Monday, June 4th, 2012
Research by Dr. Celia Ayala, chief executive officer of Los Angeles Universal Preschool, a nonprofit that funds 325 schools in Los Angeles County, Calif., using money from tobacco taxes, has found that children who get preschool educations have better success on a number of measures later in life. From The Wall Street Journal:
“When they enter kindergarten ready to thrive with all the social, emotional and cognitive skills, they perform at grade level or above,” [Ayala] said. “When they don’t, that’s where that achievement gap starts.”
Kids without that early boost have been shown to be more likely to get special-needs services, be held back a grade or two, get in trouble with the law and become teen parents. Preschool alumni have a better chance, she said.
“Those who go to preschool will go on to university, will have a graduate education, and their income level will radically improve,” she said.
Dr. Ayala and other early-education advocates participated in a Washington panel on preschools earlier this month, arguing that days spent with Play-Doh could hold the key to job success in adult life.
Fewer than half of American children attend preschool, with the rest either staying at home with parents or attending day care programs.
Image: Girl at preschool, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Six-year-old Salecia Johson a kindergarten student at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, Georgia, was placed in handcuffs and taken to the police station after an outburst in which she threw furniture, overturned a bookshelf, and tore items off of the walls. The bookshelf allegedly injured the school’s principal. MSNBC.com has more:
Police defended their actions during the incident which occurred last Friday at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, Ga.
“Our policy states that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back. There is no age discrimination on that rule,” Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord told WMAZ-TV.
The family on Tuesday demanded that the city change its policy, the Associated Press reported, and claimed the girl was shaken up while at the police station.
Johnson was charged with assault and damage to property, WMAZ-TV reported, but she will not have to go to court because of her age.
Johnson’s mother, Constance Ruff, says her daughter was suspended until the start of the next school year.
“She has mood swings some days, which all of us have mood swings some days,” she told WMAZ-TV. “I guess that was just one of her bad days.”
Image: Handcuffs, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, April 16th, 2012
The Blue School, a private school in Manhattan, is leading the way toward shaping educational curricula around what scientists have discovered about a growing child’s brain development. Lessons at the school, which started out as a neighborhood play group, focus on building emotional literacy as well as the typical academic skills that are introduced in elementary school. The New York Times reports:
Having rapidly grown to more than 200 students in preschool through third grade, the school has become a kind of national laboratory for integrating cognitive neuroscience and cutting-edge educational theory into curriculum, professional development and school design.
“Schools were not applying this new neurological science out there to how we teach children,” said Lindsey Russo, whose unusual title, director of curriculum documentation and research, hints at how seriously the Blue School takes this mission. “Our aim is to take those research tools and adapt them to what we do in the school.”
So young children at the Blue School learn about what has been called “the amygdala hijack” — what happens to their brains when they flip out. Teachers try to get children into a “toward state,” in which they are open to new ideas. Periods of reflection are built into the day for students and teachers alike, because reflection helps executive function — the ability to process information in an orderly way, focus on tasks and exhibit self-control. Last year, the curriculum guide was amended to include the term “meta-cognition”: the ability to think about thinking.
“Having language for these mental experiences gives children more chances to regulate their emotions,” said David Rock, who is a member of the Blue School’s board and a founder of NeuroLeadership Institute, a global research group dedicated to understanding the brain science of leadership.
Image: Happy children, via Shutterstock
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