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WENDY LOCKER: NOTHING ABSTRACT ABOUT THE LESSONS OF PLAY

6/10/2017

Read Wendy Locker’s insightful article, as posted in the Stamford Advocate, at  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Nothing-abstract-about-the-lessons-11208722.php

WHY PLAY IS VITAL IN PRESCHOOL: DEY’S RESPONSE TO THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORT SUPPORTING FLASH CARDS OVER FREE PLAY

6/6/2017

DEY Senior Advisor and Wheelock College professor, Dr. Diane Levin, writes DEY’s response:

At Defending the Early Years (DEY; www.thedeyproject.com) we work to promote fantastic instructional exercise in early childhood. Dana Goldstein’s May thirtieth article, “ Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools” (NY Times, 5/30/17) no longer solely left us puzzled however raised numerous essential questions.

Should a find out about that determined a 2½-month obtain in tutorial competencies when taught in preschool have an impact on early childhood coverage and practice? How can one argue for giving up massive chunks of playtime for tutorial instructing to make such minimal positive factors in educational performance—with little consideration of what different areas would possibly have misplaced out due to the fact of the center of attention on tutorial skills?  Studies of Head Start applications that taught educational capabilities to preschoolers in the 1960’s and 1970’s discovered that features made in educational overall performance over kids in extra play-based Head Start packages had been usually long gone by means of 2d grade (i.e., “fade-out effect,” as stated in the article).  Furthermore, lookup in many European countries, which do no longer begin formal studying guidance till age seven, suggests that beginning formal instructing of analyzing in the past has little benefit.

Play-based early childhood applications are all-too-often misunderstood.  Just having performed in a preschool is no longer enough, as  all play is not the same.  When a infant dabbles from one recreation to another, tries out one cloth and then the next, and/or does the equal undertaking day-after-day, this is now not pleasant play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a infant does come to be extra utterly engaged in an exercise that develops over time and is significant play, instructors have a quintessential position in facilitating the play to assist the baby take it further.  The trainer additionally makes selections about how to combine extra formal early literacy and math capabilities into the play—for instance, by using supporting a toddler dictate tales about his portray and pointing out some of the key phrases and letters involved, etc.   The trainer can then assist the baby “read” the story at a type meeting.  With block building, the trainer and toddler may talk about shapes, as she tries to locate the proper form for her structure.

This kind of intentional teacher-facilitated learning through play contributes to the many foundational skills children need for later school success, including self-regulation, social skills, creativity, original thinking, oral language development, eye-hand coordination, pre-literacy and math skills, and positive attitudes toward problem-solving.  And, in the long run, these foundational skills are much more important for how children will feel about and perform later in school than the 2½ months gain they might obtain from the early skill instruction received in preschool, as reported in the New York Times article.

Rather than debating over free play versus flashcards, possibly we have to be asking the greater questions:

  1. Why are years of lookup on the advantages of first-rate play in preschool packages so regularly ignored?
  2. Why is it assumed that academic skills are so important to emphasize in preschool rather than a focus on the development of the “whole child” and foundational skills that prepare children for school success in the later years?
  3. Why are play and gaining knowledge of so regularly dealt with as if they are  dichotomous, as they seem to be in this report?

NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION RELEASES ITS NPE TOOLKIT: SCHOOL PRIVATIZATION EXPLAINED

4/26/2017

This complete toolkit will reply questions about constitution faculties and faculty privatization.

HIGH SCHOOL SHOULD BE MORE LIKE PRESCHOOL

4/8/2017

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Secondary training is now borrowing thoughts from early childhood. Published April 7, 2017, in The Hechinger Report,  read the full article here.

KINDERGARTEN READINESS ASSESSMENTS

4/4/2017

DON’T USE KINDERGARTEN READINESS ASSESSMENTS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

More than forty states both have or are in the system of growing Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRA), a device to measure children’s readiness for kindergarten. While KRAs have a number of advantages for instructing and learning, the consequences can additionally be used inappropriately, in accordance to a latest Ounce of Prevention Fund report, “ Uses and Misuses of Kindergarten Readiness Assessments.
Read the entire article here.

STOP HUMILIATING TEACHERS

2/22/2017

“Stop Humiliating Teachers” by David Denby was published in the Feb. 11, 2017 issue of The New Yorker.

