Helping Children Succeed: Nebraska’s Early Childhood Research
When it comes to helping children, Lisa Knoche believes in the power of research. Through a variety of programs, Dr. Knoche and other researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln discover strategies that strengthen families, school and communities. In this edition of Faculty 101, we hear more about what works to help children succeed and why we should all back to preschool.
More about Lisa Knoche ›› https://cehs.unl.edu/cehs/faculty/lisa-knoche/
More on Child, Youth, Family and Schools ›› http://cyfs.unl.edu/
More on the Nebraska Academy for Early Childhood Research ›› http://naecr.unl.edu/
More on the Early Learning Network ›› http://earlylearningnetwork.unl.edu/
Contact Getting Ready ›› https://gettingready.unl.edu/site/contact
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[00:00:00.760]What do butterflies eat,
[00:00:02.780]and (mumbles) hatch out of cocoons?
[00:00:08.463]Oh, did you hear that?
[00:00:12.090]to know about butterflies.
[00:00:14.000]The little girl with the blue headband sits on the floor
[00:00:16.750]with her four and five year old classmates.
[00:00:19.396]Teacher Mark Weddleton writes their questions
[00:00:21.760]on a dry erase board.
[00:00:23.710]All right, that's a good question.
[00:00:25.260]We should find that out, that's good.
[00:00:27.410]At this age, Mark says the children are sponges,
[00:00:30.830]soaking up whatever is around them.
[00:00:33.850]The children are absolutely magical,
[00:00:36.760]and you get to see the world through their eyes.
[00:00:39.980]It's one of the reasons I love this age
[00:00:42.060]because they're discovering everything.
[00:00:44.110]Henry, what is this coming out here?
[00:00:47.583]Mark is part of the University of Nebraska Lincoln
[00:00:49.920]research program called Getting Ready,
[00:00:52.520]designed to help children succeed
[00:00:54.960]when they move on to elementary school.
[00:00:57.240]The program was developed at UNL in 2004,
[00:01:00.350]and 15 years later, UNL Research Associate Professor Lisa
[00:01:04.340]Kanokey says evidence points to the program's effectiveness.
[00:01:08.690]We've seen positive outcomes
[00:01:10.960]in parent-child relationships.
[00:01:12.820]We've seen outcomes in children's social skills,
[00:01:15.440]their early literacy skills,
[00:01:18.180]and we've also seen the confidence of educators improve.
[00:01:22.440]Intervention research like the Getting Ready program
[00:01:25.180]tackles complex problems.
[00:01:27.570]The answers aren't always easy to find,
[00:01:30.410]but it's the kind of challenge Dr. Kanokey loves to take on.
[00:01:34.310]I think the beauty lies in the messiness.
[00:01:36.460]I think we can really find new and surprising things
[00:01:39.850]when we have a chance to really dig in
[00:01:42.500]and embrace the unanticipated.
[00:01:47.380]Find out more about UNL's leadership in early childhood
[00:01:50.900]research, and what Dr. Kanokey thinks we could all learn
[00:01:54.420]by going back to preschool.
[00:01:56.800]I'm Mary Jane Bruce, and this is Faculty 101.
[00:02:01.292]Okay, you should switch partners now.
[00:02:02.620]To be able to inspire young people.
[00:02:05.580]Today's your finals.
[00:02:06.640]It's really rewarding.
[00:02:07.690]I love the students.
[00:02:09.670]Welcome to Faculty 101, life hacks
[00:02:12.700]and success stories from Nebraska faculty.
[00:02:19.310]Time for orientation.
[00:02:21.360]Who is Lisa Kanokey?
[00:02:23.430]I am a research associate professor
[00:02:25.540]in the Nebraska Center for Research on Children,
[00:02:27.560]Youth, Families, and Schools, and I direct
[00:02:30.140]the Nebraska Academy for Early Childhood Research.
[00:02:32.800]Dr. Kanokey wants to get the best evidence based
[00:02:35.910]information into the hands of child development
[00:02:38.390]professionals, parents, teachers, and community leaders.
[00:02:42.410]Well, I'm completely passionate about research.
[00:02:45.060]It is what, it's what gets me up in the morning, I guess.
[00:02:49.790]In addition to her own projects,
[00:02:51.580]Dr. Kanokey helps faculty researchers get
[00:02:54.410]what they need to do the job, from crafting
[00:02:57.270]a grant proposal, to finding collaborators.
