By Woodrow Polston
Van-far Parents as teachers held their annual ‘Fire Safety Night’ at the Vandalia Fire Department last Thursday. Teachers, parents, firefighters and more than a dozen children gathered as Lori Culwell welcomed everyone to the event.
“Thank you to all who have come out tonight,” said Culwell. “We are going to talk about fire safety tonight. We will be learning important things about fire safety. At the end of the night, you will all be able to take a close look at a real fire truck,” she added.
Culwell began the event with a demonstration on the differences between good fire and bad fire. She explained that a fire in an outdoor grill that is cooking hamburgers is an example of good fire, while a fire in a kitchen is bad. She placed cut out images of flames onto the children and lead them in a demonstration of ‘stop, drop and roll.’ Next Culwell read a book titled ‘I’m Gonna Be a Firefighter’ by Edith Kunhardt.
“This story is about a girl who’s dad is a firefighter. Look at the images in this book, these are some of the tools that firefighters use when they are fighting fires,” said Culwell.
When the children arrived at the fire house, they were given shiny red fire helmets and badges to wear. Culwell led the children in singing ‘The Wheels on the Firetruck Go Round and Round.’ She also stressed the importance of escaping a fire with phrases such as ‘stay low and go’ and ‘don’t hide go outside.’ Afterward there were craft projects for the children to participate in.
“We have been doing this for about six years now,” said Culwell. We usually do it in October when the weather is a little better but for various reasons it just didn’t happen this year.” she added.
The concept for Parents as Teachers was developed in the 1970s when Missouri educators noted that children were beginning kindergarten with varying levels of school readiness. Research showed that a greater parent involvement is a critical link in the child’s development of learning skills, including reading and writing. With funding from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and The Danforth Foundation, Parents as Teachers began in 1981 in Missouri as a pilot project for first-time parents of newborns. Recognizing the program’s benefits and cost effectiveness, the Missouri legislature provided state funding in 1985 to implement Parents as Teachers programs in all Missouri school districts. Since 1985, Parents as Teachers has expanded to all 50 states and six other countries.
If you are interested in learning more about Van-Far’s Parents as Teachers program, call Lori Culwell at 573-594-2731.