Sample Invitation for Exhibition

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					  Improving Literacy
through Latino Family

By Michelle K. Jensen, Ph.D.

Federal definition of family literacy
 Interactive literacy activity between parents
  and children
 Train parents to be primary teacher to
  children and full partner in children’s
 Education to increase academic success

Ecological factors influencing Latino

 Individual factors
 Family factors
 Classroom factors
 School factors
 Community opportunities

Why worry about Latino student
 Latinos are the fastest growing ethno-cultural group in the U.S.
   Teachers and school staff often unprepared to deal with differing
    cultural and linguistic differences.
   Latino students often enter school with little preparation and no
    knowledge of English.
      Less preschool
      Home language & level of language
   Latino students have reduced academic achievement, with the
    gap widening at each grade level.
   Latino students’ educational outcomes have not improved
    significantly in that same timeframe  decreased achievement
    and high dropout rates.

Solution: Increase Latino family
     Achievement increases
     Attendance increases
     Students more likely to complete education
     Oral language development accelerates
      (younger children)
     Meet NCLB and other requirements

Differences and concerns
Differing value systems
     Education—Latino parents are VERY
      interested in their children’s education
     Parenting— los niños “bien educados”
     Social norms
          Relationship
          Respect/formality
          Cooperation v. individuality
          Home/school responsibilities

Differences and concerns (cont’d)
Differing values and experiences of literacy and
     Level of schooling
     Use of language (home literacy activities)
     Oral v. print culture (dichos, consejos)
     Language in childrearing
Educational differences
     Level
     Experience (systemic access, positive v. not)
     Expectation (school v. family)
Elements of successful family literacy
and involvement programs
Address multiple, overlapping contexts:
 Individual factors
 Family factors
 Classroom factors
 School factors
 Community opportunities

Elements of classroom activities to
increase student literacy
 Relationship—increase achievement, reduce dropout
 Relevance—culture & experience
 Cooperative groupings as a literacy strategy, e.g.
  students can read aloud to each other.
 Assignments that require a language component or
 Assignments that require family involvement in
  literacy-based activities, e.g. family histories.
 Portfolio-based assessment. Invite Latino parents
  (and others) to attend.

Elements for successful school-wide family
literacy & involvement programming

 Relationship, relationship, relationship!
 Involve Latino parents in assessing their
  needs regarding programming.
 Homework education for parents. Parental
  involvement in homework--even just
  monitoring of homework, can ameliorate the
  negative effects of poverty or reduced parent

Elements for successful school-wide family
literacy & involvement programming (cont’d)
 Engage the entire school community in
  supporting Latino family literacy and family
  involvement. Staff buy in is critical (at least
  70% agreement).
 Foster the expectation that increasing Latino
  family literacy improves teaching and learning
  for ALL students and teachers.
 Develop a comprehensive plan, with planned
  evaluation of efforts to know how your
  program is perceived and whether it's
Examples of successful and engaging family
literacy & involvement activities
 Promote native language literacy activities.
 Offer a 6-week computer literacy class for families.
  Students need to create a family history. Teach
  parents (and family members who don't know--kids
  might teach parents!) how to use the internet to
  conduct research--in English or Spanish. Have them
  research several questions together. Take family
  digital pictures and students use for project.
 Develop a student and family lending library. Have
  books in Spanish and English, including tips and
  books for teaching literacy, parenting, etc. Have
  community pamphlets and information.

Examples of successful and engaging family
literacy & involvement activities (cont’d)
 Offer a planning for high school transition and college
  seminar for Latino parents. Encourage them to
  ensure their child does their homework, knows who
  and how to ask for help. Explain grading and
  attendance policies, and let them know what kinds of
  behaviors they might expect to see in their high
  school student.
 Sponsor a Latino student club. Students hold school
  assembly and evening family event, presenting
  educational programming (e.g. Latinos in history who
  made a difference in U.S.) and entertainment (song,
  dance exhibition and family dinner/dance).
 Foster Latino parent networking.
 Coordination of efforts K-12
Tips for fostering Latino parent
 Principal involvement /welcome (initial
    meetings—translation if necessary)
   Determine “critical” Latino members, ask them to
    invite others
   Communication: invitation mailed home in hand
    addressed envelope (simple bilingual text, large
    font, graphics), local Spanish radio,
    church/community organizations (e.g. WIC)
   Informal initial gatherings to build trust &
    community ethos
   Food & childcare
Some additional resources
 “Tips for Parents” in Spanish and English: Social
  Advocates for Youth has an online tips for parents. To
  view the parent tips, visit:
 Becoming a Community School: A Step-by-Step Guide to
  Bridging the School-Family Gap. Includes strategies,
  programs, action guide and sample resources. Available
 National Center for Family Literacy
 “Un futuro brillante empieza en un libro” (A brilliant future
  begins with a book), Spanish family literacy initiative
  website for families ( including resrouces,
  PSAs and parent video
 Immigrant resource guides: Very helpful guides for
  professionals and for professionals to share with parents.

The purpose of
education is to
 turn mirrors
 into windows.
     --S. Harris--


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