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Off to a Good Start San Diego County: Partnering with parents of preschoolers to build school readiness skills

The Issue

Parents are essential to the development of early language and preliteracy skills. Research indicates that children are less prepared when they enter school today than they were a decade ago. The Carnegie Foundation reported that 35 percent of U.S. children enter kindergarten at risk of academic difficulties. Hispanic kindergartners in the U.S. entered school with significantly less competence in math and reading than their white and Asian peers, according to the federal government's Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. For Latino parents, there is often a sharper distinction between home and school. Latino parents see their role as being responsible for providing basic needs and proper behavior rather than supporting academic skills acquisition. To be effective teachers to their own children, parents need to know the skills necessary for school success and they need resources to assist them in providing educational opportunities for their children.

What Has ANR Done?

UC Cooperative Extension developed a school-readiness program called "Off to a Good Start" for parents of four- and five-year-olds. The program includes seven workshops covering kindergarten expectations, language development, reading readiness, social-emotional development, problem-solving (math and science), nutrition and home-to-school connections. With the support of a three-year grant from the First 5 Commission of San Diego, bilingual parent educators presented "Off to a Good Start" at 143 workshops in San Diego County that served 1,339 parents representing 1,920 children. Ninety-seven percent were Spanish speakers.

The Payoff

Parents learn they are their child's most important teacher

Participant surveys indicated that 59 percent of the participants improved their understanding of their role as their child’s first teacher and 62 percent of the parents said their child showed more interest in books.

Clientele Testimonial

“The topics that we touched were very interesting because it cleared up all my doubts related to my children’s early learning and they helped me feel more prepared and they taught me more tips about the productive activities.” (translated from Spanish)


Supporting Unit: San Diego County

Sue Manglallan, 4-H Youth and Family Development Advisor,(858) 694-8836, ssmanglallan@ucdavis.edu