Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation
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Sixteen Kindergarten Partnership and Innovation (KPI) Projects have been funded across the state of Oregon with the common goal of improving school readiness and improving school success while reducing the achievement gap. Funded KPI projects are given flexibility to focus on one or more of the specified priorities:
- Supporting kindergarten readiness skills and smooth transitions to kindergarten.
- Increasing family engagement in children’s learning and connecting families and schools.
- Providing professional development to early learning and/or elementary school professionals to improve knowledge and skills.
- Increasing alignment, connection and collaboration in the preschool to Grade 3 system.
KPI projects are expected to work toward correcting the achievement gap, especially for underrepresented children, dual language learners, low-income, and/or racial/ethnic minorities. The programs host family events and workshops focusing on connecting families with schools before kindergarten, expanding family understanding about what it means to be “kindergarten ready”, and giving them the skills necessary to feel confident teaching their child math and reading at home. At the same time, the program gives early learning providers and kindergarten teachers a better understanding of their two different worlds. Educators are given tools to better support transitions for students and stronger relationships with each other.
Over the last several years, Kaleidoscope Play & Learn has been demonstrated as an effective strategy for reaching and engaging parents and caregivers. The Kaleidoscope Play & Learn model is particularly suited because research, as well as our experience, has shown that these caregivers prefer this type of support and learning to formal training.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups are facilitated play groups for young children and their family, caregivers and parents. Groups are run by community organizations, in a variety of neighborhood locations, including libraries, community centers, and apartment rec rooms and schools. Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups meet weekly for 1 ½ -2 hours. All groups have a trained facilitator, who sets up a variety of activities and provides information and guidance to participants.
While Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups are seen by participants as a fun way to get together with other children and caregivers, the intent of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is to get information and support to family and caregivers to help them support early learning and healthy development of the children in their care. Children are only at Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups for a couple of hours a week, where they play and learn new skills (particularly interacting with other children). However, the real impact of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is in what the caregivers take away from the group and do at home with the children in their care. Through participating in Play & Learn, caregivers discover that children learn through play and daily activities; they increase understanding about how to support children’s early learning at home, and they gain confidence in their ability to prepare children for success in school and life.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a model that was developed by Child Care Resources in Seattle, Washington. The model was developed using information gathered through five years’ of outcomes evaluation as well as practice in the field – learning through trial and error the different ways to run Play & Learn in a variety of settings and communities. Organizations using the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn model follow the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Guidelines, standards based on what was learned through evaluation and practices as well as on widely recognized and accepted theories and best practices in the fields of child development; early learning; parent education; family, friend and neighbor care; community development; and cultural competency.
A facilitator, trained in the model, leads each Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group. The facilitator sets up activities, helps caregivers get to know each other, and connects caregivers with family support resources and other early learning opportunities in the community.
At each Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group there is:
- Time for children and caregivers to participate together in open-ended, child-directed play at different play centers as well as in a planned, coordinated group activity
- Intentional caregiver learning, which is done through facilitator modeling, coaching and guidance, brief lessons, or written materials
- Time and opportunities for caregivers to interact and connect with each other
- Opportunities for children to interact with each other
- Opportunities for caregivers to develop leadership and to participate in the planning and running of the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group
A typical Kaleidoscope Play & Learn session usually begins with time for the children and caregivers to enjoy informal play activities (such as blocks, dolls, books, art, etc.) set up by the facilitator. At each station, a brief explanation is posted for the caregivers about the benefit of the activity. The facilitators model for the caregivers how to interact with the children using the materials provided. The facilitators introduce new experiences to children by playing with the materials themselves, and describing what they are doing and why, so the adults will better understand the value of the activity. For example, at an art station, the facilitator might get on the floor and ask all of the adults and children to join her for finger painting. The facilitator would begin to paint, while demonstrating and talking to the children and adults about how painting helps children explore lines, colors, shapes and textures; helps them express their thoughts and feelings; and helps develop their creative imagination.
Often, there is a brief circle time for children and a discussion time for the caregivers, who are encouraged to share questions and concerns and serve as resources for one another. As interests are expressed or opportunities arise, the facilitator brings in additional resource people and materials to address specific concerns (i.e., child abuse & neglect, school enrollment, oral health) or plan field trips to connect with resource people and organizations.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Video
Background on How Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Supports Family, Friend and Neighbor Caregivers
Brain development research proves that the most crucial time for learning is from birth to five, making quality childcare and early learning experiences foundational for the future success of every child. Without it, children start behind and stay behind. Our community’s interest in helping all children get a good start in school and life has raised awareness of how important it is to provide information and resources to all people who care for children so that they can support early learning of the children in their care. If we are to reach all children, we must also reach and support their family, friend and neighbor caregivers.
Families choose family, friend and neighbor care for a variety of reasons: quality of care, convenience and flexibility of hours, family tradition. Many families choose this form of childcare because they want their children in the care of someone they know and trust – and who share their values, culture and language.
