TYO Recommends: Friday, May 4, 2012

This week, TYO asks what Goodnight Moon has to do with cognitive development and examines why 850,000 girls are smiling in Bangladesh. Why does classroom integration matter and who cares about the Millennium Development Goals in education? TYO gets to the bottom of it all!

CLOSE THE GAP. What do 350,000 expectant mothers have in common with more than 2.8 million newborn babies? They died last year due to insufficient prenatal childcare in struggling communities, the latter in only the first week of life. World Bank releases this brief compelling video rationalizing the benefits of closing the GAP and demonstrating why equality for girls and women matters in the developing and developed world.

Say it loud, I’m a parent and I’m proud! Recent research out of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds that parents who READ aloud to their children during the crucial early stages of development  during the first year of primary school, perform better academically in the years to come than children who never experienced the parent-to-child bond of story time. So the next time your little one squeals gleefully in anticipation of The Little Engine that Could or begs to say Goodnight Moon just one more time, don’t hurry them to bed, give them a minute; it could go miles in their future development.  Regardless of socioeconomic status, a little quality time with the kiddos ultimately pays off.

Growing Together. Many have argued in the past that children at different stages of LANGUAGE development should be segregated into educational groups according to their performance, a carry-over from the notion of establishing successive grades to mark academic progression and group students of a certain age and development stage. The Child Development journal counters this notion, concentrating on the importance of balanced classroom composition, allowing students of varying levels (and in many cases socioeconomic backgrounds) to intermingle with one another. And will it hurt Junior to be in a class with less lingual-skilled peers? Not at all. In fact, it just might help.

Pre-paration for Success. World Education Blog examines the long-term effects of pre-school education on future academic success and the maturation of cognitive SKILLS. “Recent evidence based on the 2009 PISA survey shows that in 58 of 65 countries, 15-year-old students who had attended at least a year of pre-primary school outperformed students who had not, even after accounting for socio-economic background.” Earlier intervention= earlier success=lifetime of potential achievements.

Keeping apace in the Classroom. The Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015 is a laudable endeavor at best, haphazard strategy at worst, says World Education Blog. True, more children than ever are being ushered into CLASSROOMS around the world, but are they learning as much as their early predecessors? Classrooms are growing, but is learning keeping pace? “Over the past two decades, the development community has learned what it takes to get girls into school, utilizing programmes such as scholarships or cash transfer incentives. It is now time to focus on what keeps girls in school for the long term, making sure they are receiving a quality education, including life skills and livelihood training.” Through abolishing traditional learning methods such as rote memorization, programs like the Bangladesh-based BRAC aim to revamp the education model for the developing world to concentrate on problem-solving and critical thinking, skills far too many children lack in watered-down curricula.