Community Schools Lead the Way in Early Childhood Education Practices
States and communities across the country are bolstering their early childhood education programs largely due to an emergence of new research on the importance of development in the first years of life. They recognize, for example, that improving early learning opportunities is critical to reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
Systems of community schools and their partners are in the best position to lead the way in connecting the k-12 and early childhood fields. They are lowering chronic absenteeism rates amongst young students, providing smoother transitions from pre-K to primary grades, and better aligning early education instructional standards through the community school strategy.
As a result of the groundbreaking early childhood practices being implemented at many community schools, three more community school networks were added to the Mind in the Making-Community Schools Project that the Coalition is co-sponsoring.
Mind in the Making (MITM) and Community Schools: Crossing Boundaries and Creating Strong Linkages for Children Birth Through Eight and their Families
is the formal name of the endevour.
The MITM-CS Project is designed to use Ellen Galinsky’s book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
,as a focal point for building bridges between early childhood systems and community schools. The project promotes educational innovation in community schools, and serve as a model for all educators and families throughout the country. The Family and Works Institute
works in partnership with the Coalition for Community Schools at the Institute for Educational Leadership on the W.K. Kellogg-funded project.
The MITM approach and resources will be key to cultivating communities of engaged, lifelong learners across the 0-8 continuum by providing deeper understanding of the science of children’s learning and support for trying out how to apply this research to parenting and teaching practices. Using a ‘training of trainers’ capacity-building model, each community will identify members of key constituencies to serve as Mind in the Making "Learning Facilitators". MITM collaborators will work with these Learning Facilitators to bring Mind in the Making to parents, teachers, principals and other school staff. These learning communities and resources will be available to programs that might not otherwise have access to early childhood professional development opportunities (e.g. home-based child care, home visiting programs and other parent support programs).
The Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative
in Tulsa, OK. and SUN Community Schools
in Multnomah County are also a part of the Linkages project along with Albuquerque, New Mexico. Each site was tasked to promote linkages to local and state agencies and community leaders, partner community schools with ECE programs, communities and families, share and collaborate on governance, and engage in shared professional learning.
While the framework and objectives are essentially the same across the board, implementation looks different at each site. Multnomah instituted a pilot Kindergarten Transition Program held in the summer prior to a student entering elementary school. The program is targeted to help both students and parents with the transition into primary grades.
Both Tulsa and Albuquerque have established strong partnerships with public and private early childhood providers through its work in the Linkages project. Eventually, the MITM skillset principles will be merged into the Linkages work. )
These sites provide blueprints to sustainable 0-8 education systems thanks to the shared vision/ownership, linked curricula, family resources, continuity of support, and aligned partnerships that are at the core of the community school strategy.
The Coalition is rolling out a new Early Childhood Education web portal, as well as additional toolkits, materials, and information on the Mind in the Making project and other early-childhood education resources in the coming months. Keep checking the Coalition website in the meantime as we keep the field updated with this cutting-edge research project.
For more information about community schools and early childhood education, contact S. Kwesi Rollins at firstname.lastname@example.org