Early Childhood Education

The Office of Governor Tom Wolf / flickr

Pittsburgh's neediest families won't benefit from the proposed reforms to President Donald Trump's affordable child care system, according to some local advocates. 

In his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Trump said he wanted to "work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable." 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak says she's planning to introduce legislation Tuesday to create a task force charged with finding funding for children otherwise unable to attend preschool.

Citing a 2016 Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers report, Rudiak said 1,500 Pittsburgh children do not have access to full-day preschool deemed "high quality" by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS initiative. The standards evaluate programs for staff qualifications, curriculum, facility environment and community and family involvement, among other things. 

Ian Willms / for Keystone Crossroads

 

A diverse group of very young students sit cross-legged for story time at Rose Avenue elementary in Toronto.  The kids are joyful, yet focused, and the group is small enough that the two teachers in the room are able to give one-on-one attention when needed.  

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Duquesne Elementary School kindergarten teacher Breanne Dolby thought she was bringing her students to the library for a “surprise guest reader” last Tuesday. Instead, she was awarded $1,500, a customized Steelers jersey and tickets to the New Year’s Day game.

Bill Calls For Postpartum Depression Screening

Oct 17, 2016
Joshua Rappeneker / flickr

The Centers for Disease Control found that 15 percent of mothers of newborns suffer from postpartum depression, which could lead to slower physical growth and mental development for their child.

“And those are just the [mothers] that seek help or admit that they have a problem,” said Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington, Greene). “There is such a stigma to moms with post-partum depression and a lot of them don’t even know what they have.”

A new report, out today, provides 186 pages of answers to one of the toughest questions in education:

What does it take to get preschool right?

Parents and politicians alike want to know. States are spending roughly $7 billion this year on early childhood education, despite the fact that there are more cautionary tales — like this one from Tennessee — than success stories.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council members and education activists say it’s time for Pennsylvania lawmakers to prioritize affordable early childhood education in the state’s budget.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In the eight months without a state budget, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel is calling for service providers to back Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed funding of early education.

Parker Knight / Flickr

A slate of changes to the state’s early childhood development and learning programs are in the works, including extending how long children can access subsidized child care and providing more assistance to low-income families.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

This is the third in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2016 with members of Pittsburgh's City Council.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to a measure that would establish the Office of Early Childhood within the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and Equal Opportunity, and hire an early childhood manager.

The ultimate goal is to ensure every child in the City of Pittsburgh has access to quality pre-K programs. During about an hour of public testimony, speakers voiced overwhelming support for an office dedicated to the education of some of the city’s youngest residents.

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

  Twenty Pittsburgh Public Schools welcomed hordes of excited and apprehensive kindergartners on Thursday with Freddy the Frog, a green frog mascot representing the district's readiness program.

“We make a big celebration for the kindergarten children coming in for the first time and for their parents,” said Carole Barone-Martin, Pittsburgh Public's executive director of early childhood education.

PA Early Childhood Programs Stretched To Financial Limit, Study Finds

Jul 30, 2015
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Common sense might suggest that the best early childhood programs would do better financially.

But a new study finds that providers in Southeastern Pennsylvania have little fiscal incentive to reach for high quality.

A Nonprofit Finance Fund study of nearly 150 early-care and education programs in the Philadelphia area found that all of them – no matter their quality rating – operate on razor-thin margins.

Baby Theater: Pacifiers And Teething Toys Welcome

May 22, 2015
Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

These aren’t your typical theater-goers. They call out during the play. They try to join into the performance.

And some are sucking on pacifiers.

This is entertainment for the very young — baby theater.

Carnegie Science Center Talks STEM on Capitol Hill

Mar 19, 2015

With the number of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, jobs increasing at three times the rate of other industries, the Carnegie Science Center is encouraging schools and Pennsylvania lawmakers to focus on improving the way students learn about STEM fields.

During a Wednesday congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., science center representatives and educators outlined the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, an initiative that launched in October to help schools evaluate and expand the way they teach math and science.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

It’s a conversation heard around countless dinner tables or on the way home. What did you do at school today? The answer most often is nothing or "I don’t know" or "I played."

