Archive results for: In the News

Science behind self-regulation

“There is solid scientific evidence that executive function skills can be improved through practice, producing well-documented changes not only to children’s behavior but to their brains as well.”

It’s 10:45am, VOCEL children are deeply immersed in play in various areas of the classroom. Four children snap magnatiles together building castles and houses. Two children explore the concept of volume as they transfer water from small circular containers to larger bottles. Three children create marble paintings in the art center. VOCEL’s 18 children are scattered in areas of the room not just engaging in play, but building their executive function skills at every turn. Teachers encourage persistence and critical thinking as well as self-regulatory skills that will ensure children thrive as they transition to formal schooling. Since VOCEL’s inception, developing children’s executive function skills has been a top priority.

As more and more research comes out about the importance of the earliest years, many scholars in the early childhood space are discussing executive function skills. This Huffington Post blog speaks to the critical importance of honing executive function skills in young children. What do you do to help children practice and hone their executive functions?


Children develop their ability to focus, attention to detail, creativity and problem solving when they experiment with open-ended building toys.


After singing the “Bear Hunt” and working as a class to create a map of locations visited, children kept track as they re-enacted it in the gym. Experiences like this help children develop essential executive functioning skills like focus, critical thinking and the ability to make connections.

30 million, 4.8 billion: Early Childhood by the Numbers

At VOCEL we are always excited to see large publications, especially those not in the education field, promoting high-quality early childhood education. Read our reflections on a recently released article from Forbes Magazine.

A few months ago, I asked a crowd of 400 the following question: what is the value of 30 million words?  I went on to share that what research tell us is that a child growing up in poverty hears 30 million fewer words than his or her more affluent peers by the time that child is 3 years old.  As you can imagine, that 30 million word gap manifests itself in many ways.  We also know the power of giving young children language and communications skills sets them up for a lifetime of success and opportunities.  Now my question is different; what is the value of $4.8 billion dollars? How does it impact families? Society?

Just last week, Forbes featured an article highlighting the power of high-quality early childhood education.  Stating ‘the sooner the better,’ the authors shed light on the economic and societal benefits of early childhood education.  Most striking was this quote from authors Thomas Ehrlich and Ernestine Fu: “High-quality early childhood education is not a magic bullet to ensure that those participating will be destined to be successful in and out of school for the rest of their lives. Lots of other factors have real impact. But the evidence is overwhelming that the social and economic benefits of high-quality early education for children are both substantial and lasting. And they benefit not just the children who participate, but also our society as a whole.”

Read the entire article here and keep the conversation going on Twitter and Facebook.  Follow VOCEL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Invest Early #investinus

Our Twitter feed was full this morning as early education programs and advocates celebrated the $250 million federal investment in early education.

Today was a day to celebrate as 18 states, Illinois among them, were awarded $250 million in grants to support early childhood programming.  More and more, we are seeing bipartisan support of high-quality, early childhood education. VOCEL and other early childhood advocates are celebrating the building momentum around these critical early years. Read more about the investments in the following news sources:

Education Week

Crain’s Chicago Business

Be sure to follow the discussion on Twitter #investinus.  And join the discussion!  The more voices championing early childhood education, the better!

Hot topics in the early education world

Recently, my email and newsfeed have been flooded with new articles about the importance of early childhood education and early language development. All of these articles are testaments to the importance of the work VOCEL is doing. Take a look at some of the highlights from the past few weeks of news coverage.

These articles are a selection of the best and most recent reads about the power of the first five years.  They demonstrate just how impactful VOCEL and other early learning programs focusing on play and language can be:

  • Recently, the NY Times discussed just how important it is to be talking with children and considering the quality of our words.
  • The Atlantic also shared an article supporting the need to close the word gap that exists between children in poverty and those of affluence.
  • The Times reported on the “building blocks” of a strong pre-K program.  Check it out here.


We love reading articles about early education. Let us know when you find a new favorite!


Our blog is a gathering place for all things VOCEL. It's a window into our classroom, a resource for early education news, and a place to discover stories that showcase our teachers, our children and our families.