Children do best when parents and teachers work together to support children’s development and learning. This is particularly true during the early years, and has long been recognized as a key component of high-quality early childhood programs.
And yet, many school systems struggle to effectively engage with parents as valued partners. There is limited large-scale investment in integrating research-based practices for culturally diverse parents, despite the fact that establishing strong family-school relationships prior to kindergarten entry can set a solid foundation for student success.
Parent Corps is a research-based program that engages and supports communities of parents and early childhood teachers, promotes nurturing and predictable home and classroom experiences for young children, and strengthens children’s learning, behavior, and health. The program was developed and tested into high-poverty schools in the New York area serving primarily families of color.
Social work professor Esther Calzada is one of ParentCorps developers. She has now received funding from the Morris L. Lichtenstein, Jr. Medical Research Foundation to partner with the Corpus Christi Independent School District to bring ParentCorps to schools that have pre-kindergarten programs and serve students from low-income homes. Based on existing demographic data, the researchers expect that students to be primarily Latino (English- or Spanish-speaking) and eligible for free lunch.
Through this five-year project, researchers expect schools to have increased family engagement and classrooms that are more nurturing and predictable for children; early childhood teachers who use research-based practices in the classroom and to successfully engage families; parents with new knowledge, beliefs and skills and who use research-based practices at home to support their child’s development; and students who enter kindergarten “ready to learn” with the social and behavioral competencies necessary for success.