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Transitional Kindergarten

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Presentation on theme: "Transitional Kindergarten"— Presentation transcript:

1 Transitional Kindergarten
Parent Engagement Toolkit Ernesto Saldaña Preschool California November 8, 2011 Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Summit

2 Presented by Preschool California Page 2
Purpose: To provide local education agencies (LEA’s) with tools and resources that communicate the benefits of transitional kindergarten (TK) and support parent outreach. Presented by Preschool California Page 2

3 Presented by Preschool California Page 3
Presentation Outline Overview of parent focus groups Effective TK messaging TK messengers and tips Methods for parent engagement Presented by Preschool California Page 3

4 Overview of Parent Focus Groups
Goal: Identify best ways to reach out to parents, especially low-income parents, to communicate benefits of TK Conducted six parent focus groups, two each in: Orange Cove (Fresno County) One focus group with Spanish-speaking Latino parents Bay Area (Oakland) One focus group with African-American parents Los Angeles Majority of parents had children who had attended or are attending preschool Targeted parents from low-income communities, Latino and African American parents Why? – Underserved communities with limited access to information may view TK as “holding back” their children Wanted to understand why they may see it that way, what messaging can help them understand it as a benefit Presented by Preschool California Page 4

5 Identifying Effective TK Messages
Primary question: What messages and information resonate most with parents when highlighting the benefits of TK? Used information and feedback from focus groups to develop list of positive parent messages on TK Goal was to understand two things: What messages were most positive for parents when talking about TK What messengers were most important to communicate the benefits of TK Presented by Preschool California Page 5

6 TK Messaging for Parents
TK provides children with the gift of time to learn skills that will help them build a strong foundation for success in elementary school. California’s kindergarten curriculum and standards have changed over the years, and many of the skills children were once taught in first grade are now taught in kindergarten. TK is the right program at the right time. TK serves as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten, giving children more time for hands-on, interactive learning. #1 – “Gift of time” scored high during the focus groups. Parents really liked it. This phrase was best used after you describe the program a bit. Pointing to “strong foundation” was important to emphasize the success their children would have in the program. #2 – Parents understand that kindergarten is different now than it used to be. Reminding them of that helps explain why TK is necessary. #3 – helps to explain differences between preschool, TK, and K where possible. Calling it a “bridge” can be nice because it makes it distinct from both, but can also be tricky because not all kids attend preschool. Presented by Preschool California Page 6

7 TK Messaging for Parents (Continued)
TK gives children the opportunity to spend time learning important social, emotional and academic skills that will help them succeed in kindergarten and beyond. TK provides young learners with a high-quality early education at no cost to parents, to ensure that they have an opportunity to continue learning. It helps children adjust to the school environment & develop strong learning skills. TK provides young 5 year olds with an opportunity to start their kindergarten experience with children their own age, and with teachers that can tailor lesson plans to their needs. #1 - Parents seemed to understand value of TK when talking about social and emotional development. #2 - One of the first questions they asked after learning about it was if it was free. #3 – Emphasize benefits of the program to help with adjustment to elementary school. #4 - Most parents like to know that teaching can be tailored to where children are in their learning. Not one size fits all. Other considerations in messaging: A majority of people have a hard time locating TK. They know K, they know pre-k, they don’t know how TK falls in the mix. Overall folks seemed concerned about some form of remediation thinking TK is 2 yrs of pre-k or 2 yrs of K. What’s the difference btw TK and K? Folks want to know the difference. Wherever possible, describe the differences in detail. Wealthy districts have had this = This did NOT work with low-income families, reacted strongly negative. Low-income =‘s children’s failure. I also believe they felt we were telling them they have failed their children b/c they are low-income. “Developmentally appropriate” works for prek and K-12 administrators, it does not work for parents. They felt it conveyed special needs. Presented by Preschool California Page 7

8 Developing and Using Consistent Messaging
Consistent messaging is critical to successful outreach Work with your communications office to develop messaging that articulate the benefits of TK Adapt messaging for use in outreach materials, staff trainings, talking points, brochures, etc. Provide talking points on benefits of TK to potential messengers, including front office staff at elementary school, school faculty, school administrators, school board members and district administrators Presented by Preschool California Page 8

9 Presented by Preschool California Page 9
Messengers Primary question: Who do parents look to when it comes to issues related to their children’s education? Who says it and where parents hear it from definitely influences how parents perceive different issues. Our field research identified some specific messengers and sources of information that are most effective among parents. Presented by Preschool California Page 9

