Step 1: Introduce Yourself (text-based image)

So that we can create a sense of community, we’d love to learn something about each of you. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Click on the comment link below to answer the following questions:

  • What is your current role/job title?
  • How do you engage families in your work, in general?
  • What motivated you to join this discussion board?
  • Why are you interested in the transition to school?
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92 Responses to Introductions

  1. fineteam says:

    Hi everyone! I’m Christine Patton. I’m a Senior Research Analyst at HFRP. Shannon Wanless and I will be hosting this board. I’ll be posting under this username (fineteam). As part of my work at HFRP, I create resources to help educators engage families. I have a special interest in family engagement in the early childhood years. I’m really excited about exchanging ideas with you all!

    • Julie V says:

      I participated in the web conference on Building Family Engagement on April 24 and was thrilled to be connected with information and resources related to this topic. I hope I am not too late in getting involved in this discussion board.
      I am an early childhood intervention specialist for a public school system in Ohio. I have been a half day center based teacher and a half day itinerant teacher for the past 18 years. It is my work in the childcare centers that has driven my passion for creating a program that promotes family engagement and facilitates the transition to kindergarten. Currently, my district does not have a transition program in place.
      I work in a suburban, middle class school district, however of our 9 elementary schools 3 are Title I buildings. We are also seeing an increase in our ESL population.
      This year I was fortunate to loosely pilot a program I created to reach families and students who are not participating in our districts integrated preschool.
      The program has two components. One, Community Connections, involves presenting a literacy lesson to pre K classes once a month in two local childcare centers. Teachers and parents are provided with literacy and social/emotional resources, as well as information on kindergarten readiness and transition related to our district. The second component, Ready Set Learn, provides a preschool opportunity once a month for students who are not currently involved in either a childcare or preschool program. The class is conducted in a lab setting and parents are able to observe the class while an early childhood educator is present in the observation room to answer any questions. Parents are provided with information related to the literacy concept presented as well as kindergarten readiness and social/emotional resources.
      I would love to see this program grow and would welcome any advice on how to generate support from administration. I would also be interested in information on how this program could be funded.
      I look forward to learning from each of you and continuing a dialogue on this very important topic.

  2. Welcome! I am Shannon Wanless, an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Christine Patton and I worked to bring this board to you to encourage educator dialog/support around improving family engagement. I specialize in implementation, teacher professional development, social-emotional learning, and cross-cultural psychology. I look forward to reading your posts and learning about amazing ways to engage families. Now go set a goal, and let’s make it happen!

  3. Hi all! I was so excited to see this terrific forum for discussing the critical issue of transitions for young children and how families can support the process. I am first, a Mom of a six year old. This past year has been all about transition for our family as we adjust to kindergarten at the big K-8 school. I am an educational and family consultant focused on kids’ social and emotional development. I write a blog entitled Confident Parents, Confident Kids ( and Shannon Wanless is a regular reader and thoughtful commenter and contributor. I am helping write K-3 standards now for the state of Ohio on social and emotional development and do lots of related work. Am eager to read and contribute to this important dialogue!

    • fineteam says:

      confidentparentsconfidentkids – Welcome! We are so excited to have you join us! We look forward to hearing about your journey and experiences both as a mom and as a consultant.

  4. Hello Everyone! I look forward to learning new ideas around transitions. I am the Family Partnership Manager for a local Head Start program in Washington State. I am the mother of (3) +(2) and have 15 wonderful grandchildren ages 16 – 3 months. I have been involved with family services at Head Start for 15 years. I became involved with HFRP out of a Strengthening Families Forum I participated in a few years ago. I participate in most of the opportunities offered through HFRP as learning is a passion of mine and anything I can do to assist staff, families and children in reaching positive outcomes is top priority.

    • fineteam says:

      Tina, Welcome! Thanks for joining us! Sounds like there have been and will continue to be lots of school transitions in your family! I look forward to hearing about how you’ve experienced transitions as a mother, grandmother, and Family Partnership Manager.

      I’m glad to hear we’ve provided you with useful resources to support the important work you do with staff, families, and children.

