Family engagement has been one of the Preschool's main focuses this year. Research shows that parents’ early involvement with their child’s education plays an integral part in their all-around development, and it is closely linked to improved student behavior, higher academic achievement, and enhanced social skills. The term 'parent involvement' is being replaced nowadays by 'family engagement' (Moles & Fege, 2011) in recognition of the family as a whole to include parents, siblings and other extended caretakers, grandparents, aunts and uncles. In our culture, specifically, the extended family is significant and schools are moving towards engaging the family as a whole in their students’ education.
The Model for Family Engagement at IC's Preschool is based on a multi-dimensional philosophy entailing collaborative relationships and activities involving school staff members, parents and extended families of the students at school. Effective partnerships are based on two-way communication, mutual trust, respect and shared responsibility for the education of the children. One essential dimension of family engagement this year is to extend the learning at home. That pertains to furnishing parents with ideas on how they can best assist their children with home learning and curriculum-related activities and to bridge the gap between what’s covered in class and the home learning.
At the Preschool, very little home learning is required; however, IC educators are focusing on daily bed-time reading and striving to build a life-long love for reading. With that in mind, the Preschool teachers came across a new idea that would fit perfectly into home-learning partnership between parents and the school.
7 pm Read-Aloud Fridays!
The idea is that the Preschool will post every Friday a read-aloud story at 7 pm on its YouTube channel to take the school community into the homes of the children. Showing the parents what the teachers are passionate about is one way of demonstrating our values regarding the education of their children. Moreover, it is important to highlight for parents that the development of literacy is of utmost importance. The decision to live stream read-aloud stories is also based on grounded research in the field of Early Childhood Education that such learning opportunities allow learners to be more exposed to complex texts, think and reflect at high-level cognitive thinking, and identify different genres. Evidence shows that sharing reading, doesn’t only nurture a love for books, but also supports the literacy development of skills including:
- Listening comprehension
- Vocabulary and concept knowledge
- Receptive and expressive language skills
- Awareness of text structures
- Sensitivity to the linguistic and organizational structure of books
- Print awareness
- Word recognition
- Monitoring comprehension