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Letting Your Kid Choose Her Sippy Cup Won't Spoil Her: 10 Guidelines

“If we don’t start to correct these five grave parenting mistakes, and soon, the children we are raising will grow up to be entitled, selfish, impatient and rude adults.” – Emma Jenner, British Nanny, Huff Post

“In a poll commissioned by Time and CNN, two-thirds of American parents said they think that their children are spoiled.” – Elizabeth Kolbert,  Spoiled Rotten, The New Yorker

Are American kids spoiled rotten? Every year a new article goes viral by preying on parents’ fears. Are we being too permissive? Are we raising a generation of brats?

These articles don’t cite research that substantiates their claims that parents are actually being permissive. In fact, surveys estimate that 80% of American parents have spanked their child at least once and about a quarter of parents of young children spank on a weekly basis. That doesn’t sound like permissiveness to me. 

So what are the permissive practices that are supposedly ruining our children? Invariably, these articles attack parents for giving children choices and listening to children’s emotions. As Emma Jenner says, “Who is in charge here? (Say no to the sippy cup, and) let her have a tantrum, and remove yourself so you don’t have to hear it.” 

Accepting our children’s feelings — and, heaven forbid, empathizing with those feelings — is presumed to mean we automatically give our child what she’s asking for. There’s also a taunt here: You, the parent, aren’t doing your job, which is to control your child. (Never mind that attempts to control other humans inevitably trigger resistance and make cooperation less likely.) Accepting our kids’ emotions, and not controlling them, we’re told, will raise “entitled, selfish, impatient and rude adults.” So will going to our crying baby, since “Babies must learn to self-soothe.”  (Italicized phrases are Jenner’s.)

Except the research says exactly the opposite. We now know that babies grow the neural wiring to soothe themselves in response to being soothed by their parents. It’s now well established that children grow up empathic when parents respond to their emotions with empathy. Responsive parents raise caring kids.

Of course, responsible parents don’t respond to their child’s tears by giving them everything they want. Of course we say no, most of us many times a day. But we can still listen and empathize, as we would to any other human being. The bottom line on raising caring kids is responding to them in a caring manner.

So why do these articles go viral?  Certainly, there’s a backlash against the respect more parents give their children these days. But there’s also a very real fear, that most of us share. Since the “results” of our parenting won’t be obvious for many years, how do we know we’re doing the right thing? How can we be sure our child isn’t becoming spoiled?

So let’s address this issue head-on.  Parenting is hard. 
You want to be compassionate, but you also want your child to learn
appropriate lessons and not to be “spoiled” — meaning a person who
cares only about himself, isn’t resilient, doesn’t pitch in, or is
discontented and greedy. You want him to feel deserving, but not to think he deserves at the expense of someone else, which we might call “entitled.”  So you want a child who is
resilient, self-disciplined, and willing to work hard
to achieve. At the same time, you want your child to be caring and generous toward others. Oh, and happy! Right?

We actually know how to raise that child.  And it isn’t to crack down and leave your child crying. Based on what we now know about child development, here are your ten guidelines to raise a self-disciplined, caring adult.

1. Raise a child who’s self-disciplined — by setting empathic limits. Self-discipline is giving up something we want, for something we want more. Every time your child shifts gears internally to stop doing what she wants because she wants to follow your lead instead, she’s internalizing self-discipline. Repeated experience is what builds her brain’s ability to use self-discipline in tough situations.

So yes, kids need
limits. Your three year old shouldn’t go
on playing in the sandbox when he’s just smacked another kid with his
shovel. Your five year old shouldn’t think it’s okay to taunt his little brother. Your eight year old shouldn’t go to inappropriate movies. Your
twelve year old shouldn’t be at a party without adult supervision.

Setting
limits is hard, because naturally children resist them.  But it never needs to be mean.  In fact, the more
empathic your limits are, the less your child resists them — so the
faster she develops self-discipline.

So what’s an empathic limit? You set a boundary, and you accept the child’s emotions, with understanding. “You wish you could have the pink sippy cup, but it’s not clean…You’re so disappointed, you’re crying.”  

2. Raise a child who can regulate her own behavior by helping her learn to regulate her emotions.  When a child has a meltdown in response to a simple limit like not getting the sippy cup she wants, it’s not about the sippy cup. It’s about all those big emotions that her frontal cortex isn’t quite developed enough to handle, and the solution is usually a good cry. Remember the last time you were really upset and had a good cry in the arms of someone who loved you?  Now, how would that same experience have felt if that person had said “I’m going where I don’t have to hear this….Come find me when you’re ready to act right.”  Crying in isolation isn’t healing. Crying with a parent who empathizes helps a child to feel comfortable with her emotions, which is what helps her begin to manage them. And until she can manage her emotions, you can’t expect her to manage her behavior.  

