As you and your team investigate the resources in your community and the needs of your school, you will be able to work toward connecting your children and families to many key resources. Over time, the relationships that you build with community partners can grow and provide many more opportunities to support the development of the children you serve.
In the following scenario, an agency that provides care from birth through age four at multiple schools has discerned a need for parent training. The agency has been putting systems in place for a year to provide continuous support for their families as needs are identified. Currently, in several of the older toddler classrooms, biting has become a hot issue. Parents are expressing concern. The school directors have met and discussed their families’ needs to understand more about early language development. They want families to understand the relationship between language development and biting among young children. The directors have a relationship with the local pediatrician, and in the past, they have partnered with his office to provide resources, counseling, and information.
Scenario: The school directors at ABC Schools have decided to provide a parenting class to address the current concern about biting. They discuss the need to find a highly qualified professional to present the training to families. One manager volunteers to contact the local pediatrician’s office. This office has provided ideas and resources in the past.
The pediatrician’s receptionist suggests the name of a local social worker who has led parenting workshops. The school manager contacts the social worker and asks if she is available to provide information for the school’s families. The manager explains that biting is a big concern for many families and shares that the schools’ families need to know more about the developmental stages of their toddlers and young two-year-olds. The social worker agrees to lead a training session one month from now from 5:00–6:00 p.m., and a date is selected. The social worker is connected to the local hospital and is also able to secure a training room.
The school manager contacts the other directors and shares the good news. One manager creates an invitation with the details of the parent meeting and sends it to all of the directors so they can contact families far ahead of the training. In the invitation, the manager relays that childcare will be available during the training as long as parents request care no less than one week ahead of the training.
The invitation is sent out three weeks before the training, and families are asked to respond to the invitation by signing up for the training at their school’s reception desk. They are also asked to indicate their need for childcare. The response is very good, with about 30 families signing up. The school manager calls the social worker, and they coordinate details. The social worker says she will bring a handout about developmental stages and early language development.
The training day arrives, and the social worker reviews the developmental stages of social and emotional growth from birth through age three and distributes a helpful handout. She explains that biting often happens at this age because toddlers have a limited vocabulary and are easily frustrated. She explains that without words to express the frustration, biting becomes a common response to frustrating situations.
She helps parents understand that by modeling rich vocabulary and showing toddlers how to deal with frustrations, they will help their children through the biting stage without hurting friends. She then acts out a biting scenario so that parents can see how to work with their children when biting actually occurs.
The training is followed by a question-and-answer session. As families leave, they are given more handouts about biting and early vocabulary development.
Over time, keep reviewing your list of community partners and add new ones as they are identified. Maintain communication with partners between events. Review roles and responsibilities within your partnership and update them as the need arises. Brainstorm with your partners at meetings as you consider and develop the long-term systems that will support the language pre-literacy development needs in your community.
By taking the time to meet and plan together and learn more about one another, trusting relationships will form. Partners will become more comfortable sharing their ideas to support your vision and goals. Your thoughtfully built system will also make it possible for your school to help connect children and families to necessary services in a comprehensive and timely manner.
NEXT STEPS: Depending on your progress on Action Step L6, you may want to consider some of the following next steps:
Identify needs of children and families you serve that fall outside of what your school currently provides.
With your team, brainstorm a list of community resources that may serve as potential partners with your school.
Contact potential community partners and set up meetings in which you can learn more about the needs they serve and how they might align with your school’s goals.
Brainstorm ways to connect families with community services, such as through a planned community event.
Create advertisements for upcoming community events and plan for ways to effectively disseminate the information to families.