  5. MaestraQ says:

    Good afternoon-I am excited for the invitation to this forum and discussing a topic that is on the minds of my Kindergarten parents. My name is Andria Quintero, I am The Director of Elementary at The Caedmon School in NYC. I first came across your FINE newsletter when I was wrote my monthly parent letter. I was able to reference valuable information about the school/home partnership. The current topic is always a concern of mine when students transition from the Early Program to Kindergarten at my school. I look forward to gaining valuable knowledge and building learning partnerships~

    • fineteam says:

      Andria – Welcome! I’m glad that you discovered our Newsletter and that you continue to check in our work. I know that kindergarten registration is underway in many districts and is on the minds of parents and staff. I hope that you find information to help students and families successfully transition into your school in NYC.

      • MaestraQ says:

        I look forward to sharing stories and reading about what others are doing to keep families engaged as they transition to Kindergarten. Thank you for continuing to keep educators/families aware and informed~

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am a CEO of a not for profit early education and care ( state contacted) Infant/toddler, preschool and out of school programs in an urban city. We serve 500 children daily. Our families are low income, minority, female head of household families who must meet both the income and service need eligibilities of the EEC. We also have a large DCF contract for children who have been abused and neglected. I have been with the agency for 40 years and have served as both preschool and school directors. I have always believed in building strong meaningful relationships with families and have learned that one cannot just address the child’s needs but must be actively involved with all families members to obtain and sustain positive outs for the child.

    We have developed and refined our internal practices for transitioning our children and families within our agency (3 different centers) but seamlessly transitioning children from our preschool to the public schools is our biggest challenge. There are no systemic policies in place via of the public schools at this time. I want to learn what and how other districts are doing, barriers and success stories.

    • Welcome! I could not agree more with your whole-family philosophy. I look forward to thinking about how that translates into family engagement. Keep reminding us that we are not just talking about involving parents….but the whole family!

  7. I am a Pre-K teacher for students with special needs in a public school setting. I have students that transition into my class throughout the year. Because my students have IEP’s, I have to meet with their parents at least once a year. I have much documentation that I have to pull together to determine if a student is ready for basic ed kindergarten, self-contained academic kindergarten or some other specialized kindergarten program. I usually have this discussion with the parents by Spring Break. If we feel that a child needs to transition to a self-contained classroom, my in-school staffing team meets first and I present data to support the need. I then have a phone conference or face to face meeting with the parents and I invite teachers from the program we are considering to come out and observe. Parents are invited to an IEP team meeting to meet the potential teacher and have input in what their child needs as we write a new IEP together.

    • fineteam says:

      Chris – We’re glad you’re here! There’s an old (2005), but nice article from Young Children on paving the way to kindergarten for young children with disabilities. While the article addresses the best practices for transitions of children with disabilities, many of the tips and steps in her 10 step approach are applicable to parents and educators of all children.

  8. darlasalay says:

    I am a PK-3rd grade curriculum supervisor from New Jersey. We have been working on ways to create a smoother transition for our PK/K students for the past year. We created a “Student Advocate Team” to assist students as they transition into kindergarten and first grade. We’ve also tried to align our PK/K classroom environments and curricula. Our social-emotional curriculum, the “Super Friends” program, begins in PK through grade one. A next step is to work on curriculum in first grade in the early months of the school year. I have also been doing a lot of research on transition, as this is my dissertation topic.
    Looking forward to the conversations.
    Darla Salay

    • fineteam says:

      Darla, Hello!

      I can’t wait to hear more about your “Student Advocate Team” approach.

      I also look forward to hearing about some of the good resources you’re encountering as you’re gathering and reviewing literature for your dissertation. I (and I’m sure others!) would love for you to share your favorites in the Resource Bank (

    • joyce shortt says:

      As a consultant to school district Kindergarten Transition Team I;d be interested in sharing some details from a systems level. How does this sound to you? In the district practices have evolved though not necessarily broader than one classroom, one school, one year. I’m interested in how to build infrastructure that support transition to K as an overarching foundation for future success for student.

      • Joyce, I would be very interested in your experience dealing with systems level details. I am with you on the need to create an infrastructure to support the transition of children and families for student success. We know that family engagement tends to decline during transition and yet continued engagement is so important across the school years. We also know that children learn not only in the classroom but in many settings; thus transition to school should include afterschool and support for parents in identifying quality programs. The work you have done in Cambridge, MA to support a broader approach to transition, including school and afterschool, is commendable. M. Elena Lopez (Harvard Family Research Project)

  9. What is your current role/job title?
    Learning Leader –

    How do you engage families in your work, in general?
    I help parents support kids’ education by acting as the bridge between home and school. I help parents assess kids learning skills and provide strategies that lead to better learning.

