School districts in Wisconsin that operate four-year-old kindergarten programs have the opportunity to provide 87.5 hours per year of state funding. This outreach is to be used for communication/linkage with the child's parents and of her primary care givers. The following is a compilation of activities that can be considered as parent outreach.
Orientation activities the summer before the 4K program begins: These can include visits to the home and/or visits to the classroom in the school. Such orientation visits are often done in collaboration with other agencies.
General Communications: Positive Parent Phone Calls--describing the child's accomplishments Monthly newsletter--describing part and upcoming events
Evening Fun Gatherings/Family Celebration Nights/Fun Festivals/Families Enjoying School Together (FEST): These gatherings run one to two hours, mixing a theme with food and fun. They happen four to ten times a year, and they are especially popular in the winter months. Themes include
- Make & take holiday decorations or gifts
- Pumpkin carving or painting
- Popcorn, pajamas, and movie or storytelling
- Computer night
- Dads only night
- Math or science night
- Stone soup
- Winter swim
- Sledding/sleigh ride
- Gym and game night
- Library,evening access
- Nature centers
- Pizza making
- Sweatshirt decorating
- Pet pals
- Ice cream social
- Chef combo
Note: Activity first/food last often works best
Pot Luck/dinner meeting: Informal get-to-know-each-other discussion and dialogue with staff These can be used as the party or celebration Following a unit in school. It may include live or videotaped performances by the children. Sometimes these are scheduled an evenings prior to school board meetings so that parents can also express themselves at that meeting.
Parenting classes: Often coordinated with the county Family Preservation Program, Even Start, Smart Start, etc. Some districts use a packaged program like the Jim Fay Parenting Program; the Wright Group's "Breakthrough to Literacy," or "It's a Caring World." Others use topics such as
- Developmental assessment
- Community resources
- Typical development
- How to read to your child
- Active/positive parenting
Many offer child care by high school students as an incentive.
Classroom Involvement Training: Training prior to working in the classroom or assisting teachers Other parents are trained to serve as bus greeters or escorts; especially during the first 10 days of school.
Parent-Teacher Conferences: Conferencing days above and beyond the days (usually 3) that all your elementary grade teachers receive for parent conferences
Home Visits: 2-6 times per year. These are optional--remember, not all parents are comfortable with visitors in their homes. Make the school or a neutral site available. Most programs use a "Parents as Teachers" or other strength-based model. Support staff sometimes come on visits.
Family Resource Center/Lending Library: This is often in collaboration with other funding sources. The center/library can offer
- Learning Activity Kits
- Project/Book Bags
- POPs (Parent Outreach Programs)
- First Book Club take-home books
- Thematic Backpacks (home activity kits)
- Farm animals
Governance Activities: Establish an ongoing parent "advisory" committee to give input/feedback on how the 4K program is organized and respond to issues as they arise. This committee usually has representation from other school staff and the school board/administration. This committee can also help organize special events.
Interface with Child Care Providers: Collaborate with Even Start, county health and nutrition staff, and pediatricians who write "prescriptions" for reading.
In addition to periodic phone calls to discuss specific child needs, the 4K outreach can include one or two meetings a year to discuss scheduling and cross-programming efforts, as well as the developmental needs of children.
Other Care Giver Component: 4K programs extend invitations to siblings, grandparents, and other significant care givers whenever possible. This can also include asking retired people in the community to come and read to the children.
Special Events: Some programs organize special day-long events, including field trips for bath children and families, campouts, planting a pumpkin patch, or having a family learning day
Transition to 5K: End-of-the-year transition activities with the 5K program could involve planning rime or dialogue with the 4K parents.