Together for Kindergarten Community Forum 2013

Child holding bucket with flower Kicking off the fourth annual Together for Kindergarten Forum on March 7th, 2013, County Superintendent of Schools Michael Watkins referred to the more than 200 early educators, kindergarten teachers and administrators as “first responders” and thanked them for the critical role they play in shaping the lives of young children and their families.

Organized by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and the Childhood Advisory Council, Together for Kindergarten helps early educators prepare children to enter kindergarten socially, emotionally and academically ready to learn. Working together in neighborhood “hubs”, educators build skills, knowledge and networks of support that can make a child’s first impression of school more positive.

Child in red graduation gownIn previous years, educators explored the power of collaboration between preschool and kindergarten teachers. This year’s agenda took the idea of partnerships one step further, focusing on the benefits of collaboration between educators and families, since family engagement is key to a child’s academic success.

Two keynote speakers – teacher and parent educator, Janis Keyser, and West Ed’s Senior Program Associate, Linda Brault – led the group through a series of activities based on the concepts of Family Centered Care and Strengthening Families. Partnering with families allows for the mutual sharing of resources, knowledge and intelligence that will benefit children, families and our educational programs.

“Children enter our programs from rich, complex family and cultural contexts. These contexts are essential to a child’s sense of identity and belonging. Families, cultures and communities provide essential learning for children. Partnering with families enables educators to understand and leverage the knowledge and resource of these contexts and to know each child as a unique individual.”

Group picture with Michael Watkins

The forum was held at New Brighton Middle School. A healthy and delicious salad was prepared and served by high school students from the County Office of Education’s Regional Occupational Program.

For more information please contact Carole Mulford at (831) 466-5821.

Learn more about Child Development Programs of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and the Childhood Advisory Council.

Find out about the Together for Kindergarten Community Forum 2012.