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Every year, four million American children enter kindergarten. As many as one in three will not be ready for school. Many will never catch up. SPARK was designed to stop this vicious cycle.
SPARK stands for Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids. An initiative created by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, SPARK seeks to create seamless transitions into school for vulnerable children ages 3 to 8.
SPARK Mississippi is an early education initiative that brings together parents, schools, early education providers including child care and Head Start, child advocacy groups, state and local government agencies and businesses for the purpose of ensuring school readiness and academic success for Mississippi’s children ages 3 to 8.
SPARK Mississippi operates in select school district areas where SPARK Local Coordinators and Learning Advocates work with community members to ensure that vulnerable children are ready for schools, schools are ready for children and their communities are ready to support them both: Ready children, Ready communities, and Ready schools.
Transition and Alignment
SPARK Mississippi staff provides technical assistance to local child care providers to align their curriculums to the state’s Early Learning Guidelines as well as sponsor curriculum alignment workshops between child care programs, Head Start and the local school district. Staff also assists early care providers and school districts in hosting kindergarten transition activities. Joint Professional Development SPARK-MS supports joint professional development trainings between school district, Head Start and Child Care Programs to promote shared learning around curriculums, assessments and teaching strategies in efforts to improve child outcomes at every level of learning.
Parental Involvement and Community Engagement
SPARK Mississippi strategies for increasing parental involvement include working with community partners to host parent workshops to address issues and concerns around quality early learning; child and family friendly schools and other topics identified by community partners and the Local Children’s Partnership. Local Children’s Partnerships are coalitions made up of community members representing early education, local school districts, business leaders, parents, health providers, SPARK staff and other stakeholders who realize that the success of their community and ultimately the state rests upon meaningful investments in its children. All participating SPARK-MS school district catchment areas have a Local Children’s Partnership which is facilitated by a SPARK-MS staff. SPARK staff also provides additional child and family support as needed. They facilitate parent/teacher conferences and provide home visitation services to support the child and family. This includes linking the child and family to needed resources (education, basic health and screenings).