10 TK Messengers: Teachers, Principals and School Staff
Serve as most direct link to education system for most parents Principals Less direct contact with families, but still important messengers in TK outreach efforts School staff Interact regularly with families (particularly front office staff) TIPS Make information and resources available to all elementary school staff, teachers and principals Offer communications training on new law and TK program to all elementary school staff Make sure teachers are accessible to parents to answer questions about TK, particularly during height of school registration Important to have people at school who can serve as “point people” when parents have questions Presented by Preschool California Page 10

11 TK Messengers: Parent Ambassadors
Parents trust other parents when it comes to information about their children’s education Peer-to-peer perspective validates school information Parents have been on of the strongest assets in recruitment efforts across the state TIPS Identify potential parent ambassadors, offer them personalized briefing with principal or teachers Provide materials and resources on TK to distribute to other parents Give them formal opportunities to be involved (e.g. participating in parent info meetings, providing quotes for parent bulletin endorsing TK) Involve them in planning and outreach efforts Parent ambassadors can include: parents formally involved in school leadership councils parent center staff and volunteers trusted parents in the community who may not be in formal school leadership roles, but are very involved in their community (e.g. churches, CBOs, community volunteer projects, etc) Presented by Preschool California Page 11

12 TK Messengers: Child Development Centers
Local Child Care & Child Development Centers Very effective messengers because of their direct access and frequent interaction with families Trusted by many families when it comes to information about their children TIPS Share information about TK and implementation plans with local providers Designate a contact who can be available to answer questions as they come up during implementation Schedule regular articulation discussions on connecting zero to five to early elementary, and invite local child care and development providers to participate Building relationship with local child care/child development centers is critical Be sure to make clear that law impacts children in K and will not take children away from their pre-k programs Presented by Preschool California Page 12

13 TK Messengers: Community Organizations
Local Community Organizations Includes community centers, community-based organizations (CBOs), churches, etc. Seen as advocates for their community and trusted source for accessing new and critical information TIPS Schedule meeting or TK classroom tour with local community organizations in your area to provide information about TK Have a TK “point person” available as designated contact for organizations Have some asks ready, such as including information about TK in their newsletter or on their website, or presenting at community meetings about the benefits of TK Can help create positive buzz around TK Presented by Preschool California Page 13

14 Presented by Preschool California Page 14
TK Messengers: Media Media Most families use some form of media to get information about changes in laws, issues in education Some parents have already heard about TK from media coverage, interested to find out more For diverse communities, ethnic media (i.e. print, TV, radio) highly trusted source of information TIPS Make positive newspaper clips about TK and other positive media coverage available to parents during meetings, in packets Incorporate video clips in presentations on the benefits of TK where possible Work with communications office to engage local media on TK, or call reporters to tell them about program, invite them to visit classroom Send press release about launch to local media outlets during back to school time We are happy to help direct you to positive media coverage from your region or close by Telemundo clip is great video clip to show during parent recruitment meetings. Have English translation so parents can read along if they don’t speak Spanish Also have them visit K classroom. Highlight differences between them Presented by Preschool California Page 14

15 Methods for Parent Engagement
One-on-one conversations Gives school staff opportunity to provide information, address misinformation and concerns, discuss parents questions in depth Meetings Small group meetings (3 to 5 parents) best, creates welcoming environment for parents to ask questions, share their thoughts Classroom Tours A tour of a nearby program with a small group of parents can help them understand what happens in the classroom Provide time after tour for questions and discussion Parent Help Line and TK Liaison Having designated person or team of people available to answer questions will help parents build relationships, feel more comfortable with the program Establish bilingual help center with phone number parents can call TK Hotline – A good example is used by Long Beach USD where they an inquiry form on their website as well as a hotline for TK. Parents call in and district staff return their call and answer their TK questions. Presented by Preschool California Page 15

16 Methods for Parent Engagement (cont.)
Resource Table Establish TK table at “Kindergarten Roundup,” other district education events Be sure person staffing tables has talking points on TK, outreach materials for families to take home Flyers and Banners Post flyers and banners during registration at school and district offices, childcare centers, community centers and other local organizations Make sure they have phone number parents can call for more information Brochure Create parent brochure to highlight benefits of TK Website Have parent friendly information on TK available on school and district website Presented by Preschool California Page 16

17 Thank you!
For additional TK information visit the following websites: Contact: Ernesto Saldaña In the toolkit you will find a parent FAQ and customizable parent brochure.

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