    What motivated you to join this discussion board?
    Transition from home to school is fraught with misconceptions and misunderstandings. I have seen too many parents blight their kids education by not handling it well (teachers too!)

    Why are you interested in the transition to school?
    I am a teacher. I want to help kids reach their full learning potential – parents have an enormous influence on how well kids learn and good links between home and school are crucial

  10. balletgirl says:

    I am a CFCE Coordinator and have been in the Early Child Care field for more than 30 years, in different capacities. I have 4 children of my own, all grown and on their own. I work with families that have children ages 0-8 in all capacities and have recently joined a work group with the local Public School titled K readiness. Our city has lots of dual language learners and very low reading scores in third grade so our city is working on getting all early education partners together to work on a plan to help get all children entering Kindergarten ready to learn. I look forward to hearing what others have to say.

    • fineteam says:

      balletgirl – Hello! Welcome! A collaborative approach to the transition is really important. It sounds like that’s the kind of approach that your city and your work group are taking. I look forward to hearing what goal you have for yourself (or your work group) as you work toward getting the children in your city ready for school – kindergarten and beyond – (and the schools ready for the children!).

  11. Jamie Madigan says:

    I am the Early Childhood Coordinator at United Way of Southwestern Indiana. I am excited to join this group!

  12. sunshine says:

    Hi, i’m sunshine, an educator by profession. I’m taking further studies in education. I’m excited to learn from all of you so i can apply to my workplace and to my future family. 😉

  13. Anonymous says:


    I’m Tanya and I am a manager in a school district supporting 0-8 work.

  14. eligh says:

    Hello everyone! Eligh here, school counselor from Leaders Intl. Christian School of Manila Philippines. Basically I assist families about anything but limited to my capacity. I’m glad to join in this discussion board to share, learn and broaden my perspectives on transition.

  15. I have never been a part of a discussion board, so here goes nothing 🙂
    I am the Family Advocate at Neighborhood House, a community center in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville, Ky. Our vision is to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty in this area serving families from birth on. My job is to increase family engagement and opportunities for families. I am currently in progress of developing school transition programs for kids and their family members. I hope that I can learn from all of you as parent engagement in their child’s education and out of school time is crucial!

    • fineteam says:

      Jennifer – Welcome! We’re happy to support you on your first discussion board experience. Participating is easy. You can read through the posts, complete the activities, and comment at your own pace. We’ve sequenced the board into 9 steps (and you just completed the first one!). Feel free to jump around, though, if you’re feeling stuck or want to see what others are up to in later steps. -Christine

  16. meg blinkiewicz says:

    Meg Blinkiewicz

    I am chair of Parents for Public Schools of Greater Kalamazoo. We serve parents in nine school districts in Kalamazoo County through our Parent Engagement Program, a parent leadership training program that equips parents to address barriers to student learning in three contexts: home; school; and the community. Our goal is to improve educational outcomes for all children in our county. We are just beginning to start a campaign to help parents transition to kindergarten.

  17. michelleslimak says:

    My name is Michelle Slimak, I am a home daycare provider in CT, as well as the chairperson of the Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington, a group with the mission of ensuring all Southington children enter school ready to learn. We are in the process of writing a Community Plan, currently developing strategies to implement over the next year. Two areas we are really concerned with are parent involvement and kindergarten readiness. I hope to be able to share what is working for us, as well as learn what is working for all of you!

    • Wonderful things to be working on and a get mission. I wonder what your definition of ‘ready to learn” is? There are so many different ones and your definition will make a difference to what you plan to do.

  18. I am so excited to learn more about this group. I am Julia Simens, I received a BA dual degree in education and psychology in Hawaii, MA in Clinical Psychology from California, USA. My family has navigated nine international relocations which has provided me the opportunity to work with over 8,000 families on five continents. I have worked as an administrator in a Pre-school, Kindergarten teacher, high school IB psychology teacher, elementary school counselor and head of a large counseling department in an International school.

