(Photo by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Of the all the activities he did with his mother last school year through a parental involvement program, 7-year-old Seth Spraggs said he liked putting together the animal puzzle best.
This year, the first grader at Lee Hunter Elementary in Sikeston said he can't wait until he gets a cooking activity in his kit from the Home Activities Together equal Success, or HATS, program.
"The whole purpose (of HATS) is to let a child know reading can be fun," said Darlene Yancy, HATS coordinator.
HATS was developed in 1992 for students in preschool through fourth grade at all elementary schools in Sikeston R-6 School District.
"Each week a child receives a HATS bag containing a book and an activity. The idea is for it to be completed by the parent and child," Yancy said.
The bag is returned to the child's school within a week to check out another bag.
On Tuesday the first of five in-services throughout the district will be conducted for parents to enroll in the program this year.
"During the in-service, parents will receive an explanation of the program and information about how they can help their children learn to love read," Yancy said.
Yancy said about 300 students enroll in the program each year, but there's always room for more.
"It grows every year. It has grown tremendously over the years," Yancy said.
The program is supported through Title I funding.
"It's a good program that allows parents to sit down with their kids," said Seth's mom, Kim Spraggs, who also serves as a parent liaison for the program.
Seth's 4-year-old sister and father also participated in the activities, his mother said.
"We read the book together and then do the activity," said Spraggs, adding often times they read the book again or repeat an activity during that week.
There is a set of books for each grade level. Children receive a different title each week and the goal is that they receive a whole new set of books the following year they're in the program.
"When parents read with their children, it helps build their child's interest in books and a love for reading," Yancy said.
Activities included in the kits involve games, sewing, videos, puzzles, painting, cooking, craft projects and more.
"The program is a parental involvement program that provides an opportunity for a parent to directly be involved in their child's learning," Yancy said.
Program participation also benefits the students in school by improving their attention span and listening skills, increasing their memory skills and stimulating creativity, Yancy said.
Yancy receives assistance from five parent liaisons and five parent volunteers.
"Parent liaisons are in charge of checking bags in and out. We have parent volunteers at the meetings that actually come and pick up the bags," Yancy said.
Each school in the Sikeston R-6 district has a set day of the week when volunteers get the bags to take to the school and return to Yancy, who works out of Lee Hunter Elementary.
Each year, Yancy asks parents to fill out questionnaires about the program, and responses have always been positive, she said.
"Parents say they like that they get quality time together," Yancy said. "They say it's a good program for the whole family."