Saturday, July 27, 2013

Parent Education and ESL: Potential Partners in Parent & Child Success

As the planning for the new Regional Consortia starts up and as we debate whether or not to narrow the mission of Adult Education, i.e. while everything is still liquid and possible, I wanted to throw an idea into the mix... something that's been bubbling up in my mind recently.

My idea:

A four day class for ESL students and their children that utilizes the parent-participation model.

Four days a week, the child or children is in the parent-participation program.  Probably best age fit for this model is age 1 to 5.

Two days a week the ESL parent is in the ESL classroom, learning ESL, CBET, EL Civics, etc. 

And the other two days the ESL parent is in the parent-participation program, learning and playing with his/her child, learning more about child development, forging connections with other ESL parents, and learning about K12 schools and local resources for families.

Click on the "read more" link to learn more.


1.  Regional Consortia:  Starting in 2015, Adult Ed will be delivered region by region, by K12 Adult Schools, Community Colleges, Correctional Facilities, and any one else who shows up at the planning table.  Thinking and planning for that is going on now.  In other words:  This is "inside the chrysalis time" for the new system.  What do we want?  Now is the time to think about this, speak up about this, and share our ideas with each other.

2.  Narrowing of mission:  SB 173 is making its way through the Assembly Committee process.  It narrows the mission of Adult Education, eliminating Parent Education and Older Adults from the mission.  It can be amended - or not.  It's a choice.  Do you want it narrowed?  Or not?  Think, decide, tell your Legislators what you want.  This is how democracy works.


1.  Childcare:  Never enough of it.  Everyone wants it.  Good, affordable childcare we can trust with our children while we work or go to school.  We need it.  ESL students need it.  I'm a single mom who has taught both Parent Education and ESL and I can tell you:  Childcare is needed.  San Mateo Adult School has run a number of polls with its ESL students to ask them what they need.  Childcare is always right up there at the top.  Many ESL students cannot attend or miss classes because of lack of childcare.

2.  Parent Education:  Needed.  Helpful.  Appreciated.  Used by both native speakers, native born Californians and immigrants.  There are a number of different ways Parent Education is provided.  Many of these are gone because of the cuts but I'll include them in my list of examples because they were good, well-run, much-used programs. 

* In person, in class programs such as the Now & Future Parents program San Mateo Adult School used to offer.  We offered another class on Parenting the Adolescent.  These classes met guidelines for court-mandated Parent Education for parents in need of such programs.  They were affordable (free before the cuts), accessible, and effective.

* Parent-participation programs.  There is the parent-participation pre-school model such as Jefferson Adult School, Conejo Valley, and South Bay Adult Schools offer.  (Click on those links to see their websites and click here and here to read letters from a South Bay Parent Education students. And there is the Child Observation model where parents and children learn and play together such as the Learn Through Play class I used to teach and the non-credit (Adult Education) Child Observation classes offered by CCSF.   The class I ran was extremely popular.  I would say probably 60 to 70% of the parents were immigrants.   Some were ESL students at the Adult School or had been before and planned to return when their child was older.  The immigrant students were eager to learn English songs and games they could share with their children and to better understand the California school, library, childcare, and park systems.  They also wanted to better understand US style family culture - everything from parenting and family norms to what a child is expected to know by kindergarten.

* In person, in class programs offered in tandem with other organizations, such as the Saturday Series that was offered by San Mateo Adult School in combination with the Childcare Coordinating Council of San Mateo.   I was part of that series, also. There were units in nutrition, safety, music & movement & the arts, play as learning, brain and child development, etc.  The classes were offered in both English and Spanish.  Some of the classes focused on how to open your own daycare at home.  Most of the students in these classes were immigrants.  I would say probably 90%.  Many were current or former ESL students.  Some were in the class strictly to become better parents.  Many were in the class to become better parents and with the idea that they could enter the workforce as a childcare provider, be that in their own home with their own daycare, in someone else's daycare, or at a pre-school.  These classes were always packed.

Ask any parent, ESL or native speaker, about the need for childcare.  Wait!  Pull up a chair first and get yourself a cup of coffee or tea.  Because that's how much all parents need and value good childcare.

ESL is also needed.

So is workforce training.

I think there is a real opportunity for these three things to be combined in a way that

* serves the needs of ESL students for childcare
* increases English fluency and mastery in ESL students
* provides workforce training for work in childcare
* supports parents in doing what they do best:  raising the people who will run our world tomorrow

And Adult Education, particularly K12 Adult Schools which are directly connected to and grounded in K12 districts, is the place where this could happen.

What do you think?

Parents & Kids:  Partners for Success!

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