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 In News, Parent Partner Program

At Mission Graduates, we are always impressed with our community partners. Pulsing Word is one of these amazing groups that strengthens the work that we do. Pulsing Word is a consulting group striving “to create e a community of educators and families who locate early learning in the joyous space where literacy, movement, story, and song come together, inseparably linked with deep and trusting relationships.”

Mission Graduates partnered with Pulsing Word during 2012-13 to design and host a parent education series at Marshall Elementary School. Intended to increase confidence and capacity to support literacy and learning at home, our 10 week series “Sopa de Letras” (Alphabet Soup) was a huge success, with full attendance and strong evaluations. We are thrilled to share that we will continue our work with Marshall families in an expanded 16-week course during 2013-14!

We’re excited to start posting more on the blog from our partners at Pulsing Word about Sopa!

What’s in the soup?

How can outside facilitators enter into relationship with an intimate community of families, and build an authentic framework for awakening learning and curiosity in the elementary school setting?

What methods are most effective in highlighting the strengths and assets of parents who often feel “not in the know” regarding their child’s education?

How can we work collectively to WAKE UP our trust in oral traditions, in the power of cultural identity, and foster a multi-generational and multi-lingual approach to literacy development?

These are some of the many questions we asked ourselves and the participants of our 10-week parent-education series Sopa de letras (Alphabet Soup). When Mission Graduates approached us to partner with them at Marshall Elementary, our interest was immediately sparked when they shared their overarching goals for the series:

  • Increase parents’ confidence in establishing reading and writing routines at home with their children
  • Increase parents’ confidence in identifying and accessing community literacy resources and opportunities
  • Increase parents’ confidence in utilizing literacy tools that promote cultural identity, home language, and family involvement

These goals fit so perfectly with Pulsing Word’s vision to connect literacy strategies, trusting relationships, and embodied connections to community, we jumped at the opportunity!

sopaEach week a large group of parents gathered around a delicious breakfast buffet and participated in lively discussions, experiential learning activities, and deep reflections. Each week families received concrete tools to use at home and high quality books and materials to share with their children. Structuring our workshops around relevant themes developed in collaboration with Mission Graduates and the school staff, we included topics ranging from parent-teacher communication to vocabulary building walks around the block; from understanding developmental stages of writing to guiding children through transitions in their day; from classifying types of texts to the latest research promoting multilingualism.

Using pre- and post-surveys, we were able to evaluate our impact. We discovered that 100% of participating families achieved growth in the objectives laid out at the start of the series. The area with the highest margin of improvement was the connection between families and community resources. This is a huge success for all, but mostly for the children who experienced first-hand that increase in confidence and knowledge, and most certainly got out and explored with their families during the summer.

Why soup? At Pulsing Word we strive to meet clients where they are, tailoring our work to suit their interests and priorities. When we heard that food and recipes were a hot topic for families at Marshall, we felt inspired to open up the kitchen! Making soup together conjures up images of sensory learning, of embracing tradition, and of experimenting with diverse ideas and newly discovered ingredients. In moments of “word harvesting” in the park, cooperating to build our dream houses, listening to popular hip-hop songs, and storytelling using wordless books, we truly felt the warmth and vitality of our Alphabet Soup.

We are so deeply grateful for the welcoming and open attitude demonstrated by the Marshall community and Mission Graduates AND for entrusting us with an expanded 16-week series this coming year. The ripple effect of a collaborative and strengths-based literacy model is never ending and the soup simmers on….

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