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Family Engagement: Kingsway Elementary

Research has shown that students whose families are engaged in their education do better in school. Kingsway Elementary has made family engagement a priority this school year.

Families were welcomed into our school at the start of the year through our Open House events. Separate events were held to welcome back returning students in grades 1 – 5 and incoming kindergarten students. Parents had the opportunity to meet with their child’s teacher and visit their classrooms.

Through Title I funding, Kingsway is lucky to have Emilee Gartner as our Achievement and Family Associate (AFA). Mrs. Gartner coordinates Title I events that are aimed at bringing families into our building. Each week she hosts our Family Reading Experience (FRE). Families are welcome to bring their students in to check out two books. Each time they attend they are able to choose a “keeper” book to add to their at home library. In order to accommodate working families, the FRE is open on three separate occasions each week. She has added special events to the FRE calendar to encourage greater family attendance. Events such as Dads Take Your Kids to School, Slime Day, Dress Like a Cow Day and Muffins with Moms have all boosted attendance at the FRE. Title I has also brought family seminars to our building. Parents often have many questions about the testing their children participate in. Title I has presented informational meeting on both DRA and FSA testing to help answer those questions. Math & Movement and Family STEM Night events brought families together to interact with curriculum side by side with their children.

Our partnership with the Patterson Foundation on behalf of the Suncoast Foundation for Grade-Level Reading gave us the opportunity to reach out to our community by offering an eight week workshop for families called “Mind in the Making.” The workshop shared the seven essential life skills presented in the book Mind in the Making, by Ellen Galinsky. These interactive workshops gave participants the opportunity to reflect on their own adult experiences, learn what researchers have discovered about how children learn best and determine how to apply the research in their roles as a parents or teachers. These workshops were offered after school and both child care and dinner were provided for all participants.

The Foundation is generously providing kindergarten readiness bags for each of our incoming kindergarten students. These bags include both upper case and lower case magnetic letters, flash cards, markers, paper and kindergarten picture books that families can use over the summer to help prepare their students for that very important first day of kindergarten. Representatives from the organization will be present at our upcoming evening, “Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten” to talk about their organization and explain how parents can help their children make a smooth transition into kindergarten.

Family members have also been welcomed at many other school sponsored events throughout the school year. Our book fairs were a huge success. Many students and their families kicked off the book fairs by attending our G.R.A.N.D event. This event encourages students to bring a grandparent, relative, aunt, uncle, neighbor or other devoted caretakers to visit the book fair with them. During our Family Book Fair Nights, games and crafts projects were set up free of charge for families to participate in before visiting the Book Fair.

This year we took on the Chick Fil-A Challenge for the first time. This community event encouraged families to show their support for our school. Many Kingsway families attended our Carnival Night to play games and have the opportunity to “pie” our P.E. Coach, Hunter McCarthy or our assistant principal, Natasha Moradian. Throughout the week, families chose to eat meals at Chick Fil-A and say “I vote for Kingsway.” Although, we weren’t the grand prize winners the support of our families and community were evident.