SPARK Massillon is a program that helps 4-year olds in Massillon’s Franklin Elementary School area to get ready for Kindergarten.

SPARK enhances children’s readiness for school through a combined program of supports for families and schools. This is done in collaboration with community organizations including mental health programs, libraries, school districts and many others.

SPARK Families

The program provides families with the help they need to ensure their children succeed in school. Based on a home visitation model, Parent Partners conduct prescribed lessons with children and parents based on Ohio’s Early Learning Content Standards. They educate parents on how to prepare their children for kindergarten, evaluate their children’s skill levels, and become their child’s first and most important teacher.

SPARK children are screened and assessed using a variety of tools, including the Woodcock-Johnson III test of reading-related skills; the Ages and Stages Questionnaires for development and social/emotional progress; and the Trauma and Speech and Language screening. SPARK parents are assessed using HOME (Home Observation Measurement of the Environment), which measures the progress they make in becoming their child’s learning advocate, and through surveys and focus groups. SPARK also provides the family/child with connections to health services, dental care and other community resources.

SPARK also works with the school district to provide the child with a smooth transition into kindergarten. Parent Partners work closely with the parents to do register their children in kindergarten and discuss school expectations. In addition, the SPARK Responsive Services Team works to provide schools with information on the child’s development and SPARK work completed prior to kindergarten.

Written agreements allow us to discuss each child and their development with all the agencies involved in the child’s life. The Parent Partner also works in the schools as a classroom aide, attending open houses and assisting with other program and services.

Our office is located at Franklin Elementary, making it easily accessible to staff. Research supports our belief that early linkage between parent, child and school is crucial. This facilitates early intervention and makes for a smooth transition into school.

Group visits are sometimes held at the school, allowing the parent and child to develop a level of comfort with the school. We provide several transition activities for the family, letting them enter the school building for school based activities for pre-k children and other events.

One of our roles is to promote positive and ongoing communication between schools and families. Ultimately, the Parent Partner serves as a liaison between the parent and school, working to help parents positively advocate for their child and their learning needs. We encourage parental involvement in PTO, open house, school productions, and school activities, as research shows that a child’s success increases with their parent’s participation in their learning.