Jacquetta Goode, Hamilton County: "When asked how I'm preparing my daughter, Yiyara, for school, the first thing that comes to mind is having a good support system and staying involved. I had my daughter while in college, not knowing how difficult it would be to balance my education and the social and educational development of my daughter.
Early childhood educators suggest that you read books on raising children and child development, but honestly life has taught me that personal experience is the best teacher. By having family members, friends and programs like FamiliesFORWARD, I received the knowledge, training and support I needed.
"I stayed at home with my daughter for six months before placing her in day care so I could return to college and I admit that searching for the right program for Yiyara was a challenge. She was in a variety of programs from a traditional preschool to Head Start. Her participation helped her gain new skills both academically and socially. I believe, however, that my parental involvement made the most difference in her success. In preschool, I chaired the parent-support group, attended field trips and outings, served as the class and soccer team mom and consistently communicated with her teachers.
"Most importantly, Yiyara and I worked at home in order to enhance the formal education she was getting from school. We practiced recognizing letters and numbers and her writing, drawing and language skills. I obtained a checklist of the skills that a preschooler should know before entering kindergarten and drilled her as often as possible. I remained active and involved in her preschool education.
"By last summer, I knew Yiyara was ready for whatever was asked of her. We had both reached a milestone in our lives. I graduated from college and she was entering kindergarten. Our formal education and practice at home had paid off and we were both ready to start our new journeys.
"When Yiyara entered Parham Elementary in Cincinnati this fall, I heard great things about a program called FamiliesFORWARD and immediately enrolled her in their after-school program and began attending meetings and workshops. I participated in the 13-week intensive parenting class offered by FamiliesFORWARD at Parham School. This class taught me a great deal about raising Yiyara and supporting her educational and social achievements. For the first time, I had hands-on instruction for all the issues parents face in preparing children for the real world and the classroom. This class changed how I parent my daughter and I had more confidence in my abilities.
"I have seen tremendous growth in Yiyara this year. She reads at a 2nd-grade level, she can do subtraction and addition, and her verbal skills are far beyond mine when I was her age.
"If I could give any parent advice on the importance of early education, I would tell them to enroll their child in quality preschool and Head Start programs. I would also tell them to take advantage of supportive programs such as FamiliesFORWARD. Most importantly, I would tell all parents to get involved in the education of your child at the youngest possible age and stay involved through their older years."
For information on FamiliesFORWARD, call (513) 721-7044 or on-line (www.familiesforward.net)
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