JOLIET – Parents like Bridgette Sinegar are getting extra help from Joliet Public Schools District 86 to be more involved in their children’s learning.
Sinegar, who has two children who attend A.O. Marshall Elementary School, was one of dozens of parents who attended the Parents as Tutors pilot program earlier this fall.
The program, which focused on parents of kindergarten and first-grade students, along with a Parent University program in late October, is part of how District 86 officials are reaching out to parents and getting them involved in the education process.
“[Parents as Tutors] was very helpful, especially for parents who did not know how to help their children. It helped me to understand why they came up with the pilot program and at the grade level they started with it,” Sinegar said.
District officials said increased parent involvement in schools is part of its strategic plan. Parent engagement was an action statement under the goals of the plan, said Tanisha Cannon, assistant superintendent for student services.
“Our goal is always to increase involvement and to increase awareness with our parents. They are an integral part in terms of educating their child. It’s just another effort to increase [that],” Cannon said.
Cannon said during Parents as Tutors, parents are given curriculum books that include activities focusing on enhancing children’s literacy skills. She said the district wants to build on foundational skills such as literacy for students in kindergarten and first grade because it’s a critical time for them.
Superintendent Theresa Rouse mentioned the parent involvement programs at a chat session in September at the Forest Park Community Center, saying she hoped the Parents as Tutors program would become districtwide in the future. It was piloted at Marshall and Edna Keith Elementary School.
Rouse and other district officials held the first-ever Parent University on Oct. 22. The event included workshops that addressed academics, college and career readiness, community resources, health and wellness, special education and technology.
Parent University had a keynote speech from Clay Roberts, a consultant and speaker who worked with Rouse when she was previously superintendent at King City Union School District in California.
“My hope is this is the first of many,” Rouse told a crowd of parents at the event.
Roberts introduced parents and educators to the list of 40 development assets identified by the Search Institute as the “building blocks of a healthy development” for children that include items such as family support, caring school climate, positive peer influence and more.