Williams hosts Latino Family Literacy Project

Williams Elementary School teachers Monica Duran, left, and Lindee Hulbert, back, teach parents in the Latino Family Literacy Project basic reading and vocabulary so they can help their children do well in school. – Susan Meeker

Williams parents have gone back to primary school to learn how to inspire their children to love reading, writing, and art.

Williams Elementary School’s new Latino Family Literacy Project – a group of parents that meet weekly in Lindee Hulbert’s classroom – is part of a nationwide program that extends literacy skills to parents, so that they in turn can assist their children.

“I got involved because I wanted to help my seven-year-old son Brian with his reading,” said Maria Cruz, a mother of three.

The 10-week course, in which mostly Spanish-speaking parents read, write, and do art projects, got underway in January.

The class is taught in English and Spanish, and homework consists of taking home a book-in-common to read to their children. Each book is written in both languages, and is appropriate for first through fourth grade reading levels.

The project not only teaches parents the importance of establishing a family reading routine with their children, but also to help them and their children learn English vocabulary together as a family, Hulbert said.

By the fourth week, Clara Zamora’s two-year-old was as excited about the family activity as Zamora’s two grade-school children, ages 11 and 5.

“She sits on my lap so she can look at the pictures,” said Zamora.

Zamora said she got involved in the project specifically to learn how to engage her children so they can do well in school.

With the support of Williams Primary School Principal Melissa Willes, Hulbert and four other teachers Frankie Coletti, Monica Duran, Elsa Gonzalez, and Jennifer Martins attended training on the project early in the school year.

All five are involved in teaching the class.

Hulbert said the program is an effort to get families and educators to work together in order to improve teaching and learning.

“Each family literacy program is designed to be an educational process that encourages critical reflection and dialogue by means of reading, writing, and art projects,” Hulbert said.

In class, parents discuss the book-of-the-week, have vocabulary lessons, and do a correlating art or writing project.

Last week, parents took home the book “Family Stories,” written and illustrated by 10 writers and artists, to read to their children. They also designed a family tree as the correlating project, with art supplies provided by the school.

This week, parents are reading “The Shark That Taught Me English,” by Michelle Markel, and are writing a letter to a family member as the correlating project.

There are a total of five programs based on the Latino Family Literacy Project, and Hulbert’s hope is to implement the other programs in the future.

“The goal is that some of these parents will want to come back as facilitators and support future projects, since they will become proficient in the program,” she said.

Parents said the most exciting part of the project is the creation of a family album, which will include all art and writing projects done over the 10-week program.

Although time spent in the classroom is a quality learning experience for the parents, it’s quite congenial and informal, they said.

Each week, one parent brings refreshments for the group, while support staff Ana Minutti and Angelica Mojica provide day-care to their children next door in Lynn Reister’s classroom.

The final class on April 3 will be a potluck celebration culminating with certificates being handed out along with parents sharing their family albums and experiences during their 10-week journey.