3. Raise a child who can solve his own problems by supporting your child in problem-solving instead of rushing in to rescue.  When your child has a problem, what if you could manage your own anxiety? Then you could help him brainstorm solutions, rather than stepping in to fix things. This does NOT mean abandoning your child to manage things he’s not ready for. Your goal is to foster independence with scaffolding, which means you give as
much support and structure as necessary while he’s learning each new skill. So, for instance, let’s say she wants the pink sippy cup and it’s dirty. Why not empower your child? “You really want the pink cup. It’s in the sink. Here, why don’t you take it in the bathroom where you can climb on the stool, and wash it yourself?  Here’s a squirt of soap.” For more on this, 10 Ways to Raise a Competent, Confident Child

4. Raise
a child who’s confident in her abilities, by having high expectations
AND giving her all the support she needs to meet them.
This isn’t about raising the bar, and it’s not about being uncompromising. It’s about noticing what’s important to you — Being kind to her siblings? Handling the morning routine more independently? — and giving your child the support she needs to develop in those areas. For more on this, please see Where’s the sweet spot between permissive and strict?

5. Raise a child who can soothe himself, by soothing him.  If
you want your child to be able to self-regulate, he needs to be able to
soothe himself when he gets anxious. Kids build the neural pathways to
soothe themselves every time we soothe them, so responding with empathy
to your little one’s upsets is the way to raise a child who can
self-soothe. (Leaving kids to cry does NOT teach kids to self soothe; it
heightens their stress response.)

6. Raise a good citizen by expecting your child to help around the house.  Kids who take responsibility at home are more likely to notice when others need help and offer it. 6 Reasons Kids Don’t Help Around the House — and What You Can Do About It.

7. Raise your child to feel deserving, not entitled, by teaching values and evaluating your family’s relationship with “stuff”:
7 Ways To Raise a Child with Eternal Values In the 21st Century and How to Give Your Child a Rich Life — Without Raising Entitled Kids

8. Raise a child who WANTS to cooperate by staying connected, even while you set limits.  Don’t give your child the cold shoulder to “teach a lesson.”  The only reason he behaves is because he feels connected to you.  Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times? and10 Secrets Every Parent Needs to Know about Saying No.

9. Raise a child who’s resilient by honoring her tears.
Sometimes you just have to be the grown-up and say No.  Sometimes your
child will be terribly disappointed by life.  If you can let your child
cry — and empathize with her disappointment — she’ll learn that
disappointment can be weathered, and the sun comes out again.

10. Raise a child who treats others with caring and respect –  by being caring and respectful to her. Yes, this means you listen to your child’s preferences, and you look for win/win solutions, when you can. It might even mean you let your child choose her own sippy cup! 

The good and bad news is that kids
learn what they live. You’re the role model.  Kids won’t always do what
we say, but they will always, eventually, do what we do.  So if you
treat your child with caring and respect, she’ll treat you, and other people, with caring and respect. (The opposite, unfortunately, is also true.) Sure, she’ll
forget herself now and then and raise her voice, but if you respond by
lowering yours, acknowledging her upset, and seeking to reconnect, those
incidents will be few and far between.

Reminder: Kids
who are listened to with respect EXPECT to be listened to and
respected.  That’s not “spoiling.” That’s raising a child who has
self-respect and doesn’t let people victimize her.  At the same time,
she respects others. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world full of
people like that?

Notice that some folks would
call this kind of parenting “spoiling”?  But this isn’t permissive
parenting. It’s compassionate parenting, with limits AND empathy. 
Research shows that kids raised this way are more emotionally
intelligent and resilient. They’re certainly not spoiled. By contrast,
kids raised by authoritarian parents are more likely to be rebellious
and and kids raised permissively may not learn self-discipline.  That’s
what I call spoiling a perfectly good human!

***

This is the end of our series Are Kids Today Spoiled and Undisciplined? If you missed any of the other 8 posts, the links are below.  If you’d like to read more on this topic, please check out Alfie’s Kohn’s latest book, The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting. And here’s an interview I did with Dr. Kohn, that you can download and listen to.

