School Readiness Summit brings together education profession Part 2


Story By Lyndsey Schley


Everyday Ways Parents Can Be Teachers

After the keynote speech, attendees went to one of several breakout sessions on topics including emotional attachment and how play is a part of learning.

Kandi Novak, Quality Enhancement Specialist at Child Care Connection, spoke on how creating brain building moments for parents can be a major help to children. The talk focused around a tool called Vroom which gives parents tips on how to create educational moments in everyday life.

kandinovakKandi Novak


Novak said that before a child is five years old they are experiencing major brain growth and developing many of the connections between neurons that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

“There are certain windows of opportunity when we think of a young child that if those connections don’t happen, it makes it a lot more difficult as the child gets older. I’m thinking especially social-emotional skills,” she said. “I’m thinking attachment, because there’s research that shows that a child needs to have an attachment with a specific caregiver by 18 months.”



She said if that does not happen, children may have issues socializing or having healthy relationships.

This is where she suggests help from Vroom. Vroom is a website (and an app) funded by the Bezos Family Foundation using brain research to create tips to help parents help their children learn.

Vroom delivers brain-building tips once a day to parents’ smartphones. A keychain full of tips is also available, but Novak said the app seems to be more popular. The app works to send positive messages, instead of scolding parents. The aim is to do better instead of being the best because that can feel overwhelming.

“I think by spreading the word about Vroom and Vroom’s mantra that every parent has what it takes to build a child’s brain, that’s a very strong message to families.”

These activities are focused toward different age ranges and include all sorts of everyday activities; including helping a child turn off the lights before leaving the house, or putting the child in charge of a list of errands.

“They seem basic but they really do help the child, help build that relationship,” Novak said.


judge-linda-teodosio-left-summitcountyjuvenilecourtwithderranwimersummiteducationinitiativeJudge Linda Teodosio (left), Summit County Juvenile Court with
Derran Wimer Summit Education Initiative

Grouping Up To Improve Education Locally

Participants then broke up by location so they could review data on Kindergarten preparedness.

The data came from the Transitions Skill Study, or TSS, an evaluation used regularly in the county to determine how prepared a child is for Kindergarten. It evaluates the child’s strength in various areas such as literacy and motor skills.



In the groups, the participants discussed strengths and weaknesses they could find in the TSS data. They also brainstormed other groups they could reach out to that could benefit from the data or help improve outcomes.

Afterword, everyone shared what they had discussed with the groups. Julia Euclide, a librarian at the Akron-Summit County Public Library, said her group thought getting the expected skills, and ways to build them, out to parents and caretakers could be beneficial.

After the discussions, the participants were invited to join upcoming School Readiness Coalitions, which would meet to discuss ways to improve education in the county by bringing together early childhood educators, preschools, and community organizations that work with children.


derran-wimer-summit-education-initiative-executive-directorDerran Wimer, Summit Education Initiative, Executive Director


Wimer said they plan to have about 20 groups, at least four for different areas in Akron, and one for each of the 16 suburban districts in Summit County, which will begin meeting in January 2017.

“All of those will operate on the same agenda in terms of using data as the basis for the conversation, but then allowing those coalitions to discuss how they could support high-quality education and better, stronger, more frequent communication between the preschools and the Kindergartens,” he said. “And so what may happen in those coalitions may look a little different, but they’re all based on the same information.”




Wimer said he is happy that the Summit created momentum that they can use to continue programs like this in the future.

“It was a really good first step,” he said. “We’re already talking about next year.”


melvinbrownMelvin Brown, deputy superintendent of Cuyahoga Falls City School District


Melvin Brown, deputy superintendent of Cuyahoga Falls City School District, said coming together in this way helped his district to continue some of the conversations they have been having about improving school readiness.

“We have to do a lot more before kids come to us, which means we have to find our parents, find our preschools and create coalitions with them so we can work together, as opposed to doing it by ourselves,” he said. “I just think it’s important that all of us, obviously as educators, but [also] as a community, understand how important it is and how vital those years are when kids are between the ages of 0 to 4.”


For more information go to Summit Education Initiative

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