Do you work with children and families? Having a better understanding of how trauma affects people of all ages can make your services more effective and engaging. Check out this Resource Guide to Trauma-Informed Human Services from the Administration for Children and Families, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, the Administration for Community Living, the Offices of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at HHS. Additional resources can be found on the CDC website and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.
When Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) funded 20 staff from their member agencies to attend the “Training of Facilitators for Positive Solutions for Families” in April, 4-C Referral Specialist Ruth DeNure from Madison was one of them. The training, a 6 to 8-week parenting curriculum, guided attendees in how to support children’s social emotional growth, and provided free social emotional themed children’s books to participants. Ruth left with the books, but also with an idea to use them in guiding parents at 4-C Play & Learns to better support their children’s social emotional growth.
“I wanted to use literature as a way to support social emotional growth, and to not just think of a book all by itself but as an avenue to start discussions,” said Ruth. “A book can actually be a conduit for that.”
With the ideas and materials from the training, and support from the SFTA Family Engagement Specialist, Ruth created a series of Literacy Backpacks that parents participating in 4-C Play & Learns can check out and take home to use with their children. Each backpack contains activities and ideas focused around a children’s book that addresses social emotional issues. The handout included in each backpack reads,
“Parents/caregivers who read to their children every day and talk about what they are reading together promote a joy of reading and literacy achievement. Literacy Backpacks encourage reading at home and support the role of parents as educators.”
Ruth has currently completed eight literacy backpacks, so that the program can officially kick off in September with four backpacks for each of the two teams of teachers at the 11 different 4-C Play & Learn sites. Creating the backpacks and their content has proven fairly cost-effective, since Ruth primarily used the books from the training and materials from the 4-C Resource Room and Play & Learns. As the program moves forward Ruth plans on evaluating and expanding the program based on its reach and feedback from participants.
What’s Inside a Literacy Backpack?
Each backpack contains a book, 4-5 story extender ideas for parents/caregivers to do with their child, and a folder with additional story extender ideas and materials explaining the importance of early literacy and the purpose of the Literacy Backpacks.
Sample story extender activities from the “David Gets in Trouble” Backpack:
- “How does David feel?” activity: Pictures of David from the book are provided with different facial expressions. Children can match his expressions to the correct emotion, then parents can ask children questions about that emotion in their life (a.k.a. When was a time you felt happy? How do you feel today?)
- Feelings Bingo: Bingo cards offer children different situations where children have to guess what emotions that situation would cause. For example, how might a girl getting a surprise party feel? Children can place a Bingo piece on the emotion listed on their game card that they think fits the situation.
- “The things I can do” activity: Children work with their parents to identify ways they can help around the house. For instance, feeding the fish or putting away their things.
- “Faces show feelings” activity: The object of this game is to have fun while learning about feelings and facial expressions. The child and parent each choose a marker. Each player rolls the die and the person with the largest number goes first. For younger children: When the child lands on a face, they must make a face like the one they land on and tell about what makes them feel that way. For older children: When the child lands on a face, they must tell about a specific time when they felt that way. The first person to the finish line is the winner.
- Auditory Discrimination: Parents can read the book in a happy, sad or other emotionally charged tone. Children can share the differences in how they felt about the story when it was read through different emotions. Parents and children can talk about how our tone can reflect our feelings, and how that can affect others.
Stay tuned to the 4-C website for more information on this program and other services that 4-C provides.
Check out this great resource for Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC); an effective intervention strategy for building parent/caregiver capacity to support young children’s social and emotional development and to address challenging behaviors. Click here for the printable PDF.
Check out and print fliers for some of Wisconsin’s upcoming Parent Cafés. Learn more about what Parent Cafés are all about, and find other upcoming dates, here.
In Green Bay, WI:
In Montello, WI:
In Fond du Lac, WI:
In New Richmond,WI:
A series of Parent Cafés, coordinated state wide by Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) and planned locally by some of our member agencies, have kicked off with the first café of the year in Tomah, Wisconsin. The Parenting Place did a fantastic job with their café on the theme of “Taking Care of Yourself,” starting off with a healthy family breakfast for children and parents to eat together before children went to another room where child care was provided, so parents and caregivers could engage in peer-to-peer discussion. After getting to know one another through active listening, parents participated in several small group discussions guided by a parent or agency staff member using a parent café tool kit that focuses questions on building the protective factors. Eventually the goal is for all café discussions to be led by parents who are familiar with the process. At the end of these discussions parents shared some final thoughts they gained from the café:
- I realize that there are others around you who are strong and can be a source of support
- Often children of different ages pose the same challenges
- I am not the only one dealing with different issues within my family
- It is important to be my best self to be the best parent I can be, and everyone wants the best for their kids
- It is okay to do for myself (self-care)
- You are not perfect and you are not expected to be
Closing words shared by participants proved the café a success, expressing their café experience with sentiments such as “community,” “perspective,” “comfort” and “balance.” A few lucky participants went home with gift certificates from local businesses to pamper themselves, and children took home an art project they worked on about healthy bodies. Here are a few of the decoration and other ideas from this café, to inspire your own:
Interested in attending a parent café in Wisconsin, or learning more about parent cafés? Check out the SFTA website.
What is a Parent Café? Think of a cozy coffee shop or restaurant where you feel safe and comfortable, and it is easy to chat with the person sitting next to you. Parent Cafés guide parents to explore the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors in a small group setting through a peer-to-peer learning process and individual self-reflection. Cafés provide a safe and nurturing environment for parents to have authentic, intimate conversations about their families and ways that they can strengthen their families and communities. Parents build enhanced social and emotional skills and learn how to proactively respond to challenging situations. Throughout this process parents acquire the leadership skills necessary to engage, train and lead Parent Cafés within their own community. Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) is partnering with agencies in 11 counties across Wisconsin to offer Parent Cafés to Wisconsin parents.
If you are a member agency participating in Parent Cafés, another agency looking to start your own Parent Cafés, or simply an educator or a parent looking for some fun children’s activities that celebrate caregivers, check out the 3 simple ideas below! These pair perfectly with Parent Café themes– which are indicated– and can be used in a variety of other settings. Thanks to Kendra Scherg of Kimberly, for these fantastic activities and examples! Find more Parent Café activity ideas on our Pinterest board.
Print: Cup of Calm Text
Print: My Hug Text
Print: Super Parent Text
Stay tuned to our website to find out where and when Parent Cafés are happening and how you can register to attend a Parent Café in your part of the state!
This Parent Café opportunity is available with funding from Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant through the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.