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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

Kindergarten Readiness is a Family Affair

Kindergarten readiness: what do you think of when you hear this term? Most people associate the concept of kindergarten readiness with specific skills educators look for in students entering school for the first time, among them early literacy and mathematics concept awareness, social-emotional skills like self-regulation, and motor and sensory development. No doubt these are all important markers for the student. But makes a family kindergarten ready?

One of the most important goals of our Book Babies program is kindergarten readiness — and because we know that parents are the most important factor in their children’s academic success, we know that kindergarten readiness must include children and their families. That’s why we partnered with the Durham County Cooperative Extension to offer the PFAST training for our Book Babies families this winter. In all, 14 families (including two families of Book Babies graduates) completed the training.

The six-week training program is designed to provide parents with the resources they need to understand and navigate the systems they encounter at their children’s schools, allowing them to better advocate for their children. Topics covered include homework, sleep, media, internet resources, school choice, ESL and ELL resources, communication styles, standards and accountability, testing, school ratings, and services for exceptional children and academically gifted children, among others. The trainings were held weekly in the evenings, and we provided dinner and childcare as part of each session.

One mother shared that she had serious concerns for her son before the training. He didn’t enjoy preschool, and his parents faced many communication challenges with his teachers and administrators. After the second PFAST session, this mom shared her excitement with Meytal: she said that she knows now, because of what she learned through the training and her son’s experience with the other children in attendance, that her son is going to be okay. And she shared that this training was the first time she had stood and spoken in front of a group and had people listen and value what she said.

Another mom, who assisted with facilitation at the Book Babies training, shared that she had her parent/teacher conference for her older son, who is in sixth grade, the day after a PFAST session. The teacher was surprised at how thoroughly prepared she was for that conference and wondered how she knew exactly what to expect. The teacher has now asked the mom to help her bring PFAST training to her school so that other parents can be equipped just as she is.

Response to the training has been overwhelmingly positive, and it is our hope that this training will become an annual component of our Book Babies protocol.  To learn more about PFAST and find out about other training offerings, visit the Durham County Cooperative Extension website.

While their parents were busy learning, the kids had a blast at PFAST!

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