By Julie Mitchell, Guest Contributor
Gerardo Lopez in “The Value of Hard Work: Lessons on Parental Involvement from an (Im)migrant Household” (2011) expands on the idea of parental involvement that does not lie within the traditional school hours or events. In this post, I will share how I use The Latino Literacy Project as a parental involvement program where staff and families come together to support English Language Learner (ELL) families.
The Latino Family Literacy Project is a bilingual family engagement program that reflects the experiences of Latino families. The goal of the bilingual literacy program is to help and/or support ELL families establish a family reading routine and share reading strategies with families in attendance. This is done by introducing families to a new bilingual book every week, allowing them to take it home to read with their children, and at the next meeting, parents share what they learned from the shared reading with their child/children.
My vision for the bilingual literacy program was for families and students to read books about people that look and speak like them, have similar experiences, and connect with books through self, text, or world views.
Little did I know that through the implementation of the program, ELL families would learn that not only do they have a voice, but their voice matters. The program allows me to share videos with families and help them understand what it means to be an ELL student, how was my child identified as an ELL student, and what can I do to support my child. The videos lead to further deepening of their understanding of Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) and services that their children should be receiving at any school they decide to enroll in.
My ELL families — YES! I call them mine, because through the bilingual literacy program we have learned about each other through the making and sharing of family albums and celebrations. As a familia/family, we had a baby shower at school to celebrate the birth of a child, Adrian. We have laughed at school gatherings, cookouts, and birthday parties. Unfortunately, we have also cried, because at the end of 2018, one of my favorites ELL families moved to El Salvador because their Mom was deported back to El Salvador in April of 2018. In reality, ALL ELL Families are my FAVORITE!
Below are some comments from families that have participated in both semesters of The Latino Family Literacy Project.
“Me gusto aprender con otras Madres Latinas como enseñarle a mi hijo leer.” / “I liked learning with other Latina moms how to teach my child to read.” – Karin de la Cruz, a parent at Sunny Heights Elementary School
“Aprendí la importancia de leer con las mamas y Los papas en casa.” / “I learned the importance of reading to and with my children at home.” – Gabriela Ramirez, a parent at Sunny Heights Elementary School
“Aprendí la importancia de hablar con los niños sobre la historia a través de imágenes y hacer que vuelvan a contar.”/ “I learned the importance of talking with kids about the story through pictures and having them retell.” – Laura Padilla, a parent at Sunny Heights Elementary School
If you are interested in coming to my school to see the program in action, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Sunny Heights Elementary is located on the far Eastside in Warren Township.
Julie Mitchell is an Educational Leadership Master of Arts student in the IU School of Education at IUPUI.