School district programs help early-learners, elementary students in Title I schoolsOct 31, 2016 11:31AM ● By Julie Slama
As part of Canyons School District’s Parents as Teachers program, four-year-old preschoolers learn from their parents using the national program’s curriculum and activities to help them get ready for kindergarten. (Roxanne Rawlings/Canyons School District)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Midvale, Utah - When preschools fill up in some of Canyons School District elementary schools, there are alternatives for Title I families at Copperview, East Midvale, Midvale and Sandy elementary schools.
Canyons’ Parents as Teachers is part of a national program that has designed curriculum and activities to help train parents of four-year-old preschoolers to begin the learning process at home, said Roxanne Rawlings, Title I specialist.
“We provide them parenting tips, lesson plans, activities for kids and their younger siblings and help them teach some basic skills,” Rawlings said. “Our goal is to get them ready for kindergarten.”
Rawlings said that students will gain experience with learning colors, identifying their five senses and body parts and improving fine motor skills such as coloring, using scissors and painting.
“We want the parents to get on the floor or sit at the table and learn to work with them, even stringing Cheerios alongside their child. Sometimes, parents don’t understand that they need to talk with their kids, to be interactive and ask questions and be at their level,” she said.
These preschoolers are reached when qualified teachers go to their homes for a one-hour visit every other week during the school year. The program is free.
These paraprofessionals also leave the child with a Scholastic book as a way to “get more books into the home” as well as encourage early literacy, Rawlings said.
“Sometimes, we take it for granted that parents will read to them, but that isn’t always the case. By putting a book in the child’s hands and working with the parent, some who may not be fluent English speakers, to help them identify colors, shapes or even to listen while their student makes up a story, will get them excited about reading. Everyone can do something with a book whether they are a reader or not,” she said.
Rawlings said they also teach these families about what is available in the community — from riding a bus to the public library to coming to the annual free health screening at Midvale Elementary.
In the spring, the PAT program also puts on a graduation for the preschoolers at Wheeler Farm, complete with graduation hat and pizza. They also tour the farm and give kids the chance to milk a cow and go on a hay ride.
“We take it for granted that they can do all these things on their own, but many of our families may be refugees who aren’t familiar or may be apprehensive so we’re here to explain how to show them where the library is and what is available in their community,” she said.
Canyons also is reaching out to The Road Home Overflow Shelter in Midvale and have had a teacher and two classroom aides teaching preschool students. The year started with 14 students and their parents, teaching basic preschool skills as well as parenting skills to ensure further education, Rawlings said.
There also is a Family Learning Center available for Title I families at each of the elementary schools, where parents may learn English, job skills, computer skills and other opportunities. Their preschoolers are welcome to come along as hands-on lessons will be given to them while their parents are being educated, Rawlings said.
“We want to build a relationship that all families are welcome and the teachers really create a bond with those families,” she said.
Another program the District provides students in Title I schools is their afterschool programs. For five years, Canyons has partnered with Boys & Girls Club to offer the program to about 280 students. They are tutored in a subject or given time to do their homework or work on a computer; play games during a “recess” time; do an activity, such as art; and have both a snack and dinner in the two-and-one-half hour program.