    As an educator, speaker, author and consultant, I travel around the world speaking to schools, parenting groups and corporations about transition. I currently sit on the Board of Directors of FIGT (Families in Global Transition).

    • Welcome, Julia! Your experiences in so many different kinds of schools will really help us sort through this challenge of setting professional development goals (around family engagement in transition processes) and figuring out how to support teachers to meet those goals. I bet you have seen lots of different models of support for teachers. Looking forward to hearing more!

  19. Miss M says:

    Hi everyone,

    I am a kindergarten teacher in a suburban public school district with a fairly diverse student body. I am especially interested in helping support kids and families during their transition from PreK to K. Because I am often one of the first school employees these families meet, I try my best to make the transition as smooth and pleasant as possible, but am always looking for new ideas (particularly for those hard-to-reach families)! Currently I do things like invite all of my students and families in to my classroom several weeks before school starts so that we can get to know each other, see the classroom, and talk about what to expect during kindergarten. I also use this opportunity to reinforce things that parents can do at home to support their children’s success in kindergarten. I think that these sorts of activities can help to start the school-family relationship on the “right foot,” as well as support students during their transition. I’m looking forward to learning some great new strategies by participating in this discussion board!

    • fineteam says:

      Miss M – Welcome! The strategies that you’re using have several components of successful transition practices – relationships and information sharing. Are the practices that you use school-wide practices or are they practices that you decided to do on your own? It’s great that you know who your future students will be well in advance of the school year. Not having a class list is one of the biggest barriers teachers face as they try to implement transition practices.

  20. Tanya says:

    Hi, cyber-friends! My name is Tanya and I work for a faith based organization that runs various community based programs-I work for the Head Start arm of the agency. I’m new to the field and to Head Start so it’s been incredibly hard but educational. I really believe in Head Start’s mission so I’m trying to make sure my agency does everything it can to help support the families we serve. I can’t wait to begin looking through the board…..I have SO much work to do! Thank you all in advance for sharing your experiences/work; I’m a new kid on the block and could use all the help I can get!


  21. Jane Slattery says:

    Hi everyone. My name is Jane Slattery and I work in Queensland, Australia for the Queensland Catholic Education Commission. Within the State I have overall responsibility for the management of 23 kindergartens that operate on Catholic school sites and I am currently working with colleagues in looking at transition to school practices.

    • fineteam says:

      Jane – Thanks for joining. Are you working with colleagues from across different sites? I look forward to hearing more about your journey as you and your colleagues look into transition practices.

  22. Stephanie Patterson says:

    Hello to everyone,
    My name is Stephanie. I have worked in East Central Indiana at CFS, Head Start for 26 years. My current position is Education/Training/Transition Assistant. Better know as ETTA!!! Since taking this position three years ago; myself, the teaching and family support staff have worked diligently to gain a professional and positive working relationship with the 30 schools in our six counties.
    I am looking forward to learning about how to help parents understand the important role they play in their child’s education from the time they enter school until the time they graduate. I want to help them become a positive role model for their child’s educational success. Some other things that I would like to learn more about are; what are the most valuable tools that we can share with schools, what are some fun ways we can incorporate Kindergarten transition into classroom and parent activities and how can we get our community involved.
    I look forward to hearing from all of you.

    Have a great week!!!

    • Hi Stephanie
      I couldn’t help reading your comment – you want to help parents understand the vital role they play… This has been my life’s work since leaving the classroom and I have come to the conclusion that we need to help parents understand how their role differs from that of a teacher.
      I have (will have in a few days) some free resources on my upcoming site that you might be able to use with parents and I will be adding to the list. Feel free to hand them around!

  23. Sherry Carlstrom says:

    My name is Sherry Carlstrom and I am the Director of the Title I Federal Programs Office for Saint Paul Public Schools. I have had an interest in the benefit of supporting transition activities at the school level since I started my job in 2005. Transition support for families is a key component of a Title I Schoolwide Model. In order to support our schools with this work, we began learning about successful transition practices through the work of Robert Pianta. In order to begin to look at transition as a whole community responsibility, we began a collaborative group called Blast Off to Kindergarten. My reason for joining this group is to learn more about ways to support families in their transition to school.

