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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: early learning

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October 30, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Video: Watch a replay of LiveWire early learning panel

Did you miss The Seattle Times’ first LiveWire event? On Oct. 15, a panel of scientists and public officials gathered at Microsoft for a panel discussion about early learning and the brain research behind it.

TVW will air a full replay of the event at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 31, and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1. TVW airs on Comcast channel 23 throughout western Washington.


Comments | More in News, Video | Topics: early learning, I-LABS, livewire

October 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Pre-K and K-12 leaders gather to talk consistency, collaboration

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Donna Grethen / Op Art

Teachers, school chiefs and other education administrators from across the U.S. are gathered in Seattle this week to brainstorm ideas for better linking early childhood learning with the K-12 education system.

The disconnect, some education advocates say, stems from a common view that learning that happens before kindergarten is separate from a child’s “formal” education. Another problem is the lack of time to thoughtfully plan for pre-K opportunities, they say.

Kristie Kauerz, a research professor in the University of Washington College of Education and director of UW’s National P-3 Center, said schools can have a big influence on kids’ learning trajectories and achievement gaps if they can reach them before kindergarten.

“Why don’t we start doing something when kids are really little to address those achievement gaps, rather than waiting until third grade when that window of opportunity has really passed?” Kauerz said in an interview.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, University of Washington

October 23, 2014 at 5:00 AM

King County outscores state, nation in opportunity for kids

Seattle-area students enjoy more opportunity than their peers in the rest of the state and nation, a new national report card suggests.

The study, compiled by two nonprofit research groups, measured economic, educational and other factors that affect the learning environment for children such as household income, violent crime and the proportion of students enrolled in preschool.

King County outscored the state in nearly every area, most notably the economic ones.

Median household income is higher and poverty and unemployment is lower in the Seattle area than statewide and nationally. In King County, a median family makes $67,587 a year and 11 percent of residents fall below the national poverty line. Statewide, an average family makes close to $55,000 and 14 percent of the population is living in poverty. In the U.S., average household income is $48,781 and the poverty rate is 16 percent.

The study gave King County a B grade overall and ranked Washington 22nd out of all states.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, graduation rates, higher education

October 17, 2014 at 5:00 AM

UW viral video: Toddler leaves toy alone to avoid an adult’s anger

Move over marshmallow test, there’s a new video showing the struggles of a toddler to control his impulses and it comes right out of the University of Washington.

The new UW video — which has tallied more than 750,000 hits since it was posted 10 days ago  re-enacts an experiment in a study from the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences that is published in the current issue of the journal, Cognitive Development.

The researchers wanted to find out if 15-month-old children could resist the natural urge to copy an adult playing with a toy by figuring out that doing so would make someone else mad at them.

Turns out they can.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, social and emotional learning, University of Washington

October 15, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Your voices: Readers’ opinions, concerns on expanded pre-K

As part of our three-part series on early learning, Education Lab recently asked readers to share their thoughts on the idea of expanded pre-K and whether a city-sponsored program would meet the needs of their families.

We received dozens of thoughtful responses to our call out. What follows is the two questions that appeared on the questionnaire, and a selection of reader answers. Some responses have been edited for length or clarity.

Q: Do you agree preschool should be a universal offering, available to all families regardless of income? Why or why not?

Yes, as long as it is actually universal. I do not believe in the middle class subsidizing the poor while still having to pay full or marginally reduced price for my own children. I have 3-year-old twins, and this is of great interest and importance to me. I will most likely vote against the subsidized pre-K initiative.

 Scott Jeffries, Seattle

No. I think we should spend our taxpayer money on boosting the quality of our elementary through high-school education instead. We need smaller classrooms and more individual help for students who need it  too many are falling through the cracks. We should still keep Head Start for the under-privileged.

 Lisa Stultz, Anacortes


Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: early learning, pre-K

October 7, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Speaker series launches Oct. 15 with panel on early education

Next Wednesday, The Seattle Times will launch a new speaker series called LiveWire with a panel discussion on early learning.

The evening event takes place at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond. Times education reporter John Higgins will facilitate the conversation.

LiveWIRE_Logo_TaglineStacked_reverse_WorangePanelists include two leading brain science researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and other elected officials and educators.

Join the Education Lab team immediately following the main program for an informal Q&A with the reporters and editors behind the project.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early ed, early learning, livewire

September 20, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Chat replay: What does ‘high-quality’ preschool look like?

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The proposals to expand and improve early education in Seattle raise many questions about what effective preschool looks like. And what does “high quality” mean, anyway?

The Education Lab team hosted a Google+ hangout on all things early education this on Sept. 23. The discussion was facilitated by reporter John Higgins.


Comments | More in Video, Your voices | Topics: early education, early learning, pre-K

July 30, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Guests: The critical role of doctors in early learning

Jill Sells

Jill Sells

Mary Ann Woodruff

Mary Ann Woodruff

Equal opportunity is at the heart of many civic discussions, from preschool to the minimum wage. Rarely is it emphasized that a child’s chance to reach his or her potential is greatly impacted by what happens before he or she utters a word.

The stark reality is that inequities related to both economics and race are present in infants. Brain and economic research unequivocally demonstrate that the earliest experiences matter the most.

As pediatricians, we’ve shared the joy as families welcome newborns into their lives. We’ve helped them understand that babies are wired to learn, innately attracted to their parents’ voices and faces, and actively engaged with the people around them.

The latest University of Washington study from Patricia Kuhl at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) demonstrates that “babies practice speech long before they can talk.” Helping parents support their child’s learning from birth should be among the highest of our priorities as pediatricians. Children’s doctors are trusted by families and are uniquely able to support parents through each stage of their child’s development.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: early learning

July 9, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Kindergarten catch-up program yields results in Lake Washington

Photo by Caitlin Moran / The Seattle Times.

Photo by Caitlin Moran / The Seattle Times

Two years ago, the Lake Washington School District started a small experiment to see if it could help struggling kindergarten students catch up with their peers.

It was based on a common-sense idea: To improve, the kindergartners needed more time at school.

Kelly Pease, the district’s director of intervention programs, realized that students who were the furthest behind often were the ones who attended only a half day of kindergarten. That’s likely because many of their parents couldn’t afford the full-day programs that Lake Washington, like many school districts, offers for a fee.

Half-day programs, which the state funds, are free.

So district leaders decided to offer those students the chance to attend a free program for the second half of the day, designed specifically for them.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, early-childhood education, kindergarten

July 8, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Is preschool effective? Some good signs for incoming class of 2028

For the 9,800 children in Washington who attended the state’s preschool program this past school year, the challenges went well beyond learning to count and identify letters.

Nearly half  4,112  live in families with incomes that are half of what the federal government considers the poverty line. Roughly 10 percent are homeless, 13 percent have at least one parent with mental health issues, and for 12 percent of them, one or more of their parents never finished middle school, much less high school.

But a report from the state’s Department of Early Learning suggests that the Washington Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) is making a big difference in these 3- and 4-year-olds’ lives – emotionally, physically, and academically.

The report looks at the results from a new tool that the preschool teachers are using to rate everything from how well their students follow directions to how well they know the alphabet.


Comments | More in News | Topics: early learning, ECEAP, preschool

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