VINCI offers blended learning for pre-K

VINCI Education’s founder, Dr. Dan Dan Yang, explains how technology can help level the playing field for young learners

VINCI-founder-yangTechnology entrepreneur Dr. Dan D. Yang already had achieved fame within the world of physics, having earned close to 20 U.S. patents—some of which became the standard for today’s fiber-optic network—before starting her latest venture: an ed-tech firm that aims to transform early education.

Inspired by her daughter, then a toddler, who was addicted to her iPad, Dan saw technology’s power to captivate young minds first-hand. What if, she thought, this power could be harnessed in a way that was more constructive, based on the latest brain research about how children learn, and paired with high-quality classroom teaching?

That’s the idea behind VINCI Education. The company’s school-based solution, ClassVINCI, includes Android-based tablets designed specifically for young children, as well as animated learning games grounded in cognitive science; non-digital learning objects such as toys and books; a learning management system to track students’ progress and mastery of skills; and professional development for educators.…Read More

Ed-tech tools boost early learners’ math skills

PBS KIDS digital supplements help early learners develop math building blocks

early-learnersNew research indicates that a technology-supported curriculum can help early learners better absorb STEM subjects, setting up at-risk early learners for more academic success down the road.

A new report reveals a significant gain in math skills among four- and five-year-olds who used the PBS KIDS Transmedia Math Supplement over a 10-week period improved their math learning significantly compared to a control group.

The math supplement includes videos, digital games, interactive whiteboards, laptops, teacher support, and hands-on math materials.…Read More

How to support young learners with tablets

Tablets target young learners with engaging software

young-learnersTablets and other mobile devices are not uncommon in today’s classrooms and in the hands of students. But companies targeting “typical” students sometimes forget an important subset that benefits greatly from access to mobile devices–young learners, especially those in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

While schools often make headlines for tablet initiatives involving grades 3-12, young learners do not always have the same access to tablets. Laptops and desktops can be hard for young students to navigate using a mouse, a touch pad, and dealing with large keyboards.

Children are usually familiar with tablets’ touch-screen technology early in their lives, and a growing group of companies and education leaders are creating tablets targeted toward early childhood education in an effort to engage them and form solid base skills that will carry them through elementary school and beyond.…Read More

Get them while they’re young

Starting pre-school poses tests for any four-year-old: sitting still, the risk of a yucky lunch, missing home, The Economist reports. The stakes are still higher for 700 small Texans due to enter pre-kindergarten centres being opened by the city of San Antonio on August 26th. They are pioneers who will be watched all the way to the White House. Not so long ago there was broad, bipartisan support for government provision of pre-school (called “pre-K”, since it precedes kindergarten): a year of classes and play designed to ensure that children are ready for the serious business of learning. Alas, pre-K has joined the long list of issues capable of provoking partisan rage. Critics include shrink-the-government types growling about expensive “babysitting”, joined by social conservatives arguing that young children are best off when cared for by married mothers, at home…

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Early education in Nordic countries: Can we learn anything?

The comprehensive preschool education plan backed by all Nordic countries is called the New Nordic School.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on states to “make high-quality preschool [education] available to every single child in America.”

Nordic countries, built around the welfare-state model, and which score high on international education benchmarking tests, have provided successful preschool education programs for decades—success that has prompted U.S. education leaders to wonder what policies are scalable in the United States.

On Feb. 28, education leaders from Denmark, Sweden, and one of PISA’s top-scoring countries, Finland, met at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., to discuss how their preschool education system works and why they believe that high-quality preschool education keeps their economy going.…Read More

Study: Better TV might improve kids’ behavior

Low-income boys appeared to get the most short-term benefit, researchers said.

Teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve preschoolers’ behavior, even without getting them to watch less, a study found.

The results were modest and faded over time, but they might hold promise for finding ways to help young children avoid aggressive, violent behavior, the study’s authors and other doctors said.

“It’s not just about turning off the television. It’s about changing the channel. What children watch is as important as how much they watch,” said lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.…Read More

Obama pushes preschool programs as sequestration looms

The government would fund public preschool for any 4-year-old whose family income is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level, according to Obama’s new proposal.

President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan to expand preschool programs comes as one out of every 13 students already in Head Start classrooms is at risk of being kicked out if lawmakers don’t sidestep a budget meltdown.

Obama was set to talk about enlarging early childhood education programs such as Head Start during a stop Feb. 14 in Georgia. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, meanwhile, was set to tell senators on Capitol Hill that the pending budget cuts could be devastating to current students.

Obama’s team is warning Congress—and lawmakers’ constituents—what is expected to happen if leaders fail to avert $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to begin March 1. With the cuts looming, the administration has increased its pressure on lawmakers, and Obama’s State of the Union address Feb. 12 made clear he was not looking for compromise as he began his second term.…Read More

Early childhood skills pave way for later success

Parents can use free resources to help their children develop skills necessary for academic success.

Advancements in digital media are helping young children use technology to develop important social and emotional skills as they enter school, and a new PBS Kids resource aims to give children the resources they need to improve those skills.

Social and emotional skills form a large part of a child’s learning foundation, and children are not going to be successful with academic content if they aren’t able to do self-regulatory things such as focus on a task, get along with others, and sit still, said Roberta Schomburg, an early childhood education expert and associate dean and director of Carlow University’s School of Education.

Preschool teachers spend much time helping children develop those self-regulating skills, and families can engage children in out-of-school activities to help them develop those skills, which also include problem-solving, self-confidence, and risk-taking.…Read More

ACT to launch college and career testing for elementary school students

ACT officials say testing students early will give them more time to adjust coursework and prepare for potential career paths.

Standardized testing is under increasing scrutiny, as proponents tout its potential for bringing accountability to education while opponents deride it as misguided and exhausting. How much testing is too much? How early is too early?

Now, assessment provider ACT Inc. has announced plans to develop a “next generation” assessment system that would test students for college and career readiness as early as kindergarten and continue through high school.

The first module in the new system, designed for third graders, will pilot next year and launch officially in 2014.…Read More