Teachers Play Key Role in Program to Fight Childhood Obesity


An innovative physical activities guide developed at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute FPG is helping North Carolina fight childhood obesity. New research shows that when teachers direct these physical activities, young children become more active and less sedentary.

“In the past twenty years, childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed,” said FPG investigator Allison De Marco. “And for the first time in over a century, children’s life expectancies are declining because of increased numbers of overweight kids.”

De Marco said these statistics are especially alarming because research has long shown that being overweight during childhood is associated with health issues later in life. Obesity, coupled with a lack of physical activity, can lead to coronary heart disease, hypertension, Type II diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

“About one-third of overweight preschoolers and one-half of overweight school-age children remain overweight as adults,” she explained.

She also noted that studies have shown how physical activities can reduce the chances of developing obesity and chronic diseases, while positively influencing other areas of development. Childhood physical activity is related to better health, higher test scores, and fewer behavioral problems.

“But preschoolers engage in mostly sedentary activities,” said De Marco. “Surprisingly, children don’t just run outside and play, and even at recess, preschoolers actually are fairly inactive.”

“Clearly, it’s important to get children up and keep them moving,” said FPG director Samuel L. Odom. He and his colleagues wanted to create a program that would include children even younger than the 3 to 5-year-olds that other physical activity programs had tried to target previously.

Source: FPG Child Development Institute

Available at: http://fpg.unc.edu/news/teachers-play-key-role-program-fight-childhood-obesity

Common Core: Putting Students on Paths to 21st-Century Success


A little more than 20 years ago, I graduated from college with a degree and an eagerness to help students. During my time as a camp counselor, I had the opportunity to work with young people, so I knew I possessed two gifts: the ability to reach young people and enjoy the intrinsic reward of their successes.

Once I began teaching, I struggled mightily, as most young teachers do. I definitely had my middle school students’ attention, but I wasn’t sure they were reaching their potential. The solution came when I decided to focus on students’ needs: what they needed to know and what they needed to be able to do. As my career progressed, I had a lot more learning to do—but focusing on my students’ needs put me on the path toward becoming a more effective teacher.

This year, while serving as a teacherpreneur with the Center for Teaching Quality, I started to examine our educational landscape and saw many needs involving the new standards. I spoke to both parents and teachers who wanted more resources about how the standards relate to 21st-century learning and career and college readiness.

I’ve studied the standards, and I believe wholeheartedly that they will make students more effective thinkers and learners who are better prepared for life after high school. Teachers across the nation are working hard to implement the standards and prepare students for college and careers in the 21st century—but sometimes it’s difficult to explain how the standards play a part in this journey.

Introducing Two New Tools for Parents and Teachers

I recently created two resources to help teachers and parents navigate what the new standards mean to children. The standards are just one of many paths to 21st-century success.

This downloadable, shareable, and printable poster has two parts. On the left side, you’ll see six classroom scenes that show a necessary 21st-century skill that teachers are developing through their instruction with the help of the standards. All six of these skills lead to 21st-century success—and can be found embedded in various lessons and activities at every grade level.

The right side of the poster shows where these classroom paths lead: to three top skills that employers say students will need to be college and career ready. Research shows that college and career readiness is the #1 topic of interest to parents when discussing the standards. So this poster shows exactly what parents want to see—how teachers are preparing students for 21st-century success.

This tool also includes an evidence sheet for teachers to use when speaking with parents about the standards. Teachers can “plug in” their own classroom activities to help parents understand how those activities build 21st-century skills and prepare children for college and careers.

I invite you to use, share, and comment on these tools. I hope to help all teachers communicate some of the many strengths of the new standards with parents. And I hope you’ll join the Collaboratory and the Common Core lab to share your experiences with the standards, including strategies for how you develop 21st-century skills in your classroom.

Source: Center for Teaching Quality

Available at: http://www.teachingquality.org/content/common-core-putting-students-paths-21st-century-success

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book


The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the 2014 report ranks states on overall child well-being and in four domains: 1 economic well-being, 2 education, 3 health, and 4 family and community. For 2014, the three highest-ranked states for child well-being were Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa; the three lowest-ranked were Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi. The report also provides national trends, comparing the latest data with mid-decade statistics. The 2014 Data Book is the 25th edition of the Casey Foundations signature publication. As such, the report also examines trends in child well-being since 1990, the year of the first report. It highlights positive policies and practices that have improved child health and development and features stories from several states on advocacy efforts that have improved outcomes for kids and families.

Source: The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Available at: http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-2014-kids-count-data-book/

Pedestrian Safety 2014 Resource Guide


CSN has produced this resource guide to provide a comprehensive, annotated list of resources for pedestrian safety. The resource guide is divided into eight sections: Data; Safe Routes to School; Pedestrian Safety for Preschoolers; Other Programs, Strategies and Campaigns; Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation; Policy; Research; and Distracted Walking. Each item in this resource guide includes a short description and a link to the resource itself. Descriptions of reports, guides, toolkits, campaigns, websites, and initiatives are excerpted from the publications themselves while research articles are excerpted from the article abstracts.

