Ever felt overwhelmed while trying to help your child complete an assignment? Or to answer academic questions they might have?
You’re not alone.
Classroom methodologies and strategies seem to be constantly changing which can be overwhelming for parents who try to support their child’s learning.
Lavelle Prep Elementary is trying to change this with their Parents as Partners in Literacy (PPL) program.
Fourth grade teacher Alessandra DeMeo describes the program’s inception saying, “I had a parent come up to me who noticed her child was struggling and they said they didn’t know how to help her with inferencing – a key 4th grade skill.”
She wanted to help, says DeMeo, and, “rather than sending home extra resources and worksheets, I invited her into my classroom.” DeMeo taught the class a lesson on inferencing, as the parent watched.
“I had her learn with me, and taught her other skills on the side, so she could watch the teacher and eventually become the teacher at home.”
Bridging the gap between the classroom and home, DeMeo was on to something.
She brought the idea to Principal Anthony Faiella, and together they devised a plan to host family, teacher and student sessions. Instead of DeMeo’s classroom, it became school wide endeavor.
Held on Friday, February 8th, the first Parents as Partners in Literacy event drew 25 parents across grades 3, 4 and 5. Attendees were treated to pizza which was enjoyed as teachers delivered instruction utilizing the workshop model — teaching a short lesson, then circulating during collaborative group work with both parent and student.
The teachers also encouraged parents to practice questioning, asking critical thinking questions and encouraging students to explain their thought processes, along with any struggles they encountered.
Of the experience, fourth grade parent Catheline Colon said of the program, “It helps by seeing where the child needs improvement and seeing where the parents also need improvement with new techniques and styles of learning. We are more likely to understand something if we are able to also teach it.” She added, “I would love to attend future events.”
Instruction was provided for bilingual families as well by ELA and English Language Learner teacher Melinda Moya.
4th grade parent Alberto Peche, who is Spanish speaking, attended the session and reflected, “I tried to pay attention to all the tips, to help him more than anything and to help us understand and be supportive too.”
Of the staff efforts, he said, “I appreciated that you took a little more time for the kids. Thank you.”
All 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade ELA teachers and teaching assistants participated. And for parents who couldn’t make it, a resource packet was provided to all, as well as an invitation to participate in private makeup sessions to maximize outreach.
Reflecting on the mission, DeMeo said, “I enjoyed having a parent reach out to me asking me to help them teach their child. I had never had that before. I’ve been asked to teach their kids, of course, but never ‘can you teach me how to teach them too.’ It’s special.”
The next Lavelle Prep Elementary Parents as Partners in Literacy session will be held on March 22, from 2:40-3:40.