In closing, I’d like to point out that despite the big fuss the media likes to make about kids being spoiled, there aren’t any studies showing that kids today are more spoiled than kids in the past.  In fact, adults through the ages have probably always
thought that the kids of their time were spoiled, when the kids were
simply being kids.  Consider these quotes:

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their
elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in
the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”- Plato, 5th Century BC

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are
dependent on
frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless
beyond
words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and
respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly
wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint.” – Hesiod, 8th Century BC

“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of
today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for
parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if
they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness
with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike
in speech, behavior and dress.” – Peter the Hermit, 13th Century AD

***

This article is part of the series Are Kids Today Spoiled and Undisciplined?  Did you miss?


7 Ways To Raise a Child with Eternal Values In the 21st Century

10 Secrets Every Parent Needs to Know about Saying No

10 Ways to Raise a Competent, Confident Child

Do Your Kids Rule the Roost?  7 Strategies to Avoid Permissive Parenting

Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times?

6 Reasons Kids Don’t Help Around the House — and What You Can Do About It

How to Give Your Child a Rich Life — Without Raising Entitled Kids

Are Kids Today Spoiled and Undisciplined?
 

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A New Website Documents Massachusetts’ Emerging Policy Agenda for Birth through Grade Three

July 17, 2014 by Alyssa Haywoode

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Massachusetts’ education agencies have collaborated on a new website – “Building the Foundation for College and Career Success for Children from Birth through Grade 3.” It’s a public resource that will share information on the state’s promising efforts to build a birth-through-grade-three policy agenda that will help children achieve success in school and later in life.

“By creating this agenda,” the website explains, “we will enhance the quality of educational and other services provided to children and families and also increase policy alignment and collaboration among our state education agencies – the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Higher Education.”

The birth-through-grade-three agenda will also “strengthen essential partnerships with educators, parents and families, local and state officials, legislators, community and business partners, and other members of the commonwealth,” enabling the state to make an even stronger commitment to its children.

The Website’s Content

Supported by the Executive Office of Education, the website will highlight the work being done to develop the policy and share news about related upcoming events.

Currently the website includes three areas of information:

- The National Governors Association’s Early Learning Policy Academy

Last year, Massachusetts and five other states were chosen to participate in this academy “to build awareness and commitment… [among] key stakeholders to support high-quality early learning opportunities for children, enhance standards and assessments, and strengthen the effectiveness of early childhood and early elementary educators.”

- The Essential Competencies and Experiences for Children from Birth through Grade 3

As this draft document explains, “The commonwealth has identified essential competencies across the cognitive, social and emotional, linguistic, and physical domains that should be demonstrated by our youngest citizens from birth through grade three in order to ensure that they are on the pathway to future success.” The document will help guide the state’s ongoing efforts to “enhance early learning standards, develop new assessment strategies, enhance the effectiveness of our educator workforce, and provide comprehensive support to children and families.”

- Information about the Birth through Grade 3 Policy Forum that was held in May.

Included on the website are the program for the event, a list of speakers, and materials from the small group discussion sessions. The forum was supported by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.

Check back often: The website will be continuously updated with more information.

Ensuring Future Prosperity

To ensure the commonwealth’s future prosperity, the website says, “we must ensure that all of our youngest citizens, regardless of zip code, have access to enriching learning opportunities and experiences in their homes, communities, and educational environments.”

“This is an exciting time for the commonwealth, and we are excited about building an agenda that will expand on our efforts to provide high-quality services to our children and families. In Massachusetts, increasing college and career readiness starts at birth, and creating healthy, happy, and inclusive environments in which all of our children can thrive.”

If you have questions or need additional information about the birth-through-grade-three policy agenda or about the website, please contact Saeyun Lee (saeyun.lee@bhe.mass.edu) at the Department of Higher Education.

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7 Ways To Raise a Child with Eternal Values In the 21st Century

“About 80% of the youth in our survey report that their parents are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others. A similar percentage of youth perceive teachers as prioritizing students’ achievements over their caring. Youth were also 3 times more likely to agree than disagree with this statement: “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my classes than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.” – Making Caring Common Project, Harvard.

The Harvard “Making Caring Common” project surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students about what was most important to them. The majority of the kids said they value caring for others and included caring as one of their top three values, but they didn’t value it over their own happiness or achieving their own goals.

I would argue that this isn’t surprising, and it isn’t even necessarily unhealthy. The alarming part for me is that the young people who didn’t prioritize caring, and didn’t think their parents prioritized caring, had very low empathy scores, and were less likely to say they would volunteer on a Saturday to help at a school event or tutor a friend. All of these kids seem to be feeling tremendous pressure to achieve. And most of them thought their parents were more concerned with their achievements than with who they are.

