The Getting Ready program, which aims to increase school readiness by forging relationships between young children, families, and early childhood educators, has been expanded to educators and families across the state as a result of Preschool Development Grant funding.
By Ashia Aubrey
Building connections between children, their teachers, and parents is at the heart of Getting Ready, a learning-based initiative available to early educators in Nebraska.
Getting Ready is an evidence-based family engagement approach that focuses on forging relationships between children, families, and early childhood educators, and supported with funding from the Preschool Development Grant (PDG). Getting Ready aims to increase school readiness among children age 5 and younger who participate in home visitation or center-based early childhood programs.
"In early childhood programs, working with families is incredibly important…while important along the whole educational continuum, it is particularly important during early childhood," said Lisa Knoche, the project director for Getting Ready and a research associate professor for the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Knoche is leading a team of researchers and coaches on the Getting Ready approach to discover ways families and educators can work together to provide a foundation for children to learn and grow through school and life.
Knoche says research shows since 2004 that the Getting Ready approach is tied to positive outcomes, like increased social and literacy skills for young children, improved relationships between families and educators, and parents who feel better equipped to support their child’s learning. As a result of the Preschool Development Grant funding, Getting Ready has been expanded to educators and families across the state.
Getting Ready came about as researchers heard from teachers and educators who wanted help forming closer relationships with the families they served. Eight strategies were developed and are used by educators in all interactions with families, so families and educators view themselves as partners. Getting Ready also offers guidance to educators for structuring meetings with families during home visits or conferences to support partnerships. Getting Ready coaches work directly with educators to build plans and reflect on their work with families. Educators go through a series of training sessions, submit videos of their interactions with families, participate in virtual coaching, and then develop a plan.
When using the Getting Ready approach, the educator works with a parent to figure out the best method for that child to succeed. Some of the eight Getting Ready strategies include affirming parents' abilities and providing information on child development to families. Educators use strategies that will be most meaningful to each specific family. When the strategies are implemented in early childhood programs, the Getting Ready approach can strengthen parent-child relationships and provide a way for parents to learn valuable skills to support their child's learning.
"Think of the traditional parent-teacher conference where a teacher shares information one-way with parents," Knoche said. "In Getting Ready, I as a teacher really need to know more from you as the parent so that we together can figure out the best strategies for this child."
Getting Ready has been used in Head Start, Early Head Start, and community-based child care programs across Nebraska. This year the approach has targeted about 100 educators with plans to engage more. The Getting Ready team also works with 14 home- and center-based programs across Nebraska in places like Kearney, Lincoln, and Chadron.
Click here to learn more about Getting Ready or include it in your school or program.
Ashia Aubrey works at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska. Previously, she was the associate director of communications at an Omaha nonprofit and served as a reporter and television news anchor in Nebraska, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
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