An Early Childhood Program Becomes Part of the School’s Fabric
NYU ParentCorps is an evidence-based early childhood health and development program. This program is in its third school year at PS 171Q-Peter G. Van Alst Elementary School.
NYU ParentCorps follows a three-pronged approach to implementing this program effectively. It involves the student, parents/guardians, and school staff through (1) Professional Development (2) Program for Pre-K students and (3) Program for Pre-K parents. The program is timed when parents are able to attend the program fully, such as early morning.
Students take part in a 14-week curriculum called “The Friends School” that concentrates on social, emotional and behavioral skills of the child and peers. Each week focuses on teaching students about healthy interaction and communication skills with peers. Students interact with a puppet to practice mutual respect.
Simultaneously, parents attend an adult version of the program that also reinforces the practices students are learning in “The Friends School.” In time, the group collectively forms a “ParentCorps” which helps parents become stronger advocates for their child and build camaraderie with fellow parents.
The last component features a group of learning opportunities for Pre-K teachers, Kindergarten teachers, classroom assistants, parent support staff, and school leaders to utilize evidence-based practices that will help reinforce the home-school connections.
I also had the opportunity to speak with teacher Ms. Cassidy at PS 171Q. She has been teaching for over 30 years and has been involved with NYU ParentCorps since its inception. Ms. Cassidy stressed the importance of the program and how it has become part of the fabric of early childhood culture at the school. She sees firsthand NYU ParentCorps’ ability to empower and create a safe space for parents.
Ms. Cassidy spoke about a grandmother who was skeptical about the program but decided to give it a chance. She quickly discovered the usefulness of trying different parenting strategies she would not use. This instant home-school connection led the grandmother to complete the program and become an advocate for NYU ParentCorps.
Ms. Cassidy notices that parents who attend NYU ParentCorps show an interest in their students’ school lives in the years to come. She expressed that it was a rewarding feeling to know they learned those skills alongside their child during the first years of school.
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