February 24, 2017

Early Childhood Resource Center highlights SPARK success story

SPARK, which stands for Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids, is a parent-focused intervention program that gets kids ready for kindergarten. SPARK works with families, schools and the community to increase parents' effectiveness as learning advocates for their children and to improve the transition into elementary school.

The Early Childhood Resource Center, which handles SPARK management and operations, featured the story of one family who is taking full advantage of the program in its “ECRC Impact” electronic newsletter. The article is below.

Making an Impact: Jeffery – Committed SPARK Dad 

Tyresse is learning so much as a SPARK child. Deana, Tyresse’s mother, learned about SPARK at the library. But Jeffery, Tyresse’s dad, has taken on the role of the learning advocate — the main parent who consistently works alongside the SPARK parent partner to get the child ready for school.

Jeffery and Deanna have four young children. During this SPARK lesson, all four are in the living area together. Even as his brothers and sister are noisily playing around him, Tyresse remains engaged with and focused on the lesson. Jeffery stays by his side, patiently encouraging Tyresse the whole time.

Tyresse listens intently to the family’s SPARK parent partner, Ms. Susan. When she asks what letter she’s pointing to, Tyresse smiles and shakes his head no. She then starts saying, “ba, ba,” and tells him to put his wrists together. He mimics her, saying “ba, ba.” When she says, “B for Bat,” he swings his imaginary bat and proudly says, “B: bat!” Jeffery tells him, “Nice job!”

Jeffery likes SPARK because his son can “make mistakes and not feel that something is wrong.” SPARK allows Tyresse to figure things out, “to learn and use his brain.” Being in SPARK has given Tyresse confidence. The lessons are individually geared toward Tyresse’s specific needs and fit him completely.

SPARK has helped Jeffery, too. It’s given him an understanding of what Tyresse already knows and what specific skills they should work on together in between monthly SPARK lessons.

Jeffery is definitely a hands-on dad, encouraging Tyresse and prompting him to “tell us your favorite animal from a farm.” He jumps right in to put on an animal finger puppet and sing Old McDonald. He congratulates Tyresse as he gets answers right, telling him, “You are a master builder!” Whatever it takes, this dad will be right on it.

The Early Childhood Resource Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.


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