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Mar 19, 2018 |
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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).

NCFL Guest Blogger Series

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.

What Parents Talk About When They Talk About Learning: A National Survey About Young Children and ScienceThe 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

Shelley Pasnik is vice president of Education Development Center (EDC), a global education and health nonprofit.

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.

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NCFL Partners

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 $35 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 and NCFL

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®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

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.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

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.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University