[00:03:00.480]She says multidisciplinary research is critical.
[00:03:04.090]The issues that families face, the issues that
[00:03:07.430]children encounter, teachers are confronting,
[00:03:11.280]schools are confronting are very complex issues,
[00:03:14.700]and so, it takes a team of specialists to come together
[00:03:18.660]to think about solutions to those problems,
[00:03:22.880]and test those solutions.
[00:03:26.290]And if you think research is only for laboratory science,
[00:03:29.720]Dr. Kanokey wants to set you straight.
[00:03:32.540]She says what's needed in child development
[00:03:35.330]is evidence based information, the same standard
[00:03:38.460]you expect from the medical field.
[00:03:40.600]You could sort of compare it to a medical kind of model.
[00:03:44.610]If I went into the doctor and I have
[00:03:48.930]strep throat, I want you to give me
[00:03:51.100]what I know is gonna work for strep throat.
[00:03:52.760]I don't want you to, like, well, here's seven
[00:03:55.470]different things, you could try one of these.
[00:03:57.140]Maybe one of them is gonna work.
[00:03:58.960]It's the same, that's really the same reason
[00:04:01.000]we need evidence based kinds of information
[00:04:03.050]in early childhood settings.
[00:04:04.540]When there's a specific kind of need that
[00:04:07.680]that child has or a behavior they're displaying,
[00:04:11.560]we want the best kind of information to go in and say
[00:04:14.040]we know this, we know this works,
[00:04:15.970]and we know there's gonna be an effective outcome
[00:04:18.370]when you use this kind of approach.
[00:04:21.410]Next up, office hours, how did Lisa Kanokey get here?
[00:04:26.970]Dr. Kanokey has long been interested
[00:04:29.060]in working with children, even as a child herself.
[00:04:32.410]And once I got my babysitting certificate,
[00:04:34.630]I was good to go, spent a lot--
[00:04:36.870]She majored in psychology and biology in college,
[00:04:39.750]but a job at a child adolescent psychiatric ward
[00:04:42.930]sent her on a different path.
[00:04:45.150]The experience was intense, and frustrating.
[00:04:48.500]And being in that setting, it really became obvious
[00:04:50.800]that context was so important for these children,
[00:04:54.420]because there were some that were kind of repeat.
[00:04:58.130]You know, they would show up every month,
[00:05:00.260]every couple of weeks,
[00:05:02.930]and we were working with them in that setting,
[00:05:06.300]but then sending them back to the exact same
[00:05:08.590]setting they had been in.
[00:05:09.980]And so, the expectation for change didn't necessarily
[00:05:14.150]make a lot of sense.
[00:05:15.810]We need to really think about the system
[00:05:18.260]and change the system for these young children.
[00:05:23.270]So, it was back to graduate school
[00:05:25.100]in developmental psychology, and a career
[00:05:27.750]working with the systems and relationships
[00:05:30.180]that shape childhood.
[00:05:31.700]Dr. Kanokey is happy to see a growing focus
[00:05:34.590]on early childhood across the country, and at Nebraska.
[00:05:39.870]We have experts who are focused on early learning,
[00:05:43.100]things like math and science and literacy.
[00:05:46.151]We have experts in health and nutrition.
[00:05:50.720]We have experts on educational policy,
[00:05:55.390]and social emotional kinds of skills, families,
[00:05:59.043]So, we have the collection of researchers here at UNL
[00:06:03.200]in early childhood that it takes to think about
[00:06:05.940]and address these complex questions.
[00:06:10.160]Next, lab work, a deep dive into research.
[00:06:17.166]You have six.
[00:06:18.788]Yeah, that's right.
[00:06:19.930]A card game helps four year old Kimami Green
[00:06:22.760]learn his numbers.
[00:06:24.483]And you have seven.
[00:06:27.088]Who has seven?
[00:06:28.380]I know it's you.
[00:06:29.370]His mother, Katie Schleicher, sits on her living room
[00:06:32.040]floor with Kimami and Becky White,
[00:06:34.490]an educator with Kimani's early childhood program.
[00:06:37.700]I have two.
[00:06:39.520]This is a home visit, where Katie and Becky share
[00:06:42.380]information, strategies, and success stories.
