The early years are “prime time” for children’s social-emotional, physical and intellectual growth. Engaging and supporting children and families during these early years is a critical component of efforts to improve the educational systems and structures that cause and/or exacerbate gaps in achievement for children of color and children in low-income families. In recent years, a growing number of school districts across the country have begun to recognize the importance of strengthening connections with early learning strategies and families in these critical early years. The steps taken by schools and districts to reimagine their role in early learning, build relationships with families long before their children start kindergarten, and deliver professional development to early learning and early grades educators have helped school leaders in recent months as they have worked to prevent pandemic-precipitated learning loss during the COVID-19 closures.
Please join us on June 30, 3–4:30 p.m. ET, as I participate in a panel highlighting three approaches that are bridging the early years and early grades to increase student success and reduce learning loss. Dr. Marina Merrill of Children’s Institute will moderate the conversation as district leaders and their partners describe their collaborative efforts before and during the pandemic.
Dr. Anya Hurwitz of Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) and Dr. Linda Montes of the Redwood City School District will introduce the SEAL model. This powerful English Learner-focused approach to education is rooted at the intersection of research and educational equity and is currently being implemented in more than 100 elementary schools across 21 districts in California.
Karen Twain of Children’s Institute and Don Grotting of the Beaverton School District will describe the Early School Success initiative that builds on the success of the Institute’s previous Early Works initiative. This five-year initiative is using human-centered design, improvement science and a focus on equity to co-create an aligned early years-early grades approach, beginning in Beaverton and one other school district in Oregon.
Dr. Mark Adler of Ralston Public Schools will join me in presenting the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan, which is currently being implemented in 11 metro Omaha school districts. Created through state legislation, this comprehensive birth-through-third-grade approach was launched in 2014 and is creating new opportunities for schools, community agencies, teachers, caregivers, families and others seeking to strengthen the learning and development of children.
These types of collaborative efforts are more important now than ever with research showing that children in low-income families are at greatest risk of falling behind during early learning and school closures. I hope you will join me for this timely and informative discussion.
Lisa Roy, Ed.D.
Director of Program Development
Buffett Early Childhood Institute
University of Nebraska