Teaching parents to teach their children
Posted: Oct 14, 2014 5:27 PM EDTUpdated: Oct 14, 2014 6:02 PM EDT
“And that was,” said Paul Fisher. “Are we having the most impact possible in our community as a service organization?”
The answer just might lead to social change for Savannah, its schools and many of its families.
Rotary and Kiwanis clubs across the city have joined to create the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation, a grassroots, volunteer endeavor to help our youngest overcome one of Savannah’s oldest problems: Children not being ready for school at school age.
“We don’t even know how well our schools can operate quite frankly,” says Fisher, the SECF president. “If all the children are ready for school, they can operate quite differently than they are today.”
But unlike many other children’s agencies, the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation doesn’t start at school.
It starts in the home.
“We are talking about training for parents that is specifically for children from inception to 4-years old,” said Michael O’Neal, executive director of Parent University, one of 26 local organizations that have partnered with the SECF.”So when children arrive at school they are ready to go.”
“Parents didn’t realize through lack of knowledge that they are their child’s first teacher,” added Fisher. “The culture of children of children having children over time has interrupted the natural transfer of parenting skills from one generation to the next.”
The parent deficit that cycle created is being addressed through Early Learning College, a series of classes offered by the foundation, formal instruction combined with lunch, childcare and learning activities.
The program, which took three years to research and develop, has launched in two of Savannah’s poorest neighborhoods with a goal of expanding into seven others.
The larger goal is more ambitious. It’s that the parent makes the better student, the student makes the better school, the school makes the better citizen and the citizen makes, ultimately, for a better city.
“If we don’t break this cycle, we know social costs explode exponentially,” Fisher said. “And we know this because we just built a new $90 million jail with a $25 million annual budget.”
“I say, if the community has the volition to stick with this, this is a game changer,” added O’Neal. “Learning never stops. And the most important job you could ever train for is raising your kid.”