[00:06:45.750]It's part of the Getting Ready intervention
[00:06:47.790]I talked about earlier, and it's working.
[00:06:50.720]Katie sees improvement in her son.
[00:06:53.240]We've been able to have the same goals
[00:06:55.770]and be working on the same things at the same time,
[00:06:58.030]so that way he's been able to progress more quickly,
[00:07:00.810]so now he's caught up with his peers,
[00:07:02.930]and he'll be able to start kindergarten
[00:07:04.710]right where he needs to be.
[00:07:06.680]Intervention research like the Getting Ready program
[00:07:09.220]puts strategies to work and measures the outcome.
[00:07:12.740]The challenge involves the wide variety
[00:07:14.950]of situations, what Dr. Kanokey refers to as messiness.
[00:07:19.410]We're working with real people in real settings
[00:07:22.070]in real schools in real programs, and so,
[00:07:24.210]when you add all of those layers together
[00:07:27.260]it creates something that can
[00:07:30.470]just present some challenges, but it's really
[00:07:32.940]those challenges that are most exciting to me.
[00:07:39.180]I think that intervention research for me also
[00:07:42.460]is really all grounded in relationships.
[00:07:45.050]So, it's highly integrated into community settings.
[00:07:50.030]So, those collaborations with community partners
[00:07:53.290]is something that really excites me about the research
[00:07:55.610]that I get to do, trying to understand what's a priority
[00:07:59.570]to them, how we can answer questions that
[00:08:03.030]are gonna make a difference in their lives
[00:08:06.040]and interactions with children and families.
[00:08:10.200]Dr. Kanokey is a project leader
[00:08:12.050]for the Early Learning Network, a multi-state research
[00:08:15.410]collaboration funded by the Department of Education's
[00:08:18.330]Institute of Education Sciences.
[00:08:20.850]So, there's these six teams across the country
[00:08:23.460]who are engaged in this research.
[00:08:25.330]Nebraska's one of them,
[00:08:26.520]and we're also the lead organization.
[00:08:30.230]And so, we hope to through this work identify
[00:08:33.380]what's going on within school districts
[00:08:36.650]across the nation that are promoting
[00:08:40.470]healthy, positive outcomes for children
[00:08:43.390]after they've kind of experienced
[00:08:44.910]and gone through that pre-K to grade three transition.
[00:08:47.530]That's really a hot topic in the field,
[00:08:51.180]how we can create continuous,
[00:08:54.370]seamless experiences for children.
[00:08:59.080]It was a very friendly butterfly, and--
[00:09:01.610]Researchers are also tracking a group of children
[00:09:04.140]from preschool through grade three to compare
[00:09:06.640]with a second group of children who didn't attend preschool.
[00:09:10.200]Eventually, Dr. Kanokey hopes the findings will help
[00:09:13.240]provide policies that help students succeed.
[00:09:15.920]That's really the, really the outcome is to help
[00:09:19.730]provide information to school districts,
[00:09:24.400]to federal policy makers around
[00:09:27.510]practices and policies that need to be in place
[00:09:29.670]to best support children, particularly focused
[00:09:32.320]on that transition from pre-K to grade three.
[00:09:37.060]Researchers are also focusing attention
[00:09:39.350]on infants and toddlers to learn more
[00:09:41.890]about the best approach to childcare at an early age,
[00:09:45.350]whether it's home based or a childcare setting.
[00:09:48.120]Another potential area of research relies
[00:09:50.660]on support from the Salivary Biosciences Lab
[00:09:53.750]at UNL's Center for Brain Biology and Behavior
[00:09:56.930]for help in studying the physiology of interventions.
[00:10:00.370]We're just going to do some initial pilot work
[00:10:03.680]with our current study about looking at some
[00:10:06.210]of those physiological markers that parents
[00:10:09.260]and teachers might be showing during those interactions.
[00:10:11.930]So, hopefully we would anticipate that
[00:10:15.190]through this collaborative kind of process
[00:10:17.610]their stress response would be diminished over time,
[00:10:21.826]and so, that's actually something
[00:10:23.660]we're gonna be able to measure.
[00:10:25.440]So, I'm excited about that, and it's not my area
[00:10:28.430]of expertise, so that's a great example
[00:10:30.620]of where you need team members to be able
[00:10:33.090]to come together to help with measurement
[00:10:36.570]and help us actually think about that.
