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Parents are learners in Selma school project

During the six-week session of the Latino Family Literacy Project, parents created family albums, which they shared with the Selma Unified School Board of Trustees last month.

After about six weeks of meetings, the first-ever participants of the Latino Family Literacy Project finished their program recently. Seventeen parents participated in the Latino Family Literacy Project at Terry Elementary School from Feb. 19 to March 26. They met each Wednesday evening for about two hours with Terry Elementary School Principal Rosa Baly.

“This is an organization that provides training and curriculum working with Latino families,” Baly said. “It’s to promote reading, family literacy and English-language development.”

The program, which has an English and Spanish curriculum, targets parents with children in four different age groups: infant/toddler, preschool, elementary and middle/high school.

The goals of the Latino Family Literacy Project are to:

q Establish and support a family reading routine

q Improve English-language skills

q Improve Spanish literacy skills

q Strengthen parent/child interaction

Daycare was available for children at the weekly meetings as parents met with Baly. Each week, the parents were introduced to a new book to take home and read with their children.

“They would each read a book [in class], and we discussed it and we talked about the theme,” Baly said. “Then they would go home, read it to their children and then they’d come back and share their experience. So it’s about making those connections with their children.”

Baly spoke about the Latino Family Literacy Project to the Selma Unified School District Board of Trustees at a meeting on April 8. Several parents who participated in the program also came to the meeting with their children to share their thoughts. Parents also brought family albums that they each made during the six-week program, which were shared with the board members.

“It was very rewarding for me and for my parents,” Baly said. “It was nice to hear from my parents that they enjoyed it so much.”

As a part of the Latino Family Literacy Project, parents were asked to write letters to their children, which they shared at the last class on March 26.

“We were in tears in the last class, literally in tears, just from sharing those,” Baly said. “It was something that they could share with their children. They would get choked up just reading it. There were some very passionate letters.”

Baly translated one mother’s message to the school board about the literacy project: “Through this process, we’ve become better at expressing ourselves to our children. Oftentimes, we don’t get a chance to say, ‘Oh, I love you,’ or, ‘Great job.’”

Several parents agreed. They said that the Latino Family Literacy Project helped them connect with their families.

Baly said this was one of the goals of the project.

“Through this process, we made sure [parents] verbalized their feelings to their children,” she said. “Through the letters that they wrote ... they really connected with their children.”

Sara Ayeni, a first-grade teacher at Terry Elementary School, also spoke at the April 8 school board meeting.

“I’ve had the pleasure of having almost everyone of these parents in my class at one time or another,” Ayeni said. “These parents are always supporting their kids, always helping them with their homework, always encouraging them. It just makes our jobs so much easier.”

The Latino Family Literacy Project is scheduled for another six-week session in the fall. Baly said the date is still to be determined.

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