    • Sherry, welcome! I would love to hear more about your expereinces starting this collaborative group. If you are up for sharing on the readiness thread, I am interested about how you knew your context/people were “ready” to begin a collaborative group. We are glad you are on the board!

    • joyce shortt says:

      Hi Sherry, I consult to a school district and work with the Pianta model. We may have much to share. Title 1 Director is part of our newly formed transition team. There is another response below from BLAST – Aimee. might be fun for a conversation with others from school districts.

  24. Hi,
    My name is Aimee Mediger. I am a Community Resource Project Coordinator in the Family Engagement and Community Partnerships Office in Saint Paul Public Schools. One of the projects that I coordinate is Blast Off to Kindergarten (BOTK). BOTK is a collaboration of community partners working together to create community awareness and action in Saint Paul by supporting schools, families and children in preparation for a smooth transition to Kindergarten. This work is completed in multiple ways including: a website, an annual BOTK event at the Minnesota Children’s Museum and ongoing outreach to the community with printed materials. I am joining this group with hopes to learn more ways BOTK can provide resources for families in their transition to school.

    • joyce shortt says:

      I’d like to hear more about BLAST and could share efforts of the Cambridge Public School District and community as well.

  25. Rebecca Grube says:

    I’m Becca Grube and I am the Senior Family Engagement Specialist for a nonprofit organization. We provide K-3 afterschool programs for many states throughout the country, primarily in rural, impoverished communities, serving students reading below grade-level. Our three-pronged approach includes Literacy, Healthy Choices and Family Engagement. Our organization also has an early childhood program and currently, we are striving to develop and integrate our programs, so that we will have a Prenatal-10 years of age continuum.

    I have been in public education for 17 years prior to accepting this position, 9 years of which I was a school counselor. I’ve seen firsthand how building relationships with families is the most important thing we can do when working with children. For instance, if educators and families are united by a strong, trusting relationship, educators won’t experience the typical discomfort they experience when they have to call home to discuss misbehavior or poor performance; but more imporantly, the misbehavior and poor performance is lessened if not eliminated entirely if these relationships are developed early, before problems arise.

    I’m new to this position, and though I have a wealth of experience and feel confident that I can and will make a difference for our programs and families, I want to learn more, and look forward to these discussions.

    • Hi Becca, welcome! I agree about the importance of relationships. In fact, reaching out to families to form more trusting relationships may be one of the most important professional goals we can set. I hope someone takes on that challenge on the setting-a-goal thread!

  26. Karen Ulp says:

    Hello! My name is Karen and I’m an Early Childhood Education Coordinator for a 3-county area in central PA under Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way. My work involves bringing together and collaborating with schools and early childhood programs to help families have a successful transition to kindergarten. I coordinate a yearly Transition to Kindergarten meeting with schools/early childhood programs and am always looking for new, exciting and innovative transition strategies to share.

  27. Susan Franck says:

    Hello everyone, My name is Susan and I work for the Department of Early Learning in Washington State as a Pre-K Specialist for the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP). I work with contractors who provide family support to enrolled children and families. This includes partnering with families to coordinate transitions between ECEAP and kindergarten. This discussion board will give me an opportunity to learn what others are doing to support kindergarten transition and gather helpful resources.

  28. Jamie says:

    Hello everyone! My name is Jamie and I work as the Education Coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh’s laboratory school (University Child Development Center). We provide childcare to families that are affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh and support many transitions to a variety of different Kindergartens.Part of my role is to help families with school selection and guide them in finding a best fit for their child (private school choice is popular with our population).

    I joined this discussion board in hopes to gain resources and see what others are doing to support families through this.

    On a personal note, my oldest daughter is now in Kindergarten, so we are navigating this transition at home as well!

  29. joyce shortt says:

    I have worked on behalf of children and families since the 1970’s in a variety of capacities including at programs, conducting advocacy and policy in government and for non-profits.. For the past 5 years I’ve been working as a consultant on transition to kindergarten with the Cambridge Public Schools MA. Guidance comes from Robert Pianta’s model which is about building relationships over time. Fortunately we are located in a community of collaborating service providers, a diverse group of families, and many highly skilled professionals. Even with these advantages we find it challenging to incorporate transition to school as part of the districts infrastructure and school based management approach. A primary goals has been to conduct outreach to communities that would benefit by knowing, more and earlier, about the process of school choice and the importance of early registration. This requires access to translation and community resources in many languages and cultures. .