[00:10:38.630]But, that's a new, sort of the new frontier.
[00:10:45.090]Now it's time for pop quiz, random questions,
[00:10:48.320]life hacks, and wisdom for all of us.
[00:10:52.370]Give a suggestion of something a parent can do
[00:10:54.670]to help their child succeed.
[00:10:56.290]There's really so many things that parents can do.
[00:10:58.970]So, if I pick one thing would be to encourage
[00:11:03.680]and support their child's independence and autonomy.
[00:11:06.580]So, allowing their child to have choice,
[00:11:12.630]allowing their child to struggle a bit,
[00:11:17.460]be able to offer a challenge but provide that support.
[00:11:20.830]If that child can make a choice and live with that choice
[00:11:27.791]they're gonna end up being more confident
[00:11:30.720]and competent and happy.
[00:11:32.760]So, that might end up being going with the red cowboy boots
[00:11:37.330]to school with the plaid shorts and it's gonna be okay.
[00:11:40.320]They're gonna make it through the day and be just fine.
[00:11:43.170]What's a life hack or a piece of advice for students?
[00:11:46.040]I would encourage students to remember
[00:11:47.740]that it's all about relationships.
[00:11:49.950]I'll come back to relationships.
[00:11:51.210]I think that idea of making connections
[00:11:55.170]and creating experiences, whatever it is that you're doing
[00:12:01.890]that you don't know when that information could
[00:12:04.240]ultimately be valuable, or when that person could
[00:12:06.140]end up being someone that's important to your trajectory.
[00:12:10.360]So, think about and make relationships.
[00:12:16.200]And what's a life hack or a piece of advice for all of us?
[00:12:19.740]So, I think the life hack is be kind.
[00:12:22.760]And when we, when I'm in early childhood classrooms,
[00:12:26.530]I think we should actually all have to go back
[00:12:27.990]to an early childhood classroom, because some of the basic
[00:12:32.080]aspects of classroom rules that are the focus
[00:12:36.610]apply to all of us today in an ongoing way.
[00:12:40.450]So, our adult lives are, continue to be impacted
[00:12:44.740]by those very early precursor skills.
[00:12:47.290]So, I'm gonna stick with be kind,
[00:12:49.750]be open to other perspectives.
[00:12:53.230]They enrich your life.
[00:12:55.590]You know, they, as a researcher you ask better questions
[00:12:58.470]when you remain open to other kinds of perspectives.
[00:13:01.050]But I think as a human, you're better too.
[00:13:06.060]And now, graduation day, final thoughts from Lisa Kanokey.
[00:13:13.840]Early childhood is a time for adventure
[00:13:16.460]and learning and fun, and thanks to research,
[00:13:20.430]generations of children are growing up
[00:13:22.630]with a base of support that will help them succeed.
[00:13:26.150]Lisa Kanokey is proud of UNL's leadership
[00:13:29.330]and grateful to be a part of it.
[00:13:33.280]I am happy to be here in Nebraska.
[00:13:35.400]I'm happy to be able to contribute in some positive way
[00:13:40.370]to the lives of children and families here within the state.
[00:13:44.170]I am really happy to be here
[00:13:46.460]at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:13:47.980]There's great people here.
[00:13:49.400]We have a great team within our research center,
[00:13:53.610]and sort of the community at large.
[00:13:56.370]So, having an opportunity to do research that has
[00:14:00.248]a potential impact on the lives of children
[00:14:02.870]and families is what's exciting every day.
[00:14:08.660]That's it for this edition of Faculty 101.
[00:14:11.330]In the show notes, you'll find links
[00:14:12.870]to the Nebraska Center for Research on Children,
[00:14:15.560]Youth, Families, and Schools, the Nebraska Academy
[00:14:18.610]for Early Childhood Research, the Early Learning Network,
[00:14:22.260]and the Getting Ready program.
[00:14:24.510]Next time on the podcast,
[00:14:27.710]students tell the story of the sandhill cranes
[00:14:30.670]in a pop-up class led by two acclaimed faculty.
[00:14:35.900]Faculty 101 is produced by
[00:14:37.840]the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:14:41.730]We should all go back to preschool.
[00:14:42.913]It's like that sign, everything you learned
[00:14:45.040]in kindergarten is totally true.
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