Source: Children’s Safety Network

Available at: http://www.childrenssafetynetwork.org/resource/pedestrian-safety-2014-resource-guide

Discover MyPlate: Nutrition Education for Kindergarten | Food and Nutrition Service


Discover MyPlate is fun and inquiry-based nutrition education that fosters the development of healthy food choices and physically active lifestyles during a critical developmental and learning period for children — kindergarten.

Kindergarten teachers can meet education standards for Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Health using the 6 ready-to-go and interactive lessons. Children become food-smart as they practice counting, reading, writing, and more. Fun characters and developmentally appropriate activities engage children in:

  • Exploring healthy choices from each of the MyPlate food groups
  • Discovering the colorful variety of fruits and vegetables and how they grow
  • Identifying feelings of hunger and fullness
  • Selecting balanced meals and healthy snacks
  • Experiencing the fun and importance of being physically active

Available: in PDF, for download. If you have difficulty opening any of these files in your Internet browser, please right-click on the link and “save target as…” to download. Printed copies expected in Fall 2014.

Source: Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Available at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/discover-myplate

Excellence for Every Child: Improving the Quality of Teaching Birth through Grade Three (CEELO RoundTable)

June 5-6, 2014

Minneapolis, MN

The meeting is collaboratively planned with national technical assistance partners to build capacity of state agency leaders and early childhood specialists to provide informed leadership about research-based practices that directly impact the development and learning of children, birth through grade three.  The meeting will provide early childhood state agency leaders and specialists with cutting edge research and innovative proven practices to enhance state policies and programs.

Desired Outcomes – as a result of this meeting, participants will:

  1. Strengthen partnerships across states in addressing issues that face state specialists.
  2. Broaden awareness of what research says about how quality teaching enhances excellence for every child, birth through grade three.
  3. Increase awareness of best practices and successful strategies for what state leaders need to know and be able to do to improve the quality teaching for children birth through grade three.
  4. Identify technical assistance needs to support state leadership efforts to enhance teaching effectiveness and strategies.

Source: Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes

Available at: http://ceelo.org/ceelo-events/ceelo-roundtable/

Are the Children Well?


The mental health challenges our country’s young people face call for shifting the focus of policy and practice from illness, to promotion of wellness and flourishing. This requires using evidence-based strategies with both children and parents, and improving the quality of the environments where children and youth live, learn, play, and grow.

In recent years, prominent experts have urged changes to help end longstanding disparities between physical and mental health care, and to foster wellness. This report builds on that prior work. Child Trends argues that the distinction between physical and mental health is both artificial and harmful, and make a case for re-balancing attention to include wellness in addition to illness. It is important to identify and address the needs of children at risk, while also improving the mental wellness supports and services available to all children and youth. Therefore, Child Trends considered the evidence for interventions, both prevention- and promotion-oriented, that can improve mental wellness at the multiple levels of individual, family, school, and community.

Download Report: PDF

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Available at: http://www.rwjf.org/en/research-publications/find-rwjf-research/2014/07/are-the-children-well-.html

Childrens Budget 2014


The federal government makes more than 180 distinct investments in children. These include traditional “children’s” initiatives, like education and child abuse and neglect prevention. They also include other investments that improve the lives of kids, like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly Food Stamps.Children’s Budget 2014 offers a detailed guide to federal spending on children and an invaluable resource for those seeking to improve the lives of America’s youth. Download now or request your hard copy of Childrens Budget 2014.

Source: First Focus

Available at: http://www.firstfocus.net/cb2014

EPSDT – A Guide for States: Coverage in the Medicaid Benefit for Children and Adolescents


The Medicaid program’s benefit for children and adolescents is known as Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment services, or EPSDT. EPSDT provides a comprehensive array of prevention, diagnostic, and treatment services for low-income infants, children and adolescents under age 21, as specified in Section 1905(r) of the Social Security Act (the Act). The EPSDT benefit is more robust than the Medicaid benefit for adults and is designed to assure that children receive early detection and care, so that health problems are averted or diagnosed and treated as early as possible. The goal of EPSDT is to assure that individual children get the health care they need when they need it – the right care to the right child at the right time in the right setting.

Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Available at: http://www.medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information/By-Topics/Benefits/Downloads/EPSDT_Coverage_Guide.pdf

Celebrate Summer Learning Day on June 20: Create a Plan to Strengthen Summer Opportunities for All | Administration for Children and Families


By Susan O’Connor, School-age TA SpecialistNational Center on Child Care Professional Development and Workforce, co-funded by the Office of Child Care and the Office of Head Start

Summer can be a time of growth, learning, and fun. Think back to your summer memories. Perhaps you learned to swim or made special friends at camp. Maybe you remember the summer you went on a whale watch and spent days afterward reading all about whales.

Summer is also a time of learning loss. While this happens to all students, children from lower income families are more likely than their higher income peers to lose ground in reading and math over the summer. Did you know that about half of the difference in reading ability in ninth grade between children from low- and high-income families is linked to summer learning loss during elementary school?

Recent studies show that summer learning can lead to gains in school lasting up to two years. For the nearly 650,000 school-age children served monthly by a Child Care and Development Fund subsidy, summer programs play an important role in supporting learning opportunities.As we celebrate National Summer Learning Day, the following tips can help to make sure all children have access to high-quality summer learning programs.

Source: The Family Room Blog, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2014/06/celebrate-summer-learning-day