New York, NY (Ivanhoe Newswire) --- When it comes to families and school involvement, there is no one-size-fits all as every child and family situation is different. Some face racism and linguistic and cultural economic barriers and now, researchers are evaluating an early intervention for all teachers, parents and children that they say has long-lasting impacts.
For Pre-K and kindergarten classes, songs and games are educational building blocks. But how can parents get involved? Researchers are studying ParentCorps, a 14-session program for families of children attending pre-k in culturally diverse neighborhoods.
“We’re finding that ParentCorps works over and above the effects of Pre-K,” Laurie Brotman, PhD, NYU Langone Health & ParentCorps said.
During the program for families, school mental health professionals support parents by developing strategies for parent-teacher partnerships capitalizing on the positive qualities of immigrant families and interacting at home.
“So things like how to play with your child,” Brotman said.
Think of the acronym FUN.
“Follow the child’s lead. You do what they do and narrate as you do it. The interesting thing is like parents, you always want to tell your child what to do no matter what and it happens even in play, but with fun skills, we want the child to be the lead and the parent to just follow along. So that, that gives the child attention and empowerment. You don’t need 30 minutes or an hour. Concentrated attention from a caregiver is really, really powerful for a young child,” Kai-ama Hamer, NYU Langone Health & ParentCorps said.
ParentCorps also teaches parents to ignore minor misbehaviors, like whining, since calling attention to the behavior reinforces it.
“Sometimes you just have to breathe deeply. Sometimes you have to walk away,” Brotman said.
The program emphasizes positive family school connections and helps teachers to engage families from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Hamer is a former New York City school teacher who attended the ParentCorps training and was so inspired she joined the organization. She said ParentCorps had her thinking about parent-teacher interactions in new ways.
“Oftentimes in relationships that teachers have with parents, you can like engage in a bit of a tug of war. But once you realize that they, of course, they love their children, you love them. And only the value is a little bit different. That changed me. I started engaging in relationships with parents as a teacher while I was hunting for their value,” Hamer said.
Brotman studied the outcomes of ParentCorps in two separate trials with over 1,000 pre-k students, primarily children of color. Three years after the program ended researchers found continued benefits.
“By the end of kindergarten kids who are in programs with ParentCorps had better reading and math skills on standardized tests. By second grade the kids were doing better academically. Most importantly they were doing much better in terms of mental health,” Brotman said.