    • fineteam says:

      Joyce – Welcome! We’re happy to have you here with us! Thanks for reminding us that this work is hard even in a highly collaborative, highly skilled community.

      You have the additional step (that other districts with neighborhood schools might not have) of letting families and community members know about the school choice component of your transition to school process. I wonder if others here on the board have tips for you?

      It sounds like a goal for Cambridge is to let families and communities know about the importance of early registration and school choice. Is this also a personal goal for you? When you’re ready, tell us more about your goal here: -Christine

      • joyce shortt says:

        Hi Christine, I am interested to see how eager folks who work in early childhood in one capacity/program or another are so quick to share and respond. I wonder if there is a way to engender more participation by school districts who will be receiving the children from these well prepared ECE programs. Thanks, Joyce

  30. Karen Newman says:

    I’m the Kindergarten Transition Coordinator for Addison Northwest Supervisory Union, which serves five towns in Northwestern Vermont. It’s great to have this board, because although my position is not unique, there are not many of us, and I wonder if I could be doing more than my job description covers. (I only work about 30 hours a month, but that’s still a good chunk of time.)
    Currently I partner with the public library’s outreach program to bring books to home-based childcare providers once a month (when I read books and do a related activity with the children); identify which children will be entering K in the fall; promote the transition events that happen throughout the summer; connect K teachers with local preschool providers; and try to identify children who may be coming in with needs. Ideally, I would connect families and childcare providers with resources so that they could access support services well before entering school. Thank you for hosting this site. I’m looking forward to visiting it for ideas and inspiration!

    • fineteam says:

      Karen – Welcome! I love hearing that roles like yours exist! Under which umbrella does your job exist? Were you hired by the library? The school system? The Supervisory Union (I’d like to learn more about that)? It’s great that you work with the public library and that you’re already thinking about how to make additional connections among and between people and resources. I’m looking forward to hearing about how you might apply what you learn from this board and other users. -Christine

      • Karen Newman says:

        Hi Christine,
        Believe it or not, when grant money ran out, the Supervisory Union committed to funding this position! I believe the program is in its sixth or seventh year. I’ll have to educate myself a little more on the history.

  31. Susan Smetzer-Anderson says:

    Hi everyone! I am Susan Smetzer-Anderson. Aside from working as the Dissemination Coordinator of the i3 Family Engagement project at the UW-Madison Wisconsin Center for Education Research, I am a mother of two internationally adopted children and very active in the Madison Metropolitan School District. I am very excited to be a part of this forum because our i3 Project is scaling up outreach in the Philadelphia school district to invite parents of Kindergarten students in 30 schools to participate in Family and Schools Together (FAST) programs. These programs empower parents, strengthen family communication, and also enable families and schools to develop stronger, productive relationships that benefit students. Our work is focusing on challenged urban schools, and we are working to implement more effective strategies to communicate with parents and guardians. My background includes a Ph.D. in mass communication (focusing on high involvement audiences & behavior change); I also was the communication director for a national education research center in K-12 math and science. I plan to visit this forum often and welcome any advice/input, We can really help each other, I believe. Best regards, Susan

    • mcpizano says:

      Hello Susan, Welcome and thank you for sharing! I think your communications experience will be a big value add to our group! We hope that you will keep us updated on how your i3 work is going and share any resources coming out of your center under the resource bank in Step 3( Best, Maria-Constanza Pizano (Harvard Family Research Project)

      • Karen Newman says:

        Hello! I’d like to put a question out there. Does anyone have good, simple resources for a parent with a fairly low level of education to use to strategize for how to present a problem during a meeting with a principal? I have a parent who is unsure about registering her daughter because of some past experiences with the school. I am facilitating a meeting between her and the principal of that school. I’d love to recommend something like a short list of bullet points or a YouTube video or some other quick and easy resource for being an effective advocate and getting off on the right foot with a school she may be involved with for the next 7 years. Thanks! Karen

        On Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 1:45 PM, Let’s Talk Transition! Family Engagement During the Transiti

        • I tell parents to do this – as it gives them the power in the meeting rather than the teacher

          1. Think about the questions you want to ask – parent might need help here
          2, write them on a pice of paper
          3 Take the paper with you and HOLD IT IN YOUR HSAND AS YOU GO INTO THE MEETING!! This signals that you are prepared and that you have something to say/ask
          4. Ask your first question and listen to the answer – but keep asking until you fully understand the answer.
          5, Repeat until parent is satisfied with information given.

