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Parasympathetic Function: Relevance and Methodology for Early Education Research

Summary by: Lindsay Gomes

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The definition of school readiness in the contexts of educational research, practice, and policy has changed considerably over the past 60 years. After a long period of prioritizing academic skills (e.g., letter-shape knowledge), many researchers now emphasize the extent to which young children can control their emotions and behaviors as key to school readiness. This capacity is commonly referred to as self-regulation, which is often defined in terms of volitional, cognitively-mediated processes such as executive functions. In this paper, we assert that understanding children’s parasympathetic function is essential to providing a holistic understanding of self-regulation in the classroom and for informing how the classroom environment can be tailored to most effectively promote young children’s development.

What is parasympathetic function and why is it important?

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Varying States of Head Start: Impacts of a Federal Program Across State Policy Contexts

Maia C. Connors & Allison H. Friedman-Krauss

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Head Start increases low-income children’s access to high-quality preschool.

Attending high-quality preschool is associated with stronger cognitive and social-emotional skills, especially for low-income children. We know from previous experimental research that Head Start, a federally funded and regulated program, is an important source of high-quality preschool for low-income families nationwide. But Head Start programs do not have the capacity to serve all eligible families that want to attend. Most low-income children are cared for at home or attend other preschool programs that are regulated by individual states rather than the federal government. Child care licensing regulations are the primary way that states set quality standards for most preschool programs. Beyond basic health and safety regulations, the rigor of quality standards set by states’ licensing policies varies widely.

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Improving the general language skills of second-language learners in kindergarten: a randomized controlled trial

Kristin Rogde, Monica Melby-Lervåg, & Arne Lervåg

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There are increasing numbers of children whose first language differs from the predominant language of instruction in their school. Entering school where the language of instruction is a student’s second language is associated with undesirable social, educational, and economic outcomes. This study investigates the efficacy of an intervention aimed at improving second-language skills of kindergarteners.

How did we test the intervention?

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Quality Preschool for Ghana Program Improves Teacher and Student Outcomes

Sharon Wolf, J. Lawrence Aber, Jere Behrman & Edward Tsinigo

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Preschool teacher training program improves classroom quality and child outcomes in Ghana

Children around the world are attending preschool more than ever before. But many preschools are poor quality and children are not learning. Ghana, a lower-middle income country in West Africa, has been at the forefront of expanding access to preschool and adopting a progressive- child-centered curriculum.

Yet, preschool quality remains poor and most teachers have not been trained in the national curriculum. 

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