Parents Reaching Out Grants

Leslieville Junior Public School – Toronto

Toronto District School Board
Welcome to Kindergarten Program

Parents Reaching Out grants help parents to identify barriers to parent engagement in their own community, and find local solutions to get more parents involved. Parents who are involved in their children's education help to support their children's achievement and well-being.

This video is part of a series that features successful parent engagement projects funded through the Ministry of Education's Parents Reaching Out (PRO) grants.

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Caroline Cremer [Leslieville Public School]:

At Leslieville Junior Public School, the Welcome to Kindergarten Program was designed in order to find ways to get parents involved in our school. We use literacy strategies as a way to show them that they play a pivotal role in their child's education and that there are things that they can do at school as well as at home to help nurture their child's literacy development.

Maxeen Poabo [Parent]:

It was built as a literacy evening in a way to be welcomed to the school in advance of the school year which was fantastic because I am not sure that my son had any hesitations or fears but I know I did and perhaps my husband did as well, although I kind of doubt that. But anyway, I certainly did. So it was nice to be able to come into an environment that was new to us in a relaxed sort of setting that did have an educational focus like we did read stories, we talked about school, we did that sort of thing and you know we had to sit in really fun groups for the craft and the story time. So it had an environment of school but it also had this social aspect.

Caroline Cremer [Leslieville Public School]:

We focused on the families who were starting kindergarten in the upcoming fall because it is their first time in the school system and we just thought they were a good group to focus on.

Maxeen Poabo [Parent]:

You know everyone that was able to participate, which was quite a large number, really enjoyed the program and felt that it was a great first step at becoming part of Leslieville.

Caroline Cremer [Leslieville Public School]:

One evening focused on math and how there is literacy embedded in math activities. So we talked to the parents about using mathematical language with their child. One evening was talking to the parents about how they can engage their children when they are reading to them. And so we talked about how to point out certain words in books. Pointing to the pictures, having their child explain what they thought was going on in the story, what they felt about it. During the last evening we had a celebration and that evening the parents were able to fill out a comment card about the program itself and those comments were all very positive, telling us how it helped them and their child feel more comfortable about starting school and how the child is really excited to come back in September.

Maxeen Poabo [Parent]:

Well I think if you start off on the right foot, start off with a bang, with something that really gets a parent feeling integrated into the school community and welcome that that kind of gets the ball rolling and its, and it gets the momentum going for future involvement. Whereas if you didn't have that, if you start on the first day of school, it's a smaller, what I imagine would be smaller incremental steps, then integrating yourself on a step by step basis. Whereas this kind of really laid the ground work for, for getting involved and feeling welcomed.

Caroline Cremer [Leslieville Public School]:

Well I know that some parents who have been involved in our Welcome to Kindergarten Program, as we said some parents now are involved in this parent council. One parent plays a piano for our primary choir and we see many of those parents as well at our funfair in the spring. I see many of them during the school day, I bump into them in the hallway and talk to them a little bit and it's great to hear how their child is doing in kindergarten. Just looking at them, you can sense a level of comfort and a feeling of belonging within our school. And even though I don't teach the children in kindergarten, it's nice that I feel connected with those parents and they feel comfortable enough to come and speak to me and keep me informed with their child.

Maxeen Poabo [Parent]:

I am not sure my son had any of these fears. You know he was, he seemed completely fine with all of it and perhaps didn't need the transition so much as I did. So on the first day of school when we brought him, I felt comfortable already. I recognized some familiar faces. On the playground, I could say to a parent, "oh yeah I remember you from kindergarten night."

Caroline Cremer [Leslieville Public School]:

Funding the welcome to school program is important because it is a way to get parents into the school to familiarize them with the set up of the school, to meet the teachers, to know where things are and to help them then help ease their child's anxieties. It is also a way to get the child, himself into the school just so they can see what the building looks like, meet a few teachers as well. And getting parents involved in their child's education is so important right from the first day because studies show that child success is often depended upon parental involvement in schools.

Maxeen Poabo [Parent]:

Well on so many levels I think it's quite a small investment from what I understand, quite a small investment to returns. I mean if you get parents actively involved and participating in the school, the payback over however many years you know the parents are able to participate would be huge.

To learn more visit: www.ontario.ca/EDUparents