          It works for the parents I work with – hope it irks for you.

        • fineteam says:

          Karen – Great question. The Federal Way Public Schools district in WA does a lot to support parents as advocates. Check out their Partnership 101 book, especially page 5 (What does effective advocacy look like?) – Trise Moore, Family Partnership Advocate for the Federal Way Public Schools district, recently presented on this topic on a web conference for us. Watching the archive of this event may bring more long-term solutions than the immediate ones you’re seeking, but I’ll share it anyway – -Christine

          • Karen Newman says:

            Thank you!

          • Karen Newman says:

            Here’s a resource you might be interested in:

            Family Literacy Liaison Program Podcast Series: Podcast series designed for
            families with young children who take their role as their child’s first and best
            teacher very seriously. Featured episodes range from using literacy materials at
            home to setting rules and limits for children. Program offers “family literacy nights”
            at all schools as well as “Literacy Walks” and other great family oriented programs
            that can be accessed at physical locations such as our schools, but also digitally
            via online programs.

            • RSU 3 Adult Education SPICE Family Literacy Program: SPICE Program is a
            home-based program that sends Adult Education and Early Childhood instructors
            directly to families’ homes. Delivery model alleviates two major barriers to our
            families to participate in the program: child care and transportation. Serves
            children birth to age 8, and their 16- to 20-year-old parents.

            Learn more:

  32. knichols2014 says:

    Hi South End in the House!
    My name is Kathleen, I work for IBA (Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion) you guess it (in the South End)!

    I engage families in various ways such as tours, conferences, performances at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, Parent board, telephone and face to face interactions, newsletter, fundraisers, technology.

    I am motivated to learn more from others and share resources in the network such as openings for income eligibility sliding scale availability at my center for preschool ages.

    School transition is an important process and the more informed the parents, child and educator are the most best results are produced in the end.

  33. fineteam says:

    Kathleen – Welcome, neighbor! We love connecting with local educators and are glad that you are here. I think you’re right – being informed from the start and knowing what to expect during the transition (and beyond) is key. I look forward to hearing more about your work as you explore some of the other steps. -Christine

  34. Samantha Wigand says:

    Hi There,
    I am so glad to see this forum. I am the Director of Childhood Success at United Way Worldwide. Much of my time is spent working with United Ways in the US and increasingly around the world on early education issues. Family engagement and kindergarten transitions are such a critical determinant in the success of children, so I am happy to find this and be able to pass along the wisdom to others in our UW network.

    Shannon, I have been just been talking with Joe Welsh who sings your praises.


    • Jamie Madigan says:

      Excited to see others from United Way! I am the Early Childhood Coordinator at United Way of Southwestern Indiana.

    • fineteam says:

      Sam – Welcome! We’re glad that you found this board and would be happy to have you pass along a link to others in the United Way network.

      And, you’re absolutely right. The transition to school marks such an important time. When transitions are smooth and involve high quality practices, children show greater school readiness and academic growth over the kindergarten year. -Christine

  35. Donna Kane says:

    Hi Folks!
    This looks like fun, and educational! My name is Donna Kane, Family Engagement Manager with the Head Start program in the Lehigh Valley in PA. Our program has worked very hard to create stronger and stronger collaborations with the school districts in the area, and to increase the understanding of the importance of parents in the transition process. It is often an uphill climb, but we are seeing very positive results with several of the major school districts.

    Our program has a very strong emphasis on engaging families, and we have stress the importance of transition from birth through Kindergarten registration. Transitions happen for children and adults throughout their lives. Handling any transition makes handling the next transition easier.

    But I guess I’m preaching to the choir! I can’t wait to learn new ideas…and jump start my own excitement!

