Every Tuesday morning parents eager to acquire skills for professional and personal use gather at Parent U. It is one of many services provided by Sound to Harbor Early Learning Programs for parents of current or former students. The 30-hour training runs from October through April culminating in a celebration where participants earn their STARS certification. This fulfills a state requirement for being a preschool teacher assistant or a program substitute. It’s also practical information for any parent.

Sound to Harbor Early Learning Programs ESD 113 Linda and Caitlyn
Linda Allen and Caitlyn Ishikawa work closely with families to create successful outcomes at school and at home. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

Parents attend the weekly classes that cover a wide range of topics, from nutrition to brain development to health and safety and quite a few in between. Modules are taught by various staff members. Melanie Scrivner, center manager at the SPSCC

Child & Family Education Center, recently gave an interactive presentation about child management through Positive Behavior Interventions and Support or PBIS. The multi-tiered approach improves the emotional, social and academic outcomes for students of all types. Parents learn that giving descriptive feedback rather than an evaluative statement can do much for reinforcing a desired behavior. For example, the often-used “good job” is less powerful than “it was helpful you brought your plate to the sink.” Topics are covered through questions, homework and discussion. Encouragement and strategies are exchanged. Linda Allen, family services parent coordinator, and Caitlyn Ishikawa, family community coordinator, are on hand to help parents with whatever is necessary.

Completion of the STARS program through Parent U is a springboard for a person’s next step. Last year 7 of the 13 participants found employment with Sound to Harbor. Paulina Springer, a military spouse, is currently enrolled. She has been out of the traditional work force for 10 years. The class is providing motivation for her to complete her resume and gather tools for going back to work. Paulina is already a college graduate, but greatly appreciates the many avenues of resources that Sound to Harbor offers in her movement forward.

Sound to Harbor Early Learning Programs ESD 113 Isobel and Alex
Isabel Livingston is able to bring her younger son Alex to Parent U while her older son is in school. “The course helps a lot,” she said. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

Those attending Parent U have (or had) students in the Head Start and ECEAP (Early Childhood Education Assistance Programs), which provide preschool for children of families with financial needs. The early learning centers provide an impressive level of services, not only for the students, but for the families as well. People are apprised of the many and varied social services in the area. Then they are assisted to make connections for help with housing, medical needs, legal advocacy, nutrition support and so much more.

Families receive personal home visits or on-site visits four times through the year. These are times to set and review goals for the whole family and to get connected to necessary resources in the community. “It’s truly a parent program,” explains Linda. With over 800 students, there are many families involved. She believes that a foundation of family support increases the long-term success of the children.

The preschool and childcare options have been structured to fill the varied needs of parents. There are half-day programs in the mornings and afternoons. These are three-and-a-half hour sessions. The school-day option for some Head Start students is a daily program for six-and-a-half hours. There is also an ECEAP wrap-around program with preschool and then daycare before or after school. Interviews with incoming families will determine the best option for them.

Sound to Harbor Early Learning Programs ESD 113 Day Board
Moveable pictures on the board allow children to talk about the order of the day and what makes sense. Photo credit: Mary Ellen Psaltis

Managing a family is a life-long challenge. Financial constraints make lives even more stressful and difficult. Sound to Harbor’s learning centers are excellent places for young students to get a positive and critical step up into school. Consequently, the education and connections for parents are also valuable. Education and employment can add stability and security to a family.

Sound to Harbor, providing services in Thurston, Mason and Grays Harbor counties, would be happy to talk with you about programs available for you and your children. Please check out more information about employment options or enrolling your child in a program. You can also follow the Sound to Harbor Facebook page for up-to-date news.



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