By Christi Baron
Did you know that Forks Elementary School is becoming a leader in pre-K education? And that other schools are looking to them and what they are doing. The proof is in the numbers.
Sandra Velasquez and Donna Moon have been participating in a University of Washington eight month intensive program focusing on early learning. Forks is one of only 10 schools that were accepted to this program. FES Principal Rob Shadle said,”It is an honor to be part of this program, it is unbelievable to me that it all fits so well with what we are already doing to get kids ready for kindergarten.”
The program which is funded by the Gate’s Foundation has included seminars at Lake Washington and webinars. The program will rap up in November and Velasquez and Moon will present what they have learned at a future school board meeting Spotlight on Success.
Velasquez said,”This program is my dream come true, it is educating parents, what happens at home is what makes the difference, it can help spot a child early that is not headed for graduation.”
The key to success is parent involvement. FES wants parents to feel more comfortable at school. “The minute a child comes through the door the clock is ticking,” Shadle said. A need for children to learn a larger vocabulary at an early age is key in future school success and parents can help with that.
“Forks is already doing what is now being mandated with our incorporation of pre-school,” Moon said, “Thanks to Rob and the school board we are way ahead.”
Velasquez said, “We are the first school to use LENA assessment.”
LENA is based on the belief that all parents have the ability to unlock their children’s social, emotional, and cognitive potential. With focus on increasing interactive talk because it has been proven to be a key factor in early brain development – and focus on the earliest years because research points to those as the most critical. The feedback they provide helps parents improve talk and conversations with their children. The results are stronger families and children more prepared to succeed in school.
FES wants the community to be more aware and engage families that don’t know what to do. “We are not blaming parents, some of it can be cultural differences in expression and we want to talk about increasing language with parents,” Velasquez said. FES wants parents to engage their children with conversation just 10-15 minutes of conversation can be beneficial.
If a child is not reading well by third grade his or her chances of graduation diminish drastically.
FES is already seeing huge results in better learning. Scores in math, for example, have gone from 56 percent in the fall of 2016 to 90 percent in the spring of 2017. In the same time literacy has gone from 61 percent to 97 percent.
It is the hope of Velasquez, Moon, and Shadle that every child that enters FES eventually leaves somewhere with a diploma in hand. If they have anything to do with it they probably will!