ELLM/Plus recognizes that while families are children’s first and most important teachers, they are no longer doing the job alone. Preschool teachers also have an important role in helping every child enter school ready to read and learn.
The ELLM/Plus Monthly Family Tips provide families with suggestions for becoming involved. The monthly Family Tips can be downloaded (PDF here). Communication between home and school takes place as parents are informed of important dates and school events for the month. Simple learning activities such as songs, poems, and finger plays are provided for parents to do at home with their children.Each ELLM/Plus story comes with an ELLM/Plus Story Take-Home Bracelet. Each bracelet, which the teacher staples around the child's wrist, provides a visual cue to initiate a conversation between parents and students about a piece of children's literature that the child heard at school. The intent is for the parent to read the bracelet and then discuss the story with his/her child. Take-home bracelets are printed in both Spanish and English. (PDF here)Each ELLM/Plus classroom is required to have a Classroom Book Lending Library with at least 100 books available for check out. An attempt should be made to have books in several different languages, as well as in English. The library should be easily accessible and available for parents to use as they please. The goal is to provide a system for families to have access to a variety of books in the home. Parents are asked to read to their children for between 15 and 30 minutes each night. It would be unfair to ask this of parents without providing them with a resource of reading materials. The Book Lending Library provides an opportunity for parents to perform.Another facet to the ELLM/Plus Family Component is School-Based Literacy Events. Each school site is expected to host four literacy-focused events during the school year. The successful family involvement program in Rochester, New York includes family workshops with activities for parents and students to do together (Kirschenbaum, 1999). Epstein (1984) reported that teachers who invited parents to workshops at school were more likely to ask parents to become involved in all types of home-learning activities. A publication by the Iowa Department of Education (1998) included a suggestion that schools have at least one opportunity each month for families to get acquainted with the school. Monthly meetings at each school site will be an effective method for maintaining parental involvement.
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