Solidifying the Role of Family Connections LiaisonsApril 19, 2012 at 10:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Family Connections plays an important role in the Cleveland Public Schools. Some employees hold the title of Family Liaisons. These Liaisons work unusual hours, whenever needed, to provide parents tutoring in addition to the public school system. They spend time at the homes of targeted families, or at any convenient locations chosen by the parent/s. They work with Kindergarten children in subjects they are struggling with. The Liaisons also go into Kindergarten classrooms to assist a teacher with whomever she needs assistance with. However, the classroom time of the Liaison is often unstructured and seems be over-looked and under-appreciated.
Right before the holiday season, individuals from many Cleveland public elementary schools asked Family Connections to create an activity for the children which emphasized learning through play. It is surprising to many when they hear that play has actually left the public school Kindergarten classroom in exchange for worksheets. With the help of Family Connections, the schools want to trade-out the unsuccessful worksheet method for the innate method of play.
It all seems so obvious to many but this is where our public schools have landed: The public school system has forgotten how to learn through play. So, the coordinator of the Family Connections Liaisons, Charniece Holmes, set her creative wheels in motion and collaborated with every employee at Family Connections to get the project going because we all know, play has to return to the Kindergarten classroom as soon as possible!
Over Christmas break we were each sent home with the task of brainstorming ideas. This was not hard for any of the employees since early child education is what they have devoted their lives to. However, collaborating means meshing ideas to create a successful product and so we had to wait until break was over to have a group discussion of what activities should be included.
This meeting was very successful and sparked the instant beginning of producing hands-on, low-budget play activities. The schools did not want to put any money into this project so we were left to our in-house resources and imaginations. We built off of a system that Family Connections already had in action called Dramatic Play boxes. The experienced early child-hood educators made suggestion after of suggestion of ways to grow and enhance the play boxes. The end result of many, many hours of printing, cutting, laminating, and laughter is 4 themes: Post-Office, Doctor’s Office, Restaurant, and Grocery Store; 9 boxes of each theme; and tons of playtime!
The boxes are already in the classrooms. The Liaisons now have a set activity to engage the Kindergartens in and it may prove to be their most favorite time! There will be a trial run for about three weeks. Then, everyone will reconvene and discuss the success and any improvements if needed.
It is not often that a small non-profit becomes a house-hold name a public school system but this project promises that Family Connections will grow to this status in the Cleveland Public Schools.
Written by Ashley Mankin