Our Outcomes are Very Strong

Strong Outcomes are buttressed by unique assessment instruments developed to measure a broad range of characteristics that contribute to school readiness. Focusing on behaviors as well as academic skills of children, changes in parental responses and behaviors are also examined. A panoply of data has emerged in the last two decades that attribute success in school to a variety of factors. For example, some research suggests that “math literacy” is a better indicator of future success than reading. Virtually all of the tests used to look at children entering kindergarten examine the ability to count from 1-10/20/100. But math literacy goes beyond counting to include some skills in sorting and ordering. These were added to the assessment instrument used by First Teachers @ Home. Emergent literacy is forged not only on the ability to recognize alphabet letters, which is certainly a necessary first step. But children have to also know that there are sounds attached to each letter in order to begin to read. This too was added to the testing instrument for FT@H.

Compliance – the ability to follow directions – is not a small component of academic success. When teachers instruct their students to stop doing one activity and begin doing another, for example, children who haven’t learned to do that are penalized despite their academic abilities. Positive conflict resolution is also a vital element for success in kindergarten. Many low-income children haven’t acquired these skills are destined to fail, so a wide-ranging valuation of behaviors was added to the assessment instrument. By necessity these are observational appraisals.“Grit”, for example, has been mentioned as a necessary component of school achievement. How exactly do children learn to persevere? And then how is that measured?

Parental behaviors are conditioned on attitudes as well as the modelling to which they have been exposed. Many low-income families have less education than higher income families, and typically were raised by low-educated families. Data indicating that children in low-income/low-educated families hear significantly fewer words than high income children has been borne out the pre-testing done by FT@H. That 94% of families report on the post survey that they have consciously made an effort to talk more to their children correlates in some degree to the improvement of their children at the end of the program. Each week parents receive a book to take home, and virtually all parents indicate in some way during the subsequent class that they have read the book with their child.

Parents report on the post survey that they provided more supervision and regulation of media use, including television at about the same rate, 93%. A smaller percentage, 83%, of parents report at the same time that there was a decrease in the amount of corporal punishments used with their preschool children. This is likely over-reported, but clearly families have learned that there are some issues with the modelling used with their children for conflict resolution whether they in face have substantively altered their parenting in this area. ALL families, during the course of the classes, say that they have implemented more positive verbal interaction with their children. Most discuss during those classes that they complement their child’s attempts to do assigned work rather than glibly telling them that they have done a good job. Encouraging their child’s efforts seems to be easy for families to absorb.

Most parents (92%) report that they have instituted some kind of daily routines, that they have assigned chores to their preschoolers and that they follow up, positively, in ensuring that those chores have in fact been done. This, along with the more nuanced response to their children’s efforts appear to be connected to some of the ways they are encouraging perseverance among their children.

Almost all participating families report during the course of classes and on the post survey that their confidence in their own abilities to help their children succeed in school has sky-rocketed. They uniformly describe that they now believe that their efforts are directly responsible for how their children perform in school and as adults.

82.3% of 4-year-old children learn the extensive skill set for kindergarten readiness and
start school able to succeed.

53% of 3-year-olds know enough to start school significantly ahead of their peers.
First Teachers @ Home is concerned about the nearly 18% of children who do not pass the kindergarten readiness assessment. Attempts are being made to identify these children before the end of the program, to encourage their parents to re-enroll in the program. Also a highly informative parent assessment is offered for the families of those children to fill out, to see if there are substantive issues that need to be addressed. FT@H is trying to help parents get those children assessed for learning and developmental problems before they start kindergarten.

Longitudinal data has been difficult to obtain, but a small study by FT@H at one school indicates that children who passed the readiness assessment completed kindergarten, first, second and third grades successfully. Unfortunately those children who did not pass the readiness assessment did no better in K through 3rd grades. That failing students can be identified at 4 years old is a challenge that might be beyond the purview of First Teachers @ Home at this time.

The success of FT@H‘s approach is based on showing parents that the first and primary teacher a child has is a parent or grandparent and that the first and most important school a child attends is called home. Too many mistakenly believe that education does not begin until school formally begins. When parents acquire knowledge of normative child development early on from FT@H – before their children are in school – there is an impact on the home environment in ways that better readies their children for school and learning.
There is an additional benefit: parents with low literacy increase their own vocabulary and literacy. Parents are more likely to enroll in GED programs and to attend college or other training programs. Their increased interest in learning is infectious and translates to their children.


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