TYO Recommends: January 13, 2012

As we prep for resuming classes in Nablus following the winter break, we take a closer look at the role of play, parents, and pupil-teacher relationships as indicators of academic performance for young children.

HITTING THE PLAYGROUND! : Affirming the link between play and academic progress, the Fall River School Department designs a PLAYWORKS curriculum to incorporate periods of physical recreational activity into students' daily routine. Their findings demonstrate that increased play can lead to decreased disciplinary troubles in the classroom; an exciting development for educators! The American Academy of Pediatrics also investigates the NECESSITY OF PLAY for healthy childhood development and strengthening the parent-child bond, particularly in poverty-stricken areas.

BETTER TEACHERS, BETTER FUTURE: Twenty-year study by economists from Harvard and Columbia determines that quality teachers lead to quality of life for young learners. Using the VALUE-ADDED METRIC SYSTEM, which weighs the impact individual teachers have on test scores, the study concludes that strong teachers and consequently higher test scores early in life produce higher earnings and income for these same students years down the road.

ALL IN THE FAMILY: Via the World Bank Blog on Education for Global Development, we ask the question: Should developing countries shift from focusing on improving schools to IMPROVING PARENTS? On the flip side, Education Week gives an additional bird's eye view into  IMPROVEMENTS IN PARENTAL PERFORMANCE as a result of a child's enrollment in the Head Start program. On average, these parents spend more time engaging in enriching activities with their young ones that strengthen the parent-child bond.

In related news, New York Times, op-ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof reviews a recent discovery by the American Academy of Pediatrics, illuminating the role of TOXIC STRESS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD.“We’re beginning to get a pretty compelling biological model of why kids who have experienced adversity have trouble learning,”notes Jack P. Shonkoff, a Harvard pediatrician and forerunner in this field. "This is the biology of social class disparities. Early experiences are literally built into our bodies.”

LOOKING BACK AND MOVING FORWARD, GLOBAL EDUCATION 2011 INTO 2012: UNICEF recaps GLOBAL EDUCATION ACHIEVEMENTS during 2011, citing significant progress from 2010. Podcast with United Nations Special Rapporteur Kishore Singh highlights the pressing need for educating children in conflict-affected zones and emergency situations and revisits the imperative for expanding efforts in women's education.