So instead of judging our children for being insufficiently caring, maybe the real question we need to consider is what values we’re modeling and teaching.  

What can we do to raise kids with eternal values in today’s challenging 21st century world? Teach and role model!

1. Explicitly teach values, not by lecturing but by asking questions. Listen, and help kids reflect so they can sort out what they think. Some questions to get you started:

  • What do you think would make me most proud of you — a perfect report card, or for you to be a caring member of your school community? 
  • What does it mean to be a caring person?
  • What do you think is most important for happiness–high achievement, being rich, caring for others, following your passion, or something else?  
  • Would you stop to help someone on the street who was bleeding? What about someone who dropped their groceries? 
  • What do you think about volunteering? Is it important to do? Why or why not? What if you would rather play instead?
  • How would you define “entitlement”? (Some people define it as thinking you deserve something, even at the expense of others.)
  • Do you think it’s okay to cheat at school? What if everyone else is?
  • Is it okay to cheat or lie to make money?
  • Would you marry someone you didn’t love, because they had a lot of money? 
  • What makes someone a good friend? Why?
  • What do you think makes a person popular?  Are wealthier kids more popular?  Are you popular?  Why or why not? Would you like to be?
  • Do adults automatically deserve respect? What about kids? How do you earn respect?
  • When you work at a job, does it matter if you do a good job?  What if you don’t really like the job?
  • Does getting really good at something make it more fun to do?
  • Would you rather spend ten hours working to earn money for a new toy, or spend the same ten hours getting really good at basketball (or whatever)?
  • Do you think if someone works hard enough, they can get rich? Is that a good goal?
  • How will you know if you are successful in life?
  • Do you think education is worth spending money on? Why or why not?
  • You know how we say in our family that everyone cleans up their own messes?  Do you think that’s true beyond our family?  Do you think it should be true?
  • What could our family do that would make the world a better place?
  • Do you think you make the world a better place, just by being in it?

2. Role model habits of happiness. There’s nothing wrong with children, or adults, wanting to be happy. But research shows that chasing after the next good time isn’t what makes us happy. The deepest happiness comes from connecting with others and from developing our passions to make a contribution. Why not explicitly teach kids how to be happy, so it’s a habit rather than an aspiration? (See Teaching Your Child the Art of Happiness.)

3. Role model that stuff is secondary. What matters most to you?  The people you love?  Doing good in the world?  Following your passions and contributing them to the world?  I’m betting you didn’t say “Stuff.”  Kids need to hear explicitly, and to see you demonstrate, what matters most, so they learn that life holds huge abundance beyond achievement and accumulating material possessions.

4. Give your child the opportunity to discover how good it feels to help others. You can do this daily in your family, but it makes a bigger impression on children when you also volunteer as a family. What can kids do?  Sort food at a food bank. Help you deliver Meals on Wheels. Organize a book drive and ship the books off to Reader to Reader. You’ll find lots of suggestions online.

5. Every child deserves the pleasure of giving his own money to a worthy cause. This is a great way to educate kids about others in need, which gives some perspective to our own lives of relative plenty. Try giving a little extra weekly allowance that goes in a special “charity” jar, and letting her get that good feeling about herself by giving it away when she hears about a worthy cause.

6. Cultivate gratitude as a family. There are many ways to help children learn gratitude, which is the opposite of taking what we have for granted.  The most obvious is including gratitude practices in your family life by making a practice of sharing things you’re grateful for on a daily basis.

7. Meet your child’s emotional needs for connection, understanding and empathy. As L.R. Knost says, “It’s when children have their material needs in lieu of their emotional needs met (i.e. when they’re given things and screen time instead of meaningful interaction) or have few needs met sufficiently in either area that the symptomatic behaviors of entitlement begin to surface. Children who are in stable, supportive, loving relationships with emotionally available and compassionate parents (or other close attachment figures) tend to grow into well-adjusted, generous, respectful adults whether they live with scarcity or abundance materially.” 

In other words, children who experience empathy and connection grow up to empathize and connect. Which is really the bottom line on how to raise caring kids.

***

This article is part of the series Are Kids Today Spoiled and Undisciplined?  Did you miss?

10 Secrets Every Parent Needs to Know about Saying No

10 Ways to Raise a Competent, Confident Child

Do Your Kids Rule the Roost?  7 Strategies to Avoid Permissive Parenting

Obedience: Why Do You Have To Tell Them Five Times?

