Our story, described in detail in the book Children at the Center: Transforming Early Childhood Education in the Boston Public Schools, proves that child-centric, highly developmental early education can be scaled and sustained in public settings to put all children on the path to success and reduce the achievement gap.
The Department of Early Childhood was established in 2005 by former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and then-Superintendent Thomas Payzant with the vision of preparing all children with a strong and early start to their formal education. At the time, there were large gaps between the quality of classrooms and instruction, and many settings were not suited to meet the needs of early learners.
Superintendent Payzant hired Jason Sachs to lead the newly established Department of Early Childhood. Jason's background in research and community-based programs, and his work with the MA Department of Education primed him to lead this new effort. Jason built a team who shared his vision to improve both access and quality. Today, we are a team of over 20, consisting of coaches, curriculum writers, and project leaders, each of whom brings a unique and diverse background and perspective to our work.
We believe that child-centered, highly developmental early childhood practices should extend to the early elementary grades and have made a concerted effort to ensure alignment across child-centric practices from Pre-K through second grade - that's the Focus on Early Learning approach. Through Focus, we provide curricula, professional development, and coaching for Pre-K through second grade classrooms (P-2). Across this grade span, our child-centered approach, called the “strongest hope model” is supported through developmentally appropriate practices and culturally responsive instruction.
Focus on Early Learning is designed to engage children and empower them to develop language, math, critical thinking, and socioemotional skills that prepare them for long-term academic and life success. We use professional development and coaching aligned with our instructional practices to support teachers in strengthening their craft to provide all children with access to a high-quality, culturally responsive learning experience. We support early childhood leadership development by providing resources for instructional superintendents and principals to support effective instruction.
Our approach works beyond the district doors; children who attended our Boston K1DS and Preschool Expansion Grant community-based Pre-K programs are considered more "ready for school" than their non-attending peers. Read more about Focus on Early Learning in our book, download the handouts below, and come see it in action in the classroom - contact us today to schedule a site visit.