Caregivers, like other significant adults in children’s lives, want the best for the children in their care. They want their children to be prepared for school and to be healthy and happy. Caregivers and parents are eager to have opportunities to have their children play with other children. When asked, parents also indicate that they appreciate a chance to be with other adults caring for children and to learn more about how they can help the children grow, develop and learn.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a strategy we use to support parents, caregivers and the children in their care, getting them the child development information and social connections they want for themselves and their children.
Intended Results and Outcomes
Our vision is that, as a result of participating Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups, parents and caregivers’ capacity and knowledge about healthy child development improves, and more young children will enter school ready to succeed.
Kaleidoscope Play & Learn is a model that works. As a result of participating in Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups, caregivers experienced these outcomes:
- 73 % increased knowledge “a lot more” in one evaluation area (eg, what to expect of children at different ages, how children learn through play, the importance of the caregiver’s role in helping the child be prepared for school, etc.)
- 84% reported changing what they do “a lot more” with the children in their care in one evaluation area (eg, talking and doing activities, reading or looking at books, helping the child talk about and understand his/her feelings).
- 55% reported decreased isolation “a lot more” through talking or sharing ideas about caregiving with another adult
 Summary of End of Year Play & Learn Participant Results, January-December 2009. Report prepared by Organizational Research Services for Child Care Resources.
Evaluation also indicates that the more times a family attends Play & Learn, the more positive the outcomes.
The evaluation also indicates that participation appears to be very beneficial for those from diverse linguistic and cultural groups as well as for family, friend and neighbor caregivers. This finding validates our approach in targeting immigrant families – who typically have a higher utilization rate of family, friend and neighbor care than other communities.
We are Affiliates of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn coordinated by Child Care Resources in Seattle, Washington. As Affiliates, we have agreed to abide by field-tested and evaluated Guidelines and to participate in quality assurance activities to ensure fidelity to the Kaleidoscope Play & Learn model as well as to ensure we are meeting the needs of our participants.
For more information or to find a playgroup near you contact Teresa Slater at Southern Oregon Early Learning Services Hub email@example.com or find us on Facebook.
Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting
The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program facilitates collaboration and partnership at the federal , state and community levels to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children through evidence-based home visiting programs. The State of Oregon’s MIECHV team is tasked with both the implementation/expansion of three evidence-based Early Childhood Home Visiting models, and the development of a comprehensive Regional Home Visiting Network. The three models for Jackson County are Early Head Start, Nurse Family Partnerships and Healthy Families.
Southern Oregon Early Learning Services (SOELS) and the Southern Oregon Home Visiting Network promotes high quality and evidenced-based home visiting services to all home visiting programs in both Jackson and Josephine Counties not exclusive to the MIECHV models. The Home Visiting Network facilitates activities among its members to promote program collaboration and to raise awareness about home visiting, to expand and sustain home visiting services to provide supplemental home visitor professional development, and to share relevant policy and research information.
The Southern Oregon Home Visiting Network includes representatives from home visiting programs throughout the Jackson and Josephine Counties, some of which, but not all, are funded through the federal (MIECHV) grant. Membership in the network is open to any program representatives offering home visiting services to families from the time a mother is pregnant until children enter kindergarten, or representatives from stakeholder organizations that provide support to home visiting services.
Quality, voluntary home visiting reduces costly problems, including low-weight births; emergency room visiting; and children in the social welfare, mental health and juvenile justice corrections systems, creating considerable cost savings for states. Home visiting yields powerful short and long-term effects for the families who participate.
Less than 40% of preschool children in Jackson and Josephine counties are currently enrolled in early education programs. This alarming statistic is changing, with an exciting statewide program called Preschool Promise which began in September 2016.
In 2015 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 3380, allocating $27 million to increase the number of quality preschool programs throughout the state. Southern Oregon Early Learning Services (SOELS) is one of six Early Learning Hubs chosen to receive funds for this exciting project. One hundred and seventy children in Jackson and Josephine counties who are three and four years of age will be offered quality preschool, free of charge. Children selected will be from families whose incomes are below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Those families will be able to choose from an array of preschools in which to enroll their children. Preschool Promise will permit families to choose the type of model they prefer, whether it is in an elementary school, a children’s Relief Nursery, family child care home, community preschool or another model. SOELS Preschool Promise programs are planned for communities stretching from Wolf Creek to Phoenix.
Preschool experiences help children develop a wide range of skills in language, literacy, mathematics, as well as emotional and social competencies, all of which contribute to success in school.
With an investment of this size, you might ask, “Why is preschool so important? Why did the need for preschool capture the attention of the Oregon Legislature and ultimately initiate this large project?” A child’s experiences during their early years shape the developing nature of the brain’s architecture. Preschool experiences help children develop a wide range of skills in language, literacy, mathematics, as well as emotional and social competencies, all of which contribute to future success later in school. Strong evidence supports the value of one or two years of developmentally appropriate, high quality preschool education.
SOELS is grateful for this support of children in the region. Preschool Promise will help make an important contribution to a child’s future success, both in school and in life. As implementation plans begin to take shape, we look forward to enrolling children for a year-long time of growth and learning.
Preschool Promise is a free preschool program for eligible families. Eligibility and enrollment for Preschool Promise is coordinated by early learning hubs across the state.