Partnering with Your Local Receiving Schools
As a Head Start leader, building relationships within your local receiving schools is one of the best ways to both understand and plan for the process of transitioning a child from Head Start to kindergarten. However, as with most things, that doesn’t just happen automatically or overnight. It takes time to form a plan, and possibly even longer to form a strong relationship with stakeholders at your local school district. In this blog, we’ll explore further some of the tips given by Head Start for making that happen.
“If you invite them, they will come.”
October was Head Start’s “Bring a Principal to Head Start” celebration, in which Head Start site leaders were encouraged to host the principals of the elementary schools that their children would likely transition into.
Some suggestions they give are:
Invite a principal to your program
Pretty self-explanatory. However, we encourage you to make it fun! Have the children welcome the principal using artwork or a message in unison. Invite parents. And of course, a free lunch never hurt.
Visit the receiving school
Be respectful of the principal’s time. Prepare an agenda for your meeting and send it ahead of time.
Celebrate your partnership by sharing highlights via social media.
Most everyone enjoys being recognized for the efforts they make. Take photos of your time with the receiving school staff and tag them on social media. It also allows parents and the community to share in your hard work.
In the Head Start video, “Transitions that Work,” a local principal and Head Start director in Washington sit side-by-side as they explain some of the ways that Head Start and receiving schools can plan for an effective transition.
“Transition-to-kindergarten activities that include families, children, educators and staff are an opportunity to establish strong relationships and partnerships,” the video says.
Here, the Director and the Principal repeatedly use the term “alignment” when speaking about their partnership. They say that the most effective partnerships are aligned in four key areas:
- Professional Development
- Effective Practices/Transitions
“We always try to make sure that there’s this built-in opportunity for [children] to experience pieces and parts of the day that a kindergartner may have,” says Lisa Heaman, Principal of West Hills STEM Academy. “Just providing fun opportunities for preschoolers to get used to the environment and have very positive joyful experiences.”
As part of the Head Start’s goal to consider the whole child, Head Start children have been taught skills in many different areas, such as how to ask questions, taking turns, and proper hand-washing. When they leave Head Start, we want them prepared and ready to continue learning, and to build on the gains that they’ve made. By having a strong working partnerships with the receiving school, we can make sure that those skills can be put to work right away in the kindergarten classroom.
Now that’s true “alignment.”
What have you found has worked particularly well when partnering with your local receiving schools? We want to know! Leave your comments below.
Tags: receiving school