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Building Blocks for Learning
Group of people sitting in a cafeteria watching TV.

Building Blocks for Learning: A School Readiness Initiative

Many parents have anxiety about their children’s significant life milestones, including if their child is demonstrating school readiness. 54% of all children nationwide do not have the opportunity to attend preschool. Parents are left with concerns and questions such as: is my child demonstrating independence, following routines, developing a sense of responsibility, and showing readiness to read and write. 

In an effort to ensure that all children are ready for a successful school experience, Buffalo Toronto Public Media has developed a school readiness initiative targeting low-income families with children ages 3-5. Building Blocks for Learning is supported by research-based, high quality educational materials that are free and easily accessible. 89% of adults agree that PBS KIDS helps prepare children for success in school and life, compared to other commercial networks. Using trusted content from resources such as PBS KIDS and Sesame Street, BTPM created toolkits that include engaging activities and checkoff important, age appropriate milestones as well as help early learners prepare for new routines and educational environments. 

PBS KIDS and Sesame Street have a broad reach that includes diverse representations of their audience through recognized characters and shows. Parents, caregivers and their children are able to see themselves, and others through diverse and inclusive characters and content. This content promotes awareness of different cultures, abilities, and inclusion. The Building Blocks for Learning initiative is created with accessibility as the priority. 

The key element of this initiative is a series of hands-on educational workshops for parents and caregivers. The goal of the workshops is to educate parents and caregivers about their role as their child’s first teacher. With this understanding, they will become empowered to utilize physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional resources to support school readiness. Building Blocks for Learning includes four workshops on what school readiness means, social and emotional milestones and tips, academic milestones and tips, and family empowerment. 

Immigrant and refugee parents and caregivers experience added school readiness anxiety due to challenges such as cultural differences and language barriers. BTPM partnered with Jewish Family Services for the pilot program of Building Blocks for Learning. Their trained facilitators helped translate resources, as well as facilitated the key workshops in Dari, Burmese, Arabic, and Swahili

BTPM worked to create PBS KIDS and Sesame Street worksheets in Arabic, Burmese, Dari, and Swahili. Parents and caregivers can use these worksheets to engage with their child’s learning. Additionally translated, are two resources that help parents and caregivers by providing information about their child’s “Learning Team” and “Early Learning Skills & Activities.” 

Worksheets from PBS KIDS

Worksheets from Sesame Street

Worksheets from BTPM


Thank you to our valuable project partner 

BTPM’s Building Blocks for Learning was made possible by