View Full Version : idea for helping preschool kids I need help with

4-18-11, 8:19am
One of my friends is an educator in a very poor dictrict that depends on 80% state aid. This area has generational poverty and no way for these kids to climb out.

When the kids come to school, they often have no idea of their colors, numbers, letters. No one has taught them how to write their name or has read to them.

The idea is one that she heard about and may be an established program somewhere for all we know. You get people that are peers in the community to go into the homes of babies each week. They bring books and educational toys and sit and play with the baby or read to them each week and then leave the toy and ask the mom/dad to do what you did every day. The next week you go back and take what they had and leave something else and show a new task. This is behavior that has not been modeled to them, so they don't know how to do it. Adults in the community started so far behind and therefore ended up hating school and generally have a distrust for educators. Once they get in the habit then it can be transitioned to the library story hour or every month they could receive a new batch of books and toys to borrow. I am not so naive that I think it will work in every case, but maybe we can change the lives of some of these unfortunate youngsters.

Anyway, I have access to many toys and books and can get more. Our community garage sale is next week and I can find lots of great toys and don't mind spending a few hundred dollars for a nice collection. And my local salvation army sells books for fifty cents or less and they are mostly brand new. I would volunteer to go into the homes but the point is to have peer modeling. So that entails getting someone else. I would think the highest success would be to hire someone, so then we would have to set up a non-profit and get insurance etc. I don't think it would be a terribly expensive program and we can figure out how to raise money.

Anyone hear of anything like this and have any suggestions?

Float On
4-18-11, 9:06am
Do they have Parents as Teachers program in your area? Our state offers that and I've had several friends work for them and it sounds very much the same as what you are wanting to start. They encourage thru play and interaction.

I imagine you'd need to do background checks on everyone that would go into someone's home. In my state that runs $10 and the form is printible thru the state highway patrol department.

4-18-11, 9:57am
Thank you. I checked the website and it is exactly what we had heard about and it is not in this area. There is one about 10 miles from the school district so they would probably be a good resource for us. I knew someone would have a good idea to lead us in the right direction.

Float On
4-18-11, 10:35am
Your welcome, :)
10 miles isn't that far, maybe PaT will be able to work with you all and help you get started. I know in our area the PaT office covers most of 2 counties. Some of the staff drive quite far to reach their clients.

4-18-11, 6:21pm
Well I had some time to review the website, it is an organization that has been going on for 25 years. It was pretty overwhelming to see the fees that are involved for the training - it is very complicated and involved and will involve expensive travel. I think our vision was quite simpler. I am going to contact the people in our area anyway and see if they will talk to us.

I get a little leery about getting involved in organizations that are so involved and have a huge paid staff of directors. They rely on a lot of federal grants as well, and we all know how that is going.

Another idea we had was to work with the local library, it is small with only one librarian so they haven't been able to have story hours etc, so maybe that can be a start. With the price of gas that would only get people in the immediate vicinity, but not any outreach.
We have a lot of research to do, but I think we have all the time in the world as this problem isn't going to magically go away.

4-18-11, 6:44pm
I think that early childhood education and nutrition are two of the highest bang-for-the-buck areas we as a society can direct our efforts.


I've worked with several preschools, elementary schools, and early childhood education facilities over the past dozen years, and I believe your basic theory is spot on - you need to educate and involve the parents to be successful, or you end up just being a glorified day care center.

4-18-11, 7:08pm
Kudos on your idea. They say that the gaps that form before kindergarten are the most detrimental.

Harlem Children's Zone has a similar approach. From what little I know about it, they start with parental education while the child is still in utero! I know you are not looking at something with that kind of a scope (they support from fetus through college) but maybe you can get some ideas from them.

Another very small thing I have done, and I have really NO IDEA if it actually resulted in a change for any child, was that I give books as a baby shower gift. I also once printed off a brochure I had found about tips for reading with your kids at different ages. However, now that I try to find the link, alas, I cannot.

Another resource to check out for ideas or collaboration: http://www.rif.org/us/index.htm

This is a site I have used a lot for basic ideas and resources: http://www.colorincolorado.org/

This is a very rich resource. More aimed at teachers, but have something that you may benefit from: http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/

Big challenges - like you said, the price of gas, the slashed or soon-to-be-slashed funding - but basic work of individuals reaching out to individuals could be powerful. I see this being something a church could really get behind. Sponsor a weekly spaghetti or similarly easy and low-cost supper, invite families and kids and have age-appropriate groups going, including for babies, with parent education. After all, who doesn't love food? :) Plus, joking aside, strapped families would maybe really appreciate the opportunity to have a meal.

Anne Lee
4-30-11, 8:24am
Is there an early Head Start program in the area? Head Start does offer home based visits.

4-30-11, 8:37am
Going into homes is a great idea. I volunteer in preschool, Head Start and elementary school classes to help kids learn to read, but educating parents to read with their kids is so much better than a volunteer in a class reading with a child 30 minutes a week. I am so glad to hear about you doing this.

Pre-reading helps to ask for: activities and flash cards that help teach pre-readers to recognize shapes, colors, letters, numbers. Dry-erase boards with markers. Playdough, string, construction paper, etc for shaping letters 3-D (a great way for young minds to remember them). Good books: Chick-A-Boom, Five Little Monkeys, any other sing-song books like Who Took the Cookies From the Cookie Jar, Pout Pout Fish, nursery rhymes, etc. My daughter's head start class remembers all their singing rhymes about numbers and letters!

A Head Start teacher or administrator might be a great resource, come to think of it. Go for it! Yay!!