6 Reasons Kids Don’t Help Around the House — and What You Can Do About It

How to Give Your Child a Rich Life — Without Raising Entitled Kids

Are Kids Today Spoiled and Undisciplined?
 

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Summertime and the Living Ain’t Easy for Single Parents

Who doesn’t love summer? Well, for many reasons, single parents. First of all, it’s a financial minefield. With school out there’s full time daycare to pay for and it’s not just a tiny bump; it’s a major increase in what is likely already a super tight budget. And then there are all the enriching camps and field trips.  You want your child to experience learning new skills and making friends with kids outside of the familiar zone, along with beading bracelets, singing songs and horseback riding. But wow, all of that comes with a hefty price tag.

If your kids are older and able to stay at home that solves the daycare issue, but then you’re presented with a whole new line of issues. What will your kids do all day, home alone? Will it be safe? Will they be getting themselves into trouble? And let’s not forget how much your grocery bill will increase as they raid the cabinets all afternoon (and late evening), as well as the rise in your utility bills from having the AC on all day (as well as electronics, sucking up electricity).

As if this wasn’t enough, all around you it will feel like every other family is going on vacation – to their cabin, to visit the nation’s capital, or to see the Grand Canyon. Wanting to include you in the conversation, they will ask, “Where are you going on vacation this summer?”  To that I say, hold your head up high and declare, “We are planning an amazing staycation!”

I respect and admire all of you. Your day is long, your to-do list even longer. So for today, I salute you:

To all of the working single parents (I realize that’s redundant, all parents are working parents), I respect you. I know the daily grind you face – the one that never, ever lets up. I know that when you head to your car in the morning with the promise of a gorgeous day on the horizon – I know you really want to dump the kids off at camp and just goof off all day. So I say, make it happen! Schedule a day off alone.  Take the kids to daycare, or somewhere, and just enjoy sitting on a patio, sipping coffee and reveling in the quiet. At that moment, no one needs you! Can you imagine how energized you will feel from that? Schedule your day off today.

To all of the work-from-home single parents: you have your own special brand of challenge, as you are likely working from a home office and maybe have the kids underfoot. There’s not a real separation of work and home life, so you need to be extra diligent to create a boundary between the two. It can be a lonely existence, working from home, so be sure to schedule in some play dates or even trade off babysitting with other parents so you can get some crucial alone time.

To all of the working single parents who also attend school: can you say sleep-deprived? As if parenting and working weren’t exhausting enough, you’re also the college student, racking up credits while you write papers and complete lab reports; all in an effort to finally secure that degree that promises higher pay, better benefits and a more rewarding career. Do me a favor; pat yourself on the back with gusto. You are killing it! And you can’t see it now, but when your kids are all grown-up, they will say how incredible you are to have done all of that.

I will leave you with this. Your life is really tough right now, but let’s be honest – everyone has challenges, tragedies and trials. Instead of focusing on your hardships and exhausting life, put your energy towards creating a positive attitude and being the best parent you can. Seek help from others when the going gets too rough and take some time to enjoy the journey – and your summer!

Renee Brown is the tired yet happy mother of two young adult sons, Sam and Zachary. Almost an empty nester, she loves sharing her single parent experiences with the goal of providing hope and encouragement to those struggling on that “long and winding road.” Renee lives in Minneapolis, works in advertising, and also blogs for Your Teen magazine.

If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

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Accelerating Progress in Early Education: A Report from New America

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Early education is in the spotlight like never before… yet real progress is elusive,” according to a report being released today by the New America Foundation called: “Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.”

“President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for increased investments in child care, pre-K, home visiting, and other programs,” the report says. “Thirty-five states entered the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants competition, which has so far invested about $1 billion in 20 states’ infrastructure. A long-overdue reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant overwhelmingly passed the Senate this year, with potential in the House.”

In addition, the report notes that philanthropies, governors, and state legislatures increasingly recognize the importance of investing in children.

Nonetheless, the report says, achievement gaps have widened. There aren’t enough seamless transitions from pre-K to grade school. Too many low income children aren’t getting the support they need. And Congress isn’t providing stable funding.

To address these issues: “All policies should stem from the overarching goal of improving the interactions between teachers and children, which research identifies as critically important to children’s future success in school and in life,” Laura Bornfreund, deputy director of New America’s Early Education Initiative and lead author of the report, said in a news release.

