What’s New in Early Childhood Education?

This past week, I attended a board meeting for PNC’s Grow Up Great. Grow Up Great is a $350 million, multi-year, bi-lingual initiative that began in 2004 to help prepare children from birth through age five for success in school and learning. Since its inception, more than 2 million children have benefited from early childhood programming through Grow Up Great. I am excited to share two of the major thrusts of our conversations.

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Continuous Engagement:

What became apparent throughout a number of different topics is the focus on engagement of not only children but their families as well. Grow Up Great is looking for creative, exciting, and innovative ways to get teachers and parents working together to prepare children for school and beyond. Some stand-out initiatives include:

  • Text-to-Talk Project
    • utilizes the creative curriculum, sends free texts to parents to increase the use of language at home
  • Grow Up Great Lesson Center
    • Lessons are created by experts and are connected to standards
    • Videos and photos are embedded in the lesson to show how to teach the skill, as well as important vocabulary words and fully downloadable resources
    • Emphasis on inquiry learning
    • Some example lessons include: Animals, the 5 Senses, and outdoor classrooms

Additionally, Grow Up Great also has a Pinterest board available to families, which provides a wealth of information and resources. Overall, the goal is to establish communities of learners. An important consideration for this is how to increase family engagement, and what to do “in the moment” to enhance brain-building. Truly, children are ready to learn from the day they are born – they are innately curious and active learners. By integrating a sense of adventure and curiosity, active learning builds executive functioning skills that have far-reaching positive implications.

Funding:

soda

Philadelphia’s controversial soda tax adds 1.5% per ounce to beverages with added sugar

The other interesting topic reviewed was the multitude of methods for funding Early Childhood Education, particularly on the local/municipal levels. The early childhood community has seen incremental increases in ECE but need something more substantive. Although, state ECE funding is up 47% over the past five years, funding five years ago was extremely limited.

  • Some of the most active communities include:
    • Chicago – social investment bond (a contract with the public sector in which a commitment is made to pay for improved social outcomes that result in public sector savings)
    • Cincinnati & Dayton – passed a referendum vote to increase real estate taxes for ECE
    • Philadelphia – has implemented a soda tax for ECE, allowing it to provide universal Pre-K

I am so honored to serve on this prestigious board and be able to bring back to Erie the latest developments and cutting-edge practices in Early Childhood Education!

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