School is more than reading, writing and arithmetic. School is a place where children prepare for their life journey. Schools help children build intellectual, social and emotional relationships, and physical skills.
Educating our students takes a partnership between parents, community and educators in an effort to meet students' needs. Success in partnering with parents depends on creating a school culture that welcomes all parents.
Opening the door for families and welcoming them to our schools makes families an essential part of the educational system. Families become more connected to the school and more willing to share their wisdom.
Whether or not we hold a formal education, our lives teach vital lessons, such as perseverance, hard work and commitment. Parents care deeply about their children's future and welcoming them as essential partners empowers them to advocate for their children.
All Huntsville bilingual campuses, including the Gibbs Pre-K Center, hosted The Latino Family Literacy Project for Spanish-speaking parents this school year. The goal of the program was to invite parents to learn and practice new skills related to literacy development.
The Latino Family Literacy Project establishes and supports a family reading routine, improves English and Spanish literacy and language skills, and strengthens parent/child interactions.
Gibbs parents were asked to participate once a week for 6 to 10 weeks. According to its website, “The Latino Literacy Project was created in response to our growing Latino communities, and the need for effective literacy programs tailored to meet the needs of Latino parents and children.”
The Gibbs families who participated in the literacy program were encouraged to reflect and create dialogue by means of reading, writing and art projects. Parents learned about how children learn to read and took books home to read to their children that reflected social, cultural and linguistic knowledge of Latino families. Parents then used and practiced the strategies at home with their children.
Each week, they critically reflected and shared their experiences about reading with the other parents and teachers participating, in the program. They collected their art projects and examples of reading activities as a resource for future lessons and activities with their children.
The parents' art projects were beautifully done and impressive to see. The weekly meetings became a collaborative partnership between educators and families that positively impacted the home-school connection.
Building a school-family connection produces multiple benefits for students. Fostering family engagement can have long-term significant impact, on children's learning success, which both parents and educators want for all children.
Parents have hopes and dreams for their children. As a school-family, we can make those dreams a reality for all students.