You are here

Early Childhood Kindergarten 4yr Outreach

Early Childhood: Outreach Activities

  1. Definition of Outreach Activities
    • Direct services to parents, legal guardians and primary caregivers, in the form of home visits, parent education, and parent/child activities.
    • Primary caregivers also include:
    People whom the parents entrust with the care and education of their children in their absence, usually while they are working outside the home. Discussion of child specific information with primary caregivers who may or may not be blood relatives requires the permission of the parents.
  2. Description of Outreach Activities
    The legislative intent of the 1991 revision of the 4-year-old kindergarten statute was to provider a fiscal incentive for school districts to incorporate a parental outreach component within their four-year-old kindergarten program. Such outreach activities must comprise at least 20% (87.5 hours) of the 4-year-old kindergarten hours. Two options were created for districts that wanted to incorporate parent outreach:
    • an enrolled pupil could be counted as 0.5  if the program annually provides 349.5 hours of instruction and 87.5 additional hours of parent outreach activities.
    • an enrolled pupil could be counted as 0.6  if the program annually provides 437 hours of instruction and 87.5 additional hours of parent outreach activities.
    Support for parent involvement with the schools recognizes that parents are partners in the educational process and that parents have both the right and the responsibility to share in decisions about their child's education and development. Furthermore, the outreach activities are intended to support, nurture, and instruct parents in their role as the primary educator of their children.
    Outreach activities can occur in or outside of the school facilities and within or outside of traditional school hours. It is suggested that outreach activities be flexible and varied in order to be accessible to all potential participants and recognize the varied needs and abilities of different families. Such outreach activities should also be sensitive to cultural, racial, and religious differences among families. Districts can work with Family Centers, public libraries, YMCA's, or other programs to have appropriate outreach activities available for parents.
    The following is a compilation of what a random selection of districts are doing under the outreach umbrella.
    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: This can include regular newsletters that describe what is happening in school, child development tips, and upcoming events.
    Special Classroom Events: Some programs organize special day-long events for both children and families, campouts, planting a pumpkin patch, or having a family learning day. These events include a special educational component for parents.
    Evening Fun Gatherings/Family Celebration Nights: These gatherings run one to two hours in the evening. They often mix a theme with food and fun. They happen four to 10 times a year, and they are especially popular in the winter months. Note: Activity first and then food often works best. Themes include:
    • Make & take decorations or gifts
    • Pumpkin carving or painting
    • Popcorn, pajamas, and movie or storytelling
    • Computer night
    • Dads only night
    • Math or science night
    • Stone soup early literacy activity
    • Winter swim
    • Sledding/sleigh ride
    • Sing-along
    • Gym and game night
    • Library, evening access
    • Nature centers
    • Pizza making
    • Sweatshirt decorating
    • Pet pals
    • Ice cream social
    • Chef combo
    Potluck/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 on evenings prior to school board meetings so that parents can also express themselves at that meeting.
    Parenting classes: Often coordinated or offered with the Family Resource Centers, Head Start, Even Start, etc. Some districts use a packaged program. Others use topics that parents have expressed interest in:
    Classroom Involvement Training: Training prior to working in the classroom or assisting teachers or 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 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. (See #3, "Counting Hours," below.)
    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
    • Parent Outreach Programs
    • Videos
    • First Book Club take-home books
    • Thematic home activity kits
    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 other Care/Education Providers: Collaborate with child care, Head Start, Even Start, county health and nutrition staff, and pediatricians. 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.
    Extended Family and Intergenerational Component: 4K programs extend invitations to siblings, grandparents, and other significant caregivers whenever possible. This can also include asking retired people in the community to come and read to the children.
    Transition to 5-Year-old Kindergarten: End-of-the-year transition activities with the 5K program could involve planning time or dialogue with the 4K parents.
    Note: Many districts offer child care for parenting events to support parent participation. High School students often provide the care during parenting classes and learn more about young children in the process.
  3. Counting Parent Outreach Hours
    The 87.5 hours of parent outreach is time available to parents of children in 4K in the district. The hours represent the structured activities that are available, such as: 4K orientation, parent-child activities, home visits, workshops, parent instruction etc. It is advisable for each district to have an annual plan or list of the available hours of activities. Outreach includes activities beyond those that would occur as part of your school's overall parent involvement effort. Here are several examples:
    • For example, if your district has parent conferences two times a year, you can NOT count these for outreach. If you are doing special home visits, you can count these.
    • Volunteering in the classroom is similar, since parents in all elementary school grades are encouraged to volunteer. If a parent comes in as part of regular volunteering, you can not count that time. However, if the volunteering has a special "educational component" you can count it. For example, if you took a field trip to an apple orchard and parents come along, that is not parent outreach. However, if you took a field trip, you could make it into an outreach activity by having a short "session" before the trip that told parents how to stimulate language while on the trip, or if you had follow-up parent child activity about the trip.
    • If teachers do 1 hour home visits before the beginning of the school year, these visits would count as 1 of the 87.5 hours because each child's family had the opportunity for a 1 hour visit.
    • If a district held a series of parenting workshops that were 2 hours long and 10 parents came, each session of the workshop would count for 2 hours (not 20 hours).
    • Home activities such as "take home book bags" or newsletters count for the amount of time a parent would use it. For example, if each week there were a book bag for every child, you could count only the 15 minutes that parents were to spend in working with their child.
    • You can not include teacher preparation or travel time.


For questions about this information, contact Sherry Kimball (608) 267-9625