Throughout the month of November, a number of Plano elementary schools began implementing a new software program designed to help parents engage their pre-K student and kindergartner in learning. Administrators continue to educate parents about the free online program that encourages a school and home connection.
ReadyRosie operates by presenting a series of online videos—in both English and Spanish—that provides parents with creative exercises to engage their child in building vocabulary, math skills and other educational subjects at home. On average, the videos are about two to three minutes long, and can be accessed on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.
The Plano ISD board of trustees approved the $57,000 purchase of the license to use the ReadyRosie program in August. However, PISD administrators waited to roll out the program so as to not overwhelm either parents or students at the beginning of the year, said Jayne Cantwell, executive director for elementary academic services.
The district has implemented the program in 19 elementary schools, three early childhood centers and Plano ISD Head Start.
The program has been adopted in surrounding school districts, such as Denton and Richardson, as well as throughout the nation. As for Plano, Cantwell said this is PISD's first venture into the program to determine if ReadyRosie is a worthwhile resource that promotes a strong parent-school connection. Lisa Farrell, early childhood coordinator for PISD, said the biggest draw for parents is that the program presents a visual for the adult on how to do an educational activity with their child."When you're not an educator, it's hard to know what to do with your child, but if you can see a parent doing an activity, that's pretty empowering," Farrell said.
Cantwell said the program will continue throughout the 2014–15 school year at the selected schools and centers, and staff will re-evaluate at the end of the year to determine if ReadyRosie is a beneficial resource the district wants to continue to use.
ReadyRosie has uploaded more than 400 videos for parents, and those who subscribe to the free program who are within the PISD district can receive a new video daily.
In early November, Barron Elementary School held a kickoff event to present the educational tool and had volunteers available to assist those who wanted to sign up on the spot. Barron
Elementary Principal Michele Loper said that parents were excited to hear about the program. She plans to produce informational fliers to send to parents of kindergarten students to encourage use of the program, especially during the holiday break.
"[ReadyRosie] provides a good, interactive experience between the parent and the child, and it gets the parent involved and really shows them what its supposed to look like," Loper said. "They can implement [the activity shown in the video] immediately just by watching what they were sent."
While data regarding online use of the program in PISD won't be ready until January, Loper said she is anxious to see how many parents are signing on and using the program.
"We want to take every opportunity to give out the information to get parents excited about it and registered for it. Once we get a group of parents excited about [the program], they're the best at marketing," she said.
One way that Loper encourages Barron Elementary teachers to spread the word about the program is for them to register themselves in the program.
"They see what it is the parents would be seeing. Once you have primary knowledge of it, you see what it can do, and you can be a vehicle to market it to parents."
Loper also said this technique has served to help teachers with new ideas to interact with their own students in the classroom.
"I think the best selling point to me is it's a fun, easy way to get parents to talk with kids on a different level," Loper said.