Written By: Ginny Norton
Publish Date: Sep 2, 2015
We've got a problem and the time has come to DO something about it instead of merely talking about it. Our current ECE system is a dysfunctional patchwork of programs and services: public policy and private sector engagement, without appropriate accountability. This we have known for decades.
Parents remain confused, frustrated, uninformed and - most important - often not engaged. They have no way to understand or make choices around quality, little understanding of what is required for their child's success after pre-K, and no idea who to hold accountable.
We know this as the problem - but what good is the identification of an issue without a plan to present a healthy solution?
Early childhood education is an essential building block to a child's success in school. I've personally been involved in pre-K for 23 years and have observed, like many of you reading this, that we have a problem in pre-K that grows larger and more complex every year. In spite of the best efforts of many people, and the proliferation of advocacy organizations, not-for-profits and think tanks; the gaps in early childhood developments continue to grow wider. These challenges, unmet, can continue to impact a child's development and learning through their education years.
I believe, and have seen first-hand, that technology can be a critical bridge between the classroom and the home -the teacher and the parent.
Don't get me wrong - I do NOT believe that technology is the answer to our Nation's education challenges - that responsibility, I believe, rests where it always has, with the indispensable partnership between parents and teachers. Technology's only role is to be a facilitator of family engagement.
The Education Family is central to finding and implementing solutions to the widely recognized problems of:
- 1) Teacher quality, which includes teacher empowerment, retention and training and support;
- 2) Educating and activating parents. We need informed and engaged parents who see teachers as partners in the education of their child and parents who embrace their own role in the partnership.
- 3) Measuring outcomes. We need standards and outcomes to inform a consistent definition of what "good" looks like and use that information to aid the teacher and the family in focusing on the critical areas of learning that are identified in both the classroom and home.
I believe that any family engagement policy guidelines must recognize and encourage the adoption and use of appropriate technology to enable and facilitate active and robust communication and engagement between educators, administrators and families.
My company, Hatch Early Learning, has created a technology solution which captures what a pre-K child knows in the 18 literacy and math skills that research tells us children need in order to be school ready. Progress monitoring data is collected and provided to teachers to make informed instructional decisions, and the data is shared with parents with the intent to facilitate a conversation with the teacher and engage them in their child's achievements in these literacy and math skills.
The time to act is now and that is why we plan to launch a national demonstration project in the near future to explore and shape a national model, that can be adapted locally, for the use of technology in the Pre-K space; aimed squarely at the challenges we face in the pre-K education of America's children. This project will support the screen time guidelines of 30 mins a week; that's all it takes to spark national change. Ready to help us get this demonstration project up and running? We'd love to know your views and have your support behind this effort.