The following is part of a series of guest posts by leaders in the field of early learning. This guest post is by Shelley Pasnik, vice president of Education Development Center (EDC).
As researchers, we know that children's early science exploration can lay the foundation for their becoming critical thinkers and lifelong problem solvers.
Yet according to a new national study, approximately half of the parents of young children who were surveyed are not "very confident” they can support their children’s science learning.
The study, titled What Parents Talk About When They Talk About Learning: A National Survey About Young Children and Science, is based on interviews with more than 1,400 parents nationwide. Findings indicate that, regardless of income level, parents want their kids to have a strong start in the sciences and feel that concrete supports and activities would help them engage their children in science exploration.
We want parents and caregivers to know that the habits of mind and curiosity that they can encourage are much more important than being able to provide the “right” answers to the science questions their kids have. Modeling an enthusiasm for science learning and building on their kids’ natural inquisitiveness by asking questions and looking for answers together can go a long way toward supporting science literacy.
The survey report includes recommendations for lowering barriers that parents face in helping their kids learn science. We think that increasing awareness of opportunities to engage kids in early science learning at home and in the community is critical, especially in ways that seamlessly integrate with parents’ regular routines and that don’t require lots of time or expensive materials. In addition, connecting parents to fun, developmentally appropriate science content that models ways to engage with science concepts, practices, and activities is also key to increasing parents’ confidence.
The survey was conducted by education researchers at Education Development Center (EDC) and SRI International and was commissioned by the CPB-PBS Ready To Learn Initiative, which is funded by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education and supports the development of resources for families. Additional science-rich resources are available at PBS KIDS, PBS KIDS For Parents and the PBS KIDS YouTube channel.
ABOUT THIS POST
The contents of this blog were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. The project is funded by a Ready To Learn grant (PR/AWARD No. U295A150003, CFDA No. 84.295A) provided by the Department of Education to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Toyota Family Learning Program
Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.
Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities
William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust
NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.
Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, they invested in the organization’s Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.Learn more about the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust
Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.
The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.
Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.Learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation
PNC Grow Up Great
PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.
PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.
NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.Foundation Website
NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.
The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.Learn more about the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University