The home is a child’s first learning environment. A parent or guardian is a child’s first teacher. With this in mind, the 32-week Family Learning Program engages culturally diverse families in their children’s school-learning.
The Family Learning program host sites are at the following elementary schools: Dean Petersen, Ruby Thomas, JT McWilliams, Sunrise Acres, Paul Culley, Crestwood and Matt Kelly.
The program provides parents with opportunities to cultivate the skills necessary to help their children learn – including teaching authentic English language skills to parents and how to advocate for and support their children academically – with an aim to decrease the achievement gap.
The Family Learning Program, which lasts the duration of the school year, has four main components:
- Parent Time includes workshops designed to empower parents to be their child’s first teacher.
- Parent and Child Together (PACT) time provides opportunities for parents to shadow their students in their classrooms and learn the same material their children are learning, facilitating learning opportunities as a family at home.
- Family Service Learning offers opportunities for parents and their children to actively participate in service to their community.
- Family Mentoring engages families to help one another and create stronger communities.
At selected sites, for participants who aren’t native English speakers, they also are offered English language acquisition classes through the College of Southern Nevada.
The most effective way to close the literacy gap is to prevent young students from falling behind. The goal of Literacy Liftoff, therefore, is to put at-risk students on a predictable path to college and career readiness by giving them a solid foundation in early literacy.
The Literacy Liftoff host sites are the following elementary schools: Rex Bell, Matt Kelly, Fitzgerald, Gene Ward, Paul Culley and Crestwood.
The Literacy Liftoff program offers two weeks of summertime classes during August to prepare pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and first grade students for school. After the start of the school year, students participate in approximately 11 weeks of an afterschool program (two hours per day, three days per week) focused on literacy to provide them with additional support.
Throughout the course of the program, parents participate in “Parent Tip Day” meetings where they learn how to better support their children’s learning and development at home. In January, students and parents participate in one “Parent and Child Tip Day” workshop per week to continue to support parents and children learning together after winter break.
Reach Out and Read is a national campaign of medical providers who promote early literacy by giving new books to children who visit their offices. During the visit, medical providers also give information to families about the importance of reading to children to increase literacy skills.
Since children often begin visiting medical providers at a very early age, families are informed about early literacy skills soon after their child is born. Based on national data from Reach Out and Read, children who participate in the program score between three and six months ahead of their peers in preschool when tested on vocabulary.
Reach Out and Read medical providers are located at Southwest Medical sites (Southwest Medical at Montecito, Southwest Medical at Nellis, Southwest Medical at Charleston, Southwest Medical at Siena, Southwest Medical at South Eastern and Southwest Medical at Tenaya) and at Nevada Health Centers (Cambridge Family Health Center, Eastern Family Medical & Dental, Henderson, Martin Luther King Health Center and North Las Vegas Family Health Center).