DEY ISSUES A STATEMENT OPPOSING BETSY DEVOS’ NOMINATION FOR SECRETARY OF EDUCATION

1/27/2017

DEY is issuing a statement in opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. 
 
DeVos confirmed in her listening to testimony on January seventeenth that she is profoundly unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education. She was once unable to reply primary questions or tackle controversial issues. But, most importantly, she is in opposition to public schooling and, instead, needs to privatize public education.  DeVos has a verified records of aiding efforts that discriminate in opposition to low-income communities and communities of color.  At DEY, we aid the equal probability of each younger baby for an extremely good education.  We are mainly involved that DeVos will undermine the country wide and country efforts to promote normal preschool public education. 
 
For extra data about advocacy for excellent public education, go to DEY’s internet site at  www.thedeyproject.com.

ECE POLICY MATTERS’ SUSAN OCHSHORN DISCUSSES BETSY DE VOS NOMINATION AND DEY’S LATEST REPORT, “TEACHERS SPEAK OUT”

1/22/2017

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THE POWER OF THEIR VOICES: EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS TALK SCHOOL REFORM

(originally published on Jan. 19, 2017)

A former preschool instructor carried the torch for democracy at the affirmation listening to for Betsy DeVos, Donal Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.  “The Senate need to to be a rubber stamp, Patty Murray said.  We owe it t the American humans to put households and youngsters first, now not billionaires.”

Those were fighting words from the mild-mannered senator from Washington State, and senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.  Especially with Microsoft and Amazon among her top campaign contributors from 2011 to 2016.   But as the results of our recent election attest, women’s ascent to power is convoluted.  The pacts we make can be Faustian: these days, a former Microsoft executive runs Washington’s department of early learning.

In the week earlier than the hearing, as opponents of DeVos signed petitions, referred to as their senators, and urged individuals of the HELP committee to dump her, Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit organisation based totally in Boston, released  “Teachers Speak Out.” The document highlights the worries of early childhood instructors about the have an impact on of college reforms on low-income children.  Authors Diane E. Levin and Judith L. Van Hoorn culled their information from interviews with 34 educators in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

The link between socioeconomic status and academic achievement has been firmly hooked up in research.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, forty seven percentage of young people beneath six years historic lived in  low-income families near or beneath the poverty line in 2014. The stage rises to almost 70 percentage for Black and Native-American teenagers and sixty four percentage for Hispanic youngsters.  In a current survey carried out through the Council of Chief State School Officers—which helped design  the Common Core standards—teachers throughout the United States listed household stress, poverty, and studying and psychological troubles as the pinnacle obstacles to scholar success.

Yet the mandates of the Common Core are exacerbating the problem.  As Levin and Van Hoorn point out in the report’s introduction, “recent reforms…have been developed and implemented by people with good intentions but often little formal knowledge of early child development.”   Those with the understanding now face a  “profound moral dilemma.”  As top-down mandates dictate the instructing and evaluation of slim tutorial abilities at youthful and youthful ages, early childhood educators are pressured to do the “least harm,” as an alternative than the “most good.”

In an change at the hearing, between DeVos and Todd Young, a Republican senator from Indiana, she crowed about our “great opportunity…to  really empower [teachers] in a new way to do what they do best.”   She horrifies educators.  They’ve been leaving the field, exhausted and dispirited, in document numbers.  Respect for the occupation and morale are at an all-time low, as instructors have picked up the slack for a society that starves its colleges and communities, and blames them for all its ills.  But out of this malaise, a new activism has emerged, with magnificent electricity devoted to defeating her.

Early childhood teachers—with some exquisite exceptions—have been lacking from the action. The motives are complex.  This is a group of workers that has lengthy been marginalized, their work devalued, and understanding ignored.  “It’s simply babysitting,” New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, stated some years ago, of his state’s prekindergarten program—a grasp shared via many, and internalized via these in the field.  Salaries for educators working in community-based packages are substantially much less than these of their colleagues in the public schools.  Many are residing in poverty, and troubled with the aid of the poisonous stress frequent amongst their students. The latest practitioners are concerned about inserting their careers at risk.  Few have been inclined to go on the document with their critique.

