Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Can You Reach Congruency?

A child's entry into school is an important transition that I play a significant role in as a Kindergarten teacher. Children enter Kindergarten with a wide variety of prior experiences, especially experiences in literacy.

This week I read an article from the Journal of Early Childhood Literacy entitled, Engagement with print: Low-income families and Head Start children which examined the types of print literacy activities low-income parents reported engaging in with their four-year old children who are involved in Head Start, a pre-school program for children from low-income families living in the USA. Head Start is a federally funded, comprehensive child development program that originated under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to benefit low-income children.

It is known that children who enter school more prepared in terms of having knowledge about literacy, have an advantage over children who do not have these experiences. Ideally, Head Start helps prepare children who would not have exposure to literacy before beginning school on their own the opportunity to be exposed to literacy.

The article suggested the important role of pre-school and particular parent-child activities in developing children's early print concepts. While the results of home-school connections appear encouraging, achievement gaps still persist, especially with low-income and minority children. This lead me to question, what are we (educators) doing to support these families and the young children entering into school?

According to the article, The relationship between homes and schools is a complex one. Using and valuing what families already know in order to teach them what they do not know is a subtle process that can easily go wrong. Collaboration and negotiation are important for achieving a relationship between homes and schools that can support children's early literacy development however, it does not address how to go about creating this relationship with families and thus leaves me still wondering, how can you reach congruency between home and school? How can we support parents' literacy contracts with schools' literacy contracts?


librarian2be said...

You have a good question, Blair. We had that heated discussion in class about what responsibilities parents and teachers should have, and I think that's a very touchy subject. I think teachers really need to use their discretion in building relationships with parents. Obviously, some parents are going to be really receptive to teacher suggestions. However, suggesting that a parent pack her son fruit instead of chips or read a book together instead of watching tv can come off the wrong way. Some parents just aren't going to work with you, and is it fair to cheat those kids out of something just because their parents won't/can't work with you? I don't think so, and I hope no teacher does either.

laylablue said...

this is a great point, and i need to ruminate over it for a bit to be able to discuss it intelligently...
i am thrilled to have found your blog, and plan to read through older posts...

laylablue said...

do you have any new thoughts on reaching congruency?
right now i am thinking about the fact that we must know our students...i mean really know them...likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, etc., so then can we transfer that commitment to getting to know the parents/families? finding their preferred mode of communication...?
notes home, phone calls, email, text? what time of day?
beyond that, i know of a teacher who hosts a cook-out for her incoming students and families every year about a week before class she can begin building a relationship before the year starts.