Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Families Benefit from DiscoverBooks Program in Holyoke

It has been an amazing first year of the expanded DiscoverBooks program in Holyoke! Reader to Reader started the program in 2010 to offer a rich family literacy program to young mothers at the Care Center in Holyoke and Central High School in Springfield.

This year the program has expanded to work with immigrant parents at two elementary and middle schools in Holyoke. As of this year the main feature of DiscoverBooks is a combined ESOL and Family Literacy class for parents that takes place at the school their children attend. Parents learn English in order to further their own educational and work goals as well as to support their children’s needs. Meanwhile, the program focuses on helping parents learn more about the importance of literacy and parent involvement in education.

Since October 2012 this expanded branch of DiscoverBooks has served over 40 Holyoke parents. Together these parents have a total of over 60 children ranging from 1 year old to 18 years old in the Holyoke Public Schools, who are benefiting from their parents’ increased abilities to support their literacy and educational achievements. Here are some highlights from the year:

-Increased parent participation in Parent Teacher Conferences and school events
-Increased reading at home
-Each parent took home more than 40 books over the course of the year
-Two wonderful family fieldtrips, to museums in Springfield and to an ice skating rink.

Parents from the program were joined by their families to go on these fun trips that took place during school vacation weeks.

-Two great parent fieldtrips, to Career Point to explore work opportunities and to UMass to explore educational opportunities for themselves and their children.

-A beautiful Page to Stage presentation of the book “I’ll Follow the Moon.” Parents worked with Enchanted Circle Theater to put together the show, complete with props, musical effects, and parents reading out loud in English.

This summer, the program has continued and with the added component of a partnership with the Gill Technology Center. The program now includes English and family literacy in addition to computer literacy and the use of IBM-developed ‘Reading Companion’ software. This software is designed for parents to help their children become better readers. It is ideal for English learning parents because it allows them to practice their own reading in English, using headsets which help to correct their pronunciation.

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