Parents & Partners, TFEC’s newest early childhood initiative and extension of Capital Beginnings, has been very active since receiving its grant in mid-2014 with three main goals:
- Develop stronger relationships between early childhood programs and school districts to build birth to third grade alignment
- Increase family supports and parental engagement within their child’s academic career
- Strengthen the network and coordination of community organizations that serve children and families with young children
This collaborative has already made strides in all three areas. School supply toolkits were distributed to 150 families in need so that children can do their homework or practice readiness skills to prepare for starting school. Two additional resources are being developed presently for Parents & Partners. The first is a Dauphin County-specific School Readiness Calendar, which has a different daily developmentally appropriate activity for parents to do with their children. The calendar is an accessible resource for families, which will be distributed at all events. The second is a book, “Welcome to Kindergarten.” It will take the children through the day of kindergarten using actual pictures from schools in the district. At the end of each book, a list of sight words children entering kindergarten will need to know will be printed for parents to use. Books will be distributed to early learning providers and parents at events.
Parents & Partners is working to better facilitate the creation of relationships between kindergarten teachers and pre-school teachers so that they can have a better understanding of the problems they all face and how those problems might be best addressed. One event scheduled to help foster this is the Kindergarten Brown Bag Lunch Series. These meetings bring together kindergarten teachers from across the school district to discuss common problems and to share solutions. Sessions are in the planning stages and will take place in April, May and June with topics including diversity, poverty and family engagement. Another way Parents & Partners helps to facilitate communication is through the Early Childhood Engagement Group. The Group consists of administrators and teachers of school districts, early learning providers, Head Start, Early Intervention, WITF, United Way, and the Dauphin County Library System. The group meets for a brown-bag lunch on the second Wednesday of the month from 1-2:30 pm at WITF. The group chooses topics to discuss which will assist them with parent training, behavior management, staff moral/issues, standards alignment/curriculum, school readiness, and creating a seamless transition from preschool to kindergarten.