The ETAC recently took a group of 20 educators and school administrators from the eastern region on a field visit to the rural Windsor Central School District. Participants reported that they had a wonderful experience learning about Windsor CSD and how it operationalizes the community school strategy. It was a full day of learning and technical assistance. One participant stated, “It was great to see the successes at Windsor that we are often told cannot be done.” Another said: “Watching the interactions between the team members was as telling as the content of the presentations…seeing leadership from the top and seeing team unity.” We look forward to doing more field visits like this one in year two.
Spotlight: Early Childhood Home Visits Open Doors to Lifelong Learning
The facts are stark: children from low-income families hear 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their more affluent peers, which can negatively impact their academic outcomes for years to come. Community schools aim to remove barriers to learning, but how can we address inequities that start before children even reach school? One proven strategy is to work with an evidence-based home visiting program.
For over 50 years, ParentChild+ (formerly Parent-Child Home Program) has been leveling the playing field for low-income families by ensuring that their children start school and life ready to succeed. In partnership with five of the eight school districts in Rockland County, Rockland 21C operationalizes the ParentChild+ program in Rockland County for the most vulnerable children, giving them the time, tools, and materials that they need at the most crucial developmental stage for learning how to learn—early childhood.
Through twice-a-week intensive home visits totaling 92 over the course of a year, ParentChild+ families meet with an early learning specialist, who most likely lives in the neighborhood. The specialist arrives at a toddler’s home with a gift of a book and educational toy. During these 30-minute visits, the specialist sits with the child and parent to model learning styles and strategies that incorporate the book and toy, so that the parent can build teaching skills around bonding time.
This evidence-based community school strategy removes barriers to learning by eliminating the stress or inaccess that newly immigrated and economically challenged families face every day, due to safety concerns around leaving home or lack of resources. The intensive home visits empower parents and provide toddlers with a comfortable learning environment, and the long-term results are outstanding. ParentChild+ graduates:
- are 50% more likely to be prepared for kindergarten than their socio-economic peers
- enter school performing 10 months above their chronological age
- outperformed the statewide average on 3rd grade state math achievement tests
- are 50% less likely to need special education services by third grade
- scored 2.5 times higher on social-emotional skills than their peers
- have 30% higher graduation rates than their peers.
Through a partnership with Rockland county school districts, Rockland 21C expands on the home visits and builds a connection to the school through school-based Family Resource Center (FRC) coordinators who hold playgroup sessions for ParentChild+ graduates. The sessions provide a “bridge” from home visit to school, reinforcing a love of learning through socializing in a safe space. Children reported that they felt comfortable in school, and were better able to share and to focus as a result of these playgroups—just as parents and caregivers get the chance to become familiar with the school FRC coordinators and other families like theirs. All of this leads to more school engagement and continuity in learning.
Said more succinctly by ParentChild+ graduate and 4th grader (and avid chapter-book reader) Kosett Romero, “We’re learning together.”
Early childhood home visiting programs, including ParentChild+ program, fits well into a community school strategy, supporting the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive domains of young children and building parents self-efficacy. The program addresses the whole child and engages the family at home first and then at the school. Consequently, children are prepared to enter kindergarten and feel welcomed and comfortable at their home school.
An effective community school strategy centers on relational capacity and trust. Getting in there early and establishing relationships with families and connecting them to the school while building children’s school readiness skills cultivates relational trust and school success. Moreover, the families are connected to the school and to Family Resource Centers which help to address other needs that are revealed through building relationships like medical, dental, and social services. Helping the family thrive is key to a successful community school strategy.
To learn more about ParentChild+’s impact on families and communities, and discover program participants’ stories, visit Rockland 21C’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Click here to watch a video on the power of ParentChild+.
For assistance connecting with an early childhood home visiting program in your area, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-627-5437.