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​As I read through the report, I kept underlining the quotes from the teachers, as if to amplify them, to lift them off the page.  They’re struggling to honor early childhood’s robust evidence base, but they’re undermined by a lack of agency and autonomy:

The have confidence in my knowledge and judgment as a instructor is gone.  So are the play and getting to know facilities in my classroom.  Everything is supposed to be structured for a particular lesson and rigidly timed to in shape into a specific, tight, preapproved schedule.

The bad influence of reforms on children’s improvement and mastering can’t be overstated. Practice has end up greater rote, and standardized, with much less time for deep relationships—among children, and between them and caring adults.  We’re stealing the coronary heart of wonderful early education, as the character strengths, interests, and wishes of kids get lost:

With this extreme emphasis on what’s called ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s much harder for my children to become self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to learn to self-regulate by choosing their own activities, participating in ongoing projects with their classmates, or playing creatively.  They have to sit longer, but their attention spans are shorter.

The authors bring us into the classrooms studied by Daphna Bassok, Scott Lathem, and Anna Rorem, of the University of Virginia, who used two large, nationally representative data sets to compare public school kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010. More formal, directed instruction in reading, writing, and math, once the province of first grade, has trickled down into kindergarten.  Close reading is becoming part of the expected skill set of 5-year-olds, and the pressure has extended, in some cases, to prekindergarten, where children are being asked to master reading by the end of the year. The repercussions are severe:

It’s integral for each and every kindergarten infant to sense welcomed and included, to be phase of the class. Instead, we’re keeping apart the cream from the milk.  From the beginning, we’re telling youngsters who are poor, ‘You’re deficient,’ as a substitute of assisting them come to be ready and sense profitable and phase of their class.  Then it’s ‘remedial this, remedial that.’  It’s discrimination.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations—from the real experts in the room.  The first calls for the withdrawal of current early childhood standards and mandates. Another urges the use of authentic assessment, based on observations of children, their development, and learning.  Number ten addresses child poverty, our national stain:

Work at all degrees of society to reduce, and finally stop infant poverty.  To do this, we should first well known that a slim focal point on enhancing colleges will now not resolve the complicated issues related with baby poverty.

Breaking the silence was once by no means so sweet.  Now it’s time, as John Lewis says, to get in correct trouble.

DEFENDING THE EARLY YEARS RELEASES ITS LATEST REPORT: “TEACHERS SPEAK OUT: HOW SCHOOL REFORMS ARE FAILING LOW-INCOME YOUNG CHILDREN”

1/9/2017

Defending the Early Years is proud to announce the release of its newest report, “Teachers Speak Out: How School Reforms Are Failing Low-Income Young Children.”  

In the wake of federal and state education mandates, this report documents interviews with early childhood teachers across the country about how school reforms negatively affect low-income young children.
 
Authored by Diane E. Levin, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Wheelock College, and Judith L. Van Hoorn, Professor Emerita, University of the Pacific and published by Defending the Early Years, the report finds that the mandates disregard teachers’ knowledge of child development, culturally appropriate practice, and how to meet the diverse educational needs of poor children.
 
Find the full 16-page report here.

Find the two-page summary report here.

Find the press release here.

NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION MOUNTING A CAMPAIGN TO DEFEAT BETSY DEVOS AS SECRETARY OF EDUCATION

1/6/2017

Senate hearings on the affirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education start on January 11, 2017. Many educators have grave worries about Mrs. DeVos.  See “ A Sobering Look at What Betsy DeVos Did to Education in Michigan – and What She Might Do as Secretary of Education” from The Answer Sheet in The Washington Post and “Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools” in the Dec. 13, 2016 New York Times.

Network for Public Education is mounting a campaign and encouraging educators and other concerned citizens to contact their Senator.  Find a sample letter and the addresses of all Senators at https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-your-senator-to-vote-no-for-betsy-devos?source=facebook&. Or write your own letter, in your own words.

Another alternative is to name 202-225-3121 and be related with any congressional member, each Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. Tell the staffer who solutions that you are adverse to Mrs. DeVos’ affirmation as Secretary of Education.  They will ask for your title and zip code and tally your name as a “yay” or “nay.” 

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