    • fineteam says:

      Donna –

      Hello and welcome to the Let’s Talk Transition! board! We’re glad that you’re here and ready to learn. I look forward to hearing more about some of the positive results that you’re seeing and what activities/processes you think are contributing to them. When you’re ready for the step, please share your thoughts in the Practice Depot –

  36. Andy Slezak says:

    Hello my name is Andy and I am a Family Community Educator in a high school in upstate NY. The city itself has the highest amount of unemployment per population in New York State. My job is to fix the relationship with the school and community and get more parents involved in their child’s education. I could use any help I can get because this is my first year and I am struggling to get parents into the school.

    • Patricia says:

      I worked for many years in a downcast social area of Vancouver – not as difficult as your situation but tricky nonetheless. I tried everything to get parents involved with the school = even ended up doing a PhD to discover what worked – my results –
      The communication between parents and teachers is ineffective and leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication.
      The ONLY way to start to get parents involved was to build trust, slowly and carefully, and move on from there.
      How to build trust? 3F’s – 1. Food – always have food at meetings, food that is shared and takes teh pressure off any conversation. 2. Fun – have fun meetings – invite parents to games night, no school chat, jst fun times together. 3. Family – the whole family, and extended family , has to be invited and fed, and allowed to have fun.

      Only then, when there is some basic trust between you and parent, can you begin to introduce ideas of parental involvement with their child’s education.

      It takes time, effort and some $$ but it is the only way. I struggled for 5 years to make something happen until I started using the 3F’s – gradually parents – and teachers – got to know and trust each other. It took time and effort on both sides. Good luck and if I can help let me know.

  37. ljgreen says:

    Hi everyone! I am an educator and a researcher who is always looking for better ways to engage families in the schools. As a former Head Start and kindergarten teacher, I am particularly interested in engaging families during the transition process and would like to learn how to support schools and educators to build capacity for the kindergarten transition.

    • fineteam says:

      Lori – Hello and welcome! We’re glad your here. Your experience on both sides of the transition (preschool and kindergarten) likely allows you to have a well-rounded perspective. I look forward to hearing your thoughts as you move through the 9 steps!

  38. Nell says:

    Hi everyone. It’s exciting to see so much enthusiasm and participation on the site! I am a PreK teacher at a Head Start and I am currently working with our family services department to support our community-wide family engagement strategies and practices–both throughout children’s 3 and 4 year-old experience and family’s transition into the K-12 system. I look forward to this interactive resource as yet another way to connect with others who are passionate and knowledgeable about family engagement.

  39. What is your current role/job title? Freelance Parent Educator/Positive Discipline Lead Trainer
    How do you engage families in your work, in general? I teach Positive Discipline Parenting Tools to parents who want to learn them. I have recently started a local once a month meet up group for parents. Soon I’ll be offering a once a month teleconference call called “Solution Seekers” for parents.
    What motivated you to join this discussion board? I saw this in my facebook feed.
    Why are you interested in the transition to school? I teach parents as well as train child care providers (for continuing education credit.) I continually notice one “piece” that is overlooked in the home and school and that is an understanding of typical child development and providing an environment that supports that development.

  40. pettersonsj says:

    Finally getting a moment to follow-up! Very excited to participate. I am Director of Federal & Early Childhood Programs in a small district in central Washington State. As part of my duties I serve as the Director for our Preschool Program which consists of ECEAP, Tuition and Special Education funding sources. I also help support our Full-day Kindergarten program and provide leadership for P-3 alignment in our district and community. As part of that work, I reach out to our community early learning partners and families in order to share information and resources. Transition has been an important part of our discussion. I’m a former Early Childhood Special Educator, Kindergarten and 1st grade teacher, as well as a P-4 Principal. look forward to exchanging some good thinking with this group.

    • fineteam says:

      pettersonsj – We are happy that you’re here to participate!

      How does your work in/with different institutions/systems (preschool program, kindergarten program, p-3 alignment) and people (community partners and families) help you think about the transition in a collaborative way?

      Looking forward to hearing more about your work. -Christine

      PS If you haven’t already done so, I recommend checking off the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” box so that you know when others reply to your posts.

  41. I am a Family Liaison at a Title 1 school at Littleon Public Schools in Littleton, Colorado. I have been at this school for 10 years (5 years as a parent and the last 5 as parent and staff). I try to establish meaningful relationship with parents, teachers and community members and be the bridge among them. Family school partnership in my school has improved, but it not where it should be. I am hoping to learn from your experiences and I am excited to share what we have done at our school.

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