. Children who attend these programs are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs, and succeed in their careers than those who don’t. And research has shown that taxpayers receive a high average return on investments in high-quality early childhood education, with savings in areas like improved educational outcomes, increased labor productivity, and a reduction in crime.

Should All Children Be Able to Go to Preschool?

Join the conversation: President Obama made preschool a focus of his State of the Union address this week, saying that all 4-year-olds should be able to attend a “high-quality preschool.” He pointed to states like Oklahoma and Georgia that are already trying to achieve that goal. What do you think? Should all children be able to go to preschool?

The Complexities of Obama's Universal Pre-Kindergarten Plan

The most important proposal in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address may be one that gets the least attention and, quite possibly, has the least chance of becoming law in the near future: his proposal to create a universal pre-kindergarten program.

Preschool ADHD, preterm babies, and T. Berry Brazelton

There are two important studies published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. First, the PATS (preschool attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder treatment study) showed that at 6 year follow-up the treatment, medication and/or behavior management was not working. Ninety percent of children continued to experience symptoms 6 years after diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

Why Early Education is Good for Business

“Early childhood programs are a good investment, with inflation-adjusted annual rates of return to these funds of 10% or higher,” says Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. "Very few alternative investments can promise that kind of return."

The quote above - the last sentence of this excellent blog post by Irene Sege captures it all - preschool is an excellent investment, one of the best.

Adolescents’ Functional Numeracy Is Predicted by Their School Entry Number System Knowledge

One in five adults in the United States is functionally innumerate; they do not possess the mathematical competencies needed for many modern jobs. We administered functional numeracy measures used in studies of young adults’ employability and wages to 180 thirteen-year-olds. The adolescents began the study in kindergarten and participated in multiple assessments of intelligence, working memory, mathematical cognition, achievement, and in-class attentive behavior. Their number system knowledge at the beginning of first grade was defined by measures that assessed knowledge of the systematic relations among Arabic numerals and skill at using this knowledge to solve arithmetic problems. Early number system knowledge predicted functional numeracy more than six years later (ß = 0.195, p = .0014) controlling for intelligence, working memory, in-class attentive behavior, mathematical achievement, demographic and other factors, but skill at using counting procedures to solve arithmetic problems did not. In all, we identified specific beginning of schooling numerical knowledge that contributes to individual differences in adolescents’ functional numeracy and demonstrated that performance on mathematical achievement tests underestimates the importance of this early knowledge.

This recent research provides a critical link to the importance of a strong preschool ciricullum and long term educational and social success.

Governor Patrick Discussing Early Education on WBZ (podcast)

"Early education – quality early education – and the ability to assure that our children are proficient in reading by third grade is well documented as an indicator of future academic success. And I’m not just talking about through high school. I mean in life. Imagine that. So everything else, if you don’t get it by then, everything else is catch-up and remediation"

Investment in preschool, kindergarten is paying off

The challenge for early learning advocates is proving that preschool has paid off by the time toddlers have reached adulthood. In a world of two-year election cycles and quarterly earnings reports, the patience for 20-year studies is sadly lacking.

Communities of Practice February Calendar (pdf)

"Helping All Parents Be Successful in Early Childhood Transitions" This two and a half-hour presentation will focus on developing skills in working parents who have mental health, substance abuse, or homeless issues and where cultural and language differences present challenges to the child’s successful transition.

Creativity Requires a Mix of Skills

Albert Einstein was so slow to learn to speak that his worried parents consulted a specialist. Thomas Edison was told by a teacher that he had a 'disarranged mind.' And Charles Darwin was considered, by his family and teachers alike, 'rather below the common standard of intellect.'

5 Strategies For Incorporating Social Emotional Learning Into Your Classroom

Social emotional learning (SEL) by definition is a process for learning life skills, including how to deal with oneself, others and relationships, and work in an effective manner. Although there are many great SEL programs, SEL can also be incorporated into each lesson as a way of teaching for students to really understand how to action the skills in a variety of situations and form positive habits.

Parent Involvement in Early Literacy

Parent involvement is the number one predictor of early literacy success and future academic achievement. However, according to a 2007 report by National Endowment for the Arts, there are more literate people in the United States who don't read than those who are actually illiterate. How do we change that pattern for the future of our children?

Swedish School’s Big Lesson Begins With Dropping Personal Pronouns

At an ocher-color preschool along a lane in Stockholm’s Old Town, the teachers avoid the pronouns “him” and “her,” instead calling their 115 toddlers simply “friends.” Masculine and feminine references are taboo, often replaced by the pronoun “hen,” an artificial and genderless word that most Swedes avoid but is popular in some gay and feminist circles.

