The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Good News From Portland’s Schools

on May 30, 2017

My long holiday weekend included many pleasant events including reading an article in The Oregonian: Early Learning Program Reaps Lasting Benefits that reported positive results from a five-year study of a special program for young children who would begin kindergarten the following school year.

Not only did a three-week kindergarten-prep program show positive results for children about to enter kindergarten in Portland, Oregon, it is quite inexpensive compared to year long pre-school classes dealing with the same issues. The program, available at a dozen of the district’s high-poverty schools, focuses on children whose primary language is not English, and is held during the summer months. Parents pay nothing and the school district spends about $1300 per school.

The program, launched in 2010, introduces children and their parents to the schools that will become their home base for the next six years of elementary education, and is led by teachers from that base. In addition, the program includes twice-a-week school meetings for parents that focus on the ways they can support their children’s learning from then on.

The major thrust of the program is to make children familiar and relaxed with school rules, routines, and expectations and parents feel at home with their child’s school. As the program manager, Nancy Hauth said about the effects on children, “this program just overall reduces the stress because they get to practice what they’re going to experience in the Fall.” She also acknowledged a powerful effect on participating parents: “What the program is doing is creating parent leaders.”

In addition to the good feelings expressed by children, parents, and the participating teachers, the research done by the Multnomah County Partnership for Education Research over a 5 year period found lasting positive impacts for 450 participating children, which included better school attendance rates and higher literacy skills that continued through later grades.

I view this program as a win-win deal for children, participating parents, the school; and the school district. When I was a principal I saw what a difference opening opportunities for parents’ involvement made for them and us.  We worked together, and they helped us by being our advisers, critics, defenders, workers, and truth-tellers. I wish that kind of relationship for all parents and their schools.

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