Children & Nature Network – Thriving Through Nature: Fostering Children’s Executive Function Skills

The Children & Nature Network has integrated the Harvard Center on the Developing Child’s research about developing executive functions with the seven common play motifs that David Sobel has found that children — regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or ecosystem — use in unstructured play.  Check out Thriving Through Nature: Fostering Children’s Executive Function Skills for evidence-informed, developmentally-appropriate, nature-based activities that promote the development of executive functions in children 0-18 years old.  These can be used year-round, at home or in an educational setting, and with few additional funding resources.

UIS offers first on campus dual credit class to high school students as part of a pilot program

(Springfield, IL – October 12, 2017) “The University of Illinois Springfield is offering its first on campus dual credit class for high school students as part of a pilot program. The class marks the first time UIS has offered high school students college credit for a class taught by a university faculty member.  The pilot course, CHE 199A: General, Organic, and Biochemistry, is being offered to 18 seniors from Springfield’s Sacred Heart-Griffin High School (SHG). The students earn both college and high school credit for the course. If the program is successful, the university hopes to expand course selection and offer classes to students at other high schools in central Illinois.”  Continue reading at

CNN: “Little kids and ‘toxic stress’: we can solve this”

(October 4, 2017) “All children have incredible potential, most with parents, teachers and other adults in their lives who want the best for them. Unfortunately, many schools, particularly those that serve children with the greatest need, face obstacles that limit children’s educational success — rote curriculums, insufficient support for teachers and scant extracurricular options, to name a few.” Continue reading at  

NPR: Getting The Most Out Of Pre-K, ‘The Most Important’ Year In School

(October 2, 2017) “The big takeaway here is: Any gains a child makes in a quality preschool program will fade away in a classroom that’s not supportive and nurturing.  We all know what quality programs do for children, and yes, they’re expensive. But not as expensive as all the remedial programs we fund these days to ‘fix’ kids who missed out. So the choice should be simple.” Continue reading at

University Business: Is early college working? How higher ed can address four common concerns related to dual enrollment?

(September 20, 2017) “In 2002, 1.2 million students were earning college credits while still in high school. A decade later, the number of those participating in dual enrollment courses had almost doubled, hitting 2 million, according to the most recent federal data. And as a 2015 ACT policy brief detailed, the programs continue growing.

Colleges and universities in 47 states engage with school district partners to offer dual enrollment programs, in which courses are taught on college campuses, at high schools or online. However, with the explosive growth of dual enrollment—also referred to as early college—have come questions about their value.” Continue reading at

Brookings Institution: What we know about Career and Technical Education in high school

(October 5, 2017) “Career and technical education (CTE) has traditionally played an important role in U.S. secondary schools. The first federal law providing funding for vocational education was passed in 1917, even before education was compulsory in every state… Unfortunately, research on CTE has not kept pace with policy interest.”  Continue reading at

Parenting in America

Submitted on 2015/12/17 at 12:18 pm by David P. Racine

Increasing Parental Engagement

A recent study demonstrated a way to increase the amount of time less advantaged parents spend reading to their preschool age children. Here’s the abstract…

1. Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The Parents and Children Together (PACT) Intervention by Susan E. Mayer, Ariel Kalil, Philip Oreopoulos, Sebastian Gallegos – #21602 (CH ED LS)


Parent engagement with their children plays an important role in children’s eventual economic success and numerous studies have documented large gaps in parent engagement between low- and higher-income families. While we know remarkably little about what motivates parents to engage in their children’s development, recent research suggests that ignoring or discounting the future may inhibit parental investment, while certain behavioral tools may help offset
this tendency.  This paper reports results from a randomized field experiment designed to increase the time that parents of children in subsidized preschool programs spend reading to their children using an electronic reading application that audio and video records parents as they read. The treatment included three behavioral tools (text reminders, goal-setting, and social rewards) as well as information about the importance of reading to children. The treatment increased usage of the reading application by one standard deviation after the six-week intervention. Our evidence suggests that the large effect size is not accounted for by the information component of the intervention and that the treatment impact was much greater for parents who are more present-oriented than for parents who are less present-oriented.

Submitted by David Racine

Boys vs. Girls

This morning’s New York Times carries an article on a recently completed study showing that boys generally lag behind girls from early on, but the gap between girls and boys is even larger among less advantaged children. The authors of the study suggest that we probably need to take this gender difference into account in designing solutions to improve outcomes for less advantaged boys and girls. I’m not so sure about this but am interested in what others think. Here is the link to the article:

Submitted by David Racine