The release adds: “New America points to two approaches that will spur the most impact towards that goal: streamlining programs, standards, and eligibility requirements and tapping into sources for predictable, sustainable, and increased public funding.”

“Without taking these actions… we are never going to be able to accelerate access to quality education, birth through third grade,” Guernsey said.

This report follows up on an earlier one called “Subprime Learning: Early Education in America Since the Great Recession,” which shared the dismal findings that “in the wake of a financial crash triggered by subprime lending, too many children in America have been experiencing subprime learning. While bright spots are visible in some states, funding has fluctuated wildly, millions of children still lack access to quality programs, the K–3 grades have received little attention, and achievement gaps in reading and math have widened between family income levels. Meanwhile, child poverty rates have shot up.”

To follow Twitter coverage of “Beyond Subprime Learning,” including a tweet chat at 3 p.m. today, use the hashtag #beyondsubprime.

Sharing a New Vision

“We want America’s children to become life-long learners who are able to think critically and inventively, regulate their emotions and impulses, and make smart decisions by drawing upon a rich knowledge base about how the world works. Realizing this goal begins with ensuring a seamless continuum of high-quality, easily accessible early education for all families,” the report says.

The report defines early education as “the learning that happens in the birth-through-third-grade years, sometimes known as P–3.”

The report makes eight recommendations and suggests “specific policies for each recommendation and pinpoint which actors — federal, state, local, community, and educational officials — should be responsible.” The recommendations are:

1. Bridge the Continuum: Streamline Systems Across the Birth-through-Third-Grade Years

“Policymakers should make sure not to create additional silos and instead stimulate robust connections and more emphasis on learning and engagement across the continuum.” For example, federal lawmakers should “Reauthorize and coordinate the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the Higher Education Act (HEA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Head Start Act.”

2. Upgrade Educators: Professionalize and Improve the Early Education Workforce

“Early educators lay the essential foundations for future learning and development. But the current state of systems to recruit, prepare, evaluate, and support these educators is mediocre at best. Policymakers should invest in human capital to professionalize the field, creating educators who recognize a shared purpose and responsibility for helping children succeed.”

3. Emphasize Families: Develop Dual-Generation Strategies for Children’s Success

“Children whose parents are financially stable avoid the toxic stress of poverty, have household income sufficient to afford critical items from food to health care to books, and frequently have more educated parents. Federal programs should work to promote families’ opportunities to succeed, rather than create unintended disincentives to improve a family’s overall situation.”

4. Intentionally Support Dual-Language Learners: Embrace Children’s Languages as Assets

To serve the growing population of children who are dual language learners, “Policies should embrace bilingualism — supporting dual-language learners in acquiring English while continuing their growth in their home languages.”

5. Rethink Standards and Assessment: Coordinate Teaching and Learning for Young Children

States should “develop common early learning and development standards birth-to-kindergarten entry that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and Head Start Framework.”

The report also says that a common Kindergarten Entry Assessment across states would “allow for the sharing of resources for revising assessments and for training teachers to administer and use assessment data. It would enable policymakers to make comparisons across state lines.” And it could “facilitate conversations between pre-K and K–3 educators about children’s learning and developmental needs and how teachers can most effectively support them.”

6. Strengthen and Improve Accountability Systems: Promote Children’s Learning and Development

“Decision makers should streamline and simplify metrics and procedures to focus on indicators that have the most influence on child outcomes and that are most useful in improving program and teacher effectiveness. These systems should be designed with students’ specific developmental needs in mind.”

7. Collect and Use Data Responsibly: Inform Educators and Policymakers

“Stronger policies around the use of data in the statehouse, on Capitol Hill, and in the classroom are necessary to make sure that information is timely, relevant, and used effectively and with appropriate protections for families’ privacy.”

8. Bring Research Closer to Policy and Practice: Use Implementation Science and Openness

“Too often, key findings on how children learn are never applied in practice,” the report says. And research findings end up in expensive journals, far from parents and educators. Instead, publically financed research should be readily available to the public. And, just as implementation science does, research results should include insights about how to put findings into daily practice.

Making Real Progress

“Our Subprime Learning report pointed to some progress made over the last five years in home visiting programs, 0–5 infrastructure building, standards accountability across many state and federal policies, and Pre-K–3rd grade alignment within a small but growing number of places. But to realize the vision we have outlined in this paper, policymakers must be open to adopting both bold ideas and sensible plans.”

The report concludes: “Early education policies must evolve to help young children and their families reach the top of the staircase, enabling success later in school and in their lives as America’s next generation of adults.”

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