That one-sided conversation is common in early education students. Parents can try to talk to teachers during the shuffle of picking up their child, but that’s usually only slightly more productive.

Gateway to the Arts

Early childhood learners outperform their peers when they are taught with an arts-integrated background, according to an independent study of a model used in 11 Pittsburgh area schools.

Sen. Casey Calls for Universal Pre-K

Mar 5, 2015
Edward N. Johnson / US Army

Pennsylvania’s senior US Senator says he is ready to give another try at passing a bill that makes access to pre-kindergarten learning nearly universal.  Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) this week once again introduced the Prepare All Kids Act, which is intended to provide one year of voluntary, high quality pre-k to all children.

A national campaign aimed at increasing access to early childhood learning programs is getting a boost from one of Pittsburgh’s biggest charities.

The Heinz Endowments announced $9 million in funding for Invest in US, a program unveiled by President Obama at Wednesday’s White House Summit on Early Childhood Education. According to the White House website, Invest in US challenges public and private partners, business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, elected officials, and individuals to expand high-quality early childhood education.

Councilwomen Call for Study of Childcare Centers

Nov 18, 2014

The first initiative of the newly-formed Women’s Caucus of Pittsburgh City Council is a broad examination of childcare centers in the city.

Councilwomen Deb Gross, Darlene Harris, Theresa Kail-Smith and Natalia Rudiak will introduce legislation that they say will improve childcare facilities and the quality of care in Pittsburgh.

The legislation calls for a comprehensive study of childcare providers, which will be used by city government to enhance the care and make necessary changes.

In an effort to receive federal funding that passes through Harrisburg, Mayor Bill Peduto named a Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Early Childhood Education on Monday.

The panel will focus on making Pittsburgh “more attractive” to those judging applications for the Preschool Development Grants Competition, according to the city’s Educational Policy and Workforce Development Manager Cosette Grant-Overton.

Life Of Learning: Discussing Pre-K Education

Aug 15, 2014
Kirsten Jennings / Flickr

From the time they are born to when they first attend school children can learn a lot. The skills of reading, writing and basic math are attained by some children who attend preschool.  This can provide preschoolers with a significant head start over children with no pre-kindergarten education.

Studies have shown the gap between the two groups  grows as their schooling progresses. The benefits of preschool are especially important for children deemed “at risk.”

Barnaby Wasson / Flickr

As Pennsylvania continues a campaign to ensure access to PRE-K programs for all children, Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, a representative from Mayor Bill Peduto’s office, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and a group from the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC) traveled to New York City to see how that city is implementing universal Pre-K.

Rudiak said one thing is clear: It takes multiple players working together to pull it off.

Jonathan Auxier’s Summer Reading Picks for the Kids

Jul 21, 2014
Jonathon Auxier / Twitter

According to the National Summer Learning Association, summer learning loss amounts to two month’s worth of reading for lower income students. Jonathan Auxier’s lifelong love of children’s books has turned into a career as an author, writing for readers ages 8-14. He’s recommended some books young readers will enjoy spending time with this summer.

Auxier, who has children himself, knows the most important aspect of children’s books.

“Most of the things that I’m telling my two year old right now, who’s acting out a lot, I’m basically constantly informing her about what it means to be good, and what it means to be bad. I think kids are really sensitive to that profound moral question about what goodness and badness truly is, and children’s books, unlike adult books, which I think can be a little coy about those.”

Beth Sawyer / Flickr

It’s hard to imagine a kindergarten room without colorful drawings and posters, crafts on display and educational charts and maps covering the walls.

But a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University shows that decorations in classrooms may actually hurt the learning process.

Associate professor of psychology at CMU Anna Fisher led the study, which tested the effects of classroom decorations on focus and ability to learn in children ages 3-5. When placed in a highly decorated classroom, the children spent more time off-task and retained less information.

The use of technology in classrooms is not new, but evolving hardware and broadband accessibility are changing how educators think about those tools in their classrooms.

At a forum on using technology in early childhood education, hosted Tuesday by the Rand Corporation, the message was clear: Researchers should continue to explore the use of technology in early childhood education, but the focus should be on how to best use it, not whether to use it.