Stuart Brown: Play is more than fun

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. Stuart Brown's research shows play is not just joyful and energizing -- it's deeply involved with human development and intelligence. Through the National Institute for Play, he's working to better understand its significance

I support school choice because...

We have received countless emails from our members throughout this week, sharing their stories of why they support school choice. As many of you are aware, the celebration of National School Choice Week (NSCW) is well under way. Individuals all over the country have come together to celebrate the various forms of choice, including traditional public, magnet, charter, and private, to name a few.

Investing in Early Child Education and Care

NIEER Director Steve Barnett presented the key note address at an international conference on “Early Childhood: Secure Childhood. Promising Future” at Princess Nora University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The Two Year Window

A decade ago, a neuroscientist named Charles Nelson traveled to Bucharest to visit Romania’s infamous orphanages. There, he saw a child whose brain had swelled to the size of a basketball because of an untreated infection and a malnourished one-year-old no bigger than a newborn. But what has stayed with him ever since was the eerie quiet of the infant wards. "It would be dead silent, all of [the babies] sitting on their backs and staring at the ceiling," says Nelson, who is now at Harvard. "Why cry when nobody is going to pay attention to you?"

What is Unschooling?

Former teacher and national speaker John Holt coined the phrase 'Unschool' in the 70's. Holt believed, 'learning (happens) in and outside the home, in places and with people that do not resemble school at all. Holt viewed learning as an abundant, natural, human endeavor that gets warped or turned-off by imposing years of unasked-for teaching upon the learner. He envisioned not just families, but entire communities becoming places for life-long learning'.

Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten?

On command, Eze Schupfer reads aloud the numbers on a worksheet in front of her - '42, 43, 12, 13.' Then she begins to trace them. 'Is that how we write a 12?' her instructor, Maria Rivas, asks. 'Erase it.'

Handling Tragedy: How to Talk to Kids About Sandy Hook

Many parents and teachers are at a loss about what to say and how to reassure their kids after the horrific, 'unspeakable' events at Sandy Hook. The right words, especially with younger children, need to blend explanation with reassurance. At this difficult time, you might find that the following words will provide a helpful guide.

Treat your child as the individual they are and respect your own judgement on how to address Sandy Hook. Don't accept generic advice on such a critical and traumatic issue.

Great Read-Alouds From The New York Times

Below, you’ll find categorized suggestions, from the Learning Network staff and from teacher-friends around the country, for great Times essays, articles, Op-Eds and humor pieces on a range of topics to read aloud to your students — no matter what their ages

7 Essential Principles of Innovative Learning

Every educator wants to create an environment that will foster students’ love of learning. Because the criteria are intangible, it’s difficult to define or pinpoint exactly what they are. But one group is giving it a try.

Empathy: the Key to Social and Emotional Learning

Educators are aware that social problems like poverty, unsafe neighborhoods, violence, and family trauma can affect how students learn when they come to school. Though teaching subjects like math and literacy are the biggest part of their job, in many cases they’re also called on to attend to their students’ emotional health as well, incorporating social and emotional skills.

A Joyful, Brain-Friendly Classroom

I took my handicapped dog of 15 years for a walk in the grass. Maddie has gone from not being able to walk on her hind legs (a neurological problem) to gradually being able to walk with an awkward, back-legs-don't-really-know-where-they're-landing gait. Let me relate Maddie’s experience to brain-compatible elements that my teachers implement at New Morning School every day.

Eight Things Skilled Teachers Think, Say, and Do

Among the many challenges teachers face, often the most difficult is how to engage students who seem unreachable, who resist learning activities, or who disrupt them for others. This is also one of the challenges that skilled teachers have some control over. In my nine years of teaching high school, I've found that one of the best approaches to engaging challenging students is to develop their intrinsic motivation.

Out Loud

In this lesson, students assess the experience of reading and being read to aloud, both in person and on audio, and then practice and perform their own oral readings.

Parents: Make Bedtime a Social-Emotional Moment with Your Kids

Education consultant Jennifer Miller has launched a wonderful, valuable new blog site for parents, Confident Parents, Confident Kids that I think merits the attention of anyone working in social, emotional and character development who wants a place to send parents for ideas and advice and dialogue.

Spring 2012 MCAS Tests: Summary of State Results (pdf)

Student achievement statewide improved on nine of the 17 MCAS tests administered in 2012. Between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of students scoring Proficient or higher 2 improved in ELA at grades 4, 8, and 10; in Mathematics at grades 4, 6, and 10; and in STE at grades 5, 8, and 10.

Preschool Is School, Sometimes

What do we know about the quality of existing early-childhood programs? What does the research tell us about designing public policies to improve outcomes for children? Two recent large-scale studies of the early education system provide a contemporary perspective: the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD SECCYD) and the National Center for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL) Multi-State Pre-K study.