New Neighbors -- Family Literacy
Parents and children participate in English literacy and pre-literacy activities together in an elective class.
- What is Family Literacy? Reading and writing are the primary elements of literacy, and family literacy refers to educational programs with the following three components: instruction for parents, instruction for children, and activities for parents and children together with follow-up home activities.
At New Neighbors Education Center, we have a complete family literacy program. Parents participate in ESL classes while their children participate in developmentally appropriate activities in childcare, and in an elective segment added in 2003, parents and children participate in English literacy and pre-literacy activities together.
- Rationale: Parents are a child's first teacher, and many studies have shown the importance of parent-child English literacy activities, particularly for children from non-English speaking homes. For instance, the biggest factor in achievement in first and second graders is whether a child ahs been read to at home before entering school. Children from non-English speaking homes often have difficulties when they enter school. ESL parents want their children to succeed in school and improve their quality of life, but often lack the skills to help their children or communicate with school officials. Shared activities strengthen families.
Initially, our ESL program provided childcare in order to make English instruction accessible to adults. However, we soon saw the need and opportunity to provide more than a safe and happy environment for the children in our care. We transformed our childcare from babysitting to a child development program and later added parent-child English literacy activities.
- Parent-Child Segment: In the first part of each class, parents are taught English literacy and pre-literacy activities for children. Books, writing materials, computers, and songs are used and demonstration and role-playing are the main instructional methods.
In the second part of the class, parents and children do the literacy activities together, both one-on-one and with the whole group. Parents do follow up activities with their children at home and share reactions in the next class.
The curriculum focuses on: reading, using books with pictures, tactile materials and computers, writing, using art materials and letters, songs and games in English, and library visits.
- Professional Design and Training: Consultants who had trained our childcare providers designed the Parent-Child segment of our Family Literacy curriculum and trained the teachers.
Teachers are volunteers who have young children and are members of a group called Partners in Parenting. All teachers are college graduates, several are certified elementary school teachers, and several are ESL teachers. The children's librarian of the local public library advises us and conducts library visits for our students.