Help parents help kids before they start school
Education reformers are working hard to “rescue” children who arrive at school without the language skills, knowledge and emotional maturity needed to succeed, writes Ian Rowe. His charter management organization, Public Prep is trying to help low-income parents so fewer children need to be rescued.
Public Prep, which runs six single-sex elementary and middle schools in New York City, has partnered with the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) to offer 30-minute home visits to the younger siblings of current students at the four Bronx campuses before they start preschool at age four.
For two years — two times each week — a trained, community-based early-learning specialist will bring the family a new high-quality book or educational toy as a gift. Using the book or toy, the specialist will work with the child and the child’s caregiver in their native language to model reading and conversation and do activities designed to stimulate parent-child interaction and promote the development of the verbal, cognitive, and social-emotional skills that are critical for children’s school readiness and long-term success.
Most children of poverty are far behind on the first day of kindergarten, writes Rowe. They rarely catch up. Better nurturing can make a difference.
Quite a bit of research supports the efficacy of home visiting.
In addition to helping children before they start school, educators should teach self-regulation and impulse control to adolescents, Rowe argues. We must “empower teenagers to break the cycle by helping them develop attitudes and behaviors more likely to prevent the creation of fragile families in the first place.”