1502 2nd Ave. • Tampa, FL

Programs: Even Start

A Shift In Focus
An educational movement is taking place and the Kimmins Foundation is on the move! The Even Start Family Literacy program is in tune with the movement in doing something different. The difference is the shift of focus from child to the family. After all, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. If we want children to become literate and to know the value of education…their parents will need to become literate so that they can teach their children the value of education. Current research shows that the greatest influence in a child's life is the family. The Kimmins Foundation in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools works together to implement a family literacy program with a strong focus on the family. This is a great concept and you may be asking yourself how does this work?

First, parents who need to complete their basic education and/or learn English participate in the adult educational program to earn their G.E.D. and/or to become English proficient. These parents have children between six months to five years of age, and need child care in order to study. In today's society, a great number of parents trying to support a family often lack the completion of a basic education, English proficiency, and job/career training.

Second, children attend a developmental program while their parents are in the adult education program. You may be asking what is the difference between child care and a developmental program? The difference between the two can make a great difference in the lives of children! Child care is basically taking care of the physical needs of the child, and a developmental program is focused on the intellectual, language, social, emotional, and physical needs of the child. Children who participate in a developmental program are more likely to gain early learning experiences which establish a foundation for all other learning to build upon. Children experiencing school failures often lack the foundation of key learning experiences.

Third, parents and children participate in structured learning activities together. In a family literacy program, parents and children come to school together to learn. P.A.C.T.-Time (parents and children together time) is the key ingredient in a family literacy program. Parents become involved parents…involved in the learning process of their children. Parents observe their children to identify what they have learned, understand what they will learn next, and are able to offer the key learning experiences needed to help their child achieve the next developmental task.

Fourth, parents participate in parent education classes. In today's world, parenting is not an easy task…parents need all the support they can get. The stresses of life and the social changes are much greater today for families than ever before. The formal education classes, just to name a few topics, teach parents about the different parenting styles, how children learn, child development, and effective child management skills. They also get a chance to vent and discuss issues in weekly parent support group sessions. Parents get one-to-one counseling with a counseling psychologist when requested and can also seek assistance from a family advocate who is also on staff.

Fifth, parents are involved in workforce development activities to learn about career planning. They explore the many post educational opportunities available such as vocational schools, technical schools, community colleges, and universities.

The goal for the family literacy families is to become self sufficient, out of poverty, and out of the working class level of existence, and able to meet the needs of their family.

As you can see, family literacy is education for parents, education and care for children, parent involvement, parent education and support for families, and workforce development. The Kimmins Family Literacy program is part of the educational movement of shifting the program focus from the child to the family in hopes of a change in the quality of life for the families it serves.

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