By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Rutherford County Schools is participating in the Ready 4K state initiative for parents of pre-K through third grade students.
The program, which launched this week, is a new free resource that supports connections between the classroom and home. Ready 4K provides parents with three text messages — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — made up of fun facts and tips to provide parents with simple, yet engaging, prompts to help their child continue learning while at home.
“It’s a little guidance for parents to be able to strengthen skills and knowledge through brief text messages that gives them facts and tips and things to do during the week,” said Ann Haley, elementary coordinator for the district.
Parents who have listed a cellphone with their child’s registration paperwork will automatically receive the text messages and for anyone who has not listed a cellphone, they can contact their child’s school and register a number.
If parents have more than one child, all three messages come on Monday and another new set of three are sent separate days for each child. Every other Thursday, the Tennessee State Department of Education is going to send a personal message to parents.
The weekly lessons will be from one of five domains: health and physical development, math and science, social and emotional learning, literacy and approaches to parenting.
Ready 4K is a great way for the district to engage with parents through an easy text and inspires them to engage with their child in a way that will have a positive impact on their education.
“Parents can read (the text message) and go, ‘Oh OK, I didn’t think about asking that question,’” Haley said. “And now I know to ask it because, as parents, we are so quick to read a bedtime story and we never stopped during the bedtime story to say, ‘Why do you think he did that?’”
A staggering 97 percent of American adults under 50 have cell phones, according to research provided by Ready 4K and there is a 98 percent open rate for text messages compared to only 26 percent for emails.
“We live in such a technology device driven world that our children don’t get the oral language like they used to,” Haley said. “We don’t sit around the table and talk because everybody’s got a device in their hand and (students) come to school now with less oral language.”
Haley added, “The more they learn, the more self-esteem and confidence they have to thrive in school.”
Haley predicts the children will pick up on the text messages and figure out in short order their parents are receiving new prompts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“It won’t take long for them to figure that out and that’s going to be great,” said Haley, of the likelihood children will hold their parents accountable.
“I’m excited about it because it’s something parents can do. It comes to their phone. They don’t have to open an email or read this big, long letter on what they need to do. Don’t have to go looking for it. It comes to them.”