The best parent/child LEARNing is relevant and fun
By Ryan Dahlman
Learning through Rhymes and Storytime sounds like a good plan regardless but for those Canadian Newcomers in the southeast part of the province, it is the name of a program created and provided by the Lifelong Education and Resource Network (LEARN) and the Saamis Immigration Services Association.
For five weeks, parents and their children share activities in which they learn to expand their English usage by singing songs, playing with rhymes and reading stories.
Jody Schlenker, LEARN Program Support Manager, says the two most important aspects, and the basis for the program, are relevancy in real life and fun.
For the latest round, LEARN has seven families registered, with most of them of Arabic origin: ten adults and ten children ranging in age from under a year to six years of age. The activities for children will include being read engaging stories, playing rhyming and counting games, as well as making crafts. Meanwhile, the parents will be working on English in another area. In the end, parents, children, and facilitators all come together for some fun, group activities.
Schlenker says, “The parents will learn literacy skills, depending on where they’re at. Many participants have some English because they have been attending programs at Saamis immigration. In addition to English Language learning, LEARN will address topics such as resilience and some basic Canadian life skills. What we do is build the program based on the needs of the participants. Every group will be a little different, so once we meet the families, then we create the program. Some of the additional topics may include, emotional needs, resilience, parenting skills. We try to address the participants greatest needs and wants.”
Saamis does the formal Benchmark testing with the families to see at what level is their English. Saamis also interviews to find out levels of formal education and family dynamics.”
“Some of the LEARN participant groups include both parents, and some just has one parent in attendance – usually the mother. The programs are also designed to enhance bonds between parents and children. Through Saamis, newcomer families meet other families but there are still issues of seclusion when a mother may be at home with children, and fathers are taking English instruction.
The LEARN programs give moms the opportunity to learn English with their kids.
“This gives the moms opportunity to learn English with their kids, so they are not left behind.” This program helps strengthen the bond, the communication between the mom and their own kids, as well as the other moms and other kids. We find with adult foundational learning, that a way to get the parents involved in literacy is through the children, Parents may not ask for help for themselves but will do so much to make sure their children are having great learning experiences. Parents will do things for their children that they won’t necessarily do for themselves.”
Schlenker says the coordination and planning between the Saamis and LEARN two groups is very detailed in order to make sure everything will be in the best interest of their clients.
The program goes from 10-11:30 a.m. from September 28-October 28 at the Fifth Avenue Memorial United Church (476-4th Street SE, Medicine Hat).
To register, contact Aide Hilsendeger at 403-504-1188, ext 127.