19 recent studies have concluded that by reading to children between birth and kindergarten, they are far more likely to succeed in school than children deprived of that experience. Scholastic Books research found 62% of mainstream parents of three-to-five-year-olds read aloud to their children five to seven days a week, but only a fraction of Latino parents read to their children at that level. Fewer than 20% of Latino parents read to their pre-schoolers at all.
A related study found that children from lower-income families hear as many as 3,000,000 fewer words than children of middle-income families by the time they enter kindergarten. The compound result of these two disparities is that Latino children on average enter the educational system nearly a year behind other students. Stunted reading ability cascades into under-performance in other subjects. Simply stated, reading ability is welded to academic success.
Our goal is to get Latino parents reading to their pre-schoolers, putting them on equal footing with better-prepared children whose parents routinely read to them. All of us at Empowering Latino Futures know that a family struggling to put bread on the table, despite their best intentions, cannot prioritize readying their young children to enter the school system, as families with more substantial income are able to do. Kids Succeed when Parents Read intercedes to addresses this challenge head on. We will encourage Latinos to read to their children, and, through six supportive weekly classes, build confidence in the parents that they are equal to the task.
We want parents to see this can be a fun, bonding time with their kids. Most of all, we want to take away the fears that some parents have that they are not good enough readers or that they must read in English to work with their children. Parents will discover that most of them have the skills to read to their kids right now, in whatever language is comfortable for them, and that their children will be far more likely to succeed if they start school already reading. We will help parents infuse in their children a life-long love of opening a book.
While our target audience is primarily Latinos, ELF programs are all-inclusive, especially applicable to those from low-income communities. Empowering Latino Futures educational initiatives that are up-and-running include Empowering Students and Empowering Content. At the core of each of our programs is the belief that an individual’s potential for greatness is only limited by their access to resources. Kids Succeed when Parents Read is the newest addition to our tool kit.
Kids Succeed when Parents Read will guide, encourage, and motivate Latino parents to read to their kids, and to see reading as bonding time while ensuring a better future for their children. This program package will be provided for partnering educational institutions, nonprofits, libraries, and interested individuals.
The program is broken down in 3 phases, covering these 8 components:
- A bilingual Parent’s Reading handbook designed to build confidence in an adult’s ability to read to their children
- A Teachers handbook to guide instructors through the weekly tasks for the Parents course
- A six week course for Parents held first locally at elementary schools, libraries, and community facilities
- Marketing the course to Parents
- Free books will be provided for parents
- Video versions of the class
- Evaluation of classes and updating the Parent and Teacher handbooks
- Partnership development
HOW IT WORKS
Kids Succeed when Parents Read is structured into three phases:
Phase One: Creation
After the curriculum and course outline has been vetted, two educators and a professional illustrator will complete a bi-lingual handbook (already a work-in-progress) for the parents enrolled in the classes. The book will provide confidence-building exercises to the parent and engaging stories they can read to their kids. A teacher’s handbook will also be produced for instructors and facilitators to guide parents through the course. When the threshold for Phase One funding is achieved, books will be printed and available to distribute to enrolling parents.
Phase Two: Implementation
The six-week course will get a trial run locally at elementary schools, libraries, and community facilities. After evaluation and feedback, a larger roll-out will follow.
During our first sessions, some classes will be recorded to provide content for a video edition of the course, which we intend to produce concurrently. Our virtual course will increase our reach and also ensure delivery of our program if in the future restrictions are re-imposed to in-person teaching.
Cameo appearances from icons of the Latino community congratulating parents for their devotion to the classes will supplement the training video.
Phase Three: Metrics of Success
As part of our outreach, we will approach school districts with significant populations of low-income Latino families. We will distribute our instructional videos through our network of educational partners and monitor feedback from both teachers and parents, adjusting the program as needed. We will survey attendees at six months and one year after they complete the course to gage the success of the program.
During this phase, we will expand our current stable of partners and contributors, which now includes organizations like CABE, the California School Boards Association, and UnidosUS Affiliates, as well as chairs of multiple school boards, all of whom have pledged to absorb Kids Succeed when Parents Read into their own curriculum once we release it to them.
Additionally, Kirk Whisler, cofounder of ELF and Founding President (1982) of National Association of Hispanic Publications, has strong ties with hundreds of Latino media outlets throughout America and will utilize those relationships to expand the program into new markets.
Initially, the program will be implemented in the North San Diego County, but will expand to other regions across the USA with the help of key national and local organizations. After the first year of hosting the classes in hybrid formats, the program is expected to impact approximately 80 families and an estimated 120 children. The second year after the program starts, we expect partners to begin utilizing the materials actively. With a minimum 30 active partners hosting the courses, we expect 720 families to be impacted and 1,080 young children served. Education Begins in the Home will provide our partners with additional books for the parents to read to their children. In year three, Empowering Latino Futures will enlist partners in Greater California and throughout the US to see that Kids Succeed when Parents Read reaches the broadest possible audience.
There is joy in reading, and joy in parenting, and the staff, partners and over 300 volunteers at Empowering Latino Futures find great joy bringing our newest initiative